In the present era, many people are catching on to the notion that certain eating styles have the potential to influence disease prevention, quality of life, health, and longevity. The ability of food components to interfere with molecular mechanisms in our body has incited a revolution in thinking about what we eat.
Ayurveda, India’s ancient healing science accords utmost importance to food, and according to it, food is medicine and what you eat and how you eat has everything to do with how you feel.
This science describes specific food/dietary schedules for different times of the day and for different seasons according to one's age and one's individual constitution.
When we eat wholesome and proper foods, with the seasonal changes, and based on our individual needs, however, we can take the quality of our lives back into our own hands, unleashing life-long vitality.
Karkidakam – month of rejuvenation
Ayurveda is a widely appreciated system because it mostly draws from nature and seeks to synchronise our body and its systems with environmental factors. Ancient texts stressed the observance of hygiene and dietary regulations during the downpours of monsoon season.
Karkidakam, the last month of Malayalam calendar (July-august) coincides with the monsoon rains in Kerala and it was, for long believed as the worst month of the year, especially in terms of health.
Old-timers call it ‘panja masam’ (lean season) – month of famine and scarcity, as hard times prevail when the monsoon unleashes its fury. This is the month when the strength of the body is at its lowest peak due to the influence of the preceding summer season. The physical debility added on with the atmospheric moisture and turbid water will lead to many diseases like fever, cough, water borne diseases etc.
So this is a month when human bodys immunity and digestive capabilities are compromised by drastic changes in weather and the time that calls for preventive therapies to regain strength and improve your immunity.
There are various types of Ayurveda therapies that people undergo during this month and these therapies help an individual to go through the rest of the year by having a recharged and energized body and mind.
Oushadha kanji -Unique medicated porridge /gruel
The Oushadha kanji or marunnu kanji or Karkidaka kanji is a special porridge and an ideal part of the wellness regimen of this season. The Kanji is considered as the simplest way for a seasonal rejuvenation.
This medicinal gruel is a unique combination of Ayurvedic ingredients like herbs, grains and spices with special therapeutic benefits that would keep the monsoon fevers at bay, prevent you against the common ailments of the rainy season like arthritis (Vatham in Malayalam) and also boost one’s immunity. It aids digestion and cleans the body internally. Thus, act as a health tonic which helps to get rejuvenated for the monsoon.
There are various recipes of Oushadha kanji which are followed in different parts of Kerala depending on the availability of the herbs and its preparation varies from places to place.
Karkidaka Kanji can be prepared at home, have a look at how it is prepared and the list of ingredients that are used to make Karkidaka Kanji or Oushadha Kanji.
Let’s take a look at the components
Njavara rice: A medicinal rice and an ingredient of many ayurvedic formulations due to its unique nutrient composition. It is an excellent source of carbohydrate, rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. The total dietary fibre content in Njavara is found to be 34-44% higher than that of IR 64 and Jyothi. It is a diuretic and boosts immunity. Also helps deal with diseases of the bones, digestive disorders and skin infections. Njavara rice is also used as kizhi (pack) for massages.
Dasapushpam: The 10 flowers are mukkutti (biophytum sensitivum), thiruthali (morning glory), kayyoni (false daisy), cheroola (mountain knotgrass), nilappana (golden eye-grass), karuka (India doab or bahama grass), muyalcheviyan (lilac tassle flower), vishnukranthi (tender dwarf morning glory), puvankurunnila (little ironweed), and uzhinja (balloon plant). Although the name suggests flowers, juice is extracted from the whole plant, added to the rice and cooked. When combined, these herbs have medicinal properties — antioxidants, diuretic, aid in bowel movement, boost immunity, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory.Garden Cress, fenugreek seeds: The dry ingredients not only add flavor but they are also said to cool the body, aid digestion, stimulate appetite and treat skin disorders. Fenugreek seeds and garden cress are loaded with vitamins, and are storehouses of minerals.
