Bauhinia and coriander

Bauhinia ready to be cooked! courtesy of Jyoti Pathak of Taste of Nepal

As we’ve said, Bauhinia are eaten for food and as medicine in various places around the world, especially India and Nepal. We’ve been chatting to Jyoti Pathak who runs Taste of Nepal Blog and has a page on the use of Bauhinia or Koiralo ko Phool (कोइरालो) as it’s known in Nepal. Jyoti is an expert in Nepalese cooking and has a great book of recipes called Taste of Nepal. Here she has kindly provided us with a recipe for Bauhinia and potato salad which is an ‘Achaar’ or a sort of pickle/chutney/warm salad.

Nepalese don’t tend to eat the Hong Kong Bauhinia (blakeana) but they do eat both its parent species, Bauhinia variegata (Nepalese: Seto Koirala) and purpurea (Nepalese: Rato Koirala) – these are both pretty common in Hong Kong. According to Jyoti’s blog, the flower buds must be boiled before use. This is to reduce the pectin they contain that can cause constipation but also may explain the flower’s use as a cure for upset digestion.

We hear that Bauhinia variegata is preferred over Bauhinia purpurea due to better flavour and aroma. We look forward to finding out how Bauhinia blakeana compares!

Jyoti’s recipe

Koirala ko Phool re Alu ko Achaar
(Bauhinia and Potato Salad)

4 medium size potatoes (any kind red or white)
6 cups of fresh Bauhinia (the flower buds)
1/4 cup brown sesame seeds
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (red pepper)
1/8 teaspoon Szechwan pepper (timmur in Nepali), finely ground with a mortar and pestle
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large tomato, chopped fine
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons mustard oil
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/8 teaspoon jimbu (Himalayan herb) (Jyoti says you can miss this out if you don’t have it)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2/3 fresh mild green chilies, halved lengthwise


1. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the potatoes and water to cover, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain until cool to handle, peel, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to rolling boil over medium-high heat. Remove and discard tough stems, wilted and dried petals from Bauhinia flowers and wash thoroughly in cold water. Some people even remove the centre stigma of the flower because it is slightly bitter. Add a few drops of lemon juice and Bauhinia to the boiling water and boil until tender. Drain and run under cold water to halt the cooking further. Squeeze all the water and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and toast the sesame seeds, stirring constantly to prevent them from flying all over, until they give off a pleasant aroma and darken, about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and pour into a dry container to halt the toasting. When cool transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

4. In a bowl, combine potatoes, Bauhinia, ground sesame seeds, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, Szechwan pepper, green cilantro, red onion, tomato and salt. Mix well and set aside.

5. Heat mustard oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is faintly smoking. Add the fenugreek seeds and jimbu, fry until dark brown and fully fragrant, less than 5 seconds. Sprinkle in the turmeric and add green chilies and immediately pour the spiced oil into the Bauhinia mixture. Stir well, cover the bowl, and allow the seasonings to develop for at least 20 minutes. Taste for salt and lemon juice and transfer to serving dish and serve.

makes 4-6 servings