Narikelodaka – A Mindful Drink For Summer

Narikelodaka is the udaka or water of the green coconut, known in south India as tender coconut water

In a world full of carbonated drinks, be a sweet narikelodaka. Narikelodaka is the udaka or water of the green coconut, known in south India as tender coconut water.  The fruit of the coconut tree (Cocus nucifera), known as narikela is used widely in the southern states of India. It is known as narikela in Sanskrit, kera in Malayalam, narkol in Bengali, nariyal in Hindi. Almost every Indian culture has a name for this fruit, which is often misunderstood as a nut due to its hard shell.

The coconut grows well in coastal tropical regions, as it requires a lot of water to grown. The coconut grows in approximately 80 countries and is known as the tree of life, with a long history of important uses worldwide. The coconut fruit itself is one of the most versatile; every part of the coconut tree is used since ancient times, and the tree is mentioned in the ancient Vishnu Dharmashastra, a text on the sacred laws of India from c.600 BCE, and in the Vishnu Purana, an 80-chapter text of c.400 BCE, in which a conversation occures between sage Maitreya and his guru Parashara, on the nature of this universe. Narikela is known as the Kalpa-Vriksha according to Ayurveda, a divine, wish-granting tree, and is commonly used for blessings and rituals for new beginnings; it implies that the tree provides all that is needed for a good life.

Narikelodaka is a commonly craved drink in summer. It is not only nutritious, wholesome and natural, but is considered one of the world's superfoods.

All parts of the coconut are used. The hull is often used as a bowl. The broken curved piece is used as a scoop or spoon.  The fruit in ripe form, known as the coconut meat, is one of the most commonly used ingredients in many Asian cuisines, either in chunks, flakes, ground coarse pieces or powder. Several parts of the tree have medicinal value including the coconut transparent water, the coconut milk which is extracted from the flesh or meat of the fruit, and the dry coconut from which oil is pressed and extracted. Narikela is one of the only fruits whose milk is used in food preparation all over the world.

Ayurveda understood the coconut milk and water to have intense cooling properties. It was used to counter burning sensation in the gut including acid reflux, or food poisoning, or too much heat in the body. It strengthens the body and also improves metabolism.

narikelodakaCoconut oil has been widely used in south Indian cuisines for thousands of years as a food ingredient, but also for external application on the skin and hair before bathing, and as a medicinal food because it acts a natural coolant, calming down the rough/dry aspect of vata and the heat of pitta, but supporting Kapha as it is an oil. Coconut oil is widely recommended for frying as it is a stable oil and nourishes the depleted tissues in the body.

Ayurveda classifies the use of coconut according to the maturity of the fruit: tender green coconut, half-mature coconut, and fully matured coconut. Tender coconut water - narikelodaka - is recommended for its sheeta (cooling) effects in the body. It is a natural coolant that helps clean the urinary bladder and also promotes better digestion due to its ability to calm down the Pitta. It is one of the most important foods for summer and is best as a daily drink, both to counter dehydration and to bring down excess pitta and maintain good health. Tender coconut water also has a replenishing effect and is the ultimate natural refreshing drink because it is full of various electrolytes that are essential replacement during loss in sweat during summers.

The fully matured coconut is useful as grated fruit for hyper-acidity. The stone or wood-pressed oil extracted from the dried fruit is used in a variety of medicinal formulations, especially the oils used in pancakarma treatments. Alkali made from the coconut is known for its stomach-relieving properties.

Coconut is mentioned in the Oushadi Varga (medicinal formulations) chapter of the Kaiyadeva Nighantu, an herbal compendium of the 14th century CE.

