As a starter, I want to tell about an age old preparation from Grandma’s time. When I buy kilos of gooseberry during the season, my neighbors ask me why I am buying so much of gooseberries.
Nellikkai or Amla (Gooseberry) is considered of the most nutritious fruit. It is used in many Ayurvedic preparations.
It has an abundant quantity of Vitamin C and other nutrients. I have read somewhere that gooseberry is one fruit which does not loos its nutritional value on boiling or processing.
In my school days, children used to take the raw fruits often, as we have them (and the trees!) in abundance. Generally children love to eat them with bit of salt and drink water and enjoy the changing flavours of sour, bitter and sweet. Grandama used to preserve them and keep it for the non-seasonal days.
My first recipe is for home preparation of “Nellikkai Arishtam” or gooseberry extract. In this Jaggery is used along with the berries, as Jaggery is a good source of Iron.
Nellikkai - 1 Kg
Jaggery - 1 Kg
Powdered cloves and cardamom for spice
Clean and dry Porcelain Jar
Wash and dry the berries with a cloth. Put 1 layer of berry into the jar. On top of that put 1 layer or crushed jaggery. Follow the layering for the entire quantity, ensuring that the topmost layer is jaggery. Add 2 or 3 spoons of the powdered spice. Close the jar and tie a thick cloth over the lid (traditional way). You can try with air tight containers, but plastic containers are generally NOT advisable.
Leave it in a corner for around 45-50 days.
By that time, the juice would have been extracted (Remember that we did not add even a drop of water). The berries would have shrunk and turned hard and black.
Filter out the extract (can use thin cloth or net for this purpose) and keep in air tight bottles. You can take 1 bottle of extract at a time and leave the rest in the jar itself. The extract need not be refrigerated. It will NOT get Spoilt.
It tastes similar to an Ayurvedic Arishtam – sweet, sour and tingly taste.
Effective way is to take around an ounce of the extract 1 hr before food once a day or so. Since it is very natural, little amount more or less does not cause any harm.
For smaller children, it can be diluted with little water. I read that Vitamins are best absorbed on empty stomach, proving Grandmothers prescription of taking the arishtam before food.
Uses and effect:
This is a very effective preventive medicine for children against cold, fever, anemia etc, as the extract is a concentration of Vitamin C and Iron. It improves appetite and also the general immunity and resistance.
For Information on nellikkai http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_gooseberry
Nostalgia takes me back to the famous Malayalam song “Oru Vattam…. Aa Nelli Maram Onnuluthuvan moham”
More nellikkai recipes in coming blogs…