Xewali Phool: Cooking With Night Jasmine Flowers

The Night Jasmine despite its small size possesses an almost unearthly fragrance which has captivated the minds of poets, artists, writers, mythologists and cooks alike. Blooming during the autumn and winter months it is known for detoxifying the body and even destroying intestinal worms when consumed. Also known as “xewali phool” in Assam, it is a nocturnal flower that gently detaches and descends from the tree as soon as the first rays of dawn fall over the horizon, creating a serene sight of snowy-white blossoms carpeting the local streets. 

A cherished tradition in Assam, mothers excitedly usher their daughters out in the courtyards into the fresh morning air, reminiscing stories about how they grew up among these shrubs, while teaching them to delicately gather fallen xewali blossoms in handwoven bamboo dagra (winnowing trays). It is during such instances that sacred bonds seem to intertwine generations of women, as mothers pass on their wisdom- culinary, medicinal, even mythical received from their own mothers, about these near-divine fragrant blooms. 

From being offered up in altars for worship, to children playfully weaving them into garlands, these blossoms have also found their way into the regional diet. One of the many flowers used in the cuisine of Assam, its fragile constitution ideally requires gentle handling to preserve its essence. Dishes are made by lightly stir-frying the blossoms in minimal oil and spices to preserve its delicate aroma, and the dried flowers can also be added to dals and fish curries for their additional nutrients and to get an interesting bitter taste. 

To Make Xewali Phool Chutney


2 cups xewali phool

1 onion,chopped

½ inch ginger, grated

3 green chilli, chopped

1 cup coriander, shredded

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp mustard oil


1. Wash the xewali phool gently in a sieve by allowing cool water to run over it and place it in a large bowl.

2. Add chopped onion, chillies and grated ginger to it.

3. Add the coriander shreds along with salt.

4. Drizzle a little mustard oil and mix everything well.  

5. Transfer it to a mortar-pestle little by little and hand grind it to get a coarsely ground chutney.

6. Serve as a condiment along with rice. 

To Make Xewali Phool Fritters


2 cups xewali phool

1 large onion, sliced

6 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)

1  tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp chilli powder

½ cup water

1 cup mustard oil


1. Wash the xewali phool gently in a sieve by allowing cool water to run over it and place it in a large bowl after squeezing out the water.

2. Add in the sliced onions.

3. Add besan to the bowl along with turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. 

4. Pour water little by little into the bowl and give it a thorough mix.

5. In a pan bring mustard oil to sizzle. 

6. Make small balls out of the flower and besan mix, press them flat between your palms and place it on the sizzling oil.

7. Fry both sides till they turn light brown

8. Take out the fritter and place it on a paper napkin to remove excess oil.

9. Serve hot.