Diwali Lehiyam

Diwali Lehiyam

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lehiyam

Deepavali Lehiyam—Chase Away Indigestion

Diwali means eating! Sweets, fried food, junk food, feasts and excess…this time-honored remedy can be made from the ingredients in your larder!

Diwali is the time when there is an overload of food leaving the whole nation with collective indigestion.

Despair not! The traditional remedy prescribed for this heartburn is based on principles of Ayurveda. There is a singular tradition in South Indian families where a special lehyam or gooey mixture is prepared and served first thing on the morning of Narakachathurdasi.

The tradition is to have a hot bath after applying oil on the head. Then you collect new clothes and before tucking in to the sweets and fried savories, a little dollop of the Deepavali marundu (medicine) or black lehiyam is given to line the stomach with herbs that help digestion.

This lehiyam or marundu/medicine does not fall into the category of pills and syrups. Herbs and condiments are blended and stirred in ghee and jiggery/vellam/gur till it becomes a delightful black mass just short of halwa consistency.

The traditional recipe is very elaborate and demands many ingredients not found in modern homes. Families tweak the basic recipe as well.

To make 250 grams of the lehiyam you need:

Ingredients

2 teaspoons                   Peppercorn
2 ½ teaspoons               Jeera
2 ½ teaspoons               Coriander seeds
25gms/3 tablespoons     Carom seeds/Omam/Ajwain
10 to 12 sticks               Indian long pepper /Kanda Thipli/Desavaram (optional)
Half piece                   Nutmeg/jaadhikkai/jaiphal (optional)
30gm                             Dry ginger or 2” piece fresh ginger
5gms/2 to 3                   Cardamom
50gms.                          Ghee or clarified butter
100gms                         Crumbled jaggery (equal to the amount of blended paste)
50gms                          Honey

Method

  1. Pound in a mortar and pestle all the dry/herbal ingredients.
  2. Pour enough water to cover ingredients and soak them for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Grind into a soft paste in a blender.
  4. Add 1/2 cup water and thoroughly mix into the paste and place in a heavy-bottomed wok or vessel.
  5. Cook the wet mixture on a slow flame, stirring it all the time with a spatula to avoid lumps being formed.
  6. When the water is nearly evaporated, add the crumbled jaggery and stir it in.
  7. Gradually add spoons of ghee and keep stirring.
  8. When the lehiyam comes together in a ball and the ghee is separated from it, turn off the heat.
  1. Stir in the honey, cool and store in an airtight container.
  2. Take one spoon of lehiyam on Diwali day after the ritual oil bath and before you eat anything else.

PS: This lehiyam can also be made using readymade powders that are available in many herbal and local medicine shops. Mix the powder with two times the water and cook in a heavy-bottomed vessel. Add jaggery and ghee until the lehiyam comes together and the ghee is separated.

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Padmini Natarajan calls herself Dame Quixote for she is forever tilting at windmills! A storyteller, poet, columnist, blogger, editor and journalist, she has specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. She has worked for over 15 years as Part-time Language Editor and Writer of manuals, curriculum textbooks and other material with an E-education organization, EZVidya/Chrysalis that is aimed at empowering Teachers, Students and Parents. She taught Vedic Heritage at Kalavardini to children from the ages of 3 to 14 and written and directed skits and plays. She won the Gourmand Special Jury Award in Paris in 2009 as co-author of ‘Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine’. Her book of short stories - ‘Crossroads: Stories from South Indian Lives’ - has good reviews on Amazon. Padmini has been concerned with paying it forward with her involvement in organizations like Sneha, a suicide prevention NGO, Canstop, Cancer Support group and many women’s organizations. Her other passion was acting, on stage, TV and screen. She is a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff, a music maniac who listens to Golden Oldies and has a strong Facebook presence. Nowadays she is an armchair activist and world traveler from the safety of her home. Quite the hypochondriac, she is exploring spiritual enlightenment through Vedanta and loves to spout philosophical thoughts to unwary audiences.