1. It’s a Nutritious, Easy To Grow, Dual Purpose Veggie

Malabar Spinach (Basella Alba) is high in Vitamin A and C as well as Iron and Calcium. It is low in calories but has a good protein/calories ratio, and plenty of soluble fiber.  It grows without much attention or care.  As long as the soil is moist, this unique self seeding spinach variety will supply you with free greens forever.  It’s a great addition to salads or snacked on raw.

Malabar spinach also a versatile cooking green.  Due to its okra-like mucilaginous texture it can be used as a thickener in soups and stews. It’s commonly used throughout Southeast Asia, southern China, and Vietnam in stir-fries and soups.  It’s a unique plant variety to add to your diet and feed your body a wide array of antioxidants and phytochemicals.   Throw the iceberg away!

2. Malabar Spinach Works Well In a Permaculture Garden Plan

If you’re building a garden with permaculture concepts in mind, Malabar spinach is a handy crop.  First, It utilizes vertical growing space and can serve to double your food production per square-foot.  Its can also act as sun protection for plants requiring partial shade(companion planting).  If you have too much, it also serves as a great nutritious green to feed your chickens and ducks.  Nothing goes to waste in permaculture.

3. Because Jodi Eats It

Anything Jodi eats has been proven by Russian scientists to be healthy.

Check out her Facebook page:  Train With Jodi to stay up on the latest health and fitness info.

4. It Doubles As a Beautiful Ornamental

Potted and placed on a balcony, it will climb any trellis you give it.  As long as it has a good source of sun, it will do fine.  Malabar spinach is a common addition to many edible landscaping plans. Also, what a conversation piece it will be when your guest see you eating your house plants!

5. It Grows Well In Hot Weather

Where traditional spinach falters in the heat, Malabar shines.   This East Asian native spinach actually does better under full sunlight in hot, humid climates and in areas lower than 500 meters (1,600 ft) above sea level. Are you in a temperate climate?  Frost will kill it, but no worries; the seeds are easy enough to collect, dry, and store for the next season.

6. You’ll Get To Practice It’s Many Names And Some Really Cool Asian Recipes

Basella alba is usually referred to as “spinach” in English, even though it is not related to the true spinach (Spinacia oleracea). Other names include “Malabar spinach”, “Ceylon spinach”, “Indian spinach”, “Surinam spinach”, “Chinese spinach”, or “Vietnamese spinach”. Other common names include “vine spinach”, “red vine spinach”, “climbing spinach”, “creeping spinach”, “buffalo spinach”, “Malabar nightshade”, and “broad bologi”.

I found some of the more unique language specific names for malabar spinach below:

In South Asia, it is known as pui shak (পুঁই শাক) in Bengali; poi ni bhaji in Gujarati; basale soppu in Kannada; valchi bhaji orvauchi bhaji in Konkani; vallicheera (വള്ളിച്ചീര ) in Malayalam; mayalu (मायाळू) in Marathi; poi saaga (ପୋଈ ଶାଗ) in Oriya; vel niviti (sudu) in Sinhalese; kodip pasaLi (கொடிப்பசளி) in Tamil; bachhali (బచ్చలి) in Telugu; and basale in Tulu.  In Southeast Asia, it is known as ‘pui shak’ in Bengali; kubay in Ibanag; libatu in Kapampangan; alugbati in Tagalog and Visayan languages in the Philippines. It is known as pag pang (ผักปั๋ง) in Thai; and mồng tơi in Vietnamese.

In East Asia, it is known as 木耳菜、落葵, 蚕菜, being saan choy, shan tsoi, luo kai, shu chieh, and lo kwai some of the pronunciations in Cantonese; and tsurumurasaki (つるむらさき) in Japanese.[5]

In Latin America, it is known as espinaca china ([espiˈnaka ˈtʃina], “Chinese spinach”) or espinaca de Malabar ([espiˈnaka ðe malaˈβar], “Malabar spinach”) in Spanish, and bertalha ([beʁˈtaʎɐ], etymology is tentatively “creepy green”, “dense green”) orespinafre indiano ([ispiˈnafɾ ĩdʒiˈɐ̃nu], “Indian spinach”) in Portuguese.


Why not try some Pui Shaak.  This East Indian recipe goes a long way with rice and is filled with ton of super nutritious veggies and spices.    Pui Shaak Charchari Malabar Spinach Recipe