तस्योदकं हिमं स्निग्धं मधुरं बस्ति शोधनं |

दीपनं शुक्रलं ह्रदयं लघु तृट दाह पित्तनुत ||

Source: Kaiyadeva nighantu, Oushadi Varga ,Varga1, Narikela, Shloka 270

Transliteration - tasyodakam himam snigdham madhuram basti shodhanam |

deepanam śukram hṛdayam laghu tṛt daha pittanut ||

Translation - [narikelodaka is] cooling inside the body, moist, sweetish in taste and cleanses the bladder through diuresis. It acts to kindle the digestive fire (deepana), is aphrodisiac in action, is pleasant to the mind and heart, is light to digest, relieves thirst, burning heat in the body, and pacifies the pitta dosha.

Narikelodaka can be enjoyed at any part of the hot day. If the weather is cool or the moon is creating dew and cooling effects, it   is advised to avoid coconut water during the late night, and to drink it only when the sun is out due to its hima (cooling) effects and ability to provoke kapha, resulting in congestion and phlegm in the throat.

Its rich supply of electrolytes provide instant energy. After physical exercise, coconut water is an ideal rehydrating and refreshing drink. Natural coconut water is one of the best alternatives for oral rehydration after illness. Its benefits over synthetic drinks is unparalleled.

Realistic Aspects of Narikelodaka

While the great benefits of narikelodaka have now been embraced by the west and modernized cultures, they have unfortunately neglected the advice of the ancient wisemen. Tender coconut water is potently medicinal to pacifies the pitta dosha and thirst (trsna) when freshly collected from the freshly harvested fruit. It is excellent for acute gastroenteritis, which is common on hot summer days when food can rot easily. Narikelodaka is a good coolant (hima), snigdha, hrudya (cardio-protective), nourishing and soothening. It relieves ama dosha and helps in better digestion, as the agni is less during summer season. It also helps in cleansing of urinary bladder by eliminating the toxins (doshas). It is considered a natural aphrodisiac (vrushya).

But if it is not freshly collected, or is ripened coconut water, or harvested and kept for long hours, it turns brown when exposed to air. The ancient wisemen reminded us that old coconut water causes vistambha (constipation) and increases pitta dosha. Tender coconut water is easy to collect from the tree in its original container but very sensitive to chemical and biological changes if exposed to outside air or stored for a long time.

Due to its amazing and unique immune-boosting and gut-healing properties, coconut water has drawn attention of manufacturers as natural functional drink. Without understanding the medicinal chemistry of the fruit's water, they have collected, processed, irradiated, packaged and exported it to many countries, for the sake of profit. The thermal treatment and chemical additives essentially destroy the medicinal benefits of narikelodaka for which it was touted as a great drink. Without connection to the original knowledge of the wisemen, coconut water today is available in different forms such as chilled or frozen coconut water, pasteurized, carbonated and microfiltered. Due to ignorance and greed, not only has commercial coconut water lost its medicinal benefits, but it now creates the exact problem for which coconut water was revered and earlier prescribed.


Beat the Heat with Sāriva Sharbat

The word sharbat comes from the Persian term, which refers to a drink of sugar and water. This in turn is derived from the Arabic word shariba, which means to drink. Similar words also find places in dictionaries in many European languages. In Italy, it's called sorbetto. In France and England, it is popular today as sorbet and sherbet, respectively.

sharbatSharbat is a popular drink relished by people across various parts of Europe and Asia in a gamut of forms and variations. The main difference is that Europeans consume sherbet/ sorbet in a frozen form, while those in the Middle East and South Asia consume it in a more liquid form. Sharbat is a standard offering in homes in Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

Sharbat is generally a sweet drink prepared from fruits or flower petals. It is consumed after mixing with water. Alternatively, some consume it in its concentrated syrup form.

Sharbat is usually prepared from ingredients known to be cooling, such as rose water, fresh rose petals, sandalwood, the bael fruit, hibiscus, lemon, orange, and from flavorful ingredients such as basil seeds, mango, pineapple, falsa, Indian sarsaparilla known as sariva, and chia seeds.

Sharbat was possibly introduced by the Persians and became popular in India during the Mughal period (1526–1761 CE). Sharbat is an important dosage form in the unani system of medicines.

