Mashed Moringa

Last Sunday I carried nearly 5 kgs of moringa pods (drum sticks) to home from my farm. I was visiting my farm after nearly two weeks.  I don’t stay away that long from my farm that but I couldn’t help because I was amidst thousands of Swiss-made watches at the watch show held at Basel, Switzerland.  I had a job to do: talking to the CEO’s, attending the launches and being shown through the novelties. All along I was missing my weekly chat with my favourite totapuri mango tree and the Muzzafarpur-born litchi plant and now growing at my farm.

I have two moringa trees which I planted some eight months back. I never realized that they will be the first to fruit, and have distributed the sticks to friends and colleagues. These moringa pods were fleshy which gave my wife the idea to try out a new dish. And she made what I would call, a moringa bharta. It was really palatable and had a crunchy feel.

Here is the recipe:

  • Cut the sticks into pieces and put them in a cooker. Remove it from the gas after three whistles.
  • Remove the sticks from the cooker. Let it cool. Squeeze the seeds from the sticks.
  • Add oil to a frying pan and fry diced onions, haldi and zeera. Add the seeds.
  • Don’t throw the water in which you cooked the moringa. Its rich in nutrition. You can use instead of plain water to cook   your dal.
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Harvesting Moringa

A year back I had planted two moringa saplings. In fact, they were brought by Man Friday, Mangal and planted at the edge of the plot alongside a neem. This Sunday while visiting my garden I saw the stick-long fruits (moringa pods)crowning the trees. Both trees have grown to the height of 30ft. Unable to reach to the fruits I did the easiest thing: shook the branches. And the fruits came down in showers—one, two, three… I collected around 50 of them.  The fruits are not much thick. Not much thicker than my fingers.

The Hindu reports that one Alagarsamy in Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu has developed a high yielding moringa (drumstick) variety named PAVM which yields for nearly 8-9 months a year. According to P. Vivekanandan, Executive Director, Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Voluntary Action (SEVA), Virattipathu, Madurai the variety has become such an instant hit with hundreds of farmers in Dindugal, Coimbatore and Erode areas that even scientists from the Horticultural College and Research Institute (under the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University), Periyakulam are all praise for Algarsamy’s path breaking finding.

According to Alagarsamy if organic practices are followed, the fruits become fleshy and weigh about 200 gm each and stay fresh for nearly a week. Annually about 20 tonnes of moringa pods can be harvested (at an average of 100 kilos per tree with 200 trees in an acre) from this variety. In a year about 2.5 lakh seedlings are produced from Alagarsamy’s nursery which fetches him a profit of Rs. 6 lakh a year.

Readers can contact P. Alagarsamy at No:6/39, south street, Pallapatti, Nilakottai Taluk, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. M: 98653 45911 / 97917 74887 and  P. Vivekanandan, email: vivekseva@dataone.in. T:0452-2380082 and 2380943.

World’s Most Useful Tree

Briefly: Every part of Moringa tree can be used for food or has some other beneficial property

moringa

Can you name the world’s most useful tree?

A tree whose almost every part can be used for food or has some other beneficial property. Clue: Most Indians eat the fruit of the trees.

The answer: The drumstick tree. Its called Moringa (in Tamil): Murungai(in Malaylam) and Sojne (in Bangla). Its botanical name, Moringa oleifera tree.  The seeds of the tree, according to Current Protocols in Microbiology, could help drastically reduce the incidence of waterborne disease in the developing world.

The procedure, which uses seeds from the Moringa oleifera tree, can produce a 90.00% to 99.99% bacterial reduction in previously untreated water, and has been made free to download as part of access programs under John Wiley and Sons’ Corporate Citizenship Initiative.

Michael Lea, a Current Protocols author and a researcher at Clearinghouse, a Canadian organisation dedicated to investigating and implementing low-cost water purification technologies, believes the Moringa oleifera tree could go a long way to providing a solution.

“Not only is it drought resistant, it also yields cooking and lighting oil, soil fertilizer, as well as highly nutritious food in the form of its pods, leaves, seeds and flowers. Perhaps most importantly, its seeds can be used to purify drinking water at virtually no cost.”

Moringa tree seeds, when crushed into powder, can be used as a water-soluble extract in suspension, resulting in an effective natural clarification agent for highly turbid and untreated pathogenic surface water. As well as improving drinkability, this technique reduces water turbidity (cloudiness) making the result aesthetically as well as microbiologically more acceptable for human consumption.

Despite its live-saving potential, the technique is still not widely known, even in areas where the Moringa is routinely cultivated. Moringa tree seeds, when crushed into powder, can be used as a water-soluble extract in suspension, resulting in an effective natural clarification agent for highly turbid and untreated pathogenic surface water. As well as improving drinkability, this technique reduces water turbidity (cloudiness) making the result aesthetically as well as microbiologically more acceptable for human consumption.

The immature green pods called “drumsticks” are probably the most valued and widely used part of the tree. They are commonly consumed and are generally prepared in a similar fashion to green beans and have a slight asparagus taste. The seeds are sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment in the same way as horseradish; however, it contains the alkaloid spirochin, a potentially fatal nerve-paralyzing agent, so such practices should be strongly discouraged.

Leaves can be eaten fresh, cooked, or stored as dried powder for many months without refrigeration, and reportedly without loss of nutritional value. Moringa is especially promising as a food source in the tropics because the tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season when other foods are typically scarce.

A large number of reports on the nutritional qualities of Moringa now exist in both the scientific and the popular literature. It is commonly said that Moringa leaves contain more Vitamin A than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas,” and that the protein quality of Moringa leaves rivals that of milk and eggs.

Moringa has approximately 46 antioxidants and is one of the most powerful sources of natural anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants supply the free atoms needed by the human body and mitigate the effect of free radicals. Moringa leaves are rich in Flavonoids, a class of anti-oxidants. The major anti-oxidants present are Quercetin, Kaempferol, Beta-Sitosterol, Caffeoylquinic acid and Zeatin. Antioxidants play a major role in controlling the symptoms of aging process and improve the cardiovascular health. Additionally, Vitamin C & Vitamin E, present in Moringa, also function as anti-oxidants. Researches confirm that the anti-oxidants deliver the desired result, if only taken with the combination of other essential vitamin and minerals, which makes health enthusiast to seek after Moringa. Moringa leaves and fruits are loaded with Phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are certain organic components of plants, and these components are thought to promote human health. The phytonutrients present in Moringa include, Alpha-carotene, Beta-Carotene, Beta-cryptoxanthin, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Chlorophyll. Phytonutrients flushes toxins from the body, purifies the liver, helps to strengthen the immune system, helps in rebuilding the red blood cells and the important of all, Moringa Phytonutrients rejuvenate the body at the cellular level.

Moringa leaf powder has Vitamin A (Beta Carotene), Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B6 (Pyrodixine), Vitamin B7 (Biotin), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Tocopherol) and Vitamin K. The list of Minerals present in Moringa leaf powder is abundant and few of the main minerals include Calcium, Copper, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese and Zinc.

One can make tea of moringa leaf powder to derive its anti-oxidant properties or sprinkle it on salad, dal or mix it atta for chappati.