Search Food Dictionary
Food Dictionary Ads


open this page in your Mobile / Tablet
QR Code
Food Dictionary Ads

Roselle  is a species of Hibiscus native to West Africa, used for the production of bast fibre and as an infusion, in which it may be known as carcade. It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 7–8 ft tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed,3–6 in long, arranged alternately on the stems.

The flowers are 3–4 in in diameter, white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal, and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base,0.39–0.79 in wide, enlarging to 1.2–1.4 in, fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. They take about six months to mature. 

The leaves, flower, stem all are edible, this flower bud dried used for tea.



The roselle is known as the rosella or rosella fruit in Australia. It is known as 'Belchanda' among Nepalese, Tengamora among Assamese, "mwitha" among Bodo tribals in Assam, "mesta tenga" among Rabha tribe, "hanserong" among Karbi tribals in Assam,Chukor in Bengali, Sougri in Manipur, Gongura in Telugu, also called as "Andhra Matha" or "Andhra Sakhambari Varapradasadam" in Telugu, "புளிச்சைக் கீரை"(also see) in Tamil, Ambadi in Marathi, LalChatni or Kutrum in Mithila Mathipuli in Kerala, chin baung in Burma, krajiab, krajiab daeng, or krajiab priaw in Thailand, sobolo in Ghana, baraŋ in Cambodia, bissap in Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger, Réunion, the Congo and France, dah or dah bleni in other parts of Mali, wonjo in the Gambia, zobo in western Nigeria (the Yorubas in Nigeria call the white variety Isapa (pronounced Ishapa)), Zoborodo in northern Nigeria, karkanji in Chad, foléré in Cameroon, Chaye-Torosh in Iran, karkade in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, omutete in Namibia, sorrel in the Caribbean and in Latin America, Sjuru in Suriname, Flor de Jamaica in Mexico, Saril in Panama, grosella in Paraguay and vinagreira, caruru-azedo or quiabo-roxo in Brazil, Rosela in Indonesia, asam belanda in Malaysia. In Mandarin Chinese it is (méi guī qié). In Zambia the plant is called lumanda in ciBemba, Sindambi in Silozi, katolo in kiKaonde, or wusi in chiLunda. In Garo Hills, Meghalaya it is known 'galda'. In the Philippines, Rizal province, it is known as "Guragod", in Panay- and mainly Ilonggo-speaking parts of Mindanao, as "Labug or Labog". It is(Chin-pown) in Myanmar.

The plant is primarily cultivated for the production of bast fibre from the stem. The fibre may be used as a substitute for jute in making burlap. Hibiscus, specifically roselle, has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic and mild laxative.

The red calyces of the plant are increasingly exported to the United States and Europe, particularly Germany, where they are used as food colourings. It can be found in markets (as flowers or syrup) in places, such as France, where there are Senegalese immigrant communities. The green leaves are used like a spicy version of spinach. They give flavour to the Senegalese fish and rice dish thieboudienne. Proper records are not kept, but the Senegalese government estimates national production and consumption at 770 short tons per year. In Burma their green leaves are the main ingredient in chin baung kyaw curry.


In Andhra cuisine, roselle is called gongura and is extensively used. The leaves are steamed with lentils and cooked with dal (also see). Another unique dish is prepared by mixing fried leaves with spices and made into a gongura pacchadi,thovaiyal  ,Chutneythe most famous dish of Andhra cuisine that is often described as king of all Andhra foods.

In Burmese cuisine, called chin baung ywet (lit. sour leaf), the roselle is widely used and considered affordable. It is perhaps the most widely eaten and popular vegetable in Burma. The leaves are fried with garlic, dried  (also see) or fresh prawns and green chili or cooked with fish. A light soup  (also see)made from roselle leaves and dried prawn stock is also a popular dish.

Among the Bodo tribals of Bodoland, Assam (India) the leaves of hibiscus sabdariffa and hibiscus cannabinus are cooked along with chicken, fish, crab or pork, as one of their traditional cuisines.

In the Philippines, the leaves and flowers are used to add sourness to chicken dish "Tinola" (chicken stew).

In Vietnam, the young leaves, stems and fruits are used for cooking soups with fish or eel.