Sharbat in Ayurveda

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu, an ayurvedic materia medica text dating back to the 15th-16th century CE mentions a preparation called sarkarodaka that is quite similar to the present day sharbat. It is prepared by adding specific proportions of sugar to water, after which powders of cardamom, clove, camphor, and pepper are added.

The ayurvedic physicians took the concept of sharbat and described its medicinal effect on human physiology, detailed in texts that sarkarodaka is known to decrease vata and pitta dosha, promote strength and improve the ability to taste. It is useful in the treatment of lightheadedness, vomiting, thirst, burning sensation, and fever.

Sharbat in Summer

Summer is characterized by heat, dehydration, and debilitation. Ayurveda understands the summer season as the time when vata dosha gets completely aggravated and deranged due to the dry-rough nature that occurs in us. The digestive power in our gut is also at its lowest. Think of the central oven open so that the heat is not concentrated; as our blood moves heat out through our open skin pores and sweat, we lose heat in the core of our digestive system.

To prevent disease complications from dry-rough conditions in our physiology, often due to summer season, Ayurveda advises:

  • a diet prepared with substances having properties that cool the body inside, to tackle the heat
  • a diet dominated by naturally sweet tastes, that create lubrication and thus pacify the vata dosha and the debility caused due to dry-rough heat inside the body
  • foods that are light to digest, as the digestive fire is low
  • plenty of natural liquid preparations to dominate the diet, to prevent dehydration.

Sharbat fulfills these needs and comes as a blessing to us in summers.

The Original Sharbat

sharbatSharbat is probably the origin of both the Ayurvedic pānaka drinks found in the later classic texts, made of rock sugar and clean cool water as well as spices. Sharbat was proabably the inspiration as well of today's modern soft drinks, all the sweetened carbonated beverages that have dominated the drink scene in the past 40 years.

Carbonated drinks, however, are problematic for health because they can be addictive due to the refined sugar, and because the alkalinity of the sodium bicarbonate combined with the sulfuric acid, makes the stomach alkaline when a person consumes liters daily, preventing proper digestion and stomach functions. Consumption of excess artificial sugar also creates obesity and provokes the sugar balance in the body.

Returning to tradition-based natural sugar-derived drinks will not be easy, as modern cultured people will not easily break habits for healthier options. Repopularizing sharbat in your local work or neighborhood is a step toward health, truly cooling and refreshing.

Sharbat can be made from any of a family of cooling grasses such as khus or vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides), or from nannari roots or fruits (Hemidesmus indicus) known as Indian sarsaparilla and as sāriva or anantamul. Khus should not be confused with the dry fruit khas-khas, which are poppy seeds from the opium plant.

Sariva Sharbat

SharbatKnown as Sariva in Sanskrt, the soft, tender, twining shrub is a staple in south Indian homes. Sariva (Hemidesmus indicus) is known for its refreshing coolant action, blood purifying effect & pitta pacifying properties. The herb Sariva (Hemidesmus indicus) was traditionally known for its curative properties in skin burns and lightening skin complexion.

Many hundreds of medicinal formulations of Ayurveda use Sariva for treatments of low sperm count (oligospermia), acid reflux and gastritis, lack of appetite (anorexia), havey menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), and worm infections.

But in the food world, sariva's properties address common imbalances provoked by summer. Sariva (nannari) sharbat is an ideal medicine to counter the effects of summer's dry-rough qualities brought by the heat, due to its ability to remoisten the tissues of the body. It also cools the body and also rekindles digestive fire, making it one of the tastiest ways to enjoy medicine. Sariva is commonly enjoyed as a summer health drink as sharbat.

