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Churang leaves are small to medium in size and are long, slender, and taper to a point, averaging 20-30 centimeters in length and 2-4 centimeters in width. The smooth, bright green leaves grow in an alternating rosette pattern from a green stem that is elongated and erect. Churang leaves are covered in small, stout spikes which are soft when young and become sharp, bristly, and stinging when mature. The mature leaves also develop a leathery texture and have a central midrib with 2-4 lateral veins. Churang leaves are sweet, green, and slightly astringent.
Churang leaves are available year-round.
Churang leaves, botanically classified as Lasia spinosa, are the young leaves harvested from the herbaceous aquatic perennial that thrives in swampy, marshy areas in the subtropical and tropical climates of Asia and Southeast Asia. Also known as Lasia in English, Phak Naam in Thailand, Kohila in Sri Lanka, and Turang and Churang in India, Churang leaves are members of the Araceae or Yam family. Churang leaves are most commonly used for medicinal purposes in India, Thailand, and Southeast Asia and while they are not commercially cultivated, they are typically foraged for in their natural habitat or grown in gardens for home consumption.
Churang leaves contain fiber, polyphenols, ascorbic acid, and antioxidants.
Churang leaves may contain calcium oxalate crystals that are toxic when ingested but dissipate when cooked or dried, so it is recommended that the leaves are cooked before consumption. Churang leaves can be boiled, fried, steamed, and pickled. The leaves can be added to stir-fries, curries, or hot and sour soup. In Thailand, prepared leaves are often served with a fermented spicy fish sauce known as nam phrik plaa raa. The leaf stalks can also be peeled and used in addition to the leaves to add flavor to curries and stews. Churang leaves pair well with fish, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, aromatics such as onions, garlic, and ginger, mustard seeds, and spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder. Churang leaves will keep for a couple of days when stored fresh in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Churang leaves, and many other parts of the Lasia spinosa plant have long been utilized for medicinal purposes in traditional Eastern medicine. In India, the leaves are used in Ayurvedic medicine to help reduce symptoms of stomachaches, coughs, and asthma. The Naga tribes in India have also been known to use them to help treat intestinal worm infections. In Sri Lanka, Churang leaves are used in Ancient Sinhalese medicine to help reduce symptoms of digestive problems.
Churang leaves are believed to have originated in India and then spread east to Southeast Asia. Today Churang leaves can be found mostly wild and sold in fresh specialty markets in India, Thailand, China, New Guinea, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.
Recipes that include Churang Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
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