Malunggay Seed Pods / Horseradish Tree Pods


These are apparently a relatively common ingredient in some provinces…but I don’t think I have eaten the seed pods of the malunggay tree before. I have written about the malunggay tree (Horseradish Tree, native to India) in a previous post, malpods2but mostly I know it for its leaves that I recall from soups my grandmother used to serve us as kids…and I didn’t like the taste and texture of the leaves then, and pretty much don’t like malunggay still. Once I got home from the market, I consulted with our cook who I figured would know what to do with the pods but she claims they don’t eat this in her neck of the woods in Cebu…and she guessed that others stick it in their pinakbet along with the bataw and or the patani that I brought home with it. I was amazed to see an entry on this relatively obscure vegetable/seed pod in Elizabeth Schneider’s vegetable book “Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini” and she suggests boiling it in a flavored broth then splitting the pods and eating the seeds and pulp by running your teeth down the length of the pod…and describes a flavor reminiscent of an artichoke… hmm, that sounds a bit fancy for me. I think chop it up and include it in a spicy curry would work well…without ever having eaten it, I am guessing it will be like some firm okra. If you have any brilliant suggestions for these malunggay seed pods, I would be interested…


44 Responses

  1. Marketman, a vendor at Quiapo market told us these ‘drum sticks’ are tasty in sinigang. At the Cavite City market we were told they are a local specialty, peeled (they were peeling and selling them sliced, at the market) and deep-fried to eat with albacore. They’re recommended for women who just gave birth. Drum sticks are nice in Indian curries (if you have Alford/Duguid’s “Mangoes and Curry Leaves” add them the Bengladeshi Fish Stew). If you’re eating them on they’re own (ie deep-fried) be sure to salt them then squeeze out the water first, to remove bitterness.

  2. When the pods are immature, you can use it pretty much like how you’d use sitaw. Tastes similar to sitaw also. I prefer this stage since the pods aren’t fibrous at all.

    I’ve had mature pods (as pictured) in pinakbet; sliced in about 1-2″, and eaten as described by Schneider.

  3. Marketman, in India we call them drumsticks. You eat it as described by Elizabeth Schneider – “splitting the pods and eating the seeds and pulp by running your teeth down the length of the pod”. In India it is a common ingredient in Sambhar – Lentils stew with vegetables. We mildly scape the outer skin and then chop them up into finger length pieces. To cook them you just boil in salted water, till just cooked, then add them where you like – soups, flavoured broths etc. It is packed with nutrients – phosphorous, iron, calcium and vitamin C. In India lactating mothers eat a broth made of the leaves. The flowers of the drumstick tree are also used as a vegetable.

  4. Not my fave either and sends a groan from us when served when we were kids. This is quite common up north, in the Ilocos region. Cook it in dinengdeng as Tiffany suggests (or inabraw as we call it). Or my mom (from the South) would saute this with garlic, onion and a bit of tomato. Make sure you buy the younger one. It’s eaten exactly as Anapuma says.

  5. “running your teeth down the length of the pod”

    It’s the reason why in Tagalog parts of Luzon we call them “hagod.” Pair it with camote in bagoong broth.

  6. Many would know that malunggay leaves are good for lactating mothers. So that’s why as Robyn and Anupama, India said, the pods are given to lactating mothers. That part I didn’t know but makes sense. There are malunggay tablets available in the drugstores and they are made from malunggay leaves. I’m from Laguna but I’ve not been introduced to hagod. Interesting!

  7. During one of the Adobo Festivals here, someone made adobo out of the young fruit of the malungay and it came out quite good.

  8. My dad would use the young pods, scrape the outer skin and cut it up like sitaw. He would put it in dinengdeng or pakbet, and sometimes mix it in instant noodles (maggi chicken or what have you…) as vegetables, of course with malunggay leaves too, for a healthier instant breakfast.

  9. i’ve eaten the seeds from the young pods and they have a very delicate taste, and are delicious! i’ve been trying to find young pods ever since (we have a tree but it hasn’t blossomed with pods for some time now). i can’t remember how they were cooked though — let me get the recipe from my uncle’s cook. they were really really delicious. honest.

    ditto about the malunggay leaves being good for lactating mothers. my officemates (then new mothers) used to ask me for leaves from the tree.

