It was a rare experience for the residents of Kovilmala tribal settlement near Kattappana on Tuesday when they tasted various food items including cuisines and juice items made of Hibiscus flowers (shoe flowers) by the women studies centre of the St. Therasa's College, Ernakulam.
It was for the first time the people heard about the food items made of the Hibiscus petals. And more, many felt “it very tasty' without knowing the nutritional value of the flower which is abundant in the area.
The programme was organised as part of the ‘Arogyotsavom' of the Idukki unit of the Arogya Keralam for creating awareness on preparing energy-rich food items from the locally available low cost items. The tribal women who tasted the food items from Hibiscus flowers said that though they were aware of its beauty, they did not know that it could be made a food item.
The women were also taught about how to prepare the food items from the flower. Thankamma, a local resident and a housewife said that she benefited from the classes and the training session and when the costly vegetables became unaffordable, the items available locally could be made use of. She said that housewives in the yore days chose to make cuisine from various parts of the abandoned plantain after removing the banana cluster.
The experts at the function explained the audience that Hibiscus is not only a tasty item but also has great ayurvedic value. It is believed that Hibiscus is a remedy for lifestyle diseases like blood pressure and diabetes.
The ‘Arogyotsavom' was organised at Kovilmala to create awareness and control malnutrition among the tribals and workers in the plantation sector where a survey conducted recently showed that malnutrition among the children were high. The team members of the Arogya Keralam also took classes on diseases affecting the adolescents and during the pregnancy period due to poor living conditions. It also gave practical training to the women members in making nutritional food from the low cost locally available items.
In China, Hibiscus petals is used for food items in addition as a major Ayurvedic medicinal ingredient. Hibiscus, a genus of the Mallow plants family is an effective agent for hair growth and against untimely hair greying. It is also used as a shampoo item for babies.