Young Neem Plant (Yod Sa-dao)
Neem leaves (Yod Sa-dao) are medium to large in size and elongated to oblong in shape, averaging 20-40 centimeters in length. The vibrant green leaves are smooth and glossy with sharp, serrated edges. Neem leaves grow on the branches of neem trees in groups of two, and each branch produces around eight groupings. Neem leaves are extremely bitter and have a grassy taste and aroma when torn. Neem trees also grow white, fragrant flowers and yellow, olive-like fruit that has a bittersweet pulp.
Neem leaves (Yod Sa-dao)contain flavonoids, which are known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and contain azadirachtin, which is a natural insect repellent. Oil extracted from neem seeds and leaves also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with skin conditions such as acne.
Neem leaves (Yod Sa-dao) can be used in both raw and cooked applications such as frying or boiling. The taste of Neem leaves is so bitter that they are used sparingly in culinary applications. Neem leaves are often cooked into curry-based dishes, used in tomato and fish pastes, or even pickled for extended use. In Bengal, young Neem leaves are cooked with eggplant in an appetizer called nim begun. In Myanmar, Neem leaves are used in salads. Neem leaves pair well with sweet potatoes, mustard seeds, turmeric, red chiles, roasted peanuts, tamarind, and rice. Neem leaves will keep up to one week when stored fresh in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and will keep for a couple of months.
Neem leaves (Yod Sa-dao) are available year-round.