Cooking Featured Travelling

Wild Edible Plants Of Thar Desert, NW India

by Rakesh Giri Goswami*

Rajasthan desert

It is part of Thar desert of NW India covering the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat & Haryana. Total area of desert is 3.21 lac sq.kms. This is essentially sandy desert with few stony areas in between. sq.kms. area. But 61% of desert area is covered in state of Rajasthan. In the non rainy days desert gives a very boring view to an onlooker. But come rains and it livens up with greenery immediately after rains and also in winter.

Desert Plants

Most of them are from xerophytes group comprising shrubs, thorny bushes, trees, creepers, herbs etc. Scientific studies have reported 682 plant species representing 352 genera, our of which 136 are said to be having some economic importance or having nutritional values. These properties were identified by inhabitants centuries ago. The parts of such plants were initially used for survival, later on found their way to local kitchens. Now some of edible plants of desert have entered the menu cards of many star category hotels. Brief description is given below.

  1. Kair. Capparis deciduas it has small berry like fruits having bitter taste. Used as vegetables or for making pickles. Before its use it is soaked in a solution of buttermilk and salt to remove bitterness. Also useful for diabetic patients.

    Kair picture by Rakesh Giri Goswami

    Kair picture by Rakesh Giri Goswami

  2. Sangri biological name is Prosopis cineraria, this is most popular vegetable of desert.It is actually beans of a common tree Khejari.These legumes are green when raw, they are dried and stored for further use. Are known to be used for  whole of year. These are prepared as single ingredient, also mixed with Kair and Kumatiya.

    Sangri picture by Rakesh Giri Goswami

    Sangri picture by Rakesh Giri Goswami

  3. Kachra/Kachri/Kachariya biological name is Cucumins pubecence. It has very sour taste ,prepared as single dish or also mixed with other green vegetables.It is also added to other preparations to add sourness.

    Kachri Picture by Rakesh Giri Goswami

    Kachri Picture by Rakesh Giri Goswami

  4. Matiro, Matira-biological name is Citrullus lanata or caffer. This is also known as desert melon or citron melon.  Apart from India also found in African deserts. Pulp is having sweet taste. Used frequently in summers to quench thirst and to prevent dehydration.

    picture via wikipedia

* Rakesh Giri Goswami is a freelance writer.

Cover image photo  “Thar Desert” by Honza Soukup/flickr CC2.0