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The nutritional benefits of managu or mnavu

One of Kenya's many leafy vegetables

08-07-2021 di redazione

Mnavu or managu is a green leafy vegetable very common throughout Kenya and East African countries.
At certain times of the year, bunches of this highly nutritious and protein-rich vegetable can be found on the stalls of more or less improvised markets, alongside the more famous and well-known mchicha.
Its scientific name is Solanum villosum but it is also known as African nightshade, although it is completely different from other poisonous nightshade varieties from different parts of the world.
The leaves, which are thin and oval with jagged edges, are usually cooked with other vegetables as the taste is rather bitter or by adding coconut milk to the cooking process to sweeten and improve the taste.
It was once considered a 'poor man's food' and in the tradition of rural areas, where it grew wild, was given as a gift by relatives and friends to family members returning from the cities.
In recent years, following studies and research that have demonstrated its great nutritional and medicinal benefits, it has become an agricultural product that is even sold in supermarkets, creating new job opportunities for many small farmers.
The main nutrients contained in managu include folic acid, which is very useful during pregnancy, vitamins A, B and E, beta-carotene and vitamin C, which boosts immunity and helps heal cuts and wounds, as well as iron absorption. Mnavu provides an excellent supply of fibre which improves digestion, reduces blood sugar and prevents heart disease.
In cosmetics, it is recommended to make face packs of mnavu water to combat acne and brighten the skin.
To preserve the nutrients mentioned, it is recommended not to overcook the leaves: they can be sautéed directly with a little oil, onion, tomato and other spices or softened by boiling them in very little water.

Recipe from watamukenya.net:

Ingredients:

3 bunches of mnavu ( it tends to shrink a lot after cooking )
1 red onion
2 medium ripe tomatoes
oil, salt and pili pili

Cleaning the managu consists of removing all the leaves from the stems...this is the most laborious part!
Wash the leaves well and put them in a pot without draining them too much, this will be the only water to be used for boiling.
Add a little salt and boil for about 10 minutes, until the leaves wilt and become tender.
Meanwhile, dice the onion and tomatoes.
In a frying pan, fry the pili pili and onion in a tablespoon of oil. Add the diced tomatoes and finally 'ripassare' the drained mnavu leaves for a few minutes.
For those who don't like the bitter taste too much, add some coconut milk and let it whisk while the heat is off, or mix it with mchicha or other leafy vegetables that are a bit milder.
It is excellent with garlic or as a side dish with meat, fish or cheese.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

TAGS: mnavu kenyaverdura kenyapiatti kenyamanagu benefits

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