Gongura: The Star Ingredient You Need to Know!!

What is Gongura? Gongura (also known as pulicha keerai, churakkya keerai, or sorrel plant) is a variety of spinach-like greens that grows abundantly in tropical climates. While it resembles spinach in appearance with green, arrow-shaped leaves, that's where the similarities end. Gongura boasts a bracingly sour flavor with nuances of tartness and mild astringency, thanks to its concentration of oxalic acid and other naturally occurring acids.

This aromatic green also contains compounds that create a subtle tingling or numbing sensation on the tongue. That might sound unappealing at first, but this unique effect has made gongura prized for adding incredible layers of dynamic flavor and mouth feel to dishes across southern India.

Star of Andhra Cuisine

Gongura is especially celebrated in Andhra cuisine from the southeastern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It frequently stars in preparations like gongura pappu (a tangy lentil stew tempered with mustard seeds, cumin, and dried red chilies), gongura chicken curry, and gongura mutton curry (where the greens' sourness cuts through the richness of the meat).

Gongura pachadi is a quintessential Andhra condiment that blends the wilted greens with yogurt, coconut, green chilies, and spices. This versatile chutney is served as a bright, tangy accompaniment to rice, dosas, idlis, and more.

Beyond the Ordinary Greens

Don't think of gongura as simply another novel green vegetable though. Its extraordinary souring capability means it can be used in both fresh and dried forms to impart its distinct tang in some truly unique culinary applications:

  • As an acidic flavoring agent in certain dals, curries, and chutneys instead of tamarind or amchoor powder
  • As a vivid green natural food coloring for rice dishes like gongura bellam avala (bolstered with gongura's sourness)
  • As a filling for chili pakoras, samosas, or dosas
  • As gongura achar - pickled and preserved in oil/brine much like amla or lemon pickles
  • In unique egg dishes and omelets
  • In cooling drinks and sherbets to provide tartness and mouth-tingling sensation

 Let this tangy, remarkable green open up a world of thrilling new culinary possibilities in your kitchen!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.