Ethnic India

Chameleon Plant – Masundari

Whenever I had an upset stomach, my mother would pluck handful of Chameleon Plant from the garden, wrap them in banana leave and just put inside hot cooked rice. The leaves gets cooked out of the heat from rice. She then mashes the leaves, add pinch of salt and serve me with rice. Although I cannot vouch for its medicinal effects, I like the lemony taste and strong aroma.

Many people in India might not be familiar with Chameleon Plant. This plant is mostly found in eastern India and is part of traditional cuisine in places like Assam and Manipur.

Chameleon Plant is a perennial and herbaceous ground-creeper that grows in shady and moist soil. It propagates quickly by division and difficult to eradicate. You can plant it easily in a container using moist soil and place it in a sunny spot in your balcony. It is also a good candidate to grow in your vegetable garden. The good thing is that you only need rhizomes of masundari to plant.

Masundari is known to have many health benefits. It is very useful in stomach problems like dysentry and stomach ache. It is also very good for heart and muscles.


Scientific Name: Houttuynia Cordata
Common name: Chameleon Plant
Assamese: Masundari
Hindi: Simdalu
Khasi: Ja mardoh
Manipuri: Tokningkhok
Other names: Fish mint, fish leaf, rainbow plant, heart leaf, fish wort, Chinese lizard tail, or bishop’s weed

Farmtorasoi’s Masundari Pitika (Assamese Cuisine)

Pitika is a signature dish of Assamese community. Take a bunch of masundari leaves and chop them. Add garlic and green chillies paste, and few drops of mustard oil. Now wrap the contents in banana leaves and make a secure packet. While cooking rice in pressure cooker or pan, just insert the banana packet inside rice and let it cook. Once rice is done, take out the banana packet. Your masundari pitika is ready to be relished with steamed rice.

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