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This is a simple anardana chutney made with home-dried anardana. Correction: This is a BOMB chutney, with a nostalgic, addictive flavour, and powerful digestion properties. Ek baar iska chaska lagake dekhiye!
As children, each time we used to get an anardana churan or goli home from the vendors sitting outside our school, Ammiji used to shake her head in disgust and make us throw the lot in the bin. But, of course, we were irascible. We returned home day after day with our pockets full of the stuff. “Mitti daalte hain ismein!” Ammiji would scream as she chased us to get us to empty our pockets. And then, seeing that we were not to be deterred from having those vile anardana golis, she came up with this homemade anardana concoction and called it “Churan Chutney” just to get us to have it. And boy, did we love it!
We are calling it the Chaska Chutney though. Chaska, a word that has no exact translation in the English language. The closest you can get to a direct meaning is “addiction”. But this is so much more than that. It’s addictive, hell yes, but it’s a good kind of addictive. It’s an addiction that you wish you’d taken up earlier. It’s an addiction that you’re not going to want to let go of. And it’s an addiction that you’ll happily indulge in, day after day after day.
Ammiji made her own anardana at home from the seeds of wild, sour pomegranates. She sun-dried the seeds at home, and we do the same. (Okay, we’ll admit we dry them out in the oven too when the sun-drying is not going fast enough!) The anardana is then ground up with salt and sugar and digestive spices like jeera and hing are added to enhance the inherently powerful digestive properties of anardana.
This churan-chutney is a supremely efficient digestive. And it’s delicious enough to replace all your heavy, creamy desserts. A small spoonful after every meal will not only help you digest your meal, but will also fulfil any craving for sweets you might have. (Of course, you’ll start craving for this after every meal, but that’s a side-effect you’re just going to have to live with! ;))
The taste is sour and sweet and it’ll make you click your tongue against the roof of your mouth and pucker your lips and WANT MORE!
But a warning: This is a mild laxative when eaten in large quantities. Please, please don’t finish the jar in one sitting, no matter how much you’re tempted to…
Ingredients: Home-dried Anardana, Salt, Black Salt, Sugar, Cumin, Asafoetida
Weight: 220 gms
Good For: 12 months
Store in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. Always use a dry spoon.
If there were a desi/Indian equivalent to the ‘Chicken soup for the soul’ book series, it would most definitely be called ‘Kaadha for the soul’. The westerners consider their chicken soup as a cure-all for all ills, but we Indians have been harnessing the power of everyday kitchen herbs and spices to cure ourselves for centuries. Ayurvedic wisdom has been translated and transformed into our grandmothers’ recipes and food and drink has always had more subtext than a mere tongue-pleaser.
According to our grandmothers, the quintessential ‘kaadha’ is that magical elixir that can, depending on the ingredients, alleviate a cold, soothe a sore throat, settle the stomach, ease an aching joint, increase milk production in lactating mothers, cure a hangover, work on clogged arteries, boost immunity or warm you up from the inside on a chilly night. If grandmothers are to believed, it can even bring about world peace. (My grandmother, Ammiji, firmly believes that, but that’s another story!) 😀
Ammiji has a different kaadha for every season and every purpose. Her secret, fragrant pitara of strange herbs and spices lies in an old, forgotten corner of her kitchen. She’ll only open it up when she decides that someone in the family just won’t survive without one of her kaadhas. In a pan of boiling water, leaves and sticks and spices and flowers will be thrown in – till her entire house smells like some exotic bazaar at the edge of the world.
Seeing the need of the hour – we took her basic immunity kaadha that she force-fed her grandchildren every change of season – and augmented it with specific Ayurvedic herbs that are believed to enhance lung function and keep the respiratory tract healthy. Powerful, natural immunity boosters from the kitchen, when combined with these herbs, make for a mix that’s deliciously fragrant, soothing for the entire system and an antidote to most that ails us. The nature or taseer of the kaadha is not too hot, making it the ideal health tonic for all seasons, even in peak summer.
