Our ancestors regularly consumed a wide variety of leafy greens and herbs all with respective health benefits. One such green is the vallarai keerai; known as Indian Pennywort in English. With regular consumption, Vallarai keerai is neuro-protective, increasing attention span and concentration, thus reducing the effects of aging on the brain. It improves blood circulation and is an excellent source of calcium and non-heme iron. In addition to these benefits, it improves immunity and quickens the healing of wounds while promoting good skin and hair health. Due to the many positive effects it has on the body, vallarai is considered a medicinal plant.

One of the easiest ways to prepare vallarai is in sambol form. The leaves are quite bitter in taste, but with the addition of just a few simple ingredients, the vallarai leaves become palatable and quite delicious especially when accompanied by rice and veggie curries. When shopping for vallarai at your local Indian or Sri-Lankan grocers, look for green, firm leaves that are unblemished and make sure to use the leaves quickly as they rot fairly quickly.

When I make this, I make enough for my family of five plus my parents to eat for two days. Feel free to halve the recipe if need be.

Vallarai Sambol RECIPE


  • 2 cups of chopped valarai keerai (rinse vallarai before chopping)
  • 1 cup freshly, grated coconut
  • 1 cup shallots (use small shallots for best flavour)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste


1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside for flavours to combine.


  • The use of lemon helps the body absorb the plant-based iron available in Vallarai.

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