Goodness of Neem Flowers


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/670125/goodness-neem-flowers.html

Neem flower pachchadiNeem flower pachchadi

The neem flower is a tiny ingredient with stupendous curative powers. From protecting your gut, relieving painful migraines to keeping skin ailments at bay, these flowers are replete with blood-purifying properties.

The neem tree ideally flowers during spring. The best way to harvest these flowers is by collecting them on a clean cloth or a mat from under the flowering tree. You can then rinse the flowers in a large sieve, sundry and store them in a dry air-tight container. Radha Prathi suggests a few recipes using this bitter condiment.

Neem Flower Rasam

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flowers; 1 tbsp of cumin seeds; 1 tbsp of tur dal; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 red chillies; 1 tbsp of tamarind extract; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 1 tsp of ghee; a sprig of curry leaves and salt to taste.

Method: Grind the cumin seeds, pepper, chillies, tur dal and curry leaves to a fine powder. Add tamarind extract, the powder, and salt to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Add another half a litre of water and bring the contents to a boil. For the tempering, add ghee to a pan and toss in the mustard seeds before turning off the heat. Then add neem flowers to the pan and sauté them lightly. Add the tempering to the rasam along with some curry leaves. Serve the rasam hot as it is or with some hot rice and ghee.

Neem Flower Rice

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of pepper powder; 1 tbsp of ghee; 1 tbsp of lemon juice and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the asafoetida and the neem flowers before turning off the heat. Add pepper powder, lemon juice, and salt and allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes. Add the mixture to a tablespoon of freshly cooked rice. Serve immediately.

Neem Flower Podi

Ingredients: A small cup of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of turmeric powder; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 sprigs of curry leaves; a tbsp of ghee and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the turmeric powder, asafoetida, peppercorns and curry leaves and turn off the heat. Add the neem flowers to the pan and sauté them. Grind all the roasted ingredients together with salt. Store the mixture in an airtight container. You can mix the powder with rice for a healthy meal.

Neem Flower Pachchadi

Ingredients: Two tbsps of neem flower; 2 tbsps of jaggery; 2 red chillies; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 2 tbsps of tamarind juice; a pinch of asafoetida; 1 tbsp of oil and ½ tsp of salt.

Method: Grind the chillies, jaggery, salt, together and mix it with the tamarind paste. Heat a pan, add oil, toss in the mustard seeds and asafoetida and turn off the heat. Then add the neem flowers and saute them well. Add the previously prepared spice mixture. Stir well and the pachchadi is ready to be served.

Bird’s Eye View of Sanskrit


https://www.jnana.com/blog/Sanskrit/

To many of us, the word “Sanskrit” suggests a wonderful language which belonged to a hoary past. We know that India is the land in which this wonderful language originated. Ancient Indians were well versed in the language. The Vedas, the Puranas, the classical texts – The Ramayana and the Mahabharata were written in this language and they have been recognised and revered by people across the globe even to this day. The Indian way of living, its ethos and flavour is directly related to the language and what it has to offer by way of classics and literature. Just about every subject under the sun has been covered in one way or another in some of these texts. Linguists and scientists marvel at the precise nature of this language. The inherent binary code of the letters in the language has been discovered to be compatible for codification and for use by computers. All the contemporary Indian languages have been derived from this source, with the exception of Tamil.

This ancient language has a hoary past running into millenniums hence it is very difficult to arrive at some consensus about the origin of the language. Traditionally, Indians, believe that the language was initially used by our pantheon of 33 crore gods to communicate amongst themselves. Hence Sanskrit is also called Daiva Bhasha or the lingo of the gods. Later on, the language was gifted to mankind by goddess Saraswathi and hence Sanskrit is also known as Geervana Bharathi.

The fairy tale like origin of the language apparently had few takers amongst the hardcore linguists across the globe who think that Sanskrit evolved from Prakruth derived from the sounds of nature. They believe that long, long ago when man evolved into an intelligent being, he found the necessity to communicate his thoughts, feelings and ideas. He probably played “dumb charades” and sometimes took to hieroglyphics to put across his thoughts and aped sounds from nature in order to communicate. Over a period of time the language was organised and honed till it reached the point of perfection. The phonology, syntax, vocabulary and grammar of the language has the world awestruck with its finesse and completeness.

When an ancient language has so many feathers in its cap (or is it crown?) one would think that the language is on velvet and nothing can ever go wrong in its kingdom. Yet sadly enough, we have come a long away from such a pristine state of affairs. A brief study of the history of the country will reveal that, we as a nation have been introduced to varied cultures and civilisation over the course of history. The invaders left their stamp behind that influenced our way of living and thinking to a large extent. Lots of factors changed. Yet the change cannot be considered complete as we have retained the basic Indian values despite innumerable onslaughts. Perhaps it is at this juncture, we should recognise the power of the Sanskrit language which helped us to carry forward the basis of Indian-ness for it has been the cementing factor which has sustained the spirit in the oral and written format.

