Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our experiments with Amla

A couple of days ago I had gone to Crawford Market to replenish some essentials. Stuff like, Gruyere cheese from Narayan Stores, Barilla pasta from Empire Stores [thankfully Barilla is back on the shelves] Pine Nuts from Regal Dry Fruit and booze from Shah Wines. I also stopped off at our regular vegetable vendor. One of them is a delightful father and son duo. They specialise in only, funnily enough, tomato, beet, carrot and mint. Sometimes they have an odd additional vegetable that is in season. They also own the stall next door which they have given on rent to a Keralite who specialises in `English’ vegetables – capsicum, parsley, Bok Choy, Basil, tofu, mushroom celery and the like. I know tofu is not a vegetable!

After getting a kilo of tomato, the old man told me that he had really excellent `Avla’ which is Marathi for Amla or Indian Gooseberry. I was not really interested, but he was insistent and said that they were top quality, his final clinching words being, and I kid you not `ekdum goad aahet’ or they are very sweet. I knew that this was a fib, but what the heck I thought, won’t hurt buying a few so I bought a half kilo.

Now Amla is something that much is made of. It is a pale green hard fruit about the size of a large strawberry. It has no aroma, and it has a seed in the centre. Here is an image from the internet.

Amla is healthy, seriously healthy. It can cure everything; AIDS, coughs colds, indigestion, probably Ebola, definitely weakness which probably euphemistically means it has Viagra like properties. Suffice to say, Amla is a super food. A cursory check on the internet like this link will lead you to the wondrous virtues of Amla.

For three days the Amla sat on the kitchen platform, ignored. Finally, HRH the Queen of Kutch scoured the internet on how to make the elixir Amla juice hoping that the process would be simple and the Amla would be dealt with. We were in luck. It was dead easy. Simply chop the Amla to get rid of the hard seed, pop the chopped Amla into a blender and blend away. Once done you can drink the juice.

So the Amlas were chopped, de-seeded and put in our industrial strength Preethi blender, added a few cubes of ice so we would have a chilled drink, and let it rip. 500 grams of Amla yielded 460 grams of de-seeded Amla and when blended two reasonably full glasses of Amla juice. Looks delightful and has a lovely cool green colour.

With some trepidation I took a sip. It was sour, very sour, but drinkable. Armed with the knowledge that Amla was only good we proceeded to drink our glasses of juice.

After drinking, I did not feel particularly better or healthy. The legendry Amla’s curative powers were not yet evident. I thought it was probably slow acting. I am more used to alcohol which makes me feel better within 15 minutes of drinking some. But then alcohol is bad, it is a poison, it ruins your life. Amla is all goodness.

But dear readers, I must tell you that Amla finally acted. Both HRH the Queen of Kutch as well as myself were hit by a particularly bad episode of `loose motions’ or diarrhoea, a distinctly un-regal problem. By 8 pm some 3 hours after drinking the juice our bowels were empty. We were worn out.

Yes, Amla is a super food. Except that we are not going to have it ever again.

You can keep your super foods. They are not for us.

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