Malabar spinach is dark green, heart-shaped with a glossy appearance. Most greens cannot thrive in the summer because of the heat. But the malabar spinach is the real summer salad.
As the heat increases, it waxes stronger and endures till the heat fades. Malabar spinach is different from spinach, the leaves are thicker and it tastes different.
Malabar spinach is not scientifically related to spinach but can be used as a substitute for spinach in many dishes and recipes. Malabar spinach sees popular usage in Asian and African dishes so you must have seen, or heard of it.
What does malabar spinach taste like? When eaten raw, malabar spinach tastes like a mix of lemon and pepper with a crunch. It has a subtle flavor, tastes more like spinach, and becomes denser upon cooking. Malabar spinach has more water content and is more durable than your normal spinach. Although, when you cook it, it tastes more like normal spinach.
Malabar spinach is also known as creeping spinach because its vines creep and attach themselves to other upright plants or items.
We are going to discuss how you can use the malabar spinach in the kitchen and what benefits it holds for the human body.
Nutritional Benefits of Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach is green, so that’s enough indication that it would be healthy. Malabar spinach is very high in vitamin A. Men that have added malabar spinach to their diets have been known to have increased levels of vitamin A in their body. 100 grams of malabar spinach contains an estimated 8000 units of vitamin A.
Malabar spinach is also rich in vitamin C and minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. For a plant, malabar has a high amount of protein.
Malabar spinach has its share of antioxidants. Antioxidants like lutein and beta carotene. These naturally occurring antioxidants have anti-aging properties that can keep cells from aging and help maintain an overall healthy appearance.
Malabar spinach still has more to offer, the juice from it is revered and used in Nepal to treat inflammation of the nose and throat. This means that, aside from having nutrients that are beneficial to the human body, malabar spinach could also serve medicinal purposes.
Culinary Uses of Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach is pretty easy to use in the kitchen. It can be added to salads or as a stand-alone vegetable. Its crunchy texture makes it just right in a mix of other greens, there is that contrast and it gives that chewy feel when you work at it.
But it doesn’t end there for the malabar spinach, it can be used in soups, stews, and even dishes.
Malabar spinach can be substituted for actual spinach in dishes. When you cook it, it won’t wilt as fast as normal spinach and manages to hold its shape well in soups and stews.
Because of its mucilaginous properties, malabar spinach can act as a thickening agent in soups and stews. When it gets cooked however it is moist and sticky, overlooking the malabar spinach could turn it into slime.
Malabar spinach can be sauteed in olive oil with garlic. It can be made into a conventional green side dish to accompany meat or fish. It can even be incorporated into Japanese or Chinese cuisines. Malabar spinach is a bit versatile and you could see various uses for it in your kitchen.
Where is Malabar Spinach Grown? How Do You Procure It?
Malabar spinach is a vegetable that thrives in hot temperate climates. It is native to the tropical regions of Asia and Africa. It is a perennial plant in tropical climates and annual in colder climates.
In cold parts of the United States and Australia, it is grown as an annual plant while in warm places like Puerto Rico and Hawaii it grows as a perennial crop.
Malabar spinach can be grown with its seeds or vines. It thrives in well-drained soil with elevations of 1500 ft or higher. Unlike some other vegetables, malabar spinach is grown in the full glare of sunlight but, with a bit of humidity. Many farmers create constructs for the malabar spinach to grow on as letting them grow wild on trees or other plants can make them hard to harvest.
If you itch for malabar spinach, you can get them in the specialty sections of farmers’ markets or take the easy route and order online.
Can You Eat Malabar Spinach Stems?
Yes, you can. Malabar spinach is cultivated for its edible leaves and stems. There are two variants of malabar spinach, one is green-stemmed while the other is red-stemmed. Both varieties are safe to eat.
Facts You Don’t Know About Malabar Spinach
- Malabar spinach has two varieties, the white flowering green stemmed variety is known as Basella alba, while the red-stemmed variety is known as Basella rubra.
- In a tropical environment, malabar spinach can grow up to lengths of 33 feet.
- Malabar spinach is known as the Chinese Spinach, Vine Spinach, Ceylon Spinach, Vietnamese Spinach, Indian Spinach, Climbing Spinach, and Creeping Spinach.