Never heard of amla before? Let me be upfront: it’s very sour! But more importantly, it’s regarded in the Ayurvedic tradition as having cooling properties. Also known as amalaki or Indian gooseberry, it’s a great choice for balancing any heat that comes your way. Although organic dried amla powder is most commonly known as one of the three herbs that make up the popular Ayurvedic blend called triphala, it has other herbal and culinary uses too!
How to Use Amla
One spring day many years ago when I took a trip to India, I had the amazing experience of watching an Ayurvedic practitioner use fresh amla fruit to create a healthful herbal jam called “Chyawanprash.” Chyawanprash is a sticky, dark, sweet, spicy, and of course tart (from the amla) spread found in your local South Asian food market. People often take a spoonful a day for rejuvenating and balancing purposes. I used to spread it on toast … a childhood treat!
Amla powder can also be taken as a stand-alone herb in a herbal blend like triphala, or as a spice for culinary purposes. Sour with a slightly bitter aftertaste, amla can be added to curries, salad dressings, marinades, rice dishes, and anything else that requires a tart zing. So the next time you are out of lemons or limes, give amla a try!
Another healthful use for amla powder is an Indian drink called “Jal Jeera”, a beverage taken to promote a normal-functioning appetite. Never one to shy away from salt, I love this salty and tangy drink! I have fond childhood memories of reaching for this herbal spice mix, simply because it tasted good on the tongue and felt good in the tummy. The cumin (known as “Jeera” in Hindi) in the recipe is helpful for mild, occasional digestive issues. Even though the drink is typically made sour by mango powder and lime, I've found that amla powder makes for a wonderful, healthful substitute!
A Word of Caution: In the USA, not everyone is used to salty or savory drinks. Trust me, it can take some getting used to! In Indian culture, salt is not only used occasionally in beverages, but also in yogurt dishes and even fresh fruit. In the summer, this salty drink is a gentle way to also promote hydration. Here’s my variation of a “Jal Jeera” recipe for you to try.
Ayurvedic Cooling Drink Recipe with Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
- 1/2 tsp. organic cumin seed powder
- 1/2 tsp. organic amla powder
- 1/4 tsp. smoked sea salt
- Pinch of organic ginger powder
- Pinch of organic paprika or organic chipotle powder for taste (optional)
- A few fresh or dried organic mint leaves (optional)
- Add all ingredients to tall glass.
- Pour in one cup room-temperature water.
- Stir with fork or mini whisk.
- Adjust seasonings and water content to taste.
Pro Tip: For folks who love extra tang, add a teaspoon of organic lemon or lime juice to the mix!
Looking for more herbal drinks to stay cool?
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- What is Triphala and How to Take It
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- Turmeric Tea: Golden Milk and Spicy Chai