link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' Sukanya's musings: AGATHI KEERAI THUVARAN / PORIYAL

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Thursday, June 4, 2009



Agathi Keerai is classified under the green leafy vegetables category. For those who are not familiar with this green, Agathi Keerai is also known as;

Hummingbird Tree Leaves or West Indian pea tree.

Botanical Name: Sesbania grandiflora

Agathi keerai is used in cooking in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam , mainly in the South east Asia pacific regions wherein its widely grown and eaten.

There are two kinds of West Indian Pea tree - one with red flowers and the other with white flowers. It’s the white flower West Indian Pea Tree that’s suitable for cooking.

My grandma used to say that Agathi keerai which is also known as “Aathu keerai” at my home has cooling properties and she used to insist on eating our greens without making a fuss when we were kids.

Eating Agathi keerai has a lot of benefits -

It is a tonic

It is cooling

It helps in digestion

It will cure ulcers in the stomach

It is a laxative

It balances pitta and kapha

It is an antidote for poisons

It is good for fever

It cures insanity

It is a very satvic food

Crushed leaves are applied to sprains and bruises of all kinds.

A tea made from the leaves is believed to have antibiotic, anti-thelmintic(a medication capable of causing the evacuation of parasitic intestinal worms), antitumour and contraceptive properties.

The principal medicinal effects are due to the trees’ astringency, hence it is used against inflammation, venom and other poisons, bacterial infections and tumors.

The bark is considered as a tonic and an antipyretic, a remedy for gastric troubles, colic with diarrhoea and dysentery.

A bark decoction is taken orally to treat fever and diabetes.

Juice of flowers put in the eyes is said to relieve dimness of vision.

The leaves also have medicinal value and are reported to cure night blindness in cattle.

In India, all plant parts are reputed to cure night blindness.

The root is a well-known medicine for malaria.

Root juices are used for poultices and the leaves are applied for rheumatism, swellings, bruises and itching.

For systemic disorders, decoctions are taken internally.

Root resin, mixed with honey, is taken orally for phlegm and root juices are taken as an expectorant.

Sinus congestion is reduced by taking a flower decoction.

Agathi keerai is very good when mixed with milk and boiled and then made into curd and that made into buttermilk if taken twice a day all female related problems like white discharge, vaginal discharge with odour, over heat etc.can be solved.

This is not advised during medication, since it will reduce the power of medicine.

You can read more about the benefits by clicking on the link below.

Although its bitter in taste, don’t you think we need to eat this occasionally considering the health benefits associated with it.

Here is a wonderful Kerala recipe of the

“Aathu Keerai” / “Agathi Keerai”


Agathi Keerai – 1 bunch

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Udad dal - 1 tsp

Green chillies – 2-3

Red chillies – 1 broken into 2 halves

Turmeric -1/4 tsp

Asafetida (Hing) - a small pinch

Cooked Toor dal – 2 tbsps

Freshly grated Coconut – 1-2 tbsps

Cooking oil - 1 tbsp (Prefer coconut oil)

Salt as per taste.


Remove the Agathi leaves from its stem. There’s one easy way to do this. Hold the stem between your thumb and index finger and slide down de-stemming the leaves. Rinse well under running water in a colander. Chop the leaves into small pieces. Keep aside

In a Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal and the red chillies, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the green chillies and fry well, Add the chopped Agathi keerai leaves. Add turmeric, asafetida and salt, stir and close with lid and cook on low flame till it is cooked. Once it’s cooked add in the 2 tbsps of cooked tuvar dal, stir well, wait until the water drains completely and then add in the freshly grated coconut and stir fry till everything is mixed well.

Serve hot with Rice and Rasam.

I would like to send this dish to SWC-Cooking with greens event hosted by my blogger friend Sowmya.


  1. "Agathi keerai" hearing for the 1st time..nice blog...looks healthy and inviting.

  2. Gud to see u back....looks gud this one....and u dnt reply to my msg ?

  3. We always had drulstick leaves at home when ever it was avialbla. That is on green i loved eating too.

  4. Thanks Preeti & Priti. Dear Happy cook,Agathi keerai is not drumstick leaves. Its a variety of spinach. Drumstick leaves are called Murunga keerai.

  5. this is something really new..and thanks for sharing the medicinal properties and other charecteristics of this keerai in your post..thats a wonderful entry!!Thanks a ton!!

  6. haven't heard about this vegetable before. looks very healthy. it has so many health benefits..

  7. Hey Sukanya, I like this keerai and we dont make this very often back home since I recollect my Grandma say that its called as Agatri keerai Agatri means to remove so we use it less often!!! I am very sure of what my ppl say is true or not!!! Keerai looks divine!!! it has been a long time since I had them now that I dont get them here!!!

  8. Looks very yummy. My Mom makes it after every Ekadasi. But don't get it here. It is a very nutritious one.

  9. We make the thanni saaru/ soup withis keerai. I have`nt had poriayl. Thanks for the info and recipe.

  10. I have heard of this variety but never tried it , very interesting !

  11. Thanks a bunch for the info on agathi keerai. First time here. You have an awesome collection of recipes.

  12. I have seen this leafy veggie many times in Little India. Since we dont cook I did not think of buying them, now that I know the procedure for making poriyal from you I will surely buy them.

  13. Thanks for the wonderful recipe. Just a small suggestion, do not cut the keerai else its nutrition is lost, use it, as it is.

  14. we had plant in our our it got dried we get in secunderabad market really good for health this keerai stands first among all the greed leafy vegetables i love yummy my daughter too

  15. really very nutritious leafy veg. many doest know about this keerai and how to cook my mom used to do and myself also we get in secunderabad also we had this plant in our house and got dried dont know why

  16. Now a days, agathi leaves are not known to many people. Using agathi leaves, you have done a nice dish. This dish spreads awareness about the agathi leaves. Here, I would like to share a blog that has health information about agathi leaves. has some more information about health benefits of agathi leaves.


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