Here are all the ingredients that go into Ammiji’s Immunity Kaadha and the various benefits that they hold:
Benefits of ingredients:
Jaggery: Jaggery is one of the best natural cleansers for our body – it purifies the blood, detoxifies the liver and most importantly,removes toxins from the lungs, respiratory tract, stomach and intestines. So much so, that people working in coal mines are advised to make jaggery a regular part of their diets. It has antioxidants and minerals like zinc, manganese and selenium which boost the body’s immunity. It is also rich in iron and increases the haemoglobin count in the blood. Jaggery is also good for digestion and a healthy gut.
Guduchi: Guduchi or Giloy is known in Ayurveda as amrita, the herb of immortality. It is powerful in fighting off all kinds of infections. It is anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory, thus it helps bring down fever and alleviates all flu-like symptoms. It also fights respiratory problems and alleviates conditions like bronchitis and asthma. It provides a powerful boost to a body’s immunity and is also a great tonic for stress and despression.
Amla: Amla is one of the most powerful superfoods that has been effectively used in India since the Vedic ages. Amla powder is the richest source of Vitamin C and is more easily absorbed by the body than store-brought supplements. It is also a great source of calcium and iron. Its high antioxidant content and cell-repairing properties means that it fights damage in the body caused by free radicals. It also reduces the risk of heart disease and makes the blood vessels stronger. It provides a tremendous boost to the immunity and its rich Vitamin C content fights off bacterial and viral infections.
Turmeric: Remember haldi waala doodh? There’s a good reason that we were fed a lot of it as kids. The main bioactive compound in turmeric is curcumin which strong medicinal properties. It has immense benefits for the human body. It is chock-full of anti-oxidants and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is antiseptic in nature and helps fight infections. Turmeric is beneficial for each and every system in the body – whether it’s the respiratory system, the circulatory system or the nervous system. It increases the anti-oxidant capacity and the immunomodulating capacity of the body. Our kaadha has pure turmeric which is ground into a powder at home.
Ginger: If turmeric is the king of Indian spices, then ginger definitely has to be his wingman, if not a strong claimant to the throne. Gingerol, the main active ingredient in ginger, is a powerful medicinal compound that has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes the throat, breaks down mucus and keeps the respiratory tract healthy. It is a powerful digestive aid, and a healthy digestion translates to a healthy body. Studies have shown that ginger lowers cholesterol and is good for arthritis and other conditions. It bolsters the body’s overall immunity. Our kaadha has pure dried ginger which is ground at home.
Tulsi: Tulsi or Holy Basil is an adaptogen which has powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The essential oils found in tulsi act directly on our respiratory system. It is loaded with phytonutrients and Vitamins A and C. Tulsi fights infections and strengthens immunity at the same time. It is antitussive and an expectorant, keeping the respiratory tract mucus-free and healthy.
Vasaka: Vasaka, Adusa or Malabar nut tree is an Ayurvedic plant that has traditionally and successfully been used to treat cold, cough, bronchitis, asthma, infections of the respiratory tract, breathing problems and even tuberculosis. It has several bio-active compounds that boost immunity and prevent infections. It is a potent antibiotic and has the added advantage of being a very powerful natural expectorant. It expels mucus from the body and keeps the lungs healthy. Its powerful antimicrobial, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties make it the perfect weapon against infections.
Mulethi: Mulethi, Yashtimadhu or Licorice root is another Ayurvedic wonder herb that is widely recognized to help in respiratory issues. It helps ease a sore throat or cough and keeps the upper respiratory tract healthy. Its expectorant and bronchodilator properties make it suitable for any respiratory issues. Additionally, it helps the body produce lymphocytes and macrophages that boost up immunity and helps to fight infections. Mulethi is also great for the digestive system.
Kalmegh: Kalmegh is a bitter herb that helps fight upper respiratory tract infections. It is anti-inflammatory and boosts immunity. It is especially good for liver health. Kalmegh also balances the doshas in the body according to Ayurveda.
Pepper: Black pepper – yes, that same spice you use so frequently in the kitchen – has immensely beneficial properties. It is good for digestion as well as the respiratory system. It is vital to add black pepper to any concoction with turmeric in it since it makes the curcumin in the turmeric bio-available.
Pippli: Pippli or long black pepper is a fragrant Indian pepper that has a similar flavor profile to black pepper. It is, however, quick-acting and is a great restorative for the lungs. It is also a powerful digestive aid.
