Humans have the supremacy to obtain desired results, we have got this power of domestication since we have originated, and after the domestication of the dog, we have learned to keep everything under control. I wonder! If we had originated in the era of dinosaurs, I must say we could have tamed those giant creatures also. Haha..! We have adeptness to select the desirable traits of the plants and animals and this selection makes them dependent on us for breeding and further growth. Our ancestors have exerted a lot to endower us with this large variety of domesticated food crops, vegetables, and fruits, but we are also their domesticated clines raised in a comfortable environment so can’t go beyond our limits, therefore, doing selection out of already domesticated cultivars which are resulting in narrowing our nutrition resources. Phew..! Agricultural technologies have improved a lot which convenience us to grow our favorite crops all year round and to make it available at doorstep through the elaborate transportation system. Now businessmen will sell profitable products, therefore, they keep only highly sellable vegetables and fruits and we have limited our grocery list too that we buy monotonous food items all the time. Earlier our grandparents were cooking as per seasonal availability of the indigenous food crop like gourds and ladyfinger in summers, cauliflower, carrots and radish in winters, similarly for other seasons but now we don’t care or aware about a seasonal change of crops we will buy the same for the whole year around. Now you must be thinking, why I am stressing over seasonal crops or seasonal indigenous crops? There are two most important reasons one is us and another one is crop biodiversity, both of them are interlinked because domesticated crop biodiversity requires us to breed then only we will remain healthy otherwise we have to be dependent on health supplement and there is no wonder our grandparents never required to take vital supplements for health because they were having diverse food items on the menu. If we will limit our food preferences we will limit our growth and vanish indigenous seasonal food crops. People thought that only Tigers are under the endangered species category but not only tigers there are many crops that are endangered to vanish. Some crop plants are becoming endangered because modern agriculture encourages farmers to focus just on the fastest-growing breeds. As per historic reports, 86% of apple varieties grown in the USA have vanished. It’s not too late we can revive hyper exotic crops by including them in our grocery list, it will not only improve biodiversity it will also replenish macro and micro-nutrient requirements of our well being. So, here I have compiled a list of exotic vegetables and fruits from all around the world, grab the one which you can access in your region.
1.Shevla: (Malayalam – kattu-cena, Marathi – mogari kanda, Hindi – Jangli suran This veggie is also known as dragon stalk which is available during monsoon season in the parts of western India. It helps in restoring the gut bacteria that pollution destroys and boosting immunity and micronutrient (B12, D etc) assimilation. So stop taking synthetic probiotic and vitamin D supplements, try this exotic rarely grown veggie.
2.Phodshi Bhaji: (Safed Mulsi, Mushli, Karli, Kuli, Peva)
It is commonly found in patches of hillside forest of all over India, It generally flowers in the month of August and September. Along with protein and minerals, the Nutrition value of this veggie is it helps in curing Anorexia, bronchitis and other breathing-related problems. After having this you can say bye…bye to bronchitis…
3.Parsnips:(chukandar in India, Daikons)
A close relative of the carrot, earlier it was used as a sweetener before the discovery of cane sugar or the sugar we are using these days. Actually it is a native of Eurasia, but it is found in China, Japan as well as in India. The parsnip is usually cooked, but can also be eaten raw. It is high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. It also contains antioxidants and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Say goodbye! To immunity boosters, as it has plenty of potassium and fiber will help you in shedding those extra kilos.
4. Quince: (Sheephal in India, Arabic al safarjal)
It belongs to the family of the apple and pear it thrives best in rocky slopes and can sustain a variety of climate. This once-popular delicacy has taken the backseat in the modern times of the molecular biotechnology world. Quince is rarely eaten raw but employed in cooking where just a small section of it would impart the whole recipe with a pleasant fruity aroma. Quince flesh along with its peel contains good amounts of fiber. Further, its gritty granules in the pulp composed of astringent compounds known as tannins namely, catechin and epicatechin. They bind to cancer-causing toxins and chemicals in the colon and thereby protecting its mucosa from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancers, and diverticulitis. Also, it helps reduce body weight and blood LDL cholesterol levels.
5.Snow peas: Sugar snap peas
These are flat pea pods (also called Chinese pea pods) containing very small peas inside, these have ample amount of fiber if compared with its starch content regular garden peas are fairly starchy. Edible pea pods are a good source of vitamin C, one of the most widely known antioxidants. Snow peas are available in the late spring and early summer months.
