It is often said that green leafy vegetables are storehouses of vitamins and minerals. However, how many of you can actually say the names of at least 10 leafy vegetables that are regularly seen in our diet?
Spinach and palak are still the most popular leafy vegetables that are consumed by us. Moringa leaves are occasionally cooked at some homes. However, curry leaves and coriander leaves are used in almost all the home cooked dishes. Nutritionists warn that the human body would be prone to lifestyle diseases if enough green leafy vegetables aren't included in our regular diet.
Various types of leaves and leafy vegetables find prominent place in many tribal cuisines. These leaves are, however, known by different names and are used in different recipes by the tribal communities.
The Cholanaykkar community calls edible leaves as ‘choppu’. Chweena choppu, nellichoppu, ulathave choppu, alakki thave, chathyan choppu, ganke choppu, gattigang kaichoppu, aniyechoppu, kattekiri choppu, kolikkalu choppu, balli mwiringane, keere choppu, choppanu keere choppu, mulla aa keere choppu, queerbalu choppu, kallu keere choppu, marathave and aanethoriche are some of the favourite edible leaves of the Cholanaykkar community. We hardly have any knowledge about the great nutritional value of these leaves and can only differentiate it according to its colours.
For the Kattunaykkar community, the edible leaves are ‘sappu’. Ganak sappu, minugale sappu, gun sappu and kumbala sappu are some of the dishes cooked with leaves. Besides, there are many other varieties of leaves that are known by different names. Ibbandendakri, virgadukirekkiri, kadekkiri, babumsakkiri and kyavukkiri are some of them.
However, the government and the main stream society are trying to deprive the tribal communities, the opportunity to follow their traditional cuisines based on leaves and other forest products. The young generation in the Paniya community in Wayanad could probably name only tomatoes and shallots if asked to name a few indigenous vegetables.