Qualities of Sariva

सारिवा मधुरा तिक्ता सुस्निग्धा शुक्रला हिमा ।

गुर्वी ज्वरातिसार आमदोषत्रय विषापहा ॥

अग्निसाद अरुचि श्वासकासात्र प्रदरनुत् ।  ( कैय्यदेव निघण्टु ओषधिवर्ग)

Source: Kaiyyadeva Nighaṇṭu, Ouṣadhi-varga, sloka 995-996


sārivā madhurā tikta susnighā śukralā himā |

gurvī jwarātisara āmadoṣatraya viṣāpahā ||

agnisāda aruci śvāsakāsātra pradaranut |

Translation - Sariva is sweet (madhurā)  and bitter (tikta) in taste; it provides unctuousness to the body (susnighā) and is a coolant (himā). It improves reproductive functions (śukralā) through these properties. It is said to be useful in cases of fever (jwara), diarrhea (atisara), poisoning or toxic residues, low digestive fire (agnisāda) and lack of appetite (aruci), breathing disorders (śvāsakāsātra), and cough.



Nannari sharbat


sariva (nannari) roots, coarse powder - 100 grams

clean water - 1L

jaggery - 500g

lemon - 1

clean vessel of 2L capacity

muslin cloth


Soak 100 grams of the coarse powder of sariva roots in 1L clean water overnight. Cover the vessel with a muslin cloth. The next morning, add 500g of jaggery to the vessel. Set it to boil until the contents achieve a syrup consistency. Allow it to cool to room temperature on its own. Store it in an air-tight container. When you are ready to serve, add 3-4 Tablespoons of this syrup to a glass of clean water. Enjoy the drink with a dash of lemon.

vegan burger chetna makan

Chetna Makan: In an Emotional Bond with Indian Food

Chetna Makan hogged the limelight with the renowned Great British Bake Off-2014 show. Though a semi-finalist, the Indian-origin chef won many hearts by infusing traditional Indian flavours with Western bakes. She authored five bestsellers on Indian food from 2016. Her next book will be launched in June 2022

Born and brought up in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur, Chetna Makan pursued a career in fashion designing at NIFT and landed a job in Mumbai. In 2004, she moved to Kent in the UK along with her entrepreneur-husband Gaurav Gupta. While cooking has always been her passion for this 42-year-old chef-author, she fell in love with baking while making cakes and cookies for her children Sia and Yuv.

Chetna Makan came to limelight with her entry into the Great British Bake Off-2014. Though a semi-finalist, the Indian-origin chef won many hearts with the unique cooking style – infusing traditional Indian flavours with Western bakes. The popular baking show inspired her to seriously pursue a career in cooking and that’s when Chetna gave wings to the creative soul in her, She launched her YouTube channel (Food with Chetna) and began to write cookbooks, which turned out to be best-sellers and won her laurels for making Indian food popular among the foodies across the world.

Chetna Makan with her cook books
Chetna Makan with her cook books

Till now, Chetna Makan authored 5 books and her next is all set for a grand launch in June this year. Her work reflects the emotional bond she shares with Indian food and the fond memories she cherishes while preparing the same, all the while  trying to bust the notion that Indian vegetarian cuisines are unhealthy, nutrition-deficient and insipid. Simultaneously, she creates awareness on innovative flavours one can create using the plethora of ingredients.

In an interview with AYUVE, the fashion designer-chef-author shares details about her journey, her innovative cooking methods, about her true inspiration (mother), her emotional attachment with Indian food and a lot more. Read on:

A small town girl from Jabalpur to a fashion designer from NIFT, a creative baker, one of the bestselling authors of cookbooks and a renowned YouTuber, it’s been quite a journey. Tell us about your family and their support in your journey thus far. What inspired you to take up cooking as a line of work?

The support from my family has been amazing. My mum, dad and two sisters are all very proud of what I have achieved and I was lucky that they were able to visit England for the launch of two of my books. I try and visit them in India every year and they keep visiting me whenever possible. We went to India in February 2022 and it was lovely to see them, after two years of Covid-19.

As regards to my husband and kids, they have been really supportive and helped me throughout. Taking up cooking as a career is something that I had not really planned, but it all happened and started when I decided to go on the Great British Baking Off-2014 (GBBO).

