One of the easiest way to make sure you are getting all the nutrition needed for good health is to add lots of greens to your diet, pregnant or not. So I am making sure I eat greens as often as possible and these days it’s served everyday at home.
When you read about healthy greens online you will get lots of information on Spinach, Kale and Collard greens but unfortunately not much is written about our humble traditional Indian greens anywhere. There is a saying in Kannada – ‘Hittila Gida Maddalla’ which in English means ‘The plant in your backyard is not medicinal’. That’s literally the case here! While we are all busy trying to include green leaves in our salads and having our servings of sautéed fresh spinach, we are completely forgetting that our own local greens are equally nutritious, if not more!
Most local greens, herbs and medicinal plants are not extensively farmed. They are never really sold in your super market shelves. At the most they might occasionally appear in your local veggie market but that too only in small quantities. Some of them are wild while the others are seasonal. These are exactly the reasons why they are better for you than the more popular varieties of greens. Since they are not popular and consumed in large quantities, they are almost always organic. Growing in smaller quantities naturally make them a lot more potent.
One such plants which grows in my mom’s backyard is ‘Brahmi’. ‘Brahmi, ’Thimare’ or ‘Ondelaga’ as we call it is more of a medicinal plant or herb. It was always recognized for it’s healing properties by Ayurveda.
Here are some interesting facts about Brahmi (Source)
- Brahmi has been found to be very beneficial in the treatment of anxiety neurosis and mental fatigue. It has been found to significant improve IQ levels, general ability, behavioral patterns and mental concentration in children. Brahmi is useful for improving mental clarity, confidence and memory recall. For these uses of Brahmi, it has been widely used by students.
- Brahmi is also used for the treatment of epilepsy, insomnia, asthma and rheumatism.
- Studies have also shown Brahmi to possess anticancer activity.
- Brahmi is effective against diseases like bronchitis, asthma, hoarseness, arthritis, rheumatism, backache, constipation, hair loss, fevers, digestive problems etc.
- Research has shown that Brahmi has Antioxidant, Cardiotonic and Anticancer properties.
- The plant is also used for all sorts of skin problems- eczema, psoriasis, abscess, ulcerations- it is said to stimulate the growth of skin, hair and nails.
- Improves intellect, consciousness, and mental acuity
- Calms the mind and promotes relaxation – Increases protein synthesis and activity in brain cells
- Improves memory, mental clarity and longevity
- Decreases anxiety, restlessness, and senility
- Improves learning capacity
Brahmi is most commonly used in an almost raw side dish called Thambli. There are many variations of Thambli in which some are raw and some are cooked. All of them have coconut and yogurt combined with various fresh herbs and spices depending on the season.
Raw Thambli with fresh herbs are common during summer months. The cooling green colour and the refreshing raw flavour are perfect for this weather. This Brahmi Thambli is very simple, once again with just a handful of ingredients.
You can use coconut oil instead of ghee.
Fresh coconut works best in this recipe. Frozen or desiccated will not result in the same taste.
Use fresh whole yogurt (if possible homemade).
You can use fresh green chili instead of black pepper if you want.
As I mentioned Thambli is made with several fresh herbs. Try experimenting with your local herbs and medicinal plants that are edible. Each one will have it’s own unique flavor and aroma.
In Bangalore, many organic stores and some Mangalore stores sell fresh Brahmi.
- 1 packed cup of fresh Brahmi leaves.
- 1 tsp ghee/coconut oil
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ cup freshly grated coconut
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ -3/4 cup fresh yogurt
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 dry red chili
- salt to taste
Heat ½ tsp ghee or coconut oil in a small pan. Add the cumin seeds and fry for a minute. Now add the Brahmi leaves, which has been washed and dried well.
Toss everything together and turn off the heat. Brahmi leaves will wilt within seconds.
Grind the wilted Brahmi leaves, fresh coconut, black pepper with a little bit of water into a fine paste. Pour this mixture into a bowl. Add the yogurt and salt and mix everything well. Thin in down with water if it looks too thick.
Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds. When it starts to splutter, add the dry red chili and turn off the heat. Pour this tempering over the Thambli and serve immediately.