In the Caribbean, sorrel drink is made from sepals of the roselle. In Mexico, 'agua de Flor de Jamaica' (water flavored with roselle) frequently called "agua de Jamaica"(also see) is most often homemade. It is prepared by boiling dried sepals and calyces of the sorrel/flower of Jamaica plant in water for 8 to 10 minutes (or until the water turns red), then adding sugar. It is often served chilled. This is also done in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago where it is called 'sorrel'. (In Jamaica, it was introduced by Akan slaves in the late 1600s.) The drink is one of several inexpensive beverages (aguas frescas) commonly consumed in Mexico and Central America; they are typically made from fresh fruits, juices or extracts. Something similar is done in Jamaica but flavor is added by brewing the tea with ginger and adding rum, making a popular drink at Christmas time. It is also very popular in Trinidad and Tobago where cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves are preferred to ginger.

In Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, Burkina Faso and Benin calyces are used to prepare cold, sweet drinks popular in social events, often mixed with mint leaves, dissolved menthol candy, and/or fruit flavors.

The Middle Eastern and Sudanese "Karkade"(also see) is a cold drink made by soaking the dried Karkade calyces in cold water overnight in a refrigerator with sugar and some lemon or lime juice added. It is then consumed with or without ice cubes after the flowers have been strained. In Lebanon, toasted pine nuts are sometimes added.

Roselle is used in Nigeria to make a refreshing drink known as Zobo (also see ).

With the advent in the U.S. of interest in south-of-the-border cuisine, the calyces are sold in bags usually labeled "Flor de Jamaica" and have long been available in health food stores in the U.S. for making tea. In addition to being a popular homemade drink, Jarritos, a popular brand of Mexican soft drinks, makes a Flor de Jamaica flavored carbonated beverage. Imported Jarritos can be readily found in the U.S.

In the UK, the dried calyces and ready-made sorrel syrup are widely and cheaply available in Caribbean and Asian grocers. The fresh calyces are imported mainly during December and January to make Christmas and New Year infusions, which are often made into cocktails with rum. They are very perishable, rapidly developing fungal rot, and need to be used soon after purchase unlike the dried product, which has a long shelf-life.

In Africa, especially the Sahel, roselle is commonly used to make a sugary herbal tea that is sold on the street. The dried flowers can be found in every market. Roselle tea is quite common in Italy where it spread during the first decades of the 20th century as a typical product of the Italian colonies. The Carib Brewery Trinidad Limited, a Trinidad and Tobago brewery, produces a 'Shandy Sorrel' in which the tea is combined with beer.

In Thailand, roselle is generally drunk as a cool drink, and it can be made into a wine.

Hibiscus flowers are commonly found in commercial herbal teas, especially teas advertised as berry-flavoured, as they give a bright red colouring to the drink.

Rosella flowers are sold as Wild Hibiscus flowers in syrup in Australia as a gourmet product. Recipes include filling them with goats cheese; serving them on baguette slices baked with brie; and placing one plus a little syrup in a champagne flute before adding the champagne — the bubbles cause the flower to open.

Jam and preserves

In Nigeria, rosella jam (also see) has been made since colonial times and is still sold regularly at community fetes and charity stalls. It is similar in flavour to plum jam, although more acidic. It differs from other jams in that the pectin is obtained from boiling the interior buds of the rosella flowers. It is thus possible to make rosella jam with nothing but rosella buds and sugar.

In Burma, the buds of the roselle are made into 'preserved fruits' or jams. Depending on the method and the preference, the seeds are removed or included. The jams, made from roselle buds and sugar, are red and tangy.

"Sorrel jelly" (also see) is manufactured in Trinidad.

Rosella jam is made in Queensland, Australia as a home-made or speciality product sold at fetes and other community events.

Health benefits

1.Gongura are an excellent source of folate and a very good source of vitamin B6, both of which are needed to keep levels of homocysteine, a potentially dangerous molecule, low.
2.Gongura is a very rich source of Iron, vitamins C, folic acid and anti-oxidants essential for human nutrition 
3.They are rich in calcium, zinc and Vitamin A
4.In addition, they also are a very good source of riboflavin, another important B vitamin for cardiovascular health since it is necessary for the proper functioning of B6.

Read more at wikipedia
Recipes using Roselle see Here and Here.

Post your comment ...
sign in with ...