Traditional Indian Teas

main-qimg-adaee3ab7be2f4ad8848dcc8e26e0d4c-cAround 10 years ago when I was in the USA I learnt about how cows are factory farmed in inhumane, unnatural conditions and fed with hormones. I decided to go vegan for 6 months and see how I felt. The most difficult thing for me was to get rid of the so called “Indian tea”, made by boiling milk, black tea and sugar. I had a hard time drinking bland tasteless herbal teas. But I told myself it is just a matter of 6 months, honey! Take it as an exercise of will power and self control.

And by the end of 6 months I had started liking herbal teas, my taste buds seemed to have become sensitive and not wanting a strong “kick giving” tastes. I wanted to give myself a treat with Indian tea. Started making myself the treat! And guess what…I could not bear the smell of it! I had to go out of the house while it boiled. After coming back I poured it into my cup and tried drinking it. But I felt like throwing up. Instead I threw away the tea.

I was very surprised how my taste buds had changed. Think for yourself what could be the health benefits of the Indian tea and then think for yourself what could be the health benefits of herbal teas (mint, lemongrass, bergamot, tulsi, oregano, thyme, and so many more).

Last year I went to India and my family members were forcing us to have the Indian tea. And we made fun of how it is not an Indian tea but a british tea and how we are still the slaves of the British :-). I visited a restaurant in Mysore and ordered a “Kashaya” and then it struck me that THIS is the INDIAN TEA 🙂

So I have been making herbal teas and Kashaya at home. Here is a very simple recipe. I make garam masala at home since I do not eat chillis, instead use black pepper. After sieving the garam masala I transfer the left over to a bottle (lets call it garam masala husk :-)) to use in Kashayas. Now here is the recipe for a kashaya:

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 tsp clove powder.
  2. 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder.
  3. 1/2 tsp black pepper powder.
  4. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder.
  5. 1/2 tsp cardamom powder.
  6. 1 tsp of xanthum gum powder(dinka in marathi). This gives the tea the desired thickness.
  7. 2 tsp of garam masala husk.
  8. 5 cups of water.
  9. 2 tablespoons honey.

Mix all ingredients except honey. Boil until the quality halves. Let it cool a bit and add honey and drink warm!

Today I had it with barley flour samosas and stone ground cilantro-mint-tamarind chutney 🙂

 

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Slow Cooking

I wish to share how I slow cook at home. I had started steam cooking after reading its health benefits as it retains the most nutrients. But gradually I realized by how much it reduced my time in the kitchen. I have the below steamer, it has a timer and 3 tiers. I can put rice, vegetables to make a curry at the same time. But that is not the real advantage for me. The real advantage is that I can work in the garden, go for my evening walk, clean my house, do yoga, sew or practice violin WHILE cooking. And if I do not return on time, the food does not get burnt, instead it stays warm for many hours!

So for those women who say they do not get time to do exercise, slow cookers are a boon 🙂

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After many years of steam cooking we bought a slow cooker to cook beans like garbanzo, kidney beans, black beans for which we were otherwise using a pressure cooker. And not just that this slow cooker cooks about just anything. I make rice pulav, daal, polenta(like upma), sheera and much more in this. Again it has warm, simmer, low, high cooking settings and turns to warm mode once the timer is done. So I can put my lunch to cook in it, go to the farm and return after 4 hours for a hearty meal 🙂

slow cooker

Now with so much time saving, I have started to think of going back to traditional grinding for making chutney and am going to buy a silbatta of stone!

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Menstruation – Are the ancient Indian traditions around it a curse or a boon?

In both ancient Indian cultures (american-indians-of-feathers and asian-indians-of-forehead-dots :-)), women were kept in separate huts, not allowed to cook, not allowed to enter temples, not allowed to bathe. Seems to the so called modern feminist women a curse from patriarchal brahmanical culture and male chauvinism. But is that the truth? When a girl used to get her first menstruation it was celebrated by announcing it, dressing her up and inviting the village to a feast much like a big-bang-birthday. Nowadays the girls feel shame about it and so did I in my teenage.

