Tajikistan Mountain Superfood – Siyalaf mountain or black grass

Tajikistan Mountain Superfood – Siyalaf mountain or black grass


Siyalaf grows mainly in the southwest of the Pamir-Alai, in small-earth areas, in the shade of rocks and trees

Tajikistan is unusually rich in unusual and very valuable national products, which in the Western world would instantly be categorized as “superfoods” and sold very expensively. However, local superfoods are absolutely accessible to all residents of the country, because they are sold cheaply. Recently we talked about the Anzur mountain onion, which is very popular in Tajikistan, and today we will talk about another, no less valuable and useful mountain onion.

In Tajikistan, simultaneously with the beginning of the collection of early onions in the southern regions of the country, in the Pamir-Alai mountain system, residents began to collect wild mountain onions, popularly called “Siyalaf”.

“Siyalaf” in Tajik means “black grass”, a very useful and iodine-rich perennial herb. Its scientific name is “Onion Rosenbach” (Allium rosenbachianum). Siyalaf grows mainly in the southwest of the Pamir-Alai, in small-earth areas, in the shade of rocks and trees. In appearance, siyalaf resembles a green onion. However, its leaves are broad-linear, almost smooth along the edge.

Harvesting siyalaf is possible in the spring, in April-May, when its maturation begins. The plant is not pulled out with roots, but is cut off or broken off at the footboard. At the same time, the cut-off site quickly turns yellow-brown-purple, which indicates a high presence of iodine in the plant.

That is why in Tajikistan, many eat siyalaf for food. Various dishes are prepared from it. First of all, this is soup, which is called Siyalaf. To cook it, rice is boiled, shortly before its full readiness, a chopped bunch or several bundles of sialof are added to the broth. Then the soup is allowed to rest, cool and served with the addition of sour milk or kefir to the dish. It turns violet into a very light, healthy and iodine-rich soup.

See also: Dovcha and Gora – a mysterious and at the same time well-known early fruit

This dish is served in cafes and restaurants, as well as cooked at home. Also, in catering points, customers can be offered okroshka with siyalaf, a rather refined omelet with the addition of siyalaf.

In addition to iodine, siyalaf has many other vitamins and useful substances: mineral salts and iron, manganese, potassium and zinc, essential oils. It also contains antimicrobial agents, sucrose, ascorbic acid, provitamin A, nicotinic acid, vitamins B1, B2.

Doctors recommend consuming siyalaf in the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal diseases, in particular stomach ulcers and gastritis with high acidity, and it is also recommended for people with heart, liver and thyroid diseases. It is believed that siyalaf strengthens the immune system, helps to normalize blood pressure, and can cope with vitamin deficiency after the winter.

A well-known expert in the medicinal properties of herbs in Tajikistan, Dr. Mullozuhur Tohiri advises including siyalaf in his spring diet. In his own sanatorium in the Aininsky district, visitors are always served first courses, in which various herbs without fail are added – siyalaf, nettle, mint, oregano, clover leaves, beets, early grape leaves, apricot and even cherries.

Residents of mountainous and foothill areas, having gathered siyalaf, then sell it through distribution networks, small and large markets. Currently, 1 bundle of Siyalaf costs from 3 to 4 somoni ($ 0.29-0.39), that is, it is affordable for everyone who wants to buy it.

As mentioned above, various soups and salads are prepared from fresh Siyalaf. Some Tajiks even dry siyalaf for the winter. At the same time, shock freezing is an even more promising way to preserve the beneficial properties of sialaf; however, this segment of fruit and vegetable processing in Tajikistan is still underdeveloped.

– Siyalaf is good for health, my children and grandchildren are very fond of soups from it. With this in mind, we harvest this healthy onion for the winter in dried form. – says a resident of Varzob district Sadulo Fayzullaev. – The benefit in our mountains is quite a lot. In winter, we delight the household and surprise our city friends with soup from Siyalaf.


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