Just outside my window is a beautiful hummingbird tree (Agati or Agasthy in Malayalam, Agasthya Rooku in Konkani, Heta in Marathi, Gaach Munga in Hindi, Sesbania Grandiflora). Every morning, I wake up hearing the happy chirps and songs of countless birds from tiny little lovebirds to bulbuls, mynas, parrots, hummingbirds, wild pigeons and several others I know not the names of. In autumn, the tree is adorned with clusters of large, white blooms with a mild fragrance resembling that of the lotus.
Perhaps, it is the nectar and the pollen or perhaps, the very structure of the small tree with its thin long branches and sparse green leaves that affords a safe perch with a stately, all-round view, which attracts so many feathered friends! For us humans, however, the hummingbird tree is indeed a boon from heaven. The leaves and blooms are put to good culinary use all over Asia. Rich in protein. minerals and vitamins, the leaves and blooms are believed to help maintain strong bones, improve eyesight, deworm the stomach and intestines, cool the body, reduce unwanted bile and prevent piles, sores and ulcers. The flowers (Agasthya Phule in Konkani, Agatipoo in Malayalam), when cooked, are delicious and taste like mushrooms.
Though I cook them in several ways, agasthya phulla upkari is one of the simplest and tastiest of recipes. Do cook and enjoy.