I shall add my own experiences in some time but for now quoting an excerpt from https://trueayurveda.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/menses-from-an-ayurvedic-view/

“There is an additional season for women which happens once every month during menstruation. The beginning period of the full moon is the natural cycle for ovulation. Receiving the essence of the moon at this time, a woman’s sexual impulses heighten and her vitality is once more replenished. Then, during the time of the new moon she experiences the natural cycle of menstruation. Menstruation is caused by the sun absorbing energies from the earth, which in turn draws the menstrual waste from the body. When the cycle has not been tampered with by use of contraceptive pills and other birth control devices, harmful foods and activities, and disruptive sexual activities, the natural ebb and flow of a woman’s monthly cycle remains in harmony .

Regimen to be observed by women in their Menses:
During the period of menstruation, activities need to be reduced to the essential so that the body experiences the least degree of interference. Quick warm showers, or sponging (wiping down the body), is the appropriate means of bodily cleaning during menstruation. She should avoid crying nor take a head bath. A woman should refrain from all sexual foreplay & intercourse. Day sleep and collyrium during the first four days of her periods should be avoided. Considered a very fragile period for a woman, this time is to be used to rest and to allow the body to empty it self before it is renewed. She should also not indulge in loud and excessive laughter and talk, nor should she hear loud noises. Food should be easy to digest,
not too heavy, not too unctuous, nor too dry or cold. She should avoid fatiguing work and all exercise.

All the above, although reasoning behind them is not totally understood without an ayurvedic foundation, during menses may lead to the vitiation of doshas, which may especially lead to gynaecological problems. One may observe these rules in order to eventually restore your natural cycle.
During ovulation, Pitta is most dominant, while Vata dominates the period of menstruation and Kapha the period following menstruation.”

Another source of information: https://lifespa.com/moody-painful-menstrual-cycle/

Update : I started not taking a shower/tub bath during first 3 days of periods since around 2 years. Then I take a bath on 3rd and 5th day. I do take a sponge bath during first 3 days if I feel the need to. And am slowly noticing how it is helping my mood swings. I would say 90% of my mood swings during PMS and during periods are gone. I used to have painful breasts for 10 days before periods, not anymore.

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Garden Photo Blog – 2017

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How I use soapnuts

Soapnuts

1. To wash not so soiled clothes (5 soapnuts without seeds in a muslin bag in the laundry machine). I have seen that soapnuts do not really work on soiled clothes and kitchen wipe cloths.
2. To wash toilet, kitchen counters, stove tops and to sparkle the sink tap: For this use I powder the nuts in vitamix dry grinder, strain and pack in sprinkler bottles like that we use for salt on the dining table. Then whenever I want to clean I just sprinkle it, sprinkle some water, wipe it all over, leave it for 5 minutes and wash with water. To sparkle the steel taps no need to leave it for 5 minutes.
3. To wash hair: Soak overnight and use. 3. To wash hair: Soak overnight and use. Oil massage hair previous night and take a shower next morning.

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Some good videos here:

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Armpit and Armpit Hair. What are they for?

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I have had this strange question since long. First time I had this question was when I saw a woman with a shaved armpit and shaved arms and legs. To me it felt like looking at a piece of chicken :-). Back then I wondered why did she do that? I had no idea about beauty parlours and the things they do there.

Is the armpit hair and body hair useless? Then why did God give it in the first place?

Then my menstrual cycle started and I discovered having a lump in my armpit before start of periods every once in a while. I wondered what that was?

As I grew up and decades passed one day I googled for it and learnt that it could be symptom of breast cancer. Oh my god, I thought. Then I wondered why does the lump come and go just before periods and that too not every period?

One day my husband said his mom used to check his groin when he was little to see if he really was ill (When he wanted to bunk the school and told her that he was ill), by checking if there are any lumps in the groin!

Last month I attended a yoga course and the ayurvedic doctor and the yoga teacher told that the lymph glands at the armpit are like sensors for the immune system. They swell in the armpit when a disease is about to manifest, when a virus has entered but has not yet shown its real nature. This informs the immune system to act!

Hmmm…interesting. Then I thought may be armpit hair has a role in this too! And what about people who apply deodorant in the arm pits? Does it block the lymph gland sensors in any way?

