Gongura popularly called Pitwaa in Hindi, Pulicha Keerai in Tamil and Kenaf or Roselle in English has amazing health benefits. It is a very popular plant in India grown for it’s green leaves. The leaves taste sour and there are two varieties of gongura.
The green stemmed variety is called Kenaf and red stemmed variety is called Roselle in English. The calyces of the red stemmed variety gongura is used to make tea in many parts of the world and is popularly referred to as hibiscus tea or roselle tea.
Gongura Common Names:
Gongura Plant Varieties:
Green Stemmed Gongura (Kenaf):
The botanical name of green stemmed variety of gongura is Hibiscus Cannabinus. The green stemmed variety is not as sour as the red stemmed variety and it grows about 11 feet tall. The leaves of young plants are usually simple but as the plant grows, they become 3 to 5 lobed.
The flowers of green variety are about 8 to 15 cm in diameter and are white, yellow or purple in color. Another main difference between kenaf and roselle is the fruit pod, it is a small capsule in kenaf about 1. 5 to 2 cm in diameter.
The leaves are used in cooking and the stem is used for producing fiber. The fiber got from gongura plants are used in so many industries. The fiber got from gongura stem is white so there is literally no bleaching involved thus reducing the amount of chemicals used.
Red Stemmed Gongura (Roselle):
The botanical name of the red stemmed gongura is Hibiscus Sabdariffa. The red stemmed variety is more sour than the green variety and it grows about 8 feet tall. The leaves are 3 to 5 lobed and are arranged alternatively.
The flowers are white to pale yellow in color with a fleshy red calyx. The calyx enlarge as the fruit matures and fully encloses the velvety capsule which contains the seeds. Both the leaves and the calyx are used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. The stem is used for producing fiber.
Gongura Nutritional Value:
Gongura Chemical Constituents:
Gongura Traditional Uses:
Traditionally the calyx of roselle is boiled in water and made into syrups and drinks and consumed all over the world. The seeds are roasted and consumed in certain countries.
Oil extracted for gongura seeds are used in cooking and the roasted seeds are also used as a coffee substitute. In India we use the leaves of both varieties in cooking extensively.
Medicinally the calyx has been used for treating fever, lowering blood pressure, constipation, sore throat and cough. The seeds are used for improving lactation and the leaf paste is used for treating wounds.
a. Gongura Chutney:
Here at home, we make gongura chutney also called pulicha keerai thuvaiyal | Pulicha keerai chutney (thokku) in Tamil. For the chutney, separate the leaves from the stem, wash and drain.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in a pan and add 1 tbsp of urad dal, 2 red chillies and a small piece of asafoetida and fry till urad dal turns golden brown and remove from fire. Now add some more oil and add 1 cup of the chopped leaves along with 2 cut garlic pods.
Fry in medium flame till gongura wilts and changes color. Now grind everything together along with required salt and tiny bit of jaggery without adding any water to a thick chutney.
b. Gongura Pickle:
c. Gongura Pappu:
To make gongura pappu, boil 1/2 cup of moong dal along with little turmeric powder for 2 to 3 whistles in cooker. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan, add in 1/4 cup of sliced onions, 2 finely cut green chillies and the cut gongura leaves and fry for few minutes.
Now add in little water and salt and boil till the gongura leaves are cooked. Once cooked, add in the boiled dal and cook for few minutes more and switch off. To season, heat ghee in a pan, add in mustard, jeera, curry leaves and 1 red chilli. Once the mustard splutters add to the dal and serve with hot rice.
d. Roselle Tea (Hibiscus Tea):
To make roselle tea, take 2 dried calyxes and a cup of water in a pan and bring to a rolling boil and switch off. Let it steep for 10 minutes, strain and add few drops of lemon juice and honey to taste.
This tea has wonderful health benefits and can be used by both diabetic and pressure patients. It also has wonderful anti spasmodic properties. You can buy dried roselle calyces online.
Gongura Side Effects:
10 Top Medicinal Uses & Health Benefits Of Gongura | Pulicha Keerai:
1. Reduces Cholesterol:
Several studies have proven that gongura has lipid lowering properties which could greatly prevent cardio vascular diseases. The water extract of the plant reduces LDL, triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. This is due to it’s wonderful antioxidant properties. Roselle tea can also be used for reducing cholesterol levels.
2. Anti Spasmodic Properties:
The flower extract has wonderful anti spasmodic properties and the tea made using the calyx can be used for treating menstrual pain. The anti spasmodic properties is due to the presence of polyphenols. If you are suffering from menstrual pain, try drinking a cup of dried roselle calyx tea.
3. Anti Bacterial, Anti Fungal Properties:
The plant extract has wonderful anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. The water extract got by boiling the dried plant with water showed powerful anti microbial activity against bacterial strains like Escherichia Coli, S. Aureus, Micrococcus Luteus, etc
4. Improves Immunity:
Both varieties of gongura have wonderful antioxidant properties and regular consumption prevents free radicals which are the main cause of premature ageing of the skin and hair. It also improves immunity, try to include gongura leaves in your diet often to improve immunity.
5. Prevents Anemia:
Anemia which is caused due to the decreased levels of hemoglobin in our blood is very common in Indian women and can be the reason for hair loss, fatigue, weakness and shortage of breath. Gongura is rich in iron and consuming it often is the one of the best home remedies for treating anemia easily at home.
6. For Skin & Hair:
Consuming gongura regularly has wonderful hair and skin benefits. Since it is rich in iron, it is great for people who are suffering from hair loss due to anemia. Also since gongura is rich in antioxidants, it will greatly prevent premature ageing of the skin and hair.
We can also apply gongura extract externally as it has wonderful anti bacterial properties. To use, grind fresh gongura leaves along with little water and extract the juice. You can use this juice in face packs.
7. For Weight Loss:
Gongura leaves have very few calories, 100 grams of gongura has just got 24 calories. Since it is rich in fiber, it is very satiating and keeps us fuller for long periods of time.
Also gongura extract has been proven to have anti obesity properties, polyphenols present is gongura have been proven to help with all obesity related problems, you can read the study that proves it here.
8. Lowers Blood Pressure:
Gongura tea made from the dried calyx have been consumed in many parts of the world for treating various diseases and one of the most popular traditional uses is consuming the tea for lowering high blood pressure. This traditional use has been backed by research and you can read the study that proves it here.
9. For Digestive Health:
Gongura leaves are rich in dietary fiber. Consuming foods rich in dietary fiber has multiple benefits, they keep us fuller for long periods of time, reduce cholesterol levels and and consuming them on a regular basis also prevents constipation which is the main reason for so many digestive problems.
10. Prevents Cancer:
Gongura is rich in antioxidants and greatly helps fight off free radicals which are the main reason for converting normal cells to cancer cells. Gongura contains many antioxidant rich compounds like polyphenols, anthocyanins and flavonoids. Compounds like anthocyanins present in gongura are responsible for apoptosis (death of cancer cells).