All of you are perhaps aware that Sanskrit is one of the most ancient languages in the world which is complete in its own way. Have you ever wondered about the origin of this language? As students, whenever you are taught something new or asked to learn a novel concept, you may have found yourself wondering whoever started it all. Some of your questions may have interesting answers and some may not.

If you have ever wondered about Sanskrit, well, there is a very interesting tale about the beginning of the language in our ancient texts. It is said that lord Shiva lapsed into one of his ecstatic danced to the beat of the Dumroo, a small percussion instrument (see picture alongside) and several variations of sounds flowed out of the instrument. It is said these letters were gathered in this order and used as the basic letters of the language and were represented in the ‘Devanagari’ script.

The sound and the symbols of the language were effectively used by the people to compile a comprehensible vocabulary and record their observations and inferences in the form of Vedas which are called Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharvana Vedas. A close reading of the Vedas will reveal that they not only give guidelines to lead a life that emphasises on living in harmony with nature and fellow human beings but also have a wealth of information on just about every topic under the sun.

A few copies of the Vedic literature was etched on processed palm leaves by scholarly students for reference, but most of them committed the entire text to memory and passed on the texts orally to their juniors. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why, we do not have too many copies of the entire text available as on date.

Many a time some words were lost in mis-pronunciation and lapse of memory. In such cases, people resorted to the basic rules of grammar which helped them to supplement the blank with an appropriate word. This procedure is almost akin to solving a crossword puzzle where you have a clue of both the meaning of the word and the number of letters in the answer word.

Our ancestors had evolved a wonderful way of understanding and learning a language. Panini an ancient grammarian who is believed to have lived in eighth century BC formulated 3964 “Aphorisms” also known as “Sutras” each running into a word or a phrase. If a student of Sanskrit grammar learned these sutras by heart, his language was sure of becoming impeccable. These sutras dealt with different aspects of language like grammar, analogy, vocabulary, communicative language among other things which facilitated the learning of the language almost faultlessly.

The fact that there have been little or no revisions in the basic rules of the language ever since reflect on the level of perfection that had been attained by the grammarian. The famous Vedas, Puranas, epics, classics and even contemporary literature have been written in the language which subscribes to these rules. Perhaps, it is features like consistency and the completeness of the language that keep it going on till this day despite so many setbacks.

Curious about Carom?


http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com

Carom seeds

Carom seeds

The carom seeds, popularly known as ajwain, have been a part of Indian cuisine from times immemorial. Southeast Asian countries have consciously included these aromatic seeds in some of their common and exclusive dishes. The spice lends a tinge of heat and freshness to any dish to which it is added.

Since ajwain has its own distinct flavour, it is best not to combine it with other spices. It is particularly useful in curing digestive disorders. The spice has a magical way of lending diverse genres of flavours when employed differently.

If you are planning to use ajwain as a seasoning, then heat some ghee or any cooking oil of your choice and toss the spice when the fat is hot. When the spice inflates, turn off the heat and toss it into your dish. You can give your dosas, salads and buttermilk a twist by adding a dash of ajwain.

While baking some breads and buns or Indian snacks using besan flour as base, make sure that you add raw ajwain to the dough. If you don’t like biting into the spice unexpectedly, then consider adding a pinch of coarse or fine ajwain powder to the dough.

If you want an uniform and all encompassing flavour then make sure that you use a decoction of the spice. Toss a teaspoonful of the seeds into quarter litre of water and allow it to boil down to about 200 ml, add a pinch of table salt and crystal sugar to the decoction before taking it off the heat. Use this decoction while preparing dough for breads, chapatis or paranthas. This decoction can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator and administered a spoonful or two after every meal to overcome flatulence or indigestion.

Amazing Curry Leaves


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/612494/amazing-curry-leaves.html

Know your ingredient

The number of tales and proverbs revolving around the humble curry leaf can make an interesting volume. No cook worth his or her salt can ever claim to have completed cooking unless the spicy delicacies are garnished or seasoned with a spray of curry leaves.

The unique flavour and colour of the leaf which seemed to deliver the nourishment, taste and aesthetic appeal of gourmet were certainly not missed by our ancestors.

The leaves were incorporated into the daily menu as the quintessential seasoning and sometimes as the main ingredient in chutneys and exclusive kozhambus. The fact that the curry leaves have traveled halfway across the world for more or less similar uses gives little room for speculation about its necessity to make dishes exclusive.

