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Natural Healing: Bitter Gourd, Turmeric and Ginger

Posted Apr 17 2009 11:02pm
R ecently, I’ve been suffering from a lot of stomach distress and I can’t figure out why. It began a week ago and I’m just now settling down. I went to the doctor’s Tuesday and he told me I was constipated despite the fact my system is repeatedly emptying itself out and the agony I was in sitting there hunched over in the chair. So unfortunately there went the last faith I had in doctors. I am, however, going to get a CBC to see if there’s something wrong with my enzymes and whatnot. I’m 90% positive that it’s simply IBS because the symptoms are exactly how I feel. I thought I began my cycle again but I was wrong. It was nice to feel like I had for a while; hoping that I’d be able to bear children. Now, I guess its still in question.

Basically, after my physician stated he doesn’t even believe in detoxes or any homeopathic remedies, my hopes died on the spot since that’s my studies. So instead of purchasing the two medications he prescribed me (I almost expected a antidepressant in there by his mannerisms towards me), I went home and made a healing supper. And, what do you know? My tummy felt very content.

First we have ginger. Everybody has seen, heard, smelled, or tasted ginger at some point in their life. Some may like it, some may hate it but for those with stomach and GI issues, it’s a marvel. Ginger is the underground stem of the ginger plant and contains certain chemical characteristics and oils that give ginger its ‘healing’ property. Ginger is used throughout Asia parallel to the usage of cheese in Italy. It is brewed in teas, grated, minced, made into candy, pickled, and used in sweets in its ground form. Ginger is considered safe, but, there are a few medications in which ginger may interact and there is also a possibility where an allergic reaction may occur. Gosh, I sound like a television commercial. Regardless of the negatives, ginger’s positives are superior. I know I used to loathe ginger but now I find that I appreciate it and savor it more, especially in tea, pickled on sushi - yum - and in this recipe.

In India, the uses of these two foods as you see here can be classified as ayurevdic, the traditional medical practices in India. The word ‘aired’ means life, and ‘veda’ means science. So, technically Ayurevda translates into the science of life, focusing on healing the body naturally with dietary recommendations, eliminating toxics, and just maintaining a basic balance of all senses in the body. I know, for a fact, that I feel revitalized after my morning yoga practices and, even if yoga isn’t your thing, any daily exercise just bestows a sense of satisfaction upon you.

Ginger Lemon Dal with Mustard Greens
¼ cup split moong beans
½ cup chopped mustard greens
½ inch piece ginger, minced
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 dry curry leaves, crushed
Mustard seeds
Chili flakes

In a nonstick pan, toast the dal, curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds until the air becomes fragrant and aromatic. Add a ½ cup water, turn down the heat, and cook the dal until soft. Once most of the water evaporates, and the dal appears soft, add the mustard greens, ginger, chili flakes, and tamarind. Let that cook until the mustard greens are tender then stir in the lemon juice and serve with puppodums or roti.

To accompany my healing dal, I wanted a vegetable side and what other healing vegetable would be prime except for bitter melon. I know I did a write up on bitter gourd before but I’ll do a quick briefing. Bitter gourd or bitter melon is considered one of the most bitter vegetables found in nature. It is used quite frequently used in India but also pops up here and there throughout South Asia. For those who have yet to experience the bitter melon or, karela as it is referred to in India, think of the taste of broccolini or rabe and multiply that by three. Some people, like my Phillip, can’t really stand the taste of it at all and I’m not a dire-hard fan but I will consume it when I find it necessary.

The magic of the bitter gourd is that it stimulates the digestion and heal constipation like normal bitter fruits and vegetables do. Folklore even states that the karela can prevent or counteract type 2 diabetes but that has yet to be proven. Bitter gourd is better fresh and not frozen because the bitterness increases, so I’ve come to notice. So if you have a tummy ache and happen to cross karela in the store, grab one and make a curry, baji, or stir-fry it simply with some eggs for a soothing benefit. If you cannot locate the karela, go to your local vitamin shop, Whole Foods, or GNC and ask for bitter gourd capsules since that will do the trick, too.

Another thing to note in regards to stomach/GI healing, turmeric makes its appearance. Turmeric is taken as a dietary supplement in various parts of Asia with the intention that it heals IBS and settles other digestive disorders. Turmeric is an interesting herb that has a hard to describe flavor. Added to a recipe, its hard to miss due to its color altering properties, but it has an easily masked flavor. Turmeric is seen in our common every day food because of high dye characteristics and lack of flavor. Trust me, this stuff you never want to get under your nails. Mine were yellow for a week.

I hope that these recipes, can settle your gastrointestinal distress if the occasion arises. No one needs to suffer or take unnecessary medications that can potentially cause more harm than good.

Karela Celeriac Pulusu
½ cup bitter gourd, chopped
½ onion, chopped small
¼ of a small celeriac, diced ¼ inch thick
1 packet of stevia
1 tbsp tamarind paste
Dried curry leaves, crushed
Salt to taste

In a bowl, salt the bitter gourd of fifteen to thirty minutes in order to decrease the bitterness. This method is identical to the eggplant method if you ever salted an eggplant prior to cooking.

In a dry nonstick frying pan, toast the turmeric, cumin and curry leaves until fragrant. Next, add the onions and fry until soft. If things stick, add a little water. Next add the celeriac root, cooking until soft. While that cooks, wash the salt from the bitter gourd and add it to the pan. Add some salt, tamarind paste, and the steiva. Cook until everything is just about fork tender then serve as a side dish with roti.
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