  10. If the pods are not very young, you have to peel them off as the outer layer is tough. If the pods ar eyoung, you can slice them and just add them to your dish

  11. oscar is right, that is what we do in ilocos, boil camote and tomato in water then add bagoong, mash the camote and tomato then add the cut malunggay, the mallunggay is kinda slightly peeled, just to take off the tough layer ten cut around 3-4 inches. . . but these are best eaten when it is still young, just cut up boil and it makes a good salad. . .

  12. As kids, we had fun eating this odd-looking vegie. And yes, we call it “hagod”! Thank you, Oscar! Couldn’t remember its Tagalog name.

    My Ilocano father prefers it boiled in bagoong broth with squash and malunggay leaves. And I remember that the pulp is a bit gelatinous when cooked.

  13. we cook malunggay seed pods the way most ilocanos do, in broth with bagoong balayan, broiled fish, onions and this mixture, add sweet potato, patani, alukon (i don’t know the tagalog term for this veggie) and of course, the malunggay seed pods..this tastes better if you mash the sweet potato..

  14. Hi MM, as everyone said, malunggay is very good in dinengdeng or pinakbet. I think Mike at Lafang had a very good description on how to make this in his blog. The lactation benefit was also endorsed by my lola. So a while back, I experimented with tinola and malunggay, and the results were actually good! The gingery soup with just a touch of patis is perfect accompaniment for malunggay. Most people use the malunggay leaves for tinola, but you can also use the pods a I found out. This is especially good if you’re not into dinengdeng or pinakbet with their bagoong.

  15. As most of the comments here states, the malunggay pods are good in dinengdeng or pinakbet. Choose the younger ones as they are softer (the older, thicker ones tend to be fibrous and tough) and taste better. You dont have to peel them anymore as well.

    I dont know if they sell this in the market because my mom just asks for it from a neighbor who has a malunggay tree but try the malunggay blossoms/flowers as well. Blanch them and add chopped tomatoes plus a sprinkling of salt then eat it as a salad. They’re really good. And since it’s mango season as well, add chopped green mango on the salad. Sarap!

  16. Elizabeth Schneider’s vegetable book “Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini” is correct in describing how to eat this veggie although, splitting the pods is not necessary since you can get the seeds and pulp with her described eating. It is important however, that you peel some of its outer skin. You can do this by slicing a part of the vegetable making sure that you do not cut the edge totally since you need to pull the knife away from the vegetable to get the skin.

    This vegetable goes well with beef or pork cooked in fresh tomatoes (just like sinigang). Though a bit messy in eating it, the combination of tomatoes and malunggay seed pods is really tasty.

  17. Another local food that I miss and sometimes crave for. Like everyone said, when cooked it’s eaten like edamame, except IMHO it tastes way better. Mom, would peel the outer tougher skin, then mixed in sauteed bagoong, tomatoes and sweet potatoes with inihaw na bangus added at the end. I love how she makes salad from malungay leaves as well, not bitter, she blanches it before mixing it with whatever veggies she have available. We never have to worry about buying them either, she had them planted alongside the fench. LOL.

  18. Deep in Quezon province, almost the boundary to Bicol is where I was first introduced to Malunggay. I was attending a wedding of my cousin and the day before the actual ceremony, they served “ginataang adobong manok with malunggay leaves”. They were so good that the next time I came across these plant is in Pangasinan, at a friend’s house – in their front was a huge Malunggay tree. I told them I want it and they cooked it the way most Ilocanos do. I love them, but still prefer it is cooked in ginataang. I buy these leaves in a Oriental grocery – they are fresh packed in a plastic bag. I just have a crazy time, taking them off the stems, somehow, the big hardy stems skipped my cleaning. They get into my dish. My family though are not so crazy about them, my american husband said it goes betwee their teeth, hahahaha. I would love to try the pods and when I get back to Philippines (Quezon), I will ask my cousin where I can get the immature ones. By the way in that part of town, my cousin and other neighbors just ignore these plant.. they said it does not have a taste.. not for me, they are so “peanutty” and has this versatile crispiness.