A good cook will optimize the use of these leaves by judging their freshness. The young sprays of a lighter green taste best when added to salads or garnished freshly on food and in buttermilk. The
mature leaves have the ability to release their essence entirely when boiled along, fried, ground or used when seasoning is the first step of the chosen recipe.

Drying or dried leaves can be allowed to dry completely in the shade and powdered and can be tossed into curries, gravies, sambar and rasam among other such foods when you run out of fresh leaves or happen to live in places that cannot grow this herb.

A Century Of Success


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/486523/a-century-success.html

Radha Prathi, June 30, 2015 DHNS

Pioneer A view of the herbal garden at Dhanvantari Arogya Ashrama in Nanjangud (inset) B V Pundit.

Looking back Radha Prathi traces the journey of Ayurvedic practice over the last 100 years, by looking at B V Pundit’s contributions and legacy in the field.

Circa 1913, when the world was battling to cope with the imminent first world war, a small temple town in Karnataka decided to launch a war of its own against ill health. B V Pundit, an alumnus from the first batch of students of Mysore Ayurvedic college decided to make use of his education in the best possible way. By then, he had already realised that his maiden venture, the Nanjangud tooth powder had thousands of takers across the country.

Pundit, who was deeply ingrained in the Indian philosophy of medicine decided to make a living out of it while making a difference to the immediate society around him. His talent and knowledge, coupled with dedication and hard work, led to the setting up of Sadvaidyasala in Nanjangud. The institution used Bhaishaijya Kalpana, the science of preparing Ayurvedic medicines, which caters to correct health issues and curing diseases in human beings.

Over the years
The science has handed down prescriptions in which the ingredients, the proportion and manner in which they should be used have been mentioned. Ayurveda also mentions substitutes for some ingredients, in case of non-availability. Sadvaidyasala, which means good and true school of medicine, has ever since been making potions, syrups, lehyams and pills quite on the lines they were made all those millennia ago.

That was the scene 102 years ago; if a time machine takes us through all the interim years and stops at the present moment in time, the story is pretty much the same. Sadvaidyasala, true to its name has been carrying on in much the same manner as it did a century ago, for the simple reason that its foundations are well grounded while its sights are set on serving humanity. When the organisation stepped into its golden jubilee year, it floated a functional centre called Dhanvanthari Arogya Aashrama on the Mysore-Ooty Road.

This centre, fitted with modern amenities, caters to its patients in the genuine old world style, safeguarding the basic principle of service to humanity. In fact, treatment initially was rendered free of cost at this centre. Over the years, the management decided to charge each person a fee of Rs 20 for every visit, which remains the same to this date.

Dhanvantari Arogya Ashrama which is an offshoot of Sadvaidyasala, houses a wonderful herbal garden with rare species of medicinal plants, shrubs and trees in about 10 acres of land. The garden is used mostly for collection purposes and is used as “show and tell” material for students who visit them for educational purposes through the year.

Dr Rajesh, Director, production, said that they source ingredients from their native habitats for achieving best results. He added that Sadvaidyasala has steered clear from temptations of altering classical medicinal recipes for the fear of misrepresenting the ancient science that has been held sacred and fool proof for so many years. In fact, he feels if all the doctors who practised Ayurveda stuck to the original format using substitutes only as and when it is prescribed, people who receive the treatment would benefit immensely. They in turn will find it
easier to recommend this genre of medicine to others.

B V Pundit’s heart did beat for Ayurvedic medicine, but he did not forget the hardships that he had to face as a student. Dr Shreekantan, the chairman of the company, recollected how his father  made it a point to employ mostly localites in just about every rung of the ladder at Sadvaidyasala. He made it a point to financially support students who studied Sanskrit. He paid a tribute to his wife by honouring the devotional streak in her by building a bhajana mandira in her name which conducts bhajan sessions to this day.

Down the generations
One other special feature of Sadvaidyasala is that it is a family venture which has seen three proactive generations at the helm of affairs. Recently, the family rallied to organise a function in memory of their beloved ancestor and had invited stalwarts in the medical field like Dr M S Valiathan and Dr G Gangadharan to discuss the relevance of Ayurvedic medicine in present times. This in itself speaks in volumes about the deep faith, love and trust that the members of the family have reposed in the vision of their founder for they have deemed it fit to carry on the good work.

It is said that true success can be evaluated only when an effort or a project stands the test of time. If a century can be considered as a decent passage of time to appraise the contributions and relevance of an organisation to its immediate society and the world at large, then it is time to take a relook at Sadvaidyasala with renewed interest.