Haritaki: A rich source of Vitamin C, Haritaki or Harad aids a healthy digestion and alleviates flu-like symptoms.
Anantmool: This ayurvedic herb is a blood purifier and balances the doshas in the body. It supports a healthy respiratory system.
Saunf, ajwain, cinnamon, star anise and green elaichi each have digestive and balancing properties which makes this kaadha light and balanced for everyday use.
Disclaimer: This kaadha is not a medicine – preventive or otherwise. It is an herbal, homemade tonic that may, with regular use, boost immunity.
Winter – that utterly gorgeous and beautifully perplexing season that calls out to something deep within our soul. It’s the season for bundling up in layers to ward off the chill. It’s the season for baring your face to bonfires. It’s the season for gloriously rich food and an abundance of produce. It’s the season of plenty, yet of starkness. It’s the season of sunny afternoons and dark, still evenings.
And it’s the season of ills.
The wildly fluctuating weather – sunny one minute, stormy the next – can play havoc on our bodies, laying us susceptible to the chills and bringing our natural immunity down. And that’s when home remedies come in – all the little nuskas and totkas that our grandmothers did to keep us warm and safe. Ammiji’s Winter Comfort is one such nuska.
The benefits of turmeric are widely documented. Pair that with magical home-ground dried ginger, throw in some herbs like tulsi, brahmi and ashwagandha and season the lot with spices which have their own benefits – and you’ve got a magical concoction, with manifold benefits.Here’s the list of ingredients and the effect each one of them will have on your body:
- Turmeric: Ayurveda has acknowledged the medicinal properties of turmeric for centuries, and the western world is waking up to its benefits too now. The golden spice, as it is called, it contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Remember the haldi-doodh you had as a kid? It was more for haldi than for milk. What’s more – turmeric is also an anti-depressant and promotes a sense of well-being.
- Ginger: Ginger reduces inflammation, aids digestion, soothes the stomach and is particularly good for relieving a cold or cough. Do you really need another reason? We’ll give you one. Studies show that regular consumption of ginger also brings down the risk of cancer.
- Jaggery – This natural sugar is a powerhouse of energy, sorely required in the colder months. It is also full of antioxidants and is a great in clearing the lungs of toxins, making it perfect to combat the effect of pollution on the body.
- Tulsi – Remember your mother or grandmother telling you to have aadrak-tulsiwaali chai when you sneezed a couple of times? Well, tulsi is a known anti-allergen and fights off all sorts of infections. It is also good for keeping the respiratory tract healthy and clear.
- Ashwagandha – Nowadays, quite a few fitness trainers recommend adding an ashwagandha supplement to your daily routine. This ancient Indian herb is a known vitality booster – increasing stamina, stabilizing moods and giving your brain a boost. It’s also great for reproductive health for men as well as women.
- Brahmi – Again, anti-inflammatory, chock-full of antioxidants. Brahmi is a great tonic for the mind – it increase mental agility and prevents the onset of age-related mental conditions.
- Black pepper: Kali mirchi is antibacterial and good for the digestive system. The piperine in it enhances your body’s ability to absorb nutrients – especially curcumin in turmeric – adequately.
- Cinnamon –This wonder spice regulates blood sugar levels and is full of anti-oxidants. It works steadily to build up your immunity.
- Green cardamom – Elaichi is good for the respiratory system and has essential nutrients.
- Star anise – This fragrant spice is not only good for alleviating a cold, but is also helpful in settling a stomach.
- Ajwain – This is that easily available, ever-present spice in our kitchens that has many benefits. It can treat a stomach ache, the common cold and even give you relief from pain.
Ammiji’s Winter Comfort is not only extremely beneficial but is also fragrantly refreshing. Here’s how to brew it:
In water – Add 1 teaspoon to 2 cups water. Boil till it reduces to 1 cup. Strain, add 1 teaspoon honey, and drink.
In milk – Add 1 teaspoon per cup. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Strain, add honey to taste and drink.
