Local wild plants from the Thar Desert for improved health and food security.
The Thar Desert of western India has provided several 'miracle' plants of immense food and medicinal value. Native communities have adopted a unique indigenous knowledge system for environmental conservation and sustainable management of these natural resources for food security. A good example is Panchkutta, a preparation of mixed fruits from four very common native trees namely Ker (Capparis decidua), Kumat (Acacia senegal), Khejri (Prosopis cineraria), Gonda (Cardia Myxa) and an annual creeper Kachri (Cucumis callosus); the combination is known as Panchkutta. The fruits are sundried and then different proportions are mixed for Panchkutta preparation. This paper presents a summary of the properties of Panchkutta, its ingredients and traditional processing methods and use. Panchkutta is a readily available dish and source of nutrients in every village of southern Rajasthan.