You often said that your mom taught you everything about flavours. Are there any mom’s special dishes that you still cherish?

Yes, my mum has been the biggest inspiration in my cooking journey. To be honest I can eat and enjoy anything she cooks. She puts so much love into her food and everything tastes amazing. She can make absolutely any Indian food from dosa and biryani to jalebi. She has this talent that anything she cooks turns out amazing.  Every dish that she makes has some lovely memories attached to it, like the basic Tadka Dal. While growing up, I remember her going straight to the kitchen and preparing us Dal Rice immediately after coming back home from our travels. I do exactly the same now.

Could you tell us about your initial days of cooking? Are you teaching your kids, too? Do they help you out in the kitchen?

My mum never really stood and taught me step by step of any dish. She cooked everything by herself and never had any kitchen help. I would always be in and around the kitchen just watching her cook and guess that's how I picked up things. I do try and get my kids involved in the kitchen. They love to bake and can now get on with it themselves. When they were younger I would be there every step of the way trying to make sure they were doing it correctly. They are yet to learn the more detailed cooking.

Why and when did you move to the UK?  You turned into a baker after having two kids. Then, you participated and became a semi-finalist in the Great British Bake Off 2014. How was the experience at the show and how did it help you to grow as a baker?

I have always been fond of cooking. I moved to England with my husband for his training. Then, we stayed back and made UK our home. Baking was something I was always interested in, but I really started baking after having kids – it’s then that I was making lot of cakes for my kids and friends.

Going on the GBBO was an amazing experience and yes, it made me grow and evolve as a baker; it also gave me the confidence to then go and write my cookbooks. It taught me a lot about cooking techniques, organising and most importantly, quick baking. It gave me the confidence that the flavour combinations I was doing were good and being loved by the judges. It definitely made me explore the combination of Indian food with Western bakes. I’m still in touch with the contestants. We try and meet once a year around Christmas time. That was one of the best things to come out of GBBO – 11 amazing friends.

What’s your favourite meal of the day? How would you describe the best meal? What is the best part of cooking, for you? 

My favourite meal is the one I have when I’m most hungry; so it could be lunch or dinner, but I enjoy the most when I eat with my family. The best part of cooking, for me, is watching my family, friends and others enjoy the food I prepare.

I never cook as per individual tastes. My kids have grown up knowing that there will only be one meal option and that they have to eat what I have cooked for the whole family. We all love Rajma Rice, Chole puri, Aloo Parathas and Dosa Sambar. I try and make a special feast for us every Sunday.

Is there any particular spice that you love to use more in your recipes?

My favourite spice of all time is Cardamom. I love that particular spice has so many different notes and how it works so beautifully in sweet and savoury food.

Tell us about the local cuisines of Jabalpur that you love and miss a lot; please share with us the childhood memories you have with them…

The biggest memory is the Samosa, Jalebi and Poha breakfast in Jabalpur that I have not experienced anywhere else. There is this shop behind my parents’ house that make the best breakfast of all. The shop is still there and I visited it again when I came to India in February.

Her first book ‘The Cardamom Trail’ was a bestseller and now, she is all set to bring out another book on baking (Chetna’s Easy Baking: with a twist of spice) in June this year

Tell us how baking helps satiate your creative soul?

When I went on the GBBO, I wanted to do something different and all I knew well was Indian food; so I decided to come up with recipes that had a touch of Indian food in the bakes. It was great to develop those recipes and that's what was the idea behind my first book. Now with my new book "Chetna’s Easy Baking" I am so happy to go back to baking, as I have such a passion for it.

Tell us about your street food journey in India, which apparently motivated you to write your second book ‘Chai, Chaat and Chutney’…

When I moved to the UK, I realised that people were not aware of the vast variety of Indian street food. So when I got a chance to write my second cookbook, I wanted to share the amazing Indian street food. I travelled to four major cities of India and researched some amazing food and was able to share it in my book.

