Synonyms: Alsine media
Local name: Padyaala (पडयाला)
Padyaala grows as a weed, specially, in shady and damp areas upto an elevation of 4000 m in Himalayas. It grows as weed in many other parts of India too. In fact the species Stellaria media is reported to be a native of Europe and growing all over the world. Some botanists are of the view that it has three subspecies. But padyaala is so naturalized here that it looks to be a local plant.
The leaves and stalks of this plant are cooked and eaten as vegetable. These are usually mixed with leaves of other leafy vegetables while being prepared as saag.
It is also said to be eaten raw in salad at some places.
A weakly tufted herb upto 15-60 cm tall; glabrous or pubescent; stems nearly erect or procumbent, a line of hairs running down between the joints, much branched.
. Leaves ovate acute, 2.5 to 5 cm, usually cordate, lower ones stalked, upper sessile, often narrower.
Flowers solitary or in few-flowered, terminal, leafy cymes, white; pedicels nearly capillary, ascending, reflexed or recurved, frequently pubescent; sepals five, lanceolate-oblong, 3.5 to 6 mm long, blunt to acute, usually with long soft hairs; petals five, deeply cleft, white, small, shorter than sepals, two-parted or absent; stamens three to five, rarely more; single pistil with three or four styles
Fruit a many seeded dry capsule, ovoid, usually a little longer than the sepals, opening by six teeth, breaking into five segments at maturity.
Seeds dark brown, yellowish or dull reddish-brown, nearly circular, slightly elongated toward the notch at the scar, about 1 mm across, the surface covered with conspicuous curved rows of irregular wart-like projections, marginal projections are more prominent and toothed in appearance.
Padyala is best harvested from pre – winter to spring season of the year.
Padyala is used as a potherb. Tender terminals along with leaves and flower are used for saag preparation. Another very unique traditional dish called pacholan is prepared from padyala in villages which is very fondly eaten by people but now losing its ground among younger generation because of modernisation.It is believed in villages that padyaala has very cooling effect on the body. Therefore, to neutralize this effect, leaves of other pot herbs, especially from the genus Brassica, are mixed with padyaala.
Chopped tender tips of Padayala, a few other locally grown pot herbs from the genus Brassica and spinach, 1 kg; mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1 tea spoon; red chillies, 2-3; medium sized chopped onions, 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.
Padyala leaves and shoots collected for cooking
Boil the chopped tender tips till these are soft. Then mesh manually or in an electric blender. Then sauté with hot mustard oil and the spices listed before in sequence. This sauted sag is then ready to serve.
Saag made from padyaala
Chopped tender tips of Padayala, a few other locally grown pot herbs from the genus Brassica and spinach, 250 gm;rice water.5-6 bowls, mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1 tea spoon; red chillies, 2-3; medium sized chopped onions, 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.
Usually Pacholan is prepared from saag which is left from first meal but can be prepared from fresh leaves. For preparing this recipe from fresh leaves boil them till they are soft and mash manually. Now saute in hot mustered oil along with spices listed above in sequence. Then mix to it 4-5 bowls of rice water, mix properly and cook till it boil and then serve with rice
Padyala leaves can also be cooked into kachru.
For preparing a kachru, ingredients required are 1/2 kg fresh leaves, 1/2 kg besan (black gram powder) or corn flour. 1 cup amount fresh coriander leaves,1/2 table spoon ajwain, 3-5 green chilies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions and salt according to taste
Make a paste of leaves, besan or corn flour and spices.Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put this paste over a pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes then kachru will be ready to serve.
Analysis of Stellaria media leaves revealed thatthese contain, moisture, 91.7; protein, 1.2, crude fibre, 1.7 and total minerals 1.6 g per 100 gm.
Padyala is said to be a good source of Vitamin A and C1 .
It is said to be very useful in inflammations of the digestive, renal, respiratory and reproductive tracts. It has a strengthening and soothing action on mucus and dermoid surfaces and as such can be applied direct if necessary. It is also useful in severe inflammations of skin, such as erysipals, scalds and burns, crurural ulcers, haemorrhoids, eczema and inflammations of eyes.
Padayla grows as a weed in cultivated fields, damp places or shady localities. It is fed to cattle too.
- Anonymous, (1976), Wealth of India:Raw Materials, Vol IX, CSIR, New Delhi.