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Michinga Patta Leaves
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Michinga Patta leaves are small to medium in size and oblong to ovate in shape, averaging 5-12 centimeters in length and the end opposite of the stem tapers to a pointed tip. The upper surface of the bright green leaf is smooth and glossy while the bottom surface is matte and pale green. The leaves are pinnate, thick, and stiff, and are characteristically known for having sharp conical thorns or spines on the red-brown stems and trunk. Michinga Patta leaves have a fresh, sweet, peppery flavor with tart nuances of lemon and lime.
Michinga Patta leaves are available year-round.
Michinga Patta leaves, botanically classified as Zanthoxylum rhetsa, grow on a deciduous tree that can reach up to 15-20 meters in height and belong to the Rutaceae, or citrus family. Also known as Indian Ivy-rue, Ma Kwaen, and the Indian pepper, there are over two hundred species of Zanthoxylum, many of which bear a fruit that is used to make Szechwan pepper. Michinga Patta leaves are used both fresh and dried to flavor culinary dishes.
Studies are being conducted on a compound found in plants of the genus Zanthoxylum known as alpha-hydroxy-sanshool. This compound is being researched for its ability to produce a numbing sensation and potentially act as an agent to help reduce skin pain and irritation.
Michinga Patta leaves are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, stewing, sautéing, and frying. Michinga Patta and other leaves in the Zanthoxylum genus can be utilized both as a seasoning and as a vegetable. The leaves can be used fresh, or they can be dried and saved for future use and are commonly used to flavor curries, stews, fermented fish, and pork dishes. Michina Patta leaves pair well with aromatics such as garlic, onion, and ginger, green chilies, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, collard greens, fish, and pork. They will keep for a couple of days when stored fresh in the refrigerator and will keep for over six months when dried and stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Nearly all parts of the plant in the genus Zanthoxylum including the leaves, fruits, stem, and bark have been used by a variety of cultures as a spice, food source, and for medicinal applications. In Africa and South East Asia, it is commonly used to combat symptoms of malaria and diarrhea and to help numb the pain associated with toothaches. In India, the leaves are used to help alleviate the symptoms of bronchitis and fever and the oil from the seeds is believed to help prevent balding.
Zanthoxylum Rhetsa is a variety native to India and is most commonly found growing in India and Thailand where it is both harvested in the wild and grown in home gardens. Plants growing in the genus Zanthoxylum can be found in tropical to temperate climates around the world. Today Michinga Patta leaves can be found in select fresh markets in Asia.