I had been to Calcutta as a child, but visiting the place to do research for ‘Chai, Chaat and Chutney’ was the most amazing experience. I fell in love with the city, the people and the food. On day 1 of my trip, it started pouring and we went to this food galli somewhere near office buildings. The people kept relishing their lunch by taking cover under umbrellas and plastic sheets, while the rain kept pitter-pattering on the roofs. I had the best Thali and Chai at that place. It was all beautiful and soothing; the experience remains with me forever!

Your book “Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian” came as a pleasant surprise, or should we say a respite, for those looking for some speedy recipes for every occasion. 

Yes, I think you are right, because a lot of people find cooking tedious and a job that they don’t enjoy. We all want to eat delicious food but don’t always have the time to prepare it. And that was the idea behind it all – to share recipes that are ready in no time, but taste amazing at the same time.

Tell us about “Chetna’s Healthy Indian” and “Healthy Indian Vegetarian”. In the latter, you wrote about and developed quite a few vegetarian and vegan cuisines yourselves…

This is another thing I’ve found in the UK, where people thought that we Indians eat curry and naan every day for our meals and these are considered unhealthy food options. So, those two books were developed to show people how we really eat at home- a balanced and healthy diet. Not all realise that the food prepared in Indian homes is mostly vegetarian.

Post-Covid, there has been a substantial growth of awareness on health-consciousness and mindful eating. Could you cast some light on it?

The fact that we were all stuck at home and developed some unhealthy eating and drinking habits is making people look for more healthy food and mindful eating. I think it is a good thing and I really hope that it continues; it’s not only good for people, but also for the environment.

All your books have been about Indian cuisine. Is it a conscious decision? It’s true that Indian food is spreading throughout the world and we are witnessing many adaptations of the same, of late. How are your recipes different from these adaptations?

The fact is that I only do recipes that I love. I am not a big meat eater and my husband is vegetarian too. We sometimes eat chicken and fish but 90%of our food is naturally vegetarian and that reflects in the recipes I share in my books and will continue to do so.

My books and recipes are all about how I cook and eat. These are the things which I have grown up with. I get inspired by so much of my mom’s food and always give them a twist by adding more local produces I can find in the UK. Like the Methi Papdi that she makes all the time at home – that is one recipe I used in GBBO; I added a couple of more spices to it and instead of deep frying, I baked it. I tried lot of such experiments in my cookery books, too. My readers simply love such surprises.

What has been the response to your cookbooks from the readers in India? Do you miss being in India and relishing those native, traditional flavours?

Yes, I do miss India and I am very lucky that I can call two places my home – India and UK. And the response to my cookbooks in India has been lovely, too.

Tell us about your readers and subscribers – are they mostly Indian or are there foodies from other parts of the globe, too? Tell us a couple of memorable moments you shared with your followers...

The best part is that my readers and subscribers are from all around the globe. A small number of those are from India, but a majority are people from around the world who are really interested in Indian food and have been finding ways to learn how to cook it themselves at home. The best part is wherever I travel I always find people who stop me and tell me how my books or YouTube channel has helped their cooking and their love for Indian food and that is always very heartwarming.

Would you tell us about your association with the Food52 team? Do you have any plans to collaborate with other authors or chefs or experts for your books, in future? You’re going great with over 215k subscribers for your YouTube channel – Food with Chetna. Tell us about it…

I have been working with food52 for 2-3 years now and they are a lovely team to work with. I admire many authors and the list is too long, every writer has their own touch and specialty and brings his/her own knowledge to the world of food.

I am always looking to collaborate with other authors and chefs and have done a lot of that on my YouTube channel. It is great fun to share my kitchen and what I cook for my family and friends on this platform.

The response has always been heartwarming and special. I do get amazing emails and messages from my followers stating how my channel has helped them cook Indian food, understand it better and have it simplified. That makes it all worth it!

