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Gongura leaves are medium to large in size and are broad, flat, and pliable. The vibrant green leaves are deeply lobed with three to five serrated, finger-shaped leaflets. Gongura leaves come from a dense shrub-like plant that typically reaches heights of two to three meters. It has reddish-purple stems with dark green foliage and trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers have five creamy yellow petals that fade to a deep maroon in the center. Smaller Gongura leaves offer a mild green and tangy flavor, whereas more mature specimens are robust and acrid. Warm temperatures also affect the taste of the leaf because the hotter it gets, the sourer the leaf will taste.
Gongura leaves are available in the summer.
Gongura leaves, botanically classified as Hibiscus sabdariffa, grow on an herbaceous perennial that is most commonly found in India. Also known as Red Sorrel, and Ambada, Pitwaa, or Pulicha Keerai in parts of India, you might hear Gongura referred to as the roselle plant as well, since the calyx that surrounds the plant’s blossoms is known as a roselle and is often used to make jellies, jams, juices, and natural food coloring. There are two main varieties of Gongura including red stemmed, and green stemmed. The green stemmed variety has a mild tartness whereas the red stemmed variety has a strong sour flavor that intensifies with the heat of summer.
Gongura leaves are an excellent source of folate, riboflavin, iron, zinc, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B6, and C.
Gongura leaves may be pickled, steamed, blanched, or ground into a paste and combined with garlic, chilies, and salt to make chutney. The sour leaves heighten the rich flavor of legumes and fatty meats, therefore making them a perfect complement to dishes with lentils, goat, or mutton. Gongura leaves can be cooked with shrimp, mussels, and fish and are also used raw in salads. In Myanmar, they are cooked into a sour soup base, which is clean, tangy, and light. Another Myanmarese staple is chin baung kyaw or fried roselle leaves with bamboo. Gongura leaves are commonly prepared with the flavor profiles of tamarind, red and green chilies, turmeric, cumin, onion, garlic, sesame, and curries. They will keep up to five days when unwashed, wrapped in a damp paper towel and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Gongura is a multi-purpose plant used medicinally and in celebrations around the world. The juice of its flowers has been shown to help reduce the absorption of alcohol and has been a hangover remedy in Guatemala for years. A mixture known as "Sudan tea" is used to treat coughs and digestive ailments in Africa while the bitter roots and seeds are more commonly used in Brazil and India to calm upset stomachs. A popular drink known as Sorrel Shandy is part of many Caribbean Christmas celebrations. It was also cultivated as a fiber source during WWII for making burlap.
Gongura is native to India and Malaysia and was soon cultivated in parts of Africa. The slave trade brought it across the Pacific to tropical and subtropical regions of Central America, Brazil, Mexico, and the West Indies. Today Gongura leaves can be found at fresh specialty markets in India, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Africa.
Recipes that include Gongura Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Chef and Her Kitchen||Gongura Pulihora | Gongura Rice | Red Sorrel Leaves Rice|
|Spice up the Curry||Gongura Pappu | Andhra Style Sorrel Leaves Dal|