It is exactly that time of the year to rejuvenate your body by sticking to an organic diet while going for Ayurvedic therapies. Owing to changes in climatic conditions that make the body prone to diseases, the month of Karkidakam is considered the time to strengthen the immune system incorporating a diet rich of organic vegetables, herbs and cereals.
Though a rich variety of vegetarian food, especially the leafy vegetable dishes are prepared in the Malayali households during the month, the Karkidaka Kanji or the Marunnu Kanji, the special gruel prepared with herbs remains the only popular Karkidakam special food, thanks to the gruel kits available in the market.
This Karkidakam, City Express is bringing you the authentic style of preparing Karkidakam special dishes, including the Karkidaka Kanji, to help you have a nutrient rich-yet-appetizing diet this month.
‘Njavara’ rice is the main ingredient of the Karkidaka Kanji and for preparing the porridge, boil half cup of the rice in a litre of water. Add 1/4 cup of fenugreek seeds soaked in water for an hour into it and keep boiling.
Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk into it once it boils and then add a tablespoon each of the spices such as cumin seeds, dried ginger powder, coriander powder, common cress (ashali), sliced and boiled turmeric (varattu manjal) and salt into it. You can also add jaggery if you want. Besides, soups of ‘Dashapushpam’ and herbs can also be added to the Karkidaka Kanji.
The ‘Dashapushpam’ are the ten sacred flowers having herbal value- ‘Mukkutty’, ‘Karuka’, ‘Thiruthali’, ‘Uzhinja’, ‘Kayyonni’, ‘Muyal Cheviyan’, ‘Cheroola’, ‘Poovankurunnila’, ‘Vishnukranthi’ and ‘Nilappana’.
“The juice of the flowers mixed together can be added to the gruel. Having the gruel especially that mixed with the ‘Dashapushpam’ juice in the night offers a cleansing effect with better digestion and we have been making the gruel every year,” points out S Neelakandan Namboothiri, a retired teacher.
Meanwhile, K Bhaskaran, charioteer at the Pathayam Naturopathy Restaurant in Kozhikode, says that the restaurant uses a special soup prepared out of 24 herbs while preparing the gruel. A soup prepared using the leaves of the herbs- ‘Orila’, ‘Moovila’, ‘Cheruvazhuthina’, ‘Cheroola’, ‘Putharichunda’, ‘Kurunthotti’, ‘Thazhuthama’, ‘Karikurinji’, ‘Vayalchulli’, ‘Kayyonni’, ‘Poovamkurunnila’, ‘Mukkutty’, ‘Kodithoova’, ‘Nannari’, ‘Tharthavel’, ‘Kadalamukku’, ‘Paravalli’, ‘Idinjil’, ‘Theruchilkada’, ‘Kanjithoova’, ‘Brahmi’, ‘Thumba’, ‘Muyalchevi’ and ‘Thottavadi’ is mixed along with the rice at the restaurant.
Apart from the Karkidaka Kanji, you can also prepare gruel like Uluva Kanji (fenugreek porridge) or Jeera Kanji (cumin seeds porridge) during the month.
Besides, you can also try out a number of dishes using the leafy vegetables this Karkidakam. ‘Pathila Thoran’, a dish prepared using 10 kind of leafy vegetables is one such authentic Karkidakam dish.
Any kind of spinach, ‘Thalu’ (wild colocasia) leaves, ‘Thakara’ (sickle senna) leaves, pumpkin leaves, ‘Thazhuthama’, beans leaves, drumstick leaves, elephant yam leaves, ivy gourd leaves, chilly leaves, or any kind of edible tender leaves can be taken for the dish. Finely chop the leaves and sauté in a pan after adding a tablespoon of coconut oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and crushed red chilli. Pour 1/2 cup water into it and add a tablespoon of turmeric powder and salt and then add grated coconut and birds eye chilly into it. Mix it well, cover with a lid and boil until the water content is disappeared. You can serve the dish along with rice or rice gruel.
You can also prepare the ‘Thalu Thoran’, a dish made out of wild colocasius stems in the same style by replacing the chopped leaves with finely chopped wild colocasious stems. Pouring water is not needed in this case. ‘Thalu and Thakara Thoran’, dishes made out of wild colocasious stem and sickle senna leaves mixed with grated coconut are also special for Karkidakam.. Similarly dishes of any kind of the leafy vegetables can also be prepared in the same style.