Family: Lamiaceae

Synonyms: Micromeria ovata, Clinopodium biflorum,Micromeria biflora var. indica, Satureja biflora, Thymus biflorus

Common Name: Lemon Scented Thyme

Local Name: Pushanbanda (पूषनबंदा)

Pushanbanda is a perennial aromatic herb of Western Himalaya. It is commonly seen growing on slopes along waysides, pathways, in gardens and wastelands between altitudinal range of 700- 2000 m.

Pushanbanda growing wild

Plant can easily propagate with seeds and cut section of root or stem. It grows well in sunny well drained habitat.

The flowers and leaves of Pushanbanda are edible and used as a flavoring agent in various food preparation. These can be used both fresh and dried. Dried leaves and flowers are powdered and used as a flavoring agent round the year. Fresh leaves are used in making herbal tea, pakoras, chutney, rayata, kachru (basen chilla with flowers and spices), parantha, potato fingers etc.

Pushanbanda is harvested from the wild for local personal use of food, medicine and source of material.

Pushanbanda Plant:

Plant is erect – ascending, aromatic, hairy, perennial herbs, 5-20 cm tall.

Stems with woody creeping base, simple or branched.

Leaves are subsessile, ovate, subacute, entire, 5-8 mm long.

Flowers are small pinkish, in axillary whorls of 1.4. calyx short- hairy, tubular, 13- ribbed, 5- toothed; teeth ciliate. Corolla 8-14 mm long, hairy outside, 2- lipped, upper lip erect, nearly flat, 2- fid; lower lip 3- lobed. Stamens 4, exerted.

Nutlets reddish- brown, smooth, glabrous.

Leaves of pushanbanda can be harvested round the year and flowers are available from spring to autumn season of the year. Sustainable harvesting  of flowers should be promoted by habitat rotation and keeping some flowers on parent plant for ensuring sustainable development.

Edible Uses:

Being an aromatic herb pushanbanda leaves and flowers are dried and powdered to be used in number of food preparation. Fresh leaves & flowers are used in making herbal tea, kachru, pakoras, chutneys, potato fingers etc. in following manner.

Pakoras:

Ingredients:

Fresh leaves & flowers of pushanbanda ,250 g; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour,1/2 kg; mustard oil, 10-12 table spoon; 1 cup fresh coriander plus curry and mint leaves (chopped), 5-6 green chilies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions, 2-3 medium sized finely chopped potato and salt according to taste.

Method:

Make a paste of leaves & flowers, chopped potatoes, basen and spices listed above. Mix well and and make small ball of this paste. Put mustard oil in a fry pan and give these balls a deep fry. Repeat this process till whole paste is over. Pakoras are now ready to serve. Serve these hot with chutney or tomato-ketchup.

Pushanbanda pakoras ready to serve with burans chutney

Pakora Curry:

Ingredients:
Pushanbanda pakoras; 250 g mustard oil 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek seed powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seeds, 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onion, 1; chopped garlic, 4-6 cloves; ginger paste, ½ table spoon; tomato puree, 3 or 5 cups curd.  

Method:

Saute curd in hot mustard oil along with spices listed above in same sequence. Add to it pushanbanda  pakoras and cook for 8-10 minutes. Now add to it garam masala and garnish with mint or coriander leaves. Patharkhar pakora curry is now ready to serve, you can serve it with rice or chapattis

Potato fingers:

Crispy potato fingers prepared from semolina (Sujji), potato and greenpushanbanda leaves & young flowers are a perfect evening or party snack which can be served with chutney or tomato ketchup.

Ingredients:

Medium sized potatoes, 4; sujji, ½ cup amount; finely chopped pushanbanda leaves & flowers, 2 cup amount; green chillies, 4-6; ajwin, ½ tea spoon; black pepper, ¼ tea spoon; deshi ghee, 1 table spoon; mustard oil, 10-12 table spoon. salt according to taste.

