Aponogeton Wild Delicacies

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Aponogeton (Aponogeton rigidifolius) which is locally known as Kekatiya is an edible plant native to Sri Lanka that is grown in aquatic ecosystems such as shallow stagnant water, rice fields and marshes. The plant has a single blooming stalk, aerial and submerged leaves and reproduces through tubers. Tiny fragrant white coloured flowers are produced on the erected stalk as clusters. The flowers, tender stalks and leaves of the plant are edible.

Among the four Aponogeton species that are found in Sri Lanka such as A. jacobsenii, A.rigidifolius, A. natan and A. crispus, two species A. jacobsenii and A.rigidifolius are endemic to Sri Lanka. The species including the two native ones are under threat of extinction due to various reasons such as discharging chemicals in their habitats, illicit export of Aponogeton as an ornamental aquatic plant, irregular development activities that cause the destruction of their habitats and haphazard extraction of the plant for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. It is high time to undertake conservation endeavours and to adopt sustainable consumption practices for the long-term existence and consumption of these endangered species.

Aponogeton has cooling effects and used in Ayurvedic medicines to treat inflammation. It is also used to treat diseases of urinary tract, diabetes and gastritis. Kekatiya is also known in Ayurveda as a good aphrodisiac and recommended for breastfeeding mothers to increase lactation.

Aponogeton has various culinary purposes apart from its medicinal use. Curried and stir fired Aponogeton are appetizing and can be an explosion to the taste buds. Aponogeton is neither commonly found in supermarkets nor available with vegetable vendors.  Kekatiya is sold at rural weekly fairs and sometimes available at small-scale boutiques. 

Aponogeton
Aponogeton is locally known as Kekatiya

APONOGETON CURRY WITH COCONUT SAUCE

PREPARATION OF COCONUT SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil- 2tblsp
  • White pepper- ½ tsp
  • Lemon zest
  • Ginger- garlic paste- 1 tsp
  • Curry powder- 1 tsp
  • Soy sauce- 2 tsps
  • Sugar- 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • First extracted coconut milk- 150ml

METHOD

In a medium sized bowl, add first extracted coconut milk. Add soy sauce, sugar and Kosher salt and combine the ingredients well. Place a skillet over a medium-high heat and add olive oil and heat for about 30 seconds. When the olive oil is heated and starts fizzing, add the coconut mixture and stir well. Bring this to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens. You may cook this for about two minutes. Pour the sauce into a bowl and let it cool.

PREPARATION OF APONOGETON CURRY WITH COCONUT SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • Kekatiya (Aponogeton)- 250 g
  • Coconut sauce
  • Sprats- 50g
  • Spring onions- 4 chopped
  • Garlic- 1 chopped
  • Curry leaves
  • Pandan leaf- a piece
  • Curry powder- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
  • Chili powder- 1 tsp
  • Tomato-1- chopped
  • Green chili-2 chopped
  • Cinnamon
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh  cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Wash Kekatiya thoroughly. Since the plant is grown in the water, impurities can be accumulated in the plant and sometimes bad odour can be emanated. Once the Kekatiya is washed well with cold water to remove dirt, put it in a hot water bowl for a couple of minutes to expel the odour. Meanwhile half-fry the sprats and leave aside. 

Chop Kekatiya stalks into small pieces but leave the flowers of Kekatiya uncut.  In an earthenware pot, add the chopped Kekatiya stalks with the flowers. Add sprats, chopped spring onions, garlic, curry leaves, pandan leaf, green chili, cinnamon and tomato. Then add curry powder, turmeric powder, chili powder and pounded cardamom and combine the ingredients with a coconut shell ladle. Leave mix of ingredients for about five minutes so that they will become kind of marinated. 

Then add water to the mix and place the pot over a medium-high heat stove and bring to a boil until the ingredients become tender. Finally add the coconut sauce and simmer for three to four minutes.

The tasty and healthy Aponogeton Curry with Coconut Sauce is ready to serve! You can taste this curry with steamed jasmine rice, grilled bread or Chapathy. 

Aponogeton curry with coconut sauce

STIR FRIED APONOGETON WITH GROUND PORK

Aside from curried Aponogeton, the locals also prepare stir fried Aponogeton. The process of making Stir Fried Aponogeton is not very difficult.   

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

  • Aponogeton- 250g
  • Ground pork- 100g
  • Chili powder- 2 tsp
  • Curry powder – 1tsp
  • Turmeric powder-  ¼ tsp
  • Green chili- 2pods- chopped
  • Crushed cardamom
  • Onions- 2- chopped
  • Ginger- garlic paste- 2 tsp
  • Lime
  • Tomato – 1- chopped
  • Oyster sauce- 1 tsp
  • Pandan leaves
  • Curry leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

DIRECTION

Heat olive oil in a wok and add ginger-garlic paste, curry leaves, pandan leaf, cinnamon, crushed cardamom, onions, green chili and tomato and fry for a minute. Add ground pork and mix the ingredients well. Add salt and let the pork cook for 5 minutes.

Then add Aponogeton and mix well.  Add chili powder, curry powder, turmeric and a pinch of salt and stir the pork and Aponogeton well. Cook for about 5 minutes and add oyster sauce and stir well. Let it cook for another 2 minutes and take the wok off the heat. Squeeze half a lime and stir well and add white pepper if you prefer spicy flavour.

Aponogeton with Ground Pork is ready to serve. Enjoy the wild taste of Kekatiya and be healthy.                                                                                     

                                                                               

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