One of the herbs that I like to use often but is rarely available around here is this one you see below…

Vallarai , which is a spade shaped green leafy vegetable,is a herb known by the botanical name – Centella asiatica and also known by the name Indian Pennywort and is mentioned in the ancient Ayurveda text written by Charaka.

So something from the Ayurvedic scriptures is definitely famous and when I was in school this herb became even more famous as it was sold with the promise that it would help improve memory power. When it came to my memory I can say it was perfect except when it came to Maths. So to enhance my ‘math memory’ I pestered mom to cook this for me everyday which she affectionately and dutifully did whenever she could find it in the market. I ate it with gusto as I wanted to score more in my board exams.

A teeny tiny bunch with just a few stalks would cost a ransom and was in great demand. Yes, seriously, they were so pricey. That’s not all, as with all greens, they shrunk to such a size that at least 3-4 bunches are required for a single portion! Yet,I kept eating this herb till my exams got over. Then after a few years the craze about this herb seemed to vanish and I had long stopped eating it .I had passed out of school and was in college and I no longer needed to remember anything to do with Maths .

Here is a list of the names in the regional languages 

Botanical name – Centella asiatica
English –  Indian  Pennywort
Tamil   Vallarai
Kannada – Ondelaga
Sanskrit –  Mandukaparni
Telugu – Saraswataaku
Hindi –   Brahmamanduki – Gotu Kola
Unani –  Khulakudi
Bengali –  Tholkuri
Malayalam –  Muttil
Gujarati –  Karbrahmi

This herb can be made into chutney, spice mixes, cooked with dal and can even be added to salads.

And now, some interesting facts about this herb…..

  • Apart from improving the memory power it has several other properties.
  • Keeps us young!! 
  • It imparts vigor and strength
  • It improves the receptive capacity of the mind.
  • It helps improve anemic conditions
  • Good for people with Diabetes
  • Improves complexion and hence its extracts are used in cosmetology
  • Increases the digestive capacity.
Pregnant woman must consult their Physician before using this herb.

Recipes using this herb…

2 thoughts on “Vallarai Keerai | Indian Pennywort”

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