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Ponnanganni leaves are small to medium in size and elongated, elliptic, or lanceolate in shape, averaging 3-15 centimeters in length and 1-3 centimeters in width. The leaves are vibrant green, glossy, have smooth edges, and taper to a point on the non-stem end. The ponnanganni plant is bushy with small white flowers and has long, fibrous, stems that spread across the ground and take root at the nodes. Ponnanganni leaves are crisp and tender with a nutty, green flavor similar to spinach.
Ponnanganni leaves are available year-round.
Ponnanganni leaves, botanically classified as Alternanthera sessilis, grow on a perennial herb and are members of the Amaranthaceae family. Ponnanganni leaves have many common names including Ponnanganni Keerai, Ponnaganti Koora, Matsyaakshi, Mukunuwenna, Gudari Saag, and Dwarf Copperleaf spinach, Water Amaranth, and Sessile Joyweed in English. Ponnanganni is difficult to identify as it has different growth patterns in various climates and is known by many local names. The ponnanganni plant is aquatic and can grow in both wet and dry environments such as marshes and swamps and thrives in tropical and subtropical climates. The leaves are predominately consumed as a vegetable and are also used medicinally to improve overall health in Asia.
Ponnanganni leaves are high in vitamin A, calcium, beta-carotene, dietary fiber, iron, and vitamin C.
Ponnanganni leaves can be used in both raw and cooked applications such as boiling, stir-frying, and sautéing. In Indian cuisine, Ponnanganni leaves are used in dals, soups, and chutneys and served over rice. The leaves are also consumed as a daily vegetable in simple stir-fries or salads. To prepare, select young, tender shoots and remove the stems. The stems can then be used for cooking soup stock at a later time. Ponnanganni leaves are also popularly juiced and used as a nutritious drink. Ponnanganni leaves pair well with sesame oil, cumin seeds, garlic, turmeric powder, cilantro, coriander, radish, and carrots. They will keep for a couple of days when stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In India, Ponnanganni is known as the “golden plant.” It is regularly consumed and advised by Ayurvedic teachers to be used to soothe indigestion, to keep the eyes healthy, bring a natural glow to the skin, and to cool the body in the hot summer months. It is also widely used in the Indian Ayurvedic system to help treat various conditions from fevers, diarrhea, to skin irritations. In Africa, Ponnanganni leaves are used to help treat snake bites and sooth aches and pains.
Ponnanganni is native to many parts of Asia, commonly found in India and Sri Lanka. Today it can be found in specialty markets in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the southeastern United States.
Recipes that include Ponnanganni Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|GK Food Diary||Ponnanganni Keerai Kootu|
|Saffron Trail||Beet, Feta and Water Amaranth Salad|