bay area, Container gardening, Edible gardening, Limited space, Nutrition, Urban gardening, Zone 9

Lesser known herbs… Cuban Oregano

Several years back, in the Niles antique market I stumbled across a pot of cuban oregano / Indian Borage / Mexican mint / Karpooravalli / Doddapatre. I was beyond delighted, as this was particularly hard to find 8 years ago, and was always grown in my mom’s kitchen garden. Growing up, I found delight in nibbling a couple of leaves while watering the plants. It has a sharp taste to it, and is medicinal. When added to a kashayam (steeped medicinal herbs) its used to ward off a chest cold or digestive discomfort. Its also periodically incorporated in cooking, for micro-doses of herbal goodness. The seller was surprised and intrigued when I showed such keen interest in the plant, as he had no clue that it was edible or what to make of it. I wrote down a recipe for him to try.

It was fairly easy to grow. I always planted them in a pot and little bits would fall off and create new ones, much similar to a succulent. The plant is currently in the edible landscape in our front porch, by the steps. They are beautiful succulents to look at, grows quickly trailing over the pot, needs very little water, and adds to the aesthetics of the front yard garden. What’s more to say, they are edible too! Crushing it gently releases aromatic essential oils, which is quite refreshing. They are frost tender, so a bit of protection under the eaves may be necessary. Its very easy to root indoors in just plain water, and I’ve liberally shared cuttings with my friends. I have never seen it flower or produce seeds. Often, I like snipping cuttings to arrange it in a flower vase for our dining table. This arrangement stays good for several weeks, if not months!

Pictures …


Popular Recipes…

  • Kashayam : Snip a few leaves and add it to boiling water with a tsp of black pepper, and cumin. Allow to steep, strain and drink several times a day. This is quite relieving for congestion. By itself, its excellent digestive aid, and I’ve often given this to my children when they were less than a year old, and is pretty much a must have plant for young families.
  • Dish or dip to go with rice: Sauté a cup full of leaves in a tsp of ghee, with black pepper, cumin and optionally a green chili. Transfer to blender, and add 2 tbsp of coconut and 1 cup of thick yogurt. Blend well. Optionally, add tempering of ghee with mustard or cumin and curry leaves if using it for eating with hot rice.

Remember, a little goes a long way as the smell is quite overpowering, similar to thyme.

 I would love to hear from you in the comments. Drop me a note if you like some cuttings. Pick up only.