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