Should you chew a Chow Chow or munch a Mooli? Your guide to new vegetables on store shelves

Demand for far-flung vegetables such as Dudhi, Methi and Mooli has shot up so much that Tesco has doubled its range of world food produce. But what on earth is a Mooli or a Chow Chow - and what are their nutritional benefits? Read on to find out...


This pale green courgette-like vegetable - pronounced doodee - is a staple food in tropical climates such as India.

How to use it: Wash and peel it before adding to soups and curry dishes, or slice it raw into salads. The taste is quite neutral so it can be grated into cakes or muffins for texture.

Nutrition and health: Contains a good balance of B vitamins needed for energy and a healthy nervous system. With 0.7mg zinc per 100g, it's also a good source of a mineral needed for strong immunity and fertility. Easy to digest when cooked, Dudhi is recommended as a food source for the elderly and babies.

Chow Chow

Part of the gourd family, the Chow Chow, main picture, from South America has a texture similar to a potato.

How to use it: Can be boiled, stewed or baked, or added raw to salads in a similar way to courgettes and carrots. It has a slightly bitter taste but becomes sweeter once cooked.

Nutrition and health: While this vegetable doesn't stand out with any one particular nutrient, it gives you almost all you need in the right proportions. That said, the Chow Chow is high in fibre, making it good for digestion. It contains about twice the potassium and Vitamin C as the average cucumber.


Commonly used in India and Thailand, these are the leaves of the fenugreek plant that can be eaten as greens.

How to use it: The leaves have a slightly bitter taste, which adds depth and gives a unique flavour to curries. Use them like spinach or chop them and add to soups and lentil curries.

Nutrition and health: Eating these leaves is known to help digestion, while the bitter taste is thought to help balance blood sugar. In Ethiopia, Methi is used as a herbal medicine for treating diabetes.


This white radish used in India and Japan is crunchy and has a mild peppery flavour similar to watercress.

How to use it: Chop it raw into salads or add to curries and stirfries. It works well with Thai-style recipes, such as those containing spring onion, soy sauce, sesame and ginger.

Nutrition and health: Levels vary according to the soil in which it is grown but, in general, Mooli is rich in folate, a mineral needed for healthy red-blood cells and brain development in unborn babies.


Used like a potato in the Caribbean and South America, plantain has a neutral texture and flavour.

How to use it: Less sweet than a banana, unless it's in the black and yellow stages of ripeness, Plantain needs to be cooked. Bake it in the oven, add it to curries or slice it finely and grill.

Nutrition and health: A good source of carbohydrate and energy, a typical Plantain might contain 30g of carbohydrates for every 100g, giving 117kcal of energy. It's a great source of betacarotene, an antioxidant that helps keep skin and lungs healthy, and potassium, a mineral needed for effective cellular communication. Easier to digest than bananas, steam-cooked Plantains are a nutritious food for infants and the elderly.


Known as the bitter melon, this gourdlike plant from South East Asia and Africa is for the adventurous only: it's among the most bitter of all vegetables.

How to use it: Bitter but delicious, the strong flavour means you should cook it only in small quantities with other vegetables. Alternatively, sprinkle with salt and leave aside for a few minutes. Then squeeze out the bitter juices, stuff and bake. The edible seeds have a nutty flavour and are crunchy when cooked.

Nutrition and health: In traditional medicine, its bitter taste is said to stimulate the digestive juices and cleanse the liver. Karela is a good source of betacarotene (295ug per 100g) and Vitamin C ( 185mg per 100g).

Ung choi

Known as water spinach or tropical spinach, this green leafy plant has a very refreshing grassy taste.

How to use it: In a similar way to pak choi - thrown into stir fries, steamed, or chopped in salads and curries.

Nutrition and health: Ung Choi is a rich source of B Vitamins and Vitamin C, as well as magnesium, potassium and zinc.

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