Chaya the food/plant of the Mayas




Mountain Chaya

The original name in Maya was CHAY but changed to Chaya by the spanish conquerors . The binomen is Cindoscolus aconitifolius . THe genus name coming from the Greek knido meaning nettle and scolus, meaning thorn. So this means when harvesting the leaves, care is needed as they sting when touched but cooking destroys the stinging hairs..It has a succulent stem that exude a milky sap when cut but its easy to propagate.  
From times immemorial the Mayas have used this plant as food as well as for curing aliments .Long before our modern scientists had the knowledge of its nutritional values the Mayas already knew it had nutrients equal to meat or even superior.  
It has been proven that  100grams of Chaya leaves contain 

9% protein 2% fat 7%carbohydrates 421 milgms calcium,63 milgms phospherous,11 milgms iron,8 milgms Vit A,1.7niocins,274 milgms Vit C with small amounts of Vit B1 and B2. Thats what I call healthy food! 



It’s very easy to grow and within 2-3months after planting will yield an abundance of leaves ready to use in the kitchen.These plants can grow up to 6 meters but to keep tame its best to keep them at 2 meters  
The  raw chay leaves are toxic and therefore cooking is essential before eating .  

Chaya leaf
They say the plant is similar to spinach and the leaves retain their colour in cooking
Leaf of the mountain Chaya

Both these plants you will find on the property growing best as they do in a climate of humidity and heat . Well I guess here in the Yucatan we have the ideal climate to say the least.It is said that Chaya also grows in Guatamala,Belice and Honduras.

As afore mentioned the ancient Mayas cultivated and cooked the leaves of the plants in many various ways and still today is one of the cheaper and favourite foods to cook.Its rare not to see one or two plants growing on the front or patios of the houses of the local villagers as you stroll down the streets of St Elena

About thepickledonionyucatan

Born in England emigrated to Canada and now reside in the Yucatan Mexico. LIfe is a journey so enjoy as much as you can
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2 Responses to Chaya the food/plant of the Mayas

  1. Michele Moreno says:

    Hola Valerie, acá Michele, soñando con tu comida, con el pollo alcaparrado, y con todo “The pickled onion” life. Debo volver pronto y hospedarme allí. Los arbolitos de neem están fuertes y creciendo. Ahora encuentro tu blog, maravilloso: sabía que el brillo de tus ojos no era casualidad, sino la vida en Sí Mayor. Un abrazo.

    • Hola Michele Que bueno me encontraste mi pagina blog.Siempre hay bienvenidos para ti y sus amigos y sus familiares.
      Pues mis ojos es que me dio el Dios! Y creo que es un razon que pase este.
      Que buena tambien se crece los aroblitos de neem .
      Un abrazo y besos

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