Kohlrabi, also known as German Turnip, is a vegetable that belongs to the family of wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea) that has gained popularity in the recent decade for its innumerable health benefits. Kohlrabi is in fact another cultivator of the same species from which cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts etc are bred from. Despite its pale green, round blub like appearance, Kohlrabi is not a root vegetable and is not related to turnip.
It belongs to the family of cruciferous veggies with a texture and stem similar to that of broccoli or cabbage stem and tastes milder and sweeter. Kohlrabi has always been an integral part of worldwide cuisines, with historians dating back its origins to 15th century. Italian botanist Mattioli first recorded its presence in 1554 that it had ‘come lately into Italy’, and ever since it has been in wide cultivation across Austria, Germany, England, Spain and parts of East Mediterranean region.
German turnip is cultivated in wintery weather conditions, and it takes around 60 days for the plants to mature. There are many types of Kohlrabi including White Vienna, Purple Vienna, Grand Duke, Gigante, also known as Superschmelz depending on the colouration. The vegetable grows just above the soil and can be harvested continuously till the stems grow up to 2 to 3 inches. Since the stems are also consumed widely, it is important to keep those plants watered continuously for avoiding tough textured ones.
Kohlrabi In India:
Though a vegetable with European origins, Kohlrabi is no stranger to Indian cuisine. In our country, it is a staple that goes with different names in various languages. In Kashmir, Kolhrabi is called as monj-hakh, with ‘monj’ defining the round part and ‘hakh’ being the leafy part and Knol Khol in Hindi. Mahashtrians call it navalkol while it goes with the common name Nulkol or Knol Khol in Telugu, Tamil, Navil Kosu in Kannada and Su hao in Bengali.
Kohlrabi or nulkol is an excellent source of various nutrients. A serving of this cruciferous vegetable provides you with ample amounts of Vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium, manganese, folate and fibre. It in fact can meet up to 95% of your daily Vitamin C and match 17% of digestive fibre requirements. Indian traditional medicine Ayurveda recommends regular intake of Kohlrabi for those suffering from pitta disorders.
Kohlrabi, if consumed as a part of diet plan not only pacifies pitta disorders but also stimulates building of muscles, improves nerve functioning for better health.
Nutritional Content Per Serving (135 grams)
Carbs: 8 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Vitamin C: 93% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B6: 12% of the DV
Potassium: 10% of the DV
Magnesium: 6% of the DV
Manganese: 8% of the DV
Folate: 5% of the DV
Health Benefits of Kohlrabi:
Kohlrabi is a powerhouse of antioxidants including anthocyanins, isothiocyanates and glucosinolates, besides vitamin C. These natural plant compounds play a pivotal role in protecting the body cells against free radical damage and prevent the risk of cancer and various heart conditions. Doctors recommend including Kohlrabi in regular diet for preventing chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure. Though we mostly get pale green colour Nulkol in India, purple coloured Kohlrabi available usually in the winter months is quite preferred owing to the presence of high anthocyanins, especially for fighting neurological disorders.
Triggers Weight Loss:
Kohlrabi is low on calories and high on digestive fibre. A serving of this delicious vegetable gives you just 36 grams of calories and more than 5 grams of digestive fibre, that can keep you satiated for longer hours and beat those mid-day hunger pangs. Add Kohlrabi stems to your salad or substitute the leaves in the place of collard green or kale for enjoying excellent taste and numerous nutritional benefits.
Regulates Blood Pressure:
Kohlrabi is loaded with potassium, which acts as a vasodilator, by widening arteries for lowering the high blood pressure. Nulkol is highly recommended for the patients suffering from hypertension, for not only regulating it but also for preventing breathing difficulties, anxiety associated with it.
Supports Cardiovascular Health:
Kohlrabi being a powerhouse of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, plays a pivotal role in lowering the risk of heart ailments. These compounds aid in widening blood vessels, beat inflammation and prevent building up of plaque in the arteries.
Kohlrabi is loaded with an array of nutrients that are vital for building immunity. Strong stamina means you can fight various viral and bacterial infections and also shield the body from different ailments. Nulkol has a high concentration of vitamin B6, pivotal for maintaining bodily functions including protein metabolism, reducing inflammation, production of white blood cells, for preventing the invasion of foreign substances. The presence of vitamin C, in this veggie supports the functioning of white blood cells and strengthening the immune system.
If you are fighting anaemia or iron deficiency, make it a point to include this nutritious vegetable in your regular diet plan. Anaemia can leave you extremely tired, as the body lacks enough number of healthy red blood cells for carrying oxygen to the tissues. Kohlrabi is one such vegetable that can help you in preventing anaemia and the complications associated with it.
Nulkol is your natural source of calcium, manganese and iron, the crucial components for maintaining the bones strong and sturdy. Women above the age of 40, especially in their menopause tend to suffer from bone related conditions like osteoporosis, weakening of the bones and it is time to eat healthy with Kohlrabi in the diet for maintaining the overall health of bones.
Though Kohlrabi do not contain any amount of Vitamin A, it is still responsible for improving vision. Thanks to the presence of beta carotenes, which later get synthesized into vitamin A which is responsible for protecting vision and prevent macular degeneration, as you age.
Fights Cancer Cells:
As discussed earlier, Kohlrabi is rich in antioxidants that can fight free radicals and prevent chronic issues like inflammation and other ailments. Researchers believe that regular intake of Kohlrabi prevents cancer, owing to the presence of plant compounds like anthocyanins, isothiocyanates and glucosinolates. Eat it to prevent various cancers especially those related to the digestive system.
