Yellow Sesbania Flowers
Sesbania flowers are small oval blooms, averaging 2 to 8 centimeters in length, and have a curved, broad, and flat shape. The flowers appear in groupings of 2 to 8 blooms on the end of slender green stems and are nestled between branches of straight, smooth, and oval pinnate leaves ranging 1 to 2 centimeters in length. These leaves fold in on each other, closing at night, and reopening when the run rises following the suns path throughout the day. The flower petals are bright yellow and have a delicate, velvety, and soft texture. Sesbania flowers have a slight crunch and a succulent, tender quality when consumed raw, releasing a mild, sweet, and subtly green flavoring. Some consumers note their similarity in taste to a sweet pea. When cooked, the flowers soften and take on the other flavors in the dish, contributing to added texture and a faint floral taste.
Sesbania flowers are a source of fiber to stimulate the digestive tract, antioxidants to guard the cells against free radical damage, and calcium and phosphorus to protect bones and teeth. The flowers also provide some iron to develop the protein hemoglobin for oxygen transport through the bloodstream and lower amounts of vitamins A and C, magnesium, and B vitamins. In India, Sesbania flowers and leaves are used in poultices. They are customarily used to soothe internal ailments and are said to have inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Sesbania flowers have a subtly sweet and green flavoring well suited to fresh or cooked preparations. The flowers can be consumed straight, out of hand, or they can be sprinkled over salads, grain bowls, and vegetable platters. In Cambodia, Sesbania flowers are popularly harvested from wild plants and are dipped by the handful into a Chilean pepper paste. The flowers are also a favored ingredient in Southeast Asia for hot pots, battered and fried into tempura, or gently tossed into stir-fries. In Vietnam, Sesbania flowers are incorporated into canch chua, a sweet and sour soup, cooked into omelets, or the petals are served in poached vegetables, a dish known as rau kho quet. In Thailand, Sesbania flowers are mixed into soups and curries, or they are consumed with a fermented Chile sauce made with fish paste in nam prik kapi. Beyond savory dishes, Sesbania flowers can be incorporated into desserts and contribute a sweet pea flavor. Kanom bua loi is a coconut milk-based dessert featuring rice flour balls garnished with Sesbania flower petals. Sesbania flowers pair well with aromatics such as garlic, Chile peppers, onions, and shallots, lime juice, cilantro, other fresh herbs, and coconut. Whole, unwashed Sesbania flowers will keep up to one week when stored in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator. It is recommended to consume the blooms immediately for the best quality and flavor.
Sesbania flowers are available year-round.