YONGCHAK botanically known as Parkia roxburghii (F. mimosaceae) is a tropical tall tree. Fruits and pods are eaten as one of the favourite delicacies in Manipur either cooked/roasted/raw. The plant grows abundantly in the foothills of the state as well as in the backyard of houses in the valley. The leaves are bipinnate with numerous small curved leaflets and flowers in dense turbinate heads hanging on long peduncles. The fruit comprises bunches of green pods which may be upto 50cm in length. On maturation, the pods turn black and contain yellow dry powder pulp in which are embedded several black seeds. Pods and seeds are used for stomach disorders. The decoction of leaves is applied to cure sores and skin infections. The concoction made from bark is used to cure skin infection.
UMOROK (Capsicum chinense), the traditional crop of Manipur, is giving importance in the scientific community as it was reported in the recent past to be the hottest chilli in the world. Besides, Manipur, the crop is also traditionally cultivated in Nagaland which is known as ‘Naga King chilli’, in Assam popularly known as ‘Bhoot Jolokia’ and also in other North-eastern States of India. It is reported that the tremendous hot flavour of chillies is due to the presence of a group of seven closely related compounds called capsaicinoids, but capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and dihydrocapsaicin are responsible for approx. 90% of the pungency. Capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers, has the ability to dilate blood vessels thus giving relief in chronic congestions. It also helps to cure cough and sore throat. It stimulates the secretion of saliva and gastric juice. Clinical reports also indicate that capsaicin can protect the mucous membrane of the intestine from mechanical and chemical damage. Use of chilli leaves for ailments such as boils, headache and night blindness have also been reported.