Our digestive health defines our overall wellbeing and just like other cruciferous and green leafy vegetables Kohlrabi too is high in digestive fibre. These fibres maintain a healthy gut, clean the digestive tract, regulate bowel movements by preventing issues like constipation and diarrhoea.
Can I Eat Kohlrabi When Pregnant?
Well, there is no evidence to say that Nulkol cannot be consumed by pregnant women. However, make sure to clean the vegetable properly and cook it completely to avoid the risk of toxoplasmosis, a parasite that is usually found in water and soil. Though many pregnant women are resistant to toxoplasmosis due to the presence of antibodies, there is a mild chance of not having these in few women.
Do not eat it raw and if you are involved in gardening, growing Nulkol or any other vegetable make sure to wear gloves to prevent the transmission of toxoplasmosis.
How Do You Cook and Eat Kohlrabi?
Kohlrabi can be consumed both in raw and cooked forms. The raw stem bulbous in shape, texture similar to that of a broccoli but sweeter in taste is often an addition in salads. Kohlrabi leaves are edible and can be substitute in the place of green leafy veggies like spinach, kale, etc. In Middle Eastern countries, it is served with salt and lemon juice sprinkled on it as an appetizer.
In our country, Kohlrabi is a staple in Kashmiri cuisine. Monji, a famous delicacy of this majestic hill station is cooked with collard greens and is served along with soup and rice.
How Does Kohlrabi Taste Like?
Kohlrabi belongs to the family of cabbage and it carries that typically sweet but still peppery, pungent taste. The stems may remind you of broccoli and all parts of the vegetable are edible. Always buy Nulkol that is firm to touch and not squishy. The leaves and stems taste better when stir-fried in little amount of oil, the crispy bulb can be consumed raw.
You can roast, sauté, fry and boil this versatile vegetable and add it to the dish. However, make sure to clean the outer skin properly to do away with all the dirt, as the vegetable grows very close to the soil.
Nulkol is a versatile and staple vegetable in the Indian kitchens. It can be used in salads or in the form of curries, stews. Here are traditional Knol Khol recipes to make in a jiffy.
250 grams of Knol Khol or Nulkol or Kohlrabi, chopped roughly
½ cup toor dal
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp jeera
3 whole red chillies
½ cup grated coconut
2 tsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
Few sprigs of curry leaves
2 red chillies
Pinch of asafoetida
Salt to taste
In a pressure cooker, add toor dal, Kohlrabi pieces and turmeric. Add enough water
Cook it on medium flame for 5 whistles.
Let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and mash pieces and dal lightly
In a small kadai, add oil, urad dal, cumin, red chillies and grated coconut. Sauté till it turns brown
Let it cool down and make it into a paste by adding a little water
Take a kadai, heat oil and add all tempering ingredients including mustard seeds, red chillies, urad dal and asafoetida
Add cooked lentil, Knol Khol mixture. Give it a stir.
Add coconut gravy, stir in some water. Bring it to a boil.
Adjust salt. Serve it hot with rice or chapati.
Khol Khol or Nulkol is loaded with vitamin C, potassium, manganese, calcium and dietary fibre making it an ideal vegetable for those on weight loss regimen. Coconut too is high in vitamin C, E, B1, B3, B5, iron, selenium and offers innumerable health benefits. Toor dal is a rich source of protein and turmeric boosts immunity. Spices like jeera, urad, mustard not only provide rich flavour to the dish but also regulate digestive issues.
Kohlrabi, Apple Salad:
2 cups of Kohlrabi, cut length wise
1 cup crunchy, fresh apple, slit long
3 tsp sunflower or pumpkin seeds, toasted
50 grams baby spinach leaves, packed tightly
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp ground pepper powder
Salt to taste
In a bowl, mix Kohlrabi, apple pieces along with toasted seeds.
Mix in fresh baby spinach leaves.
Make the salad dressing by mixing olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper powder and salt
Sprinkle it over the salad and give it a nice stir
Top it with toasted seeds for that extra crunch
Kohlrabi, apple salad is something one should relish to beat their midday hunger pangs and stay active, satiated for longer hours. Kohlrabi keeps you full owing to its dietary fibre, while apple slices give this dish an amazing taste. While Kohlrabi is rich in B6, apple is a powerhouse of vitamin A for aiding in building immunity and improve vision. Just like Kohlrabi, lemon juice too has vitamin C in ample amounts and it plays a crucial role in fighting infections. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds not only add that extra crunch to the dish but trigger brain functioning and strengthen bones.
Call it Kohlrabi, Nulkol or Knol Khol, this bulbous vegetable, a native to European countries belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables. This delicious, crunchy veggie that goes well in salads, stews and curries is a nutritional powerhouse of vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium, manganese, folate and fibre. Make it a habit to include this in your regular diet for meeting up to 95% of your daily Vitamin C requirement. Kholrabi plays a crucial role in preventing various chronic conditions, protecting heart health, shielding the gut from infections. The dietary fibre in this veggie prevents constipation and regulates bowel movements. Every part of Kholrai including leaves, vegetable and stem are edible and are consumed raw, boiled and cooked. However, if you are pregnant make sure to check with your doctor before consuming Knol Khol as there is a slight chance of toxoplasmosis transmission involved.