An age-old Ayurvedic recipe mentioned in the Vedas, Ammiji’s Chyawanprash is made from fresh, seasonal amlas, jaggery and more than 30 herbs and spices. Made at home in the traditional way, with no additives and preservatives, this herbal formulation will build up your immunity, increase stamina and delay the aging process.
We’ve all had Chyawanprash as kids – whether we’ve had it forced down our throats or have licked the spoon clean and asked for more. It was and still is the cure-all magical tonic that keeps us safe and makes us stronger. But there’s a story behind the near-legendary reputation that it holds and why it’s been a part of our daily routine for centuries.
The legend of Chyawanprash goes back to the pre-vedic times. A sage, Rishi Chyawan, spent years meditating and devoted his life to asceticism. He was so devout that the Gods feared that he would intrude on their realm. So they sent the nymph, Menaka, to distract him. Such was Menaka’s beauty and charm that after some time spent staunchly resisting her lure, Chyawan eventually gave in. But Chyawan was an old, wizened sage. The challenge facing him now was that he had to match Menaka’s beauty and youth since he wanted to be with her for a long, long time. So he went off into the forest and returned rejuvenated and with a drastically younger appearance. He credited this change to the elixir that is now associated with his name – Chyawanprash. And as legends go, Chyawan and Menaka lived together happily ever after!
We don’t claim to have the elixir for immortality and youth that Chyawan concocted, but we do have the next best thing – Chyawanprash made at home, with the purest ingredients. Ammiji’s Chyawanprash is made in the traditional way prescribed in the Charita Samhita, that ancient Indian Vedic text which defined Ayurvedic principles. It’s a laborious, painstaking process, but the end result is pure and magical.
Benefits of Chyawanprash:
- Chyawanprash is extremely beneficial for our immune system and rejuvenates all the tissues in our body. It boosts our body’s ability to produce hemoglobin and white blood cells.
- According to Ayurveda, Chyawanprash is a rasayana that balances all the doshas in our body.
- Chyawanprash is especially good for our respiratory system because it cleans out the mucus from our lungs and respiratory passages. That is one reason why we were encouraged to have Chayawanprash during the winter months in particular.
- Chyawanprash gave the sage Chyawan immortality. But for us, it’s a great tonic for strength, youth and vitality. It provides nourishment to our tissues and promotes systemic health and well-being.
- Chyawanprash is great for the digestive system, having the dual action ability to both stimulate it and pacify it at once.
- Cholestrol and glucose levels have both been shown to be regulated after regular use of Chyawanprash.
- The original purpose of Chyawanprash was to be a tonic for virility. It still is that, supporting virility and stamina and promoting a healthy reproductive system.
- Chyawanprash is an overall superfood, a bulwark for our body’s natural defenses and a tonic for our brain too.
- Studies have also shown Chyawanprash to boost metabolism.
Ingredients and some of their individual benefits:
Amla, Dates, Figs, Jaggery, Ghee, Sesame Oil, Honey, Bidrikand, Akarkara, Shatavari, Brahmi, Bilva, Haritaki, Kamal Kesar, Jatamansi, Gokhru, Bel, Kachoor, Nagarmotha, Clove, Pushkarmool, Kakadsinghi, Jiwanti, Punarnava, Ashwagandha, Giloy, Tulsi, Sweet Neem, Ginger, Raisins, Mulethi, Pippali, Banslocham, Cinnamon, Bay Leaves, Nagkesar, Green Cardamom, Saffron, Star Anise.
Amla – Amla or amlaki is the Indian wonder-berry. It has the highest concentration of Vitamin C that a fruit can have. It is full of antioxidants and supports a healthy circulatory, respiratory and immune system. It is essential for a good metabolism and is a great beauty tonic!
Dates – Dates are full of antioxidants and are a good brain booster. It also helps maintain bone mass.
Figs – Figs lower cholesterol and help maintain blood glucose levels in the body. They’re also a good source of calcium.
Jaggery – Gud is again loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc and selenium, which help fight free radicals in the body. Jaggery is particularly good for clearing out toxins from the lungs and the liver. It is the perfect anti-pollution aid.
Ghee – Ghee in Chyawanprash acts as a carrier agent, helping to carry all the benefits to each part of our body. It has its own set of benefits too, which have led to the Western world in touting it as a superfood.
