Malabar Spinach is commonly known as Slippery Spinach, Poi Saag, Ceylon Spinach, Lo Kwai, Saan Choy, and Gendola in different parts of Asia. It is a heat-loving perennial vine with thick mucilaginous (fleshy and succulent) leaves and even thicker and juicier stems. In Indian cooking, Malabar Spinach is often combined with mustard paste and lentil crisps (badi), or seafood.
The stem and flowers come in two colors, red and white, and hence the respective names as Basella Ruba and Basella Alba. Both of these varieties have the same taste and texture. The greens go very well in sandwiches, in salads, and in the stir-fries. The stem of the plant is a great addition to thicken the soups, to stir-fries, and can be added to curries too.
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Malabar Spinach
Malabar Spinach is an excellent source of antioxidants such as phytonutrients, and Vitamins as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate, and Riboflavin. It is rich in Minerals as Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Calcium, and Iron. It has a high content of mucilage – digestible polysaccharides, which feed our gut microbiome as Prebiotics.
Health benefits of Malabar Spinach correspond to its high nutrition content, rich fibrous profile, and low-calorie count. It is a must to have for Diabetics, cancer patients, new mothers, for people suffering from digestive disorders, and for children. Here are some of the benefits:
- Lowers cholesterol regulates blood pressure and supports heart-health due to high Potassium content.
- Supports digestive system health, prevents constipation, prevents hemorrhoids, and regulates bowel movement.
- Lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity.
- Supports the Immune system.
- Supports bone health. Prevents osteoporosis and reduces joint pain.
- Supports muscular health. Prevents cramps.
- Supports the growth of the fetus for its high Folate content. Reduces digestive issues faced in pregnancy.
- Prevents Anemia and helps fight iron deficiency issues.
- Increases strength and helps to elevate energy levels.
- Prevents Cancer by destroying mutant cells.
- Supports Mental Health. Prevents depression and anxiety-related disorders.
This recipe of Malabar Spinach is prepared in East Indian style along with spices and lentils. It is a typical Oriya dish that has a mustard paste, also known as besar. Along with besar either lentils or seafood such as prawns are added. We have added here badi, lentil crisps. This recipe of Malabar Spinach is nutritious, rich in flavor, super delicious, and healthy. It is recommended for diabetics, cancer patients, heart patients, new mothers, children, and pregnant ladies. With all macronutrients and micronutrients in place, it can also be considered a full meal in itself. In Orissa, it is enjoyed with steamed rice.
Poi Saag Besar Badi Recipe – List of Ingredients
Serves 2-3 persons
- Fresh Malabar Spinach 400 g
- Badi – 200 g
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 Medium sized onion
- Salt to taste
- One and a half teaspoon of turmeric powder
- One and a half teaspoon of Panchforan (An equal mix of mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds)
- Two tablespoons of Mustard Oil. This can be replaced by Ghee or Peanut oil.
- Pinch of Asafetida
- 3 medium-sized Tomato
Poi Saag Besar Badi Recipe – Method of Preparation
Preparation Time: 10 minutes, Time of cooking: 25 minutes
- Prepare the Besar: Soak the mustard seeds in 3-4 tablespoons of water for 15-20 minutes. Add the soaked seeds along with garlic cloves to a grinder to make a fine paste. Keep aside.
- Wash the Malabar spinach properly. Cut the stem into small pieces and coarsely chop the leaves.
- Finely chop the onion and tomato. Keep them in separate bowls.
- Heat the pan and put half tablespoon oil in it. Once the oil is a little hot, add the badi and roast till it turns golden brown in color. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
- Now add remaining oil to the pan and heat it a little. Add Asafetida powder.
- Add panchforan mix to the oil. Once the seeds start to crackle, add chopped onions.
- Stir till the onion is light brown in color.
- Add the besar paste and stir for 5 minutes till the paste thickens up.
- Add salt and turmeric and stir for another 2 minutes.
- Add chopped tomato, cook for another 5-7 minutes till the tomatoes are mashed up.
- Add the roasted badi and the spinach. Mix well and lower the gas to slow-medium.
- Add a few tablespoons of water should the mix become too dry.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes till the leaves wilt off and keep stirring in between.
- Serve with rice or roti, Indian bread. Enjoy!