A friend shared this link telling about the importance of a wooden comb. He said his dandruff has reduced since he started a wooden comb!

And in the same link this is said about armpit hair: “The hair under the armpits protects the very sensitive area where the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems come together; this affects the brain and your energy level.

In a book related to yoga it is mentioned that if you have right nostril blocked, place your right palm into the left armpit with thumb resting on armpit chest and that the ancient danda was used by sages for this purpose.

From my experience this is easier to do lying down. If your right nostril is blocked, lie on your left side and place your right hand into your left armpit and sleep or relax. Place it such a way that the armpit is pressed a bit.

Things are still not clear to me about armpit hair, except intuitively I feel we should not tamper with what was given to us since the body is such a complicated mechanism and our knowledge of it so bare!

If you find any more information by experience or second hand, please share here. I have never shaved my body hair so I do not know a comparison of how it feels with and without hair and how the body functions differently with and without hair. If you are one of those who have this experience and had the sensitivity to notice the difference please share!

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Acupressure for jet lag

I have had severe jet lag issues in the past lasting for 10 days. This time I wanted to try acupressure for my trip to India. The trip was 4 days long hopping through multiple time zone countries. I was skeptical but I tried it and was surprised to see that I had no jet lag at all. I became sleepy at 4pm in India and took a 5 minute nap but slept very well that night and from morning onwards everything was normal!

I had not strictly done it during every 2 hours, many times I missed it and in one layover we were on a trip in the country so for 12 hours I did not do any points still it worked like a charm!

Click on the below image to get to the pdf, print it and keep it with you during the flight.

 

jet-lag

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Drinking warm water

My elder sister told me that she is feeling very good health wise since she started drinking warm water and always drinking water in sitting posture. So I am going to try it for few months and see how I feel. It is anyways slightly cold and rainy season where I live.

Excerpt from easyayurveda.com:

Warm water health benefits – 

  1. It helps to improve digestion and to relieve indigestion.
  2. Warm water drinking at night before bed time is an excellent remedy to clear white coated tongue.
  3. Warm water drinking is one of the major dietary advice in the treatment of cold, cough, respiratory tract infections, Asthma, allergic disorders etc.
  4. Warm water drinking will reduce the frequency of repeated cold attacks especially in children.
  5. Warm water drinking is a very good soar throat remedy.
  6. Drinking a spoon of honey with a glass of water is recommended in obesity treatment.
  7. Whenever you eat oily food stuff, junk food, or consume ghee, drinking warm water will make  your tummy feel lighter. And also, it avoids fat absorption to an extent.
  8. Warm water cleanses bladder. So, it is the natural most and easily available bladder cleanse medicine.
  9. Warm water drinking at night is much recommended in the treatment of fever.
  10. Warm water drinking is highly recommended in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
  11. It calms vata and kapha. It is not for pitta type.
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Get rid of body odour in 3 days!

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I had a very bad body odour since childhood. One day in my late 30s I visited a dentist second time in my life and she told me that I need to get rid of my wisdom tooth or will result in root canal. I came back home, googled and decided to start oil pulling. After 3 days of oil pulling I had a pleasant surprise. My body odour was gone!

My tooth healed in 6 months but for me the biggest surprise of body odour disappearing.

Recently I did a yoga course for a month and in the ayurveda class I shared about this experience and asked the doctor about how it is related. She said oil pulling works on the nerves (cranial) and the nerves are connected to the brain and then to all the organs via the spinal cord and when the nerves function well detoxification works well.

Another yoga student messaged me after 5 days thanking me for sharing about body odour and she also lost her body odour just in 5 days of oil pulling!

Best oil is said to be sesame oil, but I do not get it here so I use coconut oil, olive oil.

Make sure the oil you use is UNREFINED and preferably organic and cold pressed.

Watch some youtube videos on how to do it but in short it is taking 1 teaspoon of oil and squishing it around in your mouth on empty stomach for 20 minutes and then throwing out the oil and squishing and gargling with lukewarm salt water. In the beginning you will be able to squish it only for 2-5 minutes as your jaw will pain being unused to such movements. In 3-5 days you will come to 20 minutes time.

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