6.Sorrel: Spinach dock, Gongura in India
Sorrel are habitants of grassland that can be found throughout Europe from the northern Mediterranean coast to the north of Scandinavia and in parts of central and south Asia. It has been introduced to North America also. It can be savor in soups and sauces or can be added to salads; its flavor reminds of kiwifruit or sour wild strawberries, pungency in its taste is because of oxalic acid, which is mildly toxic. Nigerians generally prepare stews with spinach. In some Hausa communities, it is steamed and made into salad using kuli-kuli , salt, pepper, onion and tomatoes. In India, the leaves are used in soups or curries made with yellow lentils and peanuts. In Afghanistan, the leaves are coated in a wet batter and deep-fried, then served as an appetizer or if in season during Ramadan, for breaking the fast. This veggie is fat-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a good source of magnesium and manganese. Jaundice can be effectively treated with the juice extracted from sorrel leaves. The herb relieves cold and fever symptoms.
7. Ulluco: Papa Lisa, Olluco, Ruba, Chugua and Melloco
Let me introduce you to colorful exotic looking Andean root tuber which belongs to the family of Malabar spinach. It is barely known outside the Andean region where it is grown. They are found in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentine, and Venezuela. The texture and flavor are very similar to the meat of the boiled peanut without the skin. It contains Carbohydrates less than grossly used potatoes, along with that it has proteins and vitamin C. It can be a healthy replacement of adipose potatoes.
8.Velvet Bean:Cowitch, Cowhage, Kapikachu, Nescafe, Sea bean
It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of the world like southern China and eastern India. Velvet bean has no stinging silky long hair as found in its other species. It is considered as a viable source of dietary proteins due to its high protein concentration (23–35%) in addition to its digestibility, which is comparable to that of other pulses such as soybean, rice bean, and lima bean, therefore, regarded a good source of food. It is established as a herbal drug used for the management of male infertility, nervous disorders, and also as an aphrodisiac. It has been shown that its seeds are potential for substantial medicinal importance. The ancient Indian medical system, Ayurveda, traditionally used cowitch, even to treat such things as Parkinson’s disease.
9.Wasabi: Japanese horseradish
It is rare to find real wasabi plants, as the demand for real wasabi is very high in Japan, therefore, they import an amount from Taiwan, Korea, Israel, Thailand, and New Zealand. In North America, a handful of companies and small farmers cultivate Wasabia japonica. A UK grower, believed to be the only producer in Europe, also grows wasabi in Dorset and Hampshire outside Japan; Wasabi is generally used as a paste that makes sushi or other foods more flavorful by adding spice. Its stem is used as a condiment that has an extremely strong pungency similar to hot mustard (not like the capsaicin in chili pepper). It produces vapors that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue. Wasabi has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-platelet, and potentially anti-cancer properties. It contains potassium, calcium, and vitamin C. As it is generally used in small amounts as a condiment and therefore does not qualify as a significant nutrient source.
10.Water Chestnut: Singhara
It is a grass-like sedge native to Asia, Australia, tropical Africa, and various islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is grown in many countries for its edible corms. They are a good source of fiber and have very low fat and sodium content but high-calorie count. They are cholesterol and gluten-free. They also have cooling and detoxifying properties. Water chestnuts are known to aid in curing jaundice. Juice extracted from the fruit helps ease problems caused by nausea and bad appetite. Singhara is considered the best home treatment for diabetes. It is a rich source of proteins, minerals, and essential carbohydrates
Watercress is a rapidly growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic, perennial plant native to Europe and Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. Its close relatives are cress, mustard, radish, and wasabi, which are renowned for their piquant flavor. This vegetable is low in calories and high in nutrition, it has 95% water and has low contents of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and dietary fiber. A 100-gram serving of watercress provides 11 calories, is particularly rich in vitamin K, and contains significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, and manganese.
12.Snake fruit: Shalak
This leathery jacketed pine fruit is native of Java and Sumatra of Indonesia, fruit generally resembles fig but after peeling it has three sections like garlic cloves, it tastes sweet and slightly acidic with the crunchy texture of the apple. This fruit is highly nutritious and loaded with dietary fiber, protein, sugars, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin C, vitamin A, as well as various antioxidants and active ingredients. There are only 82 calories in a 100-gram serving of salak primarily composed of carbohydrates, 4% fats, and 1% protein.
