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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gotu Kola Mania

The past few days have seen some hustle and bustle on this particular thread within the GCS Forum. Gotu kola has done my family so much good that I cannot help but spread the news. When friends complain about memory loss, or tiredness or insomnia, or piles, or varicose veins, I hold the person by the hand and drag them over to my pots and then wax lyrical about the miracle herb. When they look unconvinced, I drag them over to my bookshelves and take out some SERIOUS looking research reports about the herb.

But most people leave my house nodding politely and smiling gently at my barminess. The barrier to entry is high. Firstly, most people don't garden so the thought of keeping a plant alive for food is just... just... just NOT cool. Secondly, the herb is so distasteful that tongues write long petitions to the brain seeking redress.

You really must WANT to eat it.

Unwittingly, I stumbled upon a most motivating argument when I wrote about my complexion, and how it has turned from dull and saggy to firm and bright.... how The Husband (a man of few words and not enough praise) commented that my complexion looked like a 25 year old's... how an Israeli salesman touting Dead Sea mud packs fainted dead away when I told him that I don't use creams or mud packs of any sort at my age.

Ok... he didn't really faint but he was quite quite incredulous.

Anyway, the moment the word "complexion" made its appearance, the forum thread took on a life of its own. People reportedly rushed down to the nearest nursery to get pots of it. Others went to Little India and posted photos of veritable masses of leaves and stems. Many lamented that the pots had all flown off the shelves and they were too late. One lady (I shall not say who) cooked up 100 leaves of it and ate it at dinner.

You see, these people really WANT to. And I am so very pleased because I know this herb is a good thing, and it is available cheap in humongous quantities. There is enough to go around and everyone can enjoy it.


Open Kitchen Concept said...

Hehe.. I left ur house with a dug-up portion of the plant! I must confessed it was totally for the complexion part though! :)

petunialee said...

Oh... did I tell you about the complexion then? Heh! Heh! Heh!

Blur Ting said...

Oh, I feel so guilty now. I've stopped eating because I lack the discipline and I was worried mine wasn't the real gotu kola.I did pinch a strand from the wild the last time I went trekking and I know it's the correct one cos the leaves are like Pac-man. The strand has survived but growing so very slowly, I'm just waiting for it to spread so I can eat some everyday. It's going to be a slow wait. Can I still eat the normal penny worth in the meantime?

petunialee said...

I eat the one that I showed you. Technically, that is hydrocotyle verticillata but I assure you that it is edible (seen it sold as a vege) and it has the same effects as centella asiatica... I've been eating for 2 years on and off. It works for me. Sinhalese grocers call both gotu kola... Others call both pennywort. Malay grocers call both pegaga. People who work in markets seldom bother with the latin names.

Blur Ting said...

Ok great! For the sake of my complexion, I'm back on the gotu kola diet!

Ivana said...

You're causing a real riot = )

Cianoy said...

Hello there. I see you're a proponent of Gotu Kola.

I'm tending a couple in my garden and I've read about the long list of benefits of eating the leaves.

I haven't tried it though since I don't have enough planted yet. I might end up killing my plants.

I'm concerned about the taste though. You described it as tasting really bad. Can you compare it to something so I can at least know what to expect?



petunialee said...

Hi Chris,
Taste is subjective. This is a relatively bitter herb. However, Indians cook it with spices and it can taste quite good that way. I eat it everyday, microwaved in a bit of water. In my experience this herb needs a lot of sun and water.

Cianoy said...

Oh, I'm not so much into the bitter stuff. If I treat it like lettuce and put it on my ham & egg sandwich, would that be enough to overpower the bitterness? ;-)

I swear I'm doing something wrong with my plants. They're dying on me!

petunialee said...

Gotu kola likes wet soil. I fertilise mine with diluted fermented milk (1l fresh milk + 100l water + 250g sugar fermented over 4 days)... seaweed extract... high phosphorus chemical fertiliser... fish emulsion, rotated over a few weeks.

Cianoy said...

I tried flooding them in a container without drainage. They still wilted initially, although they seem to be making a comeback now. I figured they would thrive in water since they're aquatic plants.

petunialee said...

Cianoy - I am not sure, but it would seem that you may have over-fertilised at the start and then when you added water, it diluted the mineral salt contents, allowing your plant to absorb water.

It's probably better to underfeed than overfeed a garden?

Cianoy said...

Time will tell I guess. My Gotu Kolas have been up and down as of late. It's hard to guess if they're okay or not.

I still haven't tried eating them!