Chetna’s Cookery Books


The Cardamom Trial (April 2016):

The book has been included in the 31 Best Cook Books of 2016 by Washington Post; the 11 Best Cook Books of 2016 by and in the 10 best Cookbook gift ideas for Christmas by Evening Standard. It showcases rare yet precious traditional bakes from India, besides new spice-infused recipes like Sponge Cake with a Cardamom and Coffee Filling, Puff Pastry Bites filled with Fenugreek Paneer, Swirly Bread Rolled with Citrusy Coriander, Mint and Green Mango Chutney and Steamed Strawberry flavoured with Cinnamon.

Chai, Chaat & Chutney (July 2017):

In this book, Chetna Makan presents the wide variety of street food available in the Indian cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai. She reveals the ingredients, techniques and character of each cuisine (like Tamarind-Stuffed Chillis, Chana Dal Vada with Coconut chutney, Carrot Halwa, Pani Puri and Pistachio Kulfi), while sharing with the readers her travel experiences and photographs. It was chosen one of the Best Books on Food for 2017 by The Guardian.

Chetna’s Healthy Indian (Jan 2019):

The book deals with simple methods, ingredients, flavours, nourishment and comfort in home-cooking. It has 80 realistic recipes that the author creates for midweek, after work, busy weekends or when she simply wants to look after herself with wholesome food: Tandoori Pan-Friend Sea Bream, Paneer & Cavalo Nero Saag, Baked Cardamom & Pistacho Yogurt Pots.

Chetna’s Healthy Indian Vegetarian (June 2020):

The book is a celebration of Indian plant-based food at its best – fresh, vibrant, delicious, varied and nutritious. It offers 80 vegetarian and vegan recipes that even the meat-lovers would enjoy. It is packed with innovative ideas while being easy and accessible for home cooks. The dishes include: Garlic & Tamarind Soup, Cheese & Potato Chapatti Sandwich, Courgette Kofta Curry and Beetroot & Sweet Potato Korma

Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian (June 2021):

This book was created, written and launched during the Covid lockdowns. It has 80 Indian recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less with minimum ingredients – without compromising on flavours. There are salads, fast snacks, toppings for toasts, dals, veggie, fish and meat curries, all-in-one rice dishes, raitas and desserts for every occasion.

Chetna’s Easy Baking: With A Twist of Spice (June 2022):

The brand-new booking is yet another collection of bakes and includes 80 tempting sweet and savoury recipes that combine Chetna Makan’s creative flavour twists like: Cherry Almond Honey Cake, Onion Masala Focaccia, Orange & Cinnamon Savarin, Saffron Fennel Pound Cake, Peanut Masala Tear and Share Bread and Mango & Lime Meringue Pie.

brahmi saag

The Red-Listed Plants of India

A Red List of 560 plant species of India was created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, to identify priorities for preservation, of which 247 species are in the actively-threatened category

Since ancient times, plants with therapeutic properties occupied an important place in the treatment of diseases. Ancient physicians knew how to use plants from seed to soil to stomach. They knew the ecosystems in which to grow plants to be most effective as medicines. For example, dry weather creates more potent guggulu, a resin that is excellent for scraping away old residues stuck in the joints and organs. Guggulu remains on the endangered plants list.

As modern civilisation evolved and the human population increased, convenience, capitalism, and a money-based economy led to the exploitation of nature around us, shocking us with the rapid and vast destruction of trees and nature-dominant environments. The buildup of nature-resistant homes, the industrial revolution, and the technological revolution have created changes that have ultimately impacted the plant kingdom, creating a mass destruction of nature and its diversity on the planet.

Several groups working for the environment have been tracking the loss of biodiversity and created lists of threatened and endangered species with specific conservation needs.

bael fruit endangered
Bael or Bilwa tree

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural resources (IUCN) has proposed that the main reasons for destruction of plant species are:

  1. Over exploitation of plants for economic gain, including over harvesting and ruinous harvesting practices
  2