13.Horned melon: Kiwano, jelly melon, melano, gaka
It is one of the few sources of water during summer in the Kalahari Desert; therefore it is a traditional fruit of Africa. It is now grown in the United States, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. Taste of this fruit has the combination of banana and passion fruit generally used as snack and salad. Kiwano improves digestion, neutralizes free radicals, preventing cancer, slowing down the aging process, alleviating stress, improving visibility and strengthening bones. Other benefits include promoting cognitive function, strengthening hair follicles, enhancing the skin, maintaining heart health, promoting brain health, treating iron deficiency, curing diabetes, aiding recovery from heatstroke, strengthening muscle, and decreasing the risk of obesity.
This evergreen tree is believed to be originated in the Sunda Islands of the Malay Archipelago and the Moluccas of Indonesia. You can find it growing in Southeast Asia and Southwest India, it is also found in other tropical areas like Puerto Rico and Florida. This fruit has a fine fusion of sweet and tangy. It is a low-calorie fruit 100 gm contains only 65 calories, along with that it is low in cholesterol-rich in dietary fiber, vitamins C, A, D, B complex, minerals, and proteins. It helps s to cure urinary tract infection, improves immunity and digestion, also effective against allergies as it contains histamines. It is a power-packed feed
15.Duku: Langsat, Lanzones
It is a native of Peninsular Malaysia but you can find it in Sulawesi and Sarawak, Northern Borneo Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, and Malaysia. This is mainly consumed as fruit but along with it, its plant is also very beneficial for health remedies like its seed can be used for deworming and ulcer medication, the bark is used to treat dysentery and malaria. The fruit is also very nutritious contain Vitamins like A, B and C also contain antioxidants, proteins carbohydrates, and minerals.
16.Star apple: cainito, caimito, tar apple
This giant fruit is originated from the Greater Antilles and the West Indies but it is spread to the lowlands of Central America and is now grown throughout the tropics, including Southeast Asia. The fruits are delicious as a fresh dessert fruit; it is sweet and best served chilled. Infusions of the leaves have been used against diabetes and articular rheumatism. The fruit has antioxidant properties.
17.Bharangi: Narivalai-Tamil, Bhamunhati-Bengali
A slightly woody shrub with bluntly quadrangular stems and branches found forests in all parts of India up to an altitude of 1500m. Bharangi is one of the common herbs used in the treatment of common cold, chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, cough, and other chronic respiratory problems. It is also used by Ayurveda for relief from fever and hyper-pyrexia. Bharangi has been investigated for its antipyretic and antihistamine activities. You can use it in your daily cooking for better health.
One of the first plants to be domesticated as a food crop, purslane has become a cosmopolitan weed of tropical to warm temperate climates. The plant is often harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine and is often sold in local markets. It is cultivated on a small scale and in-home gardens for its edible leaves and is also grown as an ornamental. Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable. Studies have found that purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin B, carotenoids), and dietary minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron.
It is an edible ornamental plant. The plants are well known in East Africa’s highlands and are used under their Swahili name, mfungu, It grows widespread across Mexico, where it is known as “Velvet flower”, northern South America, tropical Africa, the West Indies, South, East and Southeast Asia where it is grown as a native or naturalized wildflower and is cultivated as a nutritious leafy green vegetable. These leaves, young stems and young inflorescences are used for stew, as they soften up readily in cooking. The leaves also have a soft texture and a mild spinach-like taste. They are also pepped up with such things as hot pepper, garlic, fresh lime, and red palm oil and eaten as a side dish. Ayurvedic physicians recommend the seeds of this plant for treating kidney stones
20.Taakla: Senna Tora
It grows wild in most of the tropics and is considered a weed in many places. Its native range is in Central America. The whole plant as well including roots leaves and seeds have been widely used in traditional Indian and South Asian medicine. The plant and seeds are edible. The edible part of the plant varies from 30 to 40 percent. Young leaves can be cooked as a vegetable while the roasted seeds are a good substitute for coffee. In Sri Lanka, its flowers are added to food. It is used as a natural pesticide in organic farms and its powder is most commonly used in the pet food industry. It is highly beneficial for all skin disorders and allergies as it has emodin glucosides it also helps to burn excess fat.