Family:  Balsaminaceae

Synonyms: Impatiens gigantea

Common Name: Dog flower

Local Name: Halu ghaa (हलू घा), Chaul, Kwal.  

Halu ghaa is an annual herbaceous plant of Western Himalaya that is in flower and fruiting from June to September. It is found growing along canals and pathways in forests, shrubberies, cultivated land and other shaded moist places in humus-rich habitats. It grows best in moist well-drained. humus rich. cool and shady habitats. Halu ghaa is a plant of hills and occur above 1800m to 4000 m altitudinal range in Western

Halu ghaa growing wild

Himalaya. It can be spread or transported to surrounding habitats through seeds without any external agency, because as the seed ripens capsules open forcibly and eject the seed to a considerable distance.

Raw seeds and leaves of halu ghaa are edible and eaten after through cooking. These make an excellent addition as a stuffing in variety of local traditional dishes of hills viz parantha, siddu, kachuri etc. Raw seeds are also pickled to ensure their availability round the year. Seeds are also rich source of edible oil. Harvesting of seeds is little -bit difficult because its capsules are sensitive to touch and even before the seed is ripe, a slight touch to ripen capsules open it forcibly and seed are ejected to a considerable distance. Thus, seed collection of halu ghaa is problematic but adventurous also.

According to literature regular ingestion of large quantities of these plants can be dangerous due to their high mineral content1, but local people consume this plant without any side effects.

Halu ghaa is harvested from wild as a source of food, fodder and oil for local personal use.

Halu- ghaa Plant:

Plant is annual, robust, glabrous herb, up to 2.5 m tall. Lower leaves alternate, upper ones opposite or whorled, ovate- lanceolate, 6- 20 cm long, glabrous, acuminate, crenate, bristle like gland on each tooth; petioles 1-2 cm long.

Plant of Halu ghaa

Capsules linear, horizontal, 2.5 – 4 cm long, tertete or nearly so, acute.

Edible seeds and tender leaves can be harvested from summer end to autumn season of the year. As seeds are the means of regeneration, so they need to be sustainably harvested by rotating habitat to ensure sustainability .

Edible Uses:

Young leaves and raw seeds of halu ghaa are edible and eaten after through cooking. Leaves are generally eaten in addition to other potherbs of the rainy season as a leafy vegetable saag or made into gravy with potato, cheese or other edible tuberous roots. Seeds are very delicious and along with young leaves are an excellent addition to a variety of local traditional dishes of hills like parantha, siddu, kachuri etc. Raw sundried seeds are pickled to ensure their availability for off season, but the seeds are difficult to harvest in large quantity, because of their exploding seed capsules which scatter the ripe seed at the slightest touch.

Harvesting halu ghaa seeds

Siddu:

Siddu is a healthy delicious steam cooked dish of upper region or hiils of Western Himalayas

Ingredient:

Wheat flour, 3 cup amount; walnut & halu ghaa seed, 3 cup amount; yeast ½ tea spoon; medium sized onion, 1; coriander powder, 1table spoon; red or green chilies, 4-5; chopped green halu ghaa and coriander leaves, 4 cup amount and salt according to taste.

Method:

Dip yeast in half cup of water for 3-5 minutes. Add it to wheat flour along with one cup of warm water and then make its dough. Keep this dough for 3-4 hour and if weather is cool then cover dough with warm cloth. Dip walnut seed in water for 3 hour and grind dipped seed, halu ghaa seeds along with onion, chopped halu ghaa and coriander leaves and chilies into a paste for stuffing siddu. Make a thick chapatti of dough and stuff it with paste. Now fold this chapatti and twist from side to prepare siddu. Place all siddu prepared like this in a plate and apply thin film of oil over them. Now place water inside siddu maker and let it boil. Now place siddu in all the partition of siddu maker. Keep a cotton cloth or Berginia cillata leaves over uppermost partition of siddu maker to avoid steam drops on the siddu. Steam all the siddu inside siddu maker for 20 to 25 minutes. Now siddu are ready to serve.  They can be served with Tomato catchup, chutney or Desi ghee.

Siddu

Parantha:

Parantha  is a  morning breakfast prepared served with curd/butter/pickle/chutney etc. It can be cooked with any greens/boiled potatoes/cheese or some wild boiled fruits like fig spp.

Ingredients:

Finelychopped young halu ghaa leaves, 200 g; raw seed of halu ghaa , 250 g Oil or ghee. 8-10 table spoon; wheat flour, 4 cup amount; chopped medium sized onion, 2-3, red or green chilies, 3-4, black pepper, ¼ tea spoon, black salt according to taste.

Method:

Ground seed and add to it chopped leaves and spices listed above. Mix well to make Fine paste. Now parantha dough is prepared by mixing wheat flour and water. Knead dough till it is soft, let it rest for sometime. Make small round balls of dough, stuff paste inside balls and roll to thin layered flat breads, now in hot tawa smear some oil and place flatbread over it. Cook both sides by applying oil. Now parantha is ready to serve. Serve it hot with chutney/ tomato ketchup/ pickle / butter/ curd according to choice.

Kachuri:

Harvested Halu ghaa seeds

Ingredient:

Raw seed  and young leaves of halu ghaa, 1/2 kg; boiled potato, 2-3; wheat flour, 7-8 cup amount; yeast, 5-10 g; mustard oil, 1/2 liter; fenugreek powder, 1/2 table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1-3 table spoon; red chilies; 10-15; grated ginger , 250 g; , Chopped green coriander, tirmir (Zanthoxylum armatum), mint (Mentha piperita) and curry (Murraya koeingii) leaves, 2-3 cup amount and salt according to taste.

Method:

For preparing kachuri prepare dough of wheat, flour along with yeast. Allow it to rest for 3-4 hour. Ground seed and add to it chopped leaves, meshed potato and spices listed above. Mix well to make a fine paste. Roll dough already made into small disc or round breadspread and stuff it with paste. Give a deep fry to the stuffed disc in hot mustered oil and take them out. Repeat this for whole dough and paste, now kachuri is ready to serve. Serve hot with chutney/rayata/pickle/ desi ghee.

Pickle

Ingredients:

Raw seed of halu ghaa, 250g; lemon juice, 200 g; salt, 1 tea spoon, black salt, 1 tea spoon; black pepper,1/4 tea spoon; turmeric powder,1/2 tea spoon.  asafetida (hing), pinch off.

Method:

Wash seeds and keep in full sunlight for 1 hour. Now in a hot pan mix dried seeds well with spices listed above and lemon juice for making pickle. Now place pickle in a ceramic jar and pickle will be ready to eat after 3-5 days. If you want to preserve it for longer time than add some more lemon juice and make sure that seeds remain plunged in lemon juice. 

Other Uses:

Plant is used as a fodder.  Seeds are rich source of oil

References:

  1. Schofield, J. J. (1989); Discovering Wild Plants-Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.

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