PETALING JAYA: It’s often been called “The Miracle Tree”, “The Tree of Life” and “Mother’s Milk”, thanks to its high nutritional and medicinal properties.
Moringa, a staple of Indian cuisine for eons, has been surging in popularity as more people around the world become aware of its nutritional and medicinal properties. Its leaves are known to be rich in various important nutrients, including protein, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin and iron.
Global Market Insights predicts annual consumption of this superfood to exceed 2.5 million tonnes by 2025.
This fast-growing tree, native to tropical regions worldwide, is renowned for its versatility, as all of its parts – leaves, roots, flowers and seed pods included – are edible.
And in renowned culinary author Mohana Gill’s latest cookbook “Moringalicious”, enthusiasts can try over 60 delicious recipes incorporating this nutrient-dense plant.
“I like to think of this cookbook as more than just a compilation of recipes. It is a journey, an ode, and a celebration of the moringa tree. It’s not just a treat to the palate but also nourishment for the soul,” Mohana, 87, said in a speech during the launch of “Moringalicious”.
Born in Myanmar, Mohana started writing books at age 70, proving you’re never too old to chase your dreams. She has since written over 20 books, including “Fruitastic”, “Hayley’s Vegemania Garden”, “Flowerlicious” and “Myanmar: Cuisine, Culture and Customs”.
Her work has won her many accolades, including several Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
“Moringalicious” was launched at the Ruang Petaling Jaya space recently, and was attended by guests and dignitaries all dressed in grand shades of green. The event was officiated by Tengku Puteri Nor Zehan Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Alhaj Tengku Puan Panglima Perlis.
Several of the dishes from Mohana’s cookbook were served, including a mouth-watering selection of moringa-infused desserts.
Speaking at the launch, Mohana said moringa has been a major part of her life for the last eight decades.
“Growing up in Burma, moringa trees were everywhere, and we had many in our garden. I have vivid memories of my mother in the kitchen, transforming various parts of the moringa into nourishing meals for our family,” she reflected.
According to the author, she was inspired to write a book paying tribute to the moringa while at home during the pandemic.
“Apart from Malaysian, ‘Moringalicious’ also has Filipino, Burmese, Indian, French, Japanese and Italian recipes. This is to establish how versatile the moringa is. I thought it would be better to show readers how they could easily add moringa into their favourite dishes, instead of having to create new ones,” Mohana told FMT Lifestyle.
The book is divided into sections about cooking with moringa flowers, moringa leaves and moringa drumsticks.
Recipes include Moringa Flower Fritters, Moringa Macarons, Moringa Veggie Enchiladas, Mutton with Moringa Drumsticks, Moringa Pesto, and many more. There’s even a section with pet-friendly recipes!
Any recipes she’d particularly recommend? Malaysian readers should try the Moringa Nasi Lemak, Mohana said with a laugh, and enjoy a new version of this classic local favourite.
Another highlight is the Moringa Ice Cream – an especially good pick for people unacquainted with moringa.
Creating some of the dishes, such as the moringa-leaves tempura, can be a challenge, she said, because it is usually “harder” vegetables such as sweet potato leaves that are made into this Japanese dish, while moringa leaves are soft.
However, Mohana eventually found the right temperature and cooking methods, and the results, she said, are crispy and delicious.
“Moringalicious” has already been nominated in several categories at the upcoming Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, about which Mohana is delighted. She said she hopes readers enjoy the book, and that it will help them incorporate healthier foods in their diets.
As for the long term, “I hope governments around the world establish action plans and initiatives to plant more moringa trees, as a sustainable form of sustenance and nutrition. And I hope this book can do its part to promote moringa, Malaysia’s gift to the world”, Mohana concluded.
To get your own copy of ‘Moringalicious’, email Mohana at [email protected].