Having a unique taste and immense medicinal values, Papalo or Yerba porosa is a wonderful herb that is found commonly in Mexico and South America. The leaves of this plant, which are used for seasoning food, have an exclusive taste, somewhat a mixture of cilantro, mint and arugula. The name Papalo is derived from the word “butterfly” in the Nahuatl dialect of Central Mexico because the leaves of this plant are shaped like the wings of butterflies. It is also referred to as the Bolivian coriander, although it is not related to coriander. Papalo has been used in cooking since a very long time during the Aztec era, where it was used as a condiment. This herb is also considered to have medicinal benefits and people living in Mexico, Central America and South America generally use it as medicine for treating stomach problems and high blood pressure.
Medicinal uses of Papalo
The leaves and flowers of papalo contain essentials oils and active chemical constituents that probably give this plant its medicinal properties. Although actual studies on the therapeutic effects of papalo are not available, it is used in many places as a remedy for treating various ailments. People in Mexico, Central and South America use this herb for high treating blood pressure, infections and stomach disorders. Papalo is consumed regularly in many parts of Bolivia, and it is believed by the Quechua people that this plant helps in lowering blood pressure and also in treating liver disorders. The leaves of papalo are used by the Chacobo Indians of Bolivia to reduce swelling in infections.
Culinary uses of Papalo
Papalo has a unique pungent aroma and is usually eaten raw. It is not cooked, but is rather used fresh or added as a seasoning at the last moment. In Central Mexico, it is usually added to cemitas or the hero sandwich. It is also sometimes added to salads and guacamole. Mexicans use fresh Papalo in grilled meats, soups, stews, beans and salads, just like adding cilantro. For the native Quechua people of Bolivia, this herb is a staple ingredient. The leaves of the plant are finely chopped and added to many dishes like the gazpacho, which is a spicy soup that contains raw vegetables.
Papalo is a tasty addition to dishes guacamole, salsas, and fish dishes. Like cilantro, it is generally used raw at the last moment as a garnish. Papalo is a staple in Mexican cooking and although still unfamiliar to many people, it is slowly gaining popularity in many kitchens. Several restaurants and families keep a bouquet of this herb on the table so that people can use it on their foods as desired.Image Credits: Gulf Coast Local Food