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A peculiar Thai vegetable, rarely known among farang

March 15, 2011

In the new book on Thai fruits and vegetables we describe some 130 species. Of course, there are more species to explore, but in many cases it does not make sense to publish them since the westerners (farang) visiting Thailand rarely see them anyhow. At Dokmai Garden we grow many such plants. One of them was introduced by Nived Seehamongkol who frequently uses it in her Esan cooking. Our specimen was derived from a small home garden in Samoeng west of Chiang Mai. The name of the plant is Tiliacora triandra (Menispermaceae), a jungle vine belonging to a family of peculiar plants. We are not aware of any English name, and the Esan name ‘yanang’ would translate into ‘Mrs grandma’. We therefore introduce the English name ‘Grandma’s jungle leaf’.

Grandma’s jungle leaf is never eaten fresh. This is how (grandma) Nived Seehamongkol cooks them:

Pick 10-15 leaves, rub them against each other and add 3 dl of water.

Boil the water and add bamboo shoots, mushrooms and ant ‘eggs’ (in reality they are pupae and larvae of Oecophylla smaragdina). Use the lemony manglak basil (Ocimum americanum, Lamiaceae), fish sauce and salt as spices.

Our Tropical Gardening School students like it. Come to Dokmai Garden and try it too!

Nived & Ketsanee Seehamongkol

Grandma’s jungle leaf is now in blossom at Dokmai Garden.

P.S. Today is the last day to sign up for the bird excursion to Doi Inthanon!

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