Shorea robusta – Famine Foods

Shorea robusta


India: seeds eaten, in a narrow strip, along the northernmost border, stretching from eastern Punjab, on the west, into northwestern Assam, on the east, as well as in portions of the States of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. (Bengal): seeds boiled into a porridge, with the flowers of Madhuca longifolia Roxb. (Synonym – Bassia lattifolia Roxb. [SAPOTACEAE). In Manbhum, salt may be the only substance added. In the Ranchi district, the seeds are boiled with wood ashes, a process that neutralizes the toxic phlobaphene discussed below. In Bhagalpur, it is reported that the seeds are boiled, dried, then ground into meal, with the addition of the flowers of Bassia latifolia Roxb. [SAPOTACEAE] and the fruits of Dolichos biflorus L. [FABACEAE]. In the Balrampur region, of Uttar Pradesh, the kernels of the seeds were boiled until oil appeared that was skimmed off. The kernels were ground into a flour and bread[sic] (chapati?] made from it. The kernels are also reported dried, boiled and eaten. Vernacular names: Kurthi, Mathua. In the United Provinces (Gorakhpur district), the seeds are partially dried, and pounded into a very coarse flour which is [further] dried and used to make bread. In Nagpur, in Central India, the seeds are boiled for eight to ten hours, then prepared as in Bengal. The plant is also used as a famine food in the Chatrapur district of Madras. In the Garhwal Himalayas, the seeds are powdered [sic].

Additional Information

Name Authority:
India: Sal, Salwa
Chemical composition: Water = 10.8%. Protein = 8%. Carbohydrate = 62.7%. Oil = 14.8%. Fibre = 1.4%. Ash = 2.3%. The presence of a tannin-like substance - phlobaphene - is reported to cause indigestion, constipation and, if eaten raw, in large quantity, even death. Sal butter, used in cooking, is derived from the seeds.

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