The above pic includes the freshly brewed decoction with leaves, this is just for a pictorial representation. The clear liquid needs to be consumed after straining out the leaves
While I was welcomed by the lush greenery on Mangalore's landscape last week, the heat was unbearable. Rains were intermittent, almost non existent and we prayed for a few showers every night to help us sleep less uncomfortably. As always I enjoyed the many sights of Mangalore - the vegetation growing wild, the old landmarks which bring back many memories and of course the food of this place which is the reason behind my blog. Last year when I was here my mum-in-law was brewing some kasai (kashaya) for herself from one of the most bitter herbs called as the 'kirathem'. When I tasted some, I almost died - the taste was just too bitter and strong, but then I was eager to know more about this plant and so she showed it to me. A few pictures were taken, information Googled and the post was prepared but I was never really inclined to post this recipe because there always seemed to be something more delicious that found its way to the blog.
A year on, I've realised that the most important recipes are actually those that help forgive our sins and help undo at least some, if not all of our careless eating - of foods that are not really good for our health. Nature provides remedies for almost all ailments and I want to specially feature one of the most bitter of all herbs, the King of Bitters (Botanical name : Andrographis Paniculata). Most Mangaloreans I know (at least the older generation) have terrible memories of having had this bitter concoction during their childhood. It was customary and compulsory to have this decoction (kasai/kashaya as it is called in the local language) by the whole family as it was believed to ward off many ailments. People who had this kashaya seldom fell sick and I was really keen to carry this tradition forward.
I invited my son to take a sip of this bitter drink and the unsuspecting fellow obeyed me and then instantly regretted it. I cannot describe his reaction to you but it was really amusing. He was disgusted and angered by this 'trick' as he called it and had to gulp down spoonfuls of sugar to beat the acrid taste. Although I am not sure if I can take this plant to the Gulf, I am hoping to give my internal system a good 'annual clean up' and I am all geared up to taste this kashaya tomorrow.
For those of you who have never tasted the drink or seen the plant it is important that you familiarise yourself with it completely before preparing the kashaya. Read more about it here and here. If in doubt, always ask someone more knowledgeable about plants and herbs before consuming any.
Note: Please avoid this preparation if you are pregnant, nursing or have a health condition. Do consult your doctor before consuming it.
Prep time: Nil | Brewing time: approx 10 mins | Yield 1/2 cup (approx) of strong decoction
Cup measure used, 1 cup = 240ml
- 1 loosely packed cup of king of bitters/kirata kaddi/kirathe leaves and tender stalk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin/jeera
Boil until the quantity is reduced to half. Strain and consume on an empty stomach in the morning before breakfast. If you wish you can eat a small piece of jaggery after you drink this decoction as it is terribly bitter. Enjoy :-)