The Writer’s Kitchenette Aponogeten Wild Delicacies

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By 2018-02-11

BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI

Aponogeton (Aponogeton rigidifolius) which is locally known as Kekatiya is an edible plant, native to Sri Lanka that is grown in aquatic ecosystems such as shallow stagnant water, paddy fields and marshes. The plant has a single blooming stalk, aerial and submerged leaves and reproduces through tubers.

Tiny fragrant white-coloured flowers are produced on the erected stalk as clusters. The flowers, tender stalks and leaves of the plant are edible.

Among the four Aponogeton species that are found in Sri Lanka such as jacobsenii, rigidifolius, natan and crispus, two species jacobsenii and rigidifolius are endemic to Sri Lanka. The species including the two native ones are under threat of extinction due to various reasons such as exposure to chemicals in their habitats, illicit export of Aponogeton as an ornamental aquatic plant, irregular development activities that cause the destruction of their habitats and haphazard extraction of the plant for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. It is high time to undertake conservation endeavours and to adopt sustainable consumption practices for the long-term existence and consumption of these endangered species.

Aponogeton has cooling effects and used in Ayurvedic medicines to treat inflammation. It is also used to treat diseases of urinary tract, diabetes and gastritis. Kekatiya is also known in Ayurveda as a good aphrodisiac and recommended for breast-feeding mothers to increase lactation.

Aponogeton has various culinary uses apart from its medicinal use. Curried and stir-fired Aponogeton are appetizing and can be an explosion to the taste buds. Aponogeton is neither commonly found in supermarkets nor available with vegetable vendors. Kekatiya is sold at rural weekly fairs and sometimes available at small-scale boutiques.

APONOGETON CURRY
WITH COCONUT SAUCE
INGREDIENTS
l Olive oil- 2tblsp
l White pepper- ½ tsp
l Lemon zest
l Ginger - garlic paste - 1 tsp
l Curry powder- 1 tsp
l Soy sauce- 2 tsps
l Sugar- 1 tsp
l Salt
l First extract of coconut milk - 150ml

METHOD
In a medium sized bowl, add first extracted coconut milk. Add soy sauce, sugar and Kosher salt and combine the ingredients well. Place a skillet over a medium-high heat and add olive oil and heat for about 30 seconds. When the olive oil is heated and starts fizzing, add the coconut mixture and stir well. Bring this to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens. You may cook this for about two minutes. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let it cool.

APONOGETON CURRY
WITH COCONUT SAUCE
INGREDIENTS
l Kekatiya (Aponogeton) - 250 g
l Coconut sauce
l Sprats - 50g
l Spring onions- 4 chopped
l Garlic- 1 chopped
l Curry leaves
l Pandan leaf- a piece
l Curry powder- 1 tsp
l Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
l Chili powder- 1 tsp
l Tomato-1- chopped
l Green chili-2 chopped
l Cinnamon
l Fresh basil leaves
l Fresh cilantro
DIRECTION
Wash Kekatiya thoroughly. Since the plant is grown in the water, impurities can be accumulated in the plant and can sometimes emanate a bad odour. Once the Kekatiya is washed well with cold water to remove dirt, put it in a hot water bowl for a couple of minutes to expel the odour. Meanwhile half-fry the sprats and leave aside.

Chop Kekatiya stalks into small pieces but leave the flowers of Kekatiya uncut. In an earthenware pot, add the chopped Kekatiya stalks with the flowers. Add sprats, chopped spring onions, garlic, curry leaves, pandan leaf, green chilli, cinnamon and tomato. Then add curry powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder and pounded cardamom and combine the ingredients with a coconut shell ladle. Leave mix aside for about five minutes to marinate.
Then add water to the mix and place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil until the ingredients become tender. Finally, add the coconut sauce and simmer for three to four minutes.

The tasty and healthy Aponogeton Curry with Coconut Sauce is ready to be served! You can taste this curry with steamed jasmine rice, grilled bread or Chapatti.

STIR FRIED APONOGETON
WITH GROUND PORK
Aside from curried Aponogeton, locals also prepare stir fried Aponogeton. The process of making Stir Fried Aponogeton is not very difficult.

INGREDIENTS
l Aponogeton- 250g
l Ground pork- 100g
l Chili powder- 2 tsp
l Curry powder – 1tsp
l Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
l Green chilli- 2pods- chopped
l Crushed cardamom
l Onions - 2- chopped
l Ginger- garlic paste- 2 tsp
l Lime
l Tomato – 1- chopped
l Oyster sauce- 1 tsp
l Pandan leaves
l Curry leaves
l Cinnamon
l Salt
l Olive oil
DIRECTION

Heat olive oil in a wok and add ginger-garlic paste, curry leaves, pandan leaf, cinnamon, crushed cardamom, onions, green chilli and tomato and fry for a minute. Add ground pork and mix the ingredients well. Add salt and let the pork cook for 5 minutes.
Then add Aponogeton and mix well. Add chili powder, curry powder, turmeric and a pinch of salt and stir the pork and Aponogeton well. Cook for about 5 minutes and add oyster sauce and stir well. Let it cook for another 2 minutes and take the wok off the heat. Squeeze half a lime and stir well and add white pepper if you prefer a spicy flavour.

Aponogeton with Ground Pork is ready to be served. Enjoy the wild taste of Kekatiya and be healthy.

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