In the recent weeks, I explored few supermarkets and wet markets on the island. Love to discover ingredients that is common and native to this region like gotu kola. I used to love this herb that came from a creeping plant. It usage varies in home cooking like as salad, soup and in curry dishes. On street of Bangkok where I visited last month, gotu kola is sold as juice. Also rooted in the ancient herbal remedies such as Ayurveda. In Auckland, where I spent most of my young adult life, I came across in Avondale market. One of my friend plant this in Auckland and we used to feast on the leave as salad when invitation for dinner to her place. In Sydney, surely I’ve seen this at one of the Sri Lankan shop. Even in Dubai, some Lulu joints stock them. But I never bought. So, when I came across the heart-shaped leaves in the Tekka Centre, I grabbed few bunches without hesitant. There was a lady who was looking at this herb too. She was tossing between the 2 types; one with root and one without roots but bigger leaves, and then mentioned that she grew up consuming this from her mother’s backyard in Indonesia.
Gotu kola claimed many benefits: treat a wide variety of skin conditions, promote a healthy blood pressure and circulation, reduce anxiety, improve memory function (hence the nickname ‘fountain of life’), promote alertness, speed wound recovery and prevent the formation of scars. From someone who is active and atheletic, gotu kola may benefit because of its effects on energy, brain function, focus, inflammation and wound healing. Myth or no myth (more scientific proof on this please), this herb will be a regular candidate in SOTG cooking experiments.
Next is dried goji berry or wolfberry. I first saw this in London at one of herbal tea shop. Common these days in Asia’s day-to-day supermarket, it usage went back to the old days in China and Tibet. The dried berries are consumed by adding to rice congee and tonic soup.
‘Red diamond’ as they called due to high nutritional values; full of amino acids, potassium, high in vitamin A and C, and rich in iron. There have been claimed to improve energy levels, lower fatigue, and lower stress. Felt in love on the first bite from a pack I bought at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre. The oblong shaped berry is surprisingly sweet (despite some said that it is a bitter) and the inside contain some yellow seeds. Can certainly report the uplifting feeling when I drank the water after soaking the berries in the recipe. It is indeed a superfood to stay in SOTG pantry – who doesn’t like berries?
The recipe in this post is honouring the above 2 ingredients to be indulged with roast sweet pumpkin as carbohydrate component, which low in GI so great to lower blood sugar level.The gotu kola is thinly sliced taking inspiration from Malay ‘kerabu pegaga‘ dish that I love. The dried goji berries are simply divine in this bright red sweet sour dressing added with dried barberries (I brought back from Dubai) and hint of ginger. Enjoy this dish as power meal during lunch or even for dinner. My other half love this dish and licked the dressing with his fingers at the end of the meal – that’s surely a great sign. I simply admire the layer of flavour of each components; the bitterness of gotu kola, sweetness of pumpkin, and freshness of grated coconut – accompanied by the sweet and sour dressing. Importantly, this dish is great for overall well-being, yet simple to implement.
- 1 kg pumpkin
- 1 small red onion
- 1 spoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon of crushed chilli flakes or crushed red peppers
- 1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt (or sea salt)
- I cup of gotu kola leaves (separate them from creeping stems).
- 1 cup of fresh coconut (or desiccated coconut)
- 1/4 cup of pumpkin seed
- Salt for seasoning
- For Dressing
- 1/2 cup dried goji berries
- 1/4 cup dried Persian barberries (or pomegranate seeds)
- Juice of 4 small limes (or half lemon)
- 1/4 inch of ginger
- 2 tea spoon of palm sugar syrup (or any sugar you prefer)
- 1 table spoon of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius (360 Fahrenheit) fan-forced.
- Clean the pumpkin and remove the outer skin. Cut into 3 centimeters chunk.
- Peel onion and cut into wedges. Mix with pumpkin cuts in one owl.
- Drizzle olive oil. Season with salt,chilli flakes and fennel seed. Massage them throughly.
- Line baking tray. Spread the pumpkin and onion evenly on baking tray. Ensure single layer.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes or until just tender and turning golden - but not too soft and mushy.
- In meantime, soak the dried goji berries and dried barberries for 10 minutes.
- Slice the gotu leaves thinly.
- Pan roast the pumpkin seeds till light brown.
- Season fresh coconut with salt.
- Drain and drink the berries infused water (utterly delicious).
- In a blender, mix all ingredients (except the olive oil) until smooth.
- Pour into bowl and stir in the olive oil.
- Once the pumpkin cooked, let them cool down.
- Gently combined gotu kola leaves and coconut on the pumpkin.
- Garnish with pumpkin seeds.
- Dressing - Purposely kept dressing aside to mix later while eating. If prefer a bit lighter add more lemon or lime juice and the balance the taste accordingly.
- Live to thrive.