Method:

Take ½ cup amount water in a pan. Boil it by adding1 tea spoon desi ghee or oil and salt according to taste. Now add to it sujji and stir it continuously for few seconds. Now transfer sujji to a mixing bowl and let it cool down. Finely grate boiled potato so that no lumps appear when mixed with sujii. Now add finely chopped pushanbanda leaves, flowers and spices listed above. Mix well and ready the mixture into a dough. Grease the palm and prepare fine and thin cylindrical shapes from the dough like a finger. Now in hot mustard oil fry these fingers till these are golden brown and crispy. Repeat the process till whole dough is over. Now crispy potato fingers are ready to serve. Serve hot with chutney/ tomato ketchup or tea.  

Kachru or sosaru:

Kachru is a traditional dish of Western Himalaya cooked as chilla with spices and basen or corn flour. It is served as a evening snack with tea/ chutney/tomato ketch-up.

Ingredients:

For preparing a kachru, ingredients required are 1/2kg fresh leaves & flowers of pushanbanda, 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

Method:

Make a paste of pushanbanda leaves & flowers, 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.

Chutney:

Ingredients:

To prepare chutney, take 100 gm fresh pushanbanda leaves and flowers, 100 gm chopped mint leaves, 50 gm anardana (Dried Punica granatum seeds) or amchoor (Dried Mango powder), 5-6 green chillies, 20 gm coriander leaves/ curry leaves, 2-3 onion, 1table spoon amount ginger.

Method:

Grind well all above ingredients in a mixer grinder and add salt according to taste. Now pushanbanda chutney is ready to serve.

Soup:

Ingredients:

Locally available vegetable (chopped) of summers season, ½ kg; leaves and flowers of pushanbanda , 250 g; mint leaves,10-15 (chopped); corn flour, 1 spoon; black pepper powder,1/4 tea spoon, salt acc.to taste.

Method:

Boil leaves &flowers of pushanbanda along with chopped vegetable in one litre water till they are soft, mesh these manually and sieve the extract in a container. Add to it mint leaves, corn flour, black pepper and salt, then boil for 5-10 minutes. Now soup is ready to serve

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.

Medicinal Uses:

Decoction of the plant mixed with a pinch of black pepper used as an effective remedy for urine blockage, half – full cup thrice daily for 3 days 1. Considered useful for postnatal care and as carminative. Also used for infested wounds of cattle 2,3,4. A paste of the root is pressed between the jaws to treat toothache 5. The plant is rubbed and the aroma inhaled to treat nose bleeds5 . A paste of the plant is used as a poultice to treat wounds 5. The juice of the plant is taken internally and also inhaled in the treatment of sinusitis 5.

Other Uses:

Local people use ariel plant parts of pushanbanda  as afodder. Plant is a good source  of essential oil with main contents as trans-Caryophyllene (43.7%), (-)-cayrophylleneoxide, spathulenol, α -humulene, germacrene-D, farnesene, α myrcene, R(+)-limonene, α -pinene 6.

References:

  1. Sood SK, Thakur S. (2004): Ethnobotany of Rewalsar Himalaya. Deep Publications.
  2. Abraham, Z. (1981). Ethnobotany of the Todas, the Kotas and the Irulas of Nilgiris. Glimpses of Indian Ethnobotany. Oxford & IBH, New Delhi, 308-320.
  3. Ambasta, S. S. (1986). The useful plants of India (p. 650). CSIR, New Delhi, India: Publications & Information Directorate.
  4. Singh, K. K., Palvi, S. K., & Singh, H. B. (1980). Survey of some medicinal plants of Dharchula block in Pithoragarh district of UP. Bull. Medico-ethnobot. Res, 1, 8-24.
  5. Manandhar, N. P. (2002). Plants and people of Nepal. Timber press.
  6. Saad, B., & Said, O. (2011). Greco-Arab and Islamic herbal medicine: traditional system, ethics, safety, efficacy, and regulatory issues. John Wiley & Sons.

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