The number of complaints I have heard from my mother and sisters about the loss of their precious hair ranges into the thousands. It is such a widespread problem that has no definite cause or cure. Factors like pollution, stress, and health all affect the state of our hair (and body in general!). People turn to various sources for cures in such situations. Ayurveda recommends the use of natural herbs and fruits: their oils and extracts are organic sources of nutrients that are capable of healing and rejuvenating the mind and body. In this article, we shall be talking about the bitter fruit Amla, the health benefits it provides and a few simple recipes one can make using it.
Phyllanthus emblica, better known as the Indian Gooseberry or Amla, is considered an excellent source of nutrients. Amla derives its name from the Sanskrit word Amlaki which translates to “nectar of life”. The fruit has high concentrations of Vitamin C (hence the bitter taste) and several anti-oxidants. The plant itself has a very simple appearance. It grows to about 8 meters after maturing fully. The fruit is spherical and has a greenish-yellow hue. Amla has a particularly bitter/sour taste to it and the fruit is quite fleshy and hard in appearance. It is indigenous to tropical areas of Southeast Asia.
Ayurvedic formulations utilize all parts of the Amla plant. It is a key ingredient in the age-old Ayurvedic formulation, Chyawanprash. Several scientific studies have also been conducted regarding the potent anti-oxidant activity displayed by Phyllanthus emblica. Additionally, studies have also confirmed that Amla exhibits anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties.
Properties Of Amla
A few key properties of the fruit are mentioned below:
- Amla is a rich source of Anti-oxidants. These compounds help keep the levels of free radicals in check and prevent damage to your cells. It also detoxifies the blood and strengthens the blood vessel which reduces the risk of heart problems.
- Amla is also a great hair-care product. Not only does it help in eliminating dandruff from the scalp, but it also helps in reducing hair loss, preventing the greying of hair and provides a thick and lustrous feel to it.
- It has relatively high fiber content as well. This works out very well for your digestive system. Raw and powdered Amla is used to cure constipation, ulcers and acidity. The fibrous content also helps in reducing weight and Amla juice is a great way to manage one’s weight.
- The high Vitamin C content in the fruit serves to bolster your immunity and makes the body resistant to disease. Amla also has potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that make it an effective cure to a variety of health problems.
- The Anti-oxidants in Amla also helps in delaying the aging of the skin. It strengthens cells and provides a glowing effect to the skin.
Reading the above points may have encouraged you to start using Amla. If so, the following sections will be quite interesting for you. We at Amrutam have curated four Amla based recipes that you can make from the comfort of your own home. These recipes make use of easily available ingredients and can be made from scratch quite quickly.
Recipe 1: Indonesian Jamu Juice/ Turmeric-Amla-Ginger Juice
This herbal juice is a classic Indonesian health drink. Traditionally, the Jamu drink does not contain Amla. However, the addition of the bitter fruit only serves to enhance the taste and the beneficial properties of the drink. To make the drink you will need 250 grams of fresh Turmeric Root, 200 grams of Amla, 100 grams of Ginger, Honey (as per taste), 1 tsp of Black Pepper Powder and 1 liter of Water. Finely chop the Turmeric, Ginger and Amla and add into a food grinder with one cup of water. Stop blending once the mix attains a pasty consistency. Use a strainer to separate the juice from the pulp. Repeat the process of blending the pulp and straining out the juice two more times. To the juice, add the Black Pepper Powder (1 tsp) and Honey (as per taste). Your Jamu Juice is ready!
How to Consume: Store the Juice in the refrigerator and serve in 30 ml portions as chilled shots. The Jamu can be consumed any time of the day and is a refreshing post-workout drink.
Purpose: The Turmeric-Amla-Ginger drink is a superb immunity-boosting consumable. The Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Oxidant compounds from the raw ingredients help to prevent diseases and energize the body.
Recipe 2: Amla Raita
This delicious Indian recipe subtly balances the flavors of all the ingredients to create a sensational taste experience. The recipe calls for the use of 2 cups of whisked Yoghurt, 4 whole Amla, 1/4 cup fresh Coconut, 1 Cucumber, 2 Green Chillies, ½ tsp Mustard Seeds and 1 tbsp Sunflower Oil. Grate the Amla, Cucumber and Coconut, finely chop the Green Chillies and grind the ingredients in a blender. After grinding, add the mix into a bowl of well-whisked Yoghurt and mix well. Add salt according to taste. Finally, heat the Sunflower Oil in a pan and slightly fry the Mustard Seeds (you can use Curry Leaves too!!!). Pour the seasoning over the Raita and serve.
How to Use: The Amla Raita is a delicious side dish that pairs well with Paranthas and Rice. The Yoghurt in the dish cools the mouth and enhances the experience of eating spicy foods.