Sesame Oil – This complements ghee in its role of a carrier agent in Chyawanprash. It is, again, full of antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and good for heart health.
Apart from these main ingredients, Chyawanprash contains a lot of herbs which are infused into the amlaki mixture and a set of spices added at the end to give it that distinctive taste. (The set of spices also includes a good portion of Ammiji’s Classic Chai Masala, whose ingredients are at par with those required for Chyawanprash;))
Almost 40 ingredients – each having their own benefits and their own role to play in strengthening our immune system, and making us look and feel sharper!
How to use Chyawanprash
Chyawanprash is best had in the morning, but can also be taken at bedtime. As kids we had it accompanied by a glass of milk, but you can also have it with water or just on its own. Recommended: 1-2 loaded teaspoons a day for adults; ½ -1 teaspoon a day for children.
The monsoon is here. And as the earth goes from a scorching, dusty ochre to a wet, iridescent emerald, we feel the need for touching base with all that’s warm, nourishing and energizing. Because summers are cruel in the subcontinent, and the rains bring with it the promise of brief intervals of respite.
But the monsoon also brings with it its own host of problems – problems that we can forget about while the raindrops cool us down, but which stare us in the face when the sun shows up again. Minor colds, nagging coughs, infections and more dangerous diseases mushroom out with the first touch of rain.
What you need then is natural immunity. And Ammiji’s Monsoon Magic offers you just that. Derived from ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, this mix of natural ingredients is the perfect tonic for the monsoon. The main ingredient of this tisane is Giloy – that wonder plant that in Sanskrit is referred to as ‘Amrita’ – the root of immortality. Giloy is a creeper that often grows on neem trees and in the past few years it has gained acclaim for being a successful combatant to the effects of dengue and chikangunya. Dried stems of the Giloy plant are powdered at home and then mixed with other ingredients to give you a concoction that is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing.
So, cuddle up near a window when it’s raining outside and pour yourself a cup of Monsoon Magic. Watch the magic of the rain while you feel the warmth of Ammiji spread inside. (P.S. A good book and great music are the best accompaniments for this set-up;))
Ingredients and their Benefits:
Giloy – Also known as Guduchi, Giloy provides a tremendous boost to your immune system. It contains various antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and have anti-ageing properties. It has a soothing effect on both the respiratory system and the digestive system. Apart from this, Giloy also reduces stress and anxiety and has been shown to be an effective supplement in the treatment of both diabetes and arthritis.
Turmeric – Who hasn’t heard about the various benefits of good, ol’ haldi? Turmeric is now being touted as a superfood the world over, but we Indians have known of its miraculous properties for centuries. And that’s why turmeric is used in so extensively in our cooking and homemade remedies. It has magical medicinal properties and when combined with Giloy, will have a miraculous effect on your system.
Lemongrass – Lemongrass is probably what a little corner of heaven smells like. Apart from its soothing fragrance, lemongrass relieves anxiety and soothes the digestive system. It is also known to lower cholesterol and boost the production of red blood cells in the body. It is a powerful herb to fight minor infections.
Tulsi/Holy Basil – Tulsi is revered in India. It is one of the most magical herbs we have and is well known for its effectiveness in curing cold and cough. It also combats minor aches and pains. Again, it is anti-inflammatory and contains powerful anti-oxidants.
Ashwagandha – Ayurvedic tomes are full of praises for this wonder drug. It not only increases vitality, but also energizes your entire system. It is anti-cancer properties too.
Amla – Indian gooseberry, that powerhouse of Vitamin C, plays a vital role in boosting your immunity. It is also effective in aiding digestion and cools your digestive system down. Amla is also a well-known anti-ageing agent.
Apart from these main ingredients, Ammiji’s Monsoon Magic also contains Fennel, Black Pepper, Ginger, Green Cardamom, Cinnamon, Star Anise and Jaggery. Each of them play an important role in gearing your body up to deal with this fickle season’s vagaries.
How to Brew:
Add 1 heaped teaspoon to about 1 and a half cups of water. Put the pan to boil and let it boil till water has reduced to a little less than a cup. Strain and drink in the warmth. You can also add some raw honey if you like your tisane a little sweeter.