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The Chauli plant is an erect or semi-erect bush, sometimes with trailing vines. The leaves are smooth, green and ovate with either a rounded or pointed tip. The stem’s terminal leaflet is usually longer and larger than the lateral leaflets. Its pea pods are smooth and approximately 15-25 centimeters long. They have a cylindrical shaped and are generally somewhat curved. The Chauli leaves are mild and tender with and herbal spinach quality.
Chauli leaves are available year-round with peak season in the summer.
Chauli, or Chawli, leaves come from the plant botanically classified as Vigna unguiculata, and commonly called black eyed pea or cow pea. It is an herbaceous annual in the Fabaceae family that forms a bushy shape of erect fleshy stems, lush leaves and pods with edible peas. Chauli is an important grain legume and is also an important leaf vegetable in much of Africa and parts of Asia. The leaves are often grown in areas of high rainfall, whereas the seed production is focused on in areas of lower rainfall.
Chauli leaves are a rich source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, Vitamins A, B6, and C. They may also be used to treat respiratory disorders and diseases like Malaria.
Chauli leaves are best lightly sautéed or steamed so as to ensure that the flavor, color and nutrients are maintained. They are a part of traditional Indian cuisine recipes like chawli bhaji, chawli ki sabzi and chawli masoor sabzi.
Chauli leaves provide an important source of greens in many countries during their dry seasons. Morogo is made in South Africa by boiling cowpea, amaranth, 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, leaves are dried for 2-3 hours and packed tightly into jars and boiled for 20 minutes. The softened leaves are then spread in the sun to dry and then rolled into balls for storage.
The Chauli leaves’ country of origin is uncertain, 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. The plant is considered to be relatively drought resistant once established.
Recipes that include Chauli Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
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