Purpose: Several ingredients in the recipe are great cures to various stomach problems. The Amla provides roughage, relieves constipation, cools the body, and enhances the absorption of food. Similarly, the Yoghurt soothes the stomach and the Cucumber acts as a great source of Vitamin K.
Recipe 3: Amla Infused Hair Oil
If you wish to make an Amla infused hair oil, this recipe is just the thing for you. It is pretty simple and only requires Coconut Oil and Amla(either raw or powdered).
- If you have raw Amla, grate it and strain out the juice. Mix the Amla extract with a couple of spoons of Coconut Oil. After you have mixed the two for 4-5 minutes, heat the mixture by placing it in a bowl of hot water. Leave for a few minutes before removing and storing for use.
- If you have powdered Amla, add one tablespoon of the powder for every five tablespoons of Coconut Oil. Heat the mixture over a low flame for 10-15 minutes, till the mix releases a rich aroma. Turn off the heat and allow the mix to settle for an entire day before using/storing for future use.
You can also add Brahmi, Bhringraj and/or Sage to the oil.
How to Use: Apply the oil gently on the hair, all the way to the scalp. Massage your head well to ensure optimal oil application. Leave the Amla infused oil for an hour before washing it off.
Purpose: This herbal oil recipe is very effective in reducing hair fall, slowing the graying of hair, promotes hair growth and improves the thickness and quality of the hair. Regularly apply the oil for a month or two to obtain noticeable results.
Recipe 4: Amla Chutney
If you are looking for a healthy yet savory dish to spice up your meals, this healthy Amla recipe is what you are looking for. The recipe needs 2 Amla, ½ cup Coriander, ½ cup Mint Leaves, ½ an Onion, a few cloves of Garlic, 1 Green Chilli, 1 tsp Salt, ½ cup Yoghurt and a few Roasted Peanuts. Chop the Amlas well and put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend well. Blend till a fine, pasty consistency is reached.
How to Use: This savory chutney pairs well with Paranthas, Samosas and Pakoras.
Purpose: In addition to being a mouth-watering side dish, the Amla Chutney provides you a couple of health benefits as well. The fresh Amla extract in the Chutney boosts your immunity, provides your daily Vitamin C dose and soothes the stomach.
Recipe 5: Beetroot-Amla-Pudina Juice
Our final recipe for today is a healthy Vegetable juice. The ingredients required are 2 Beetroots, 2 whole Amla or 200 grams of Powdered Amla, 1 cup of Mint Leaves, 1 Tomato, 1 Cucumber, 1 tsp Black Pepper Powder and Salt (as per taste). Chop up the raw ingredients and add them all into a blender. Blend roughly for a few minutes and then add water to the mix and blend again. Add the Salt and Black Pepper at the end.
How to Use: This delicious and healthy drink is best consumed early in the mornings on an empty stomach or in the evening between meals.
Purpose: In addition to boosting your immunity and strengthening the body, this Juice is particularly effective at enhancing hemoglobin production and lower blood pressure. There is also an impressive amount of fiber in the Juice from the Amla and Beetroot.
And lastly we have a delicious Amla Murabba recipe, the perfect food for any time of the day.
Murabbas, better known to English speakers as Marmalade, is a classic Asian food item. This Amla Murabba recipe requires 10 Amlas, 1 cup of Sugar, 1 tbsp of Cardamom Powder, 1 tbsp of Black Salt and 1 tbsp of Black Pepper Powder. To begin, soak the Amla in water for a day. Prick the Gooseberries with a fork at multiple spots. After pricking, boil the fruits in 2 cups of water for 5-10 minutes. Drain out the water and transfer the boiled Amlas into another pan. To this add the sugar and some water and heat over a low flame until the sugar dissolves and obtains a syrupy consistency. After achieving the desired consistency, turn off the gas and add the Black Salt, Black Pepper Powder and Cardamom Powder and mix well. The Murabba ready to be served!
How to Use: The Murabba can be eaten at any time of the day as a sweet dish!
Purpose: Amla Murabba is a simple yet classic dish that confers quite a few health benefits to those who consume it. It has traditionally been used as a cure for stomach ailments like constipation, indigestion and acidity. Additionally, the Murabba also strengthens the immune system and impedes infectious ailments like the common cold and fever.
As always we here at Amrutam have spent countless hours ensuring that the article is factually accurate. If you wish to try out some of the recipes mentioned above but lack the necessary ingredients, check out the store for the same! We have a wide array of Churnas ranging from Amla to Bhringraj to Shatavari Churnas for sale.
As an ancient Ayurvedic Proverb states “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need”. Following a proper, healthy diet brings us one step closer to a healthier life.
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Reference 2: Archana’s Kitchen