In 2021 Chennai-based Meenakshi Boopathi collaborated with Sahaja Samrudha NGO to design a calendar on superfoods, a topic she is greatly passionate about.

A compendium of 25 lesser-known and forgotten superfoods from across India’s foodscape, it has been divided into five segments — edible flowers, fruits and seeds, roots, stems and leaves.

It also includes traditional recipes that are an integral part of local cuisine in the region where the superfood is grown or available.

How many of the following do you know of?

1. Edible flowers Meenakshi has mentioned five edible flowers — avarampoo, pumpkin, agati, butterfly pea and moringa.

While yellow-coloured pumpkin flower is a rich source of vitamin B9 and A, Avarampoo stimulates bowel movements. The flowers can be consumed as fritters.

The petals of the butterfly pea, she says, can be dried and used to make caffeine-free tea. With a host of antioxidant properties, the flower can also be used to make blue rice.

2. Fruits and Seeds Under fruits, Meenakshi mentions black nightshade, glue berry, passion fruit, Turkey berry and mulberry.

As for seeds, she notes that pumpkin seeds are beneficial for controlling cholesterol and hair loss.

What is most astounding about the glue berry fruit is that along with being an excellent source of nutrition for humans, their leaves also make for good fodder and the seed kernel has medicinal properties.

3. Leaves Meenakshi mentions colocasia, water spinach, and dwarf copper leaves in this section.

Water spinach also called Kangkong or Chinese spinach is a powerhouse of iron, Vitamin A and C and other minerals. It makes for a great add in salads, stew and soup.

Meanwhile, Dwarf copper leaves (alternanthera Sessilis) are aquatic creepers that are good for the eye, and wild spinach (White goosefoot) is low in calories and fats and rich in vitamin, iron, calcium and potassium.

4. Stems While stems are often discarded, Meenakshi gives examples of various stems that can be used to make salads, juice, curries, soups, stew and sambhar.

For instance, the stems of water chestnuts (singhara)’ are aquatic tuber vegetables that are often used to make rotis. They are low in calories and high in antioxidant compounds.

Beetroot, lotus and banana stems are also rich sources of fiber, potassium, vitamins, zinc, copper and iron.

5. Roots It is a known fact that cornstarch is high in carbs and less in nutrients. So, why not replace it with nutrient-rich arrowroot powder as a thickening base?

Then there’s the aerial potato (Dioscorea bulbifera), which requires no space to grow, and can twine around shrubs and trees. The plant is packed with carbohydrates, proteins and calcium, and can prove beneficial for people with diabetes.

“Most of us confuse arrowroot with tapioca, but they are completely different plants and used to maintain gut health,” writes Meenakshi.