An antidote for digestion problems that may result from our festivity induced, gastronomic indulgences, Diwali Legiyam is a herbal medicine of sorts to strengthen the digestive system! This is a traditional medicine that is usually made in most families during Diwali time – a time when we tend to throw caution to the winds and indulge in sweets and savories. Additionally, Diwali falls during the season change time between summer and winter in India, which is a time for the body to re-adjust itself to the changing weather and a susceptible time when we tend to catch colds and other infections. This medicine re-ignites the digestive fire, digests toxic build-up/ama in the body and helps us fight the ill-effects of the heavy foods that we may indulge in at this time.
Each family has its own traditional recipe. This recipe is inspired by my mom – she usually soaks the whole spices in water and grinds them into a paste. But she suggested this short-cut recipe for me, since I was short on time and it turned out great. The only slight change I made to her recipe is to add some Ayurvedic herbs – she had already suggested pippali, I added two more. Another “modification” is the type of jaggery used – I used karupatti vellam (palm jaggery) and panang kalkandu (palm sugar) instead of regular jaggery. Also, I used a little more of the sweeteners than is traditionally used to make it more palatable for the kids – the herbs and the sweeteners are usually in equal proportion, but I used a little more sweetener, almost 1:1.5 of herbs to sweetener.
Ingredients (makes a cup of medicine):
- Coriander (dhaniya) powder (1.5 tsp)
- Black pepper powder (1 tsp)
- Cumin (jeera) powder (1 tsp)
- Dried ginger powder (1/2 tsp)
- Cardamom (elaichi) powder (1/4 tsp)
- Carom seeds (ajwain) (1/2 tsp)
- Yashtimadhu (liquorice/mulethi/athimadhuram) powder (1/2 tsp)
- Chitrak (sitharathai) powder (1/2 tsp)
- Pippali (long pepper) powder (1/2 tsp)
- Jaggery (I used karupatti vellam) (same quantity as the herbal powders mixed together)
- Palm Candy (1/2 quantity of herbal powders mixed together)
- Ghee (1 tbsp)
Note: Don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients, especially the Ayurvedic herbs – it is okay to skip the ones you don’t have instead of skipping the medicine in its entirety :)!
- Dry roast the carom seeds on medium heat, until you get a nice aroma of roasted carom seeds. Switch off the flame. Dry grind the seeds. Keep the powder aside.
- You may do the same for the other spices as well i.e. dry roast and grind, or, if you are short on time, simply use the powders. Obviously, aroma and efficacy wise, roasting and grinding the whole spices will be better, but the powder method also works well enough, especially if you are in a time crunch!
- Now mix all the dry powders in the proportions mentioned above.
- Take the jaggery and palm candy (can replace with just jaggery) and cover it with enough water, such that the jaggery and sugar crystals are soaked.
- Turn on the heat on medium and wait till the jaggery and palm candy crystals melt completely.
- Add the herbal powder mixture into the melted jaggery.
- Mix well and then add ghee.
- Continue cooking on a medium flame, till the mixture attains a syrupy consistency. If you cook it a little more and wait till it dries up a tad more, you can get a version that can be rolled into balls. Either way should be fine.
Sweet (jaggery, palm candy, yashtimadhu), sour (none), salty (none), bitter (ajwain, yashtimadhu, cumin), pungent (ajwain, cumin, ginger, pippali, black pepper, chitrak), astringent (none).
All the herbs added in this recipe are mainly aimed at improving the agni/digestion and digesting the toxic build-up/ama in the body. Additionally, some of these herbs are rejuvenating (rasayana) in nature. Yashtimadhu is great for the respiratory system and voice and is vata and pitta pacifying. Pippali is a great herb for the digestive system and detoxifying the body, among its numerous benefits – it is great for reducing vata and kapha. Chitrak is great for pachana i.e. digesting toxins and ama in the body and is vata and kapha pacifying. Dried ginger is also a great digestive and is a better choice for pittas as compared to fresh ginger. Cumin is a great digestive – warming, but not overly so. Coriander provides some cooling digestive effects to the recipe. Cardamom is a digestive that is also very tridoshic in nature. Ghee is tridoshic, improves digestion and provides some lubrication and oiliness to the dry herbal powders. Carom seeds are known for their digestive properties and also help with flatulence. Overall, the spices used in these are great in small quantities for improving overall health, immunity and also for cleansing the body of toxins.