  20. Dear Sir,
    how can we remove bacteria present in malunggay leaves I have a big plantation of malunggay in negros my pharmaceutical buyer got a problem of my malunggay powder it contains bacteria, the processing was so sanitized we oven it before grinding into powder, to the extend ,they are buying malunggay materials for capsuling in India cause malunggay from philippines did not passed the bacti test conducted in,
    bacteriology laboratory. hope you can help me on this problem for economic program here in our country

    very truly yours


    my email address,

  21. malunggay from visaya
    in our dialic in argao cebu…(visaya language} Question:
    Unsay kadaUTAN sa mga Filipino? answer…is MALUNGGAY!!!!

    well im grow up in the province of cebu…my Mama told me to eat more UTAN MALUNGGAY. because it will be good to our health and our eyes …will i think its fact most of the people living in the province, i discover that we are not wearing a POSTESO hehehhehe ! jokes only….most of the people eating MALUNGGAY it dsnt wearing a sunglasses…so therefore i conclude malunggay is not also good to our health but also in our eyes.its true dahil ang mga matatanda sa amin more or less 80 yrs old of age is nt wearing sunlasses..
    vote for malunggay to our heatlh….

  22. The latest news from a certain site that malunggay leaves exposed to radio active process ,in order to remove bacteria is hazardous to health. hope the teachnical people,in pharmaceutical field search a further studies,regarding this matter.

  23. Does any one know about the nutritional value of Malunggay?
    I am told that it is healthy to eat but I wonder if food scientists have looked at it.

    We eat the leaves in soup.

    A British friend says to cook the leaves in a pan with butter and add it to your dishes.

    I only eat the drumsticks when they are soft. When we don’t pick them in time they get hard. I can use a recipe for these so they don’t get wasted.

  24. I want to produce malungay leaves and seeds in volume in my farm lot in Batangas. Does anyone know any market to sell the products in continuous volume?

    My email address is

  25. I want to grow Malunggay in North Carolina. They are growing this in Florida. North Carolina is warm like Florida. Can anyone tell me where to buy the seeds? I grew up in Aloguinsan, Cebu. I love UTAN kada adlaw. Thank you and God Bless.

  26. Hi..where can you buy malunggay seeds in the philippines?..all i see in the wet market near us are the leaves..i’d also like to plant my own malunggay tree..hope you can help e-mail address is :)

  27. hi, i think you can get the seedlings from Manila Seedlings in Quezon City or in local markets in the provinces.
    As I could recall Malungay is known to be a powerful plant because aside from the nutrients you can get from it it has many uses. According to findings eating Malungay can give you the benefits of calcium that is equivalent to 4 glasses of milk, protein that you can get in 4 pieces of bananas and vitamin c equivalent to 7 oranges. This plant really has proven it’s versatility in many ways … Aside from the fruit and seeds you can use the leaves with a lemon grass for a great tasty Tinolang Manok… this is one of the best tasting tinola I ever tasted… hope you can try it.

    Malungay can be grown using the seed or it steam method. They say if you can grow a Malungay’s steam on flat ground – you are a born farmer.

  28. what are the other uses of malunggay seeds?
    except for cooking it?
    hope you can help me for our investigatory project
    juzt email me;;

  29. good evening.are malunggay seeds can be used as a could i turn it into fertilizer.pls do answer my question i can’t do my investigatory project because i am only a grade 6 student.thank you very much.
    pls email

  30. jvn food products sell PURE malunggay powder at P1.00 per gram , we also manufacture/sell malunggay chips , carrot chips , tahong chips and soon malunggay capsules. call or txt 0917 796 3048 , or email , we are here in Kawit , Cavite. thanks

  31. to paulinacardines, why not seek the assistance of Phil. Dept. of Trade & Industry to help you perfect your malunggay powder

  32. I wrote a business plan about malunggay production. Plaese give me the list of possible buyers of malunggay

  33. dear sir i am asking if what happen to the malunggay seed pods if it get chop and include to the spicy curry and what is the taste of it when your grandmother when you recall the laves from soups

    pls anwer my question cause we have an investigatory project

  34. a friend of mine from Hawaii, Thank you very much BEBE, sent me malunggay seeds and I now have 5 plants, and growing very well in North Carolina. That is what I missed the most, is the UTAN SARI SARI fresh. I miss home. Hope all is well with everyone.



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