Medicine and mouth-watering? Wow!
The festival of Diwali, though celebrated throughout India, has many regional peculiarities. With some communities in the south, the festival isn't complete without the making and consumption of a traditional medicine, which is both effective and tasty at the same time. It is supposed to primarily aid in digestion.
Diwali is not only a festival of lights but also one of sweets, where a range of exotic dishes are conjured up by passionate grandmas and devoured in uncontrolled abandon by equally passionate family members. The digestive medicine is a precautionary indulgence first thing in the morning, to counter the extravagance that is to follow right through the day and beyond.
The recipe for this neutralizing wonder as made by the grandmas in our immediate family circles is presented here in verse. Trust that you savor it!
Medicine, to a healthy person, is generally a swear-word;
Its voluntary and willing use, one would have rarely heard.
Here are, however, exceptions to every little rule in life;
Whether they apply to a state of serenity or that of strife.
A distinction that could be made between the old and the new
schemes of medicine, both of which are fairly given their due
importance in assisting us during our eventful earthly sojourn;
One addresses the system, the other tackles symptoms by turn.
The stomach is the seat and the initiator of many a discomfort;
With its undisciplined minion - the tongue; which is born to hurt
By every one of its acts: be it garrulousness or yearning for goodies.
The verbally whip-lashed would agree, so would overweight foodies.
Doggedly clever medicos of today and caringly crafty grandmas of yore;
Devised means to hoodwink the tongue into doing a more useful chore.
While current remedial dispensations are packed in sugar-coated sheaths,
Some of grandma's therapeutic concoctions are mouth-watering treats!
For 250 grams (approximately) of the Mouth-Watering Medicine.
—— 3 tablespoons ginger paste
—— 3 tablespoons ginger powder
—— 4 tablespoons carom seeds
—— 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
—— 2 tablespoons pepper
—— 1 tablespoons coriander seeds
—— 1 tablespoons long pepper
—— 20 nos. cloves
—— 2 nos. 2 inches long cinnamon sticks
—— 1 to 1 1/4 cup jaggery
—— 1 cup water
—— 3 tablespoons clarified butter
We will have a detailed look at one such dual purpose recipe;
While gratification matches the effort, health-care comes free!
Dealing with indigestion and flatulence is its primary function,
Even as it whets the palate; it is the perfect need-greed junction.
To list the ingredients, we have: Ginger of the wet and dry kind;
Pepper - both black and long; Cane jaggery, the darker you find.
Cumin, clove, carom seeds, coriander seeds, and true cinnamon;
Clarified butter made from cow's milk, and the inventory is done.
A glimpse at the recorded medicinal traits of the ingredients would be
A good way to appreciate why this dish is eulogized by popular decree.
Carom seed is said to be a digestive aid and an antiseptic, while those
Of coriander apparently help circulatory and digestive system flows.
Black pepper has a multitude of therapeutic features spanning insomnia,
Indigestion, constipation, joint pain, liver problems, tooth aches and hernia.
Clove and ginger are considered carminative; the former being as well,
an antihelminitic. Dry and wet ginger, from their flavors, are easy to tell.
Cinnamon treats problems of the digestive system and Cumin common cold.
Long Pepper is an expectorant and increases memory in both young and old.
Jaggery helps in treating throat and lung infections and is a wholesome sugar.
Clarified butter is said to be one fat that has no great effect on your figure.
That completes the introductions and we go into the recipe proper:
Gather all relevant containers and remove their tight stoppers.
Clean and arrange the utensils and other implements one would need;
Doing menial work as well has always been the poor chef's creed.
Pound and grind the dry ginger and sieve it well to get a fine powder,
(Grandma would hum with the pounding beat, her voice a tad louder);
Care for that ancient flavor? Then be sure to use a mortar and pestle,
And sing along, as she would with the beat, while you ardently wrestle.
Roasting of the seven other dry spices separately, is the next action;
Until their their aroma makes you miss the gates of heaven by just a fraction.
Ensure a medium flame; stir the roasting spices continuously and well;
Failing which, you are most likely to be staring at the dark gates of hell.
It is back to some brisk singing and wrestling, with mortar and pestle;
Pound the roasted spices to powder individually, and store each to a vessel.
With so much pulverization scheduled, you would run out of tunes to hum.
I have a host of grandma's songs recorded and shall with pleasure share some.
Transfer the seven powdered items one by one into a larger urn;
Add the dry ginger pounded earlier to the mixture too, in its turn;
Blend the combination thoroughly, until it has one uniform shade;
The fragrance would be heady, though the individual aromas fade.
With the dry ingredients out of the way, the wet ones march to the fore.
Scrape and peel the outer skin off from the ginger, and retain its core.
Wash it well, then cut it to thin slices, before grinding it to a smooth paste;
A machine would do, but it is a manual grinding stone, for the period taste!
Break the jaggery lump into small pieces; drop them into a bowl of hot water;
Wait until the chunks dissolve totally, leaving behind waste residue matter;
Strain it into another container using a fine mesh or a clean washed cloth;
A tranquil brown liquid results, all set and ready to go into the final broth.
We are at the beginning of the penultimate and most important step;
Take a little breather if you wish; perhaps a spot of water for a bit of pep?
Place a deep-frying pan upon a medium flame, loaded with clarified butter;
After it has melted, add the ginger paste and listen to its ecstatic splutter.
Keep stirring with a ladle, until the ginger is cooked and attains a golden hue;
Then add the powdered spice mixture and liquid jaggery, considering this cue.
Continue to stir the gooey dark paste on the flame for twenty minutes, if not more.
Stop when the paste consolidates into a lump and doesn't stick to the pan-floor.
Douse the flame and let the dark lump cool, till it reaches room temperature;
It would be time now for some celebration, an elated whoop, a satisfied purr;
Well, that is an achievement that dear grandma would certainly be proud of;
having followed her instructions to the dot, she would have no reason to scoff.
We reach the ultimate step of tasting the divine stuff; it is sure to blow you away;
Fasten your seat belts, place a little helping on your tongue; let it spread its sway.
Feel it melt and trickle down your tongue, esophagus, and into the digestive tract;
That you experience fleeting ethereal bliss, is a vouched for and documented fact!
Recipes of such dishes are incomplete without the customary disclaimer,
Which sure is a necessary and very useful unbounded-exuberance-tamer.
Nectar for one can be poison to another; the dish, though we absolutely relish.
I would urge you to consult a physician first to avoid a gastronomical skirmish.
Here is a second disclaimer for those who disregard the first;
And dare experimenting; to see their passionate efforts go bust.
My account is an embellishment of what is in the recipe book;
I am only a photographer and a poet; my wife is the real cook!
This was a recipe, which could be enjoyed even without having to taste it!
If it tickled your notional palate, then please leave your comments here.
© 2017 Ram Ramakrishnan