Cumin seeds: The nutritional profile of cumin indicates that, it is rich in iron, copper, calcium, manganese, selenium, zinc, potassium and sodium. Anti-oxidant activity of many vitamins like vitamin B-complex, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K also enhances the nutritional quality of cumin seeds. The seeds of cumin are carminative, aromatic, stomachic, stimulant, astringent and cooling in effect. It is well used in the treatment of mild digestive disorders as a carminative and also as an analgesic.
Embelia ribes: Also known as false black pepper (vidanga in Ayurveda) is a useful herb to manage worm infestation that includes threadworms, roundworm and types of worms due to its anti-helmintic property. It controls vomiting, nausea, indigestion, and flatulence due to its hot potency and also helps manage constipation due to its laxative property.
Elettaria cardamomum: It has significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Its anxiolytic and muscle relaxing effect gives an additional effect for the use of stress related gastric troubles. It is also effective as an insecticidal and anthelmintic agent.
Coconut: Either the milk extract or paste enhances the flavor and adds fat content to the gruel without extra oil.
Ghee and shallots: Ghee also provides the fat content. Fat aids in lubrication of our joints. The Shallots add flavor and have cooling properties, which would manage the heat that some of the other ingredients would generate.
Bipha Oushadha kanji (Karkidaka kanji) – A quick fix for the modern day
However, nowadays regular detox is required because of the prevailing pandemic situation and irregular eating habits. The availability of the ready-mix variety throughout the year makes it easy to include it in your diet whenever needed by your body and can be taken by people of all age groups.
METHOD OF PREPARATION:
- Wash and drain Njavara rice with water. Crush the Njavara rice slightly in a mixer.
- Add the crushed Njavara rice into 1½ cup water in a pressure cooker. Cook for 20 minutes without putting pressure cooker weight.
- Open the pressure cooker and add medicinal herb packet (Pachamarunnu, Podimarunnu, Fenugreek, and Garden cress) and mix well, Add Coconut milk and stir well. Cook by closing the Pressure cooker with weight for 20 minutes
- In lukewarm condition add one tablespoon grated coconut, a pinch of cumin (Jeeraka ) and salt as need, and cow's ghee if needed. Small onion fried in ghee can also be mixed with the gruel as seasoning.
When to take?
This rice gruel should be consumed fresh and lukewarm on all the days of Karkidakam/or when needed. This kanji may be taken either in the morning after a proper oil bath or at the evening as dinner, or both times if possible, for a minimum of Seven days continuously.
It can be taken 3/7/21 days or throughout the month of Karkidaka
While having Karkidaka kanji, it is better to avoid consumption of tea or coffee or non-vegetarian and oily foods as it may further deteriorate the digestion, especially during the monsoon season.
Sidelight – Pathila thoran
Karkidaka kanji and Pathila thoran sums up the seasonal intake of pathya(wholesome) foods for health. Pathila thoran is a Karkidakam special side dish prepared out of matured fresh leaves of ten plants which are locally available. Leafy vegetables are abundant in antioxidants, mineral salts, vitamins, proteins and fiber, which helps in reviving the immune system and used as food supplement.
A Seasonal Nutraceutical!!
Food can be health promoting beyond its traditional nutritional value.
Nutraceuticals are substances which have nutritional as well as therapeutic properties.
In 1989, Dr. Stephan De Felice coined this term and defined as “a food (or part of food) that provides medical or health benefits including the prevention and/or treatment of a disease. Medicinal and nutraceutical potential of njavara rice makes Oushadha kanji to be considered as a nutraceutical too.
In Ayurvedic literatures, the medicated gruel is compared with the Oushadha siddha yavagu which is very helpful as supportive treatment of various diseases due to its nutritional as well as medicinal properties.
Commit to be Fit!
Preventing or retarding the onset of diseases has become more attractive and cost effective strategy in the medical arena.
In recent times, there has been a large body of evidence that forms a basis for the use of herb infused nutraceuticals as part of the daily diet, due to their capacity to bring about modulations in various bio-chemical processes that offer protective effects to various organs. More and more people are getting health conscious and are warming up to a healthy diet for their preventive effects along with an excellent safety profile. Consumption of Oushadha kanji is the ideal health restorative diet to stay strong and live long.
Healthy future begins now!!