Pennywort aka Gotu Kola
Recently, I have been researching a lot about Chinese culture, which has an interesting history. As I was doing my research, I came across Pennyworth or Gotu Kola. Here are some of the interesting facts that amazed me.
Pennywort is a common name for several different plants with round leaves and a low-growing habitat. Pennywort can be found all around the world, but we will look at the edible Asiatic Pennywort also known as a gotu kola. Gotu Kola is native to the Indian subcontinent from where it spread to China, Madagascar, South Africa, and many other tropical regions of the world. The use of gotu kola can be traced back to 1200 BC.
The pennywort has been predominantly used in medicine and in the culinary world for its sweet, yet sour flavour found in fresh leaves which become a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine. If you cannot find it fresh in your local wet market, try your local Asian grocer, where they will sell it either fresh or ground. You may find it under these names: pegagam (Indonesian), hang kor chew (Chinese) or nuoc rau ma (Vietnamese). It is commonly eaten fresh in salads, added to chutneys, or used in curries.
As a beverage, it has been mainly popular in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, where they blend fresh gotu kola with water in a blender. Once blended it is strained and sweetened up to your preference. We have tried it at home and love its scent of freshly cut grass.
Do let us know if you have a recipe for us to try...