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Chauli leaves are small to medium in size and thin, pliable, and ovate with a rounded or sometimes pointed tip. The surface of the leaves is smooth and green with a central vein spanning the length of the leaf and the leaves grow from thick, fleshy stems. The stem’s terminal leaflet is also longer and larger than the lateral leaflets. Chauli leaves grow on an erect or semi-erect bush, sometimes with trailing vines. The plant also contains curved pea pods that are smooth, cylindrically shaped and approximately 15-25 centimeters long. Chauli leaves are crisp and tender with a mild, herbal spinach quality.
Chauli leaves are available year-round with peak season in the summer.
Chauli leaves, also spelled Chawli, are botanically classified as Vigna unguiculate and grow on an herbaceous annual belonging to the Fabaceae, or bean family. Also known as Amaranth, Black-eyed pea, and Cowpea, there are many varieties of Chauli, and the leaves range in color from purple, gold, red, and green. Chauli leaves are an important vegetable in Africa and parts of Asia, especially in India. In addition to the leaves, Chauli seeds were prized by the Aztecs for its nutritional properties and recently became popular in the United States’ health food market as a superfood.
Chauli leaves are a rich source of iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, Vitamins A, B6, and C.
Chauli leaves are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as lightly sautéing or steaming. They can be sliced and chopped fresh and used on sandwiches for an added crunch, in salads, or in juices. They can also be used in soups, dals, gravies, sauces, and stir-fries. Chauli leaves can easily be overcooked so they should be placed in dishes as late as possible to ensure the flavor, color, and nutrients are maintained. Chauli leaves are also a part of traditional Indian cuisine recipes like chawli bhaji, chawli ki sabzi, and chawli masoor sabzi. Chauli leaves pair well with turmeric, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, curry leaves, lentils, rice, chiles, and coconut. Chauli leaves will keep up to three days when trimmed and stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Chauli leaves provide an important source of greens in many countries during their dry seasons. Morogo is made in South Africa by boiling Chauli leaves and melon leaves for over an hour and then kneading them into pulp and squeezed into golf ball sized balls to dry in the open sun. In Malawi, Africa, the leaves are dried for 2-3 hours and packed tightly into jars and boiled for twenty minutes. The softened leaves are then spread in the sun to dry and rolled into balls for storage.
The origins of Chauli leaves is relatively unknown, though many believe it to be native to India, with secondary centers in China and Ethiopia. It is widespread throughout the tropics and most subtropical areas of the world. Today Chauli leaves are mainly found in specialty markets in select regions of Asia and Africa.
Recipes that include Chauli Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Dip's Diner||Green Chawli Bhaji|