Thursday, July 30, 2009

Malabar Spinach (Basella alba & rubra) Homegrown Greens


Variously called Malabar or Ceylon Spinach, Basale or Pasalai Keerai, Pui/Poi Saag, etc in the many Indian languages, Basella is a wonderful alternate for the regular spinach. It is used in other Asian cuisines as well. 

Basella grows readily during the hot summer months unlike the sensitive spinach which bolts into seeds at the barest whisper of warmth. There are two varieties of basella - the green-stemmed alba and the red-stemmed rubra. Both are delicious and nutritious.

Lovely basella grows readily from cuttings or seeds. These plants grew from a few pieces of the stems I saved from a bunch bought for cooking. They can be rooted in water first or directly in a pot of soil; my experiments proved both methods to be successful. This particular plant is growing well in a large pot - although the vines are getting so long that they need a trellis - some of the leaves are larger than my hand! The tender vines as well as the leaves and berries are delicious.


The substantial and thick leaves of basella are somewhat succulent and slightly mucilaginous. Once cooked, there does not seem to be any evidence of the stickiness. I have used regular spinach and basella interchangeably in recipes with great results. Basella is delicious in any recipe using spinach or Swiss chard; use it in any dal, molakootal, Mung bean & Basella Stew, Chettinad Style Spicy Dal, Thai Curry, stir-fry dishes and soups; it worked very well in rice salad too. 

10 comments:

tina said...

periamma,

girish and i grew malabar spinach too this year. we thought we pretty much killed everything we tried to grow, but this amazing plant proved us wrong. it grows prolifically and is taking over our vegetable bed! i made some molakootal, aaloo palak and even added it to pasta. it came out pretty good.

i will upload some pics soon. i love this plant!

tina

Geetha said...

I love this plant too - so prolific with very little effort. Glad you are getting lots of yummy food from it. Now we have to see how it overwinters. Keep on cooking:). - G

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

Anonymous said...

Couldnt agree more with that, very attractive article

Anonymous said...

Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

Geetha said...

Thank you Anons, for your visits and comments. Basella or Malabar Spinach is such an easy-to-grow and wonderful plant, it can be grown anywhere even in a small pot, I cannot say enough good things about it; the gains are many - the leaves, tender stems, vine tips, and even the blooms and pearl-like immature seeds are edible! - G

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for a related topic, your site came up, it looks good.

Geetha said...

Thank you Anon! :)

Anonymous said...

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

Geetha said...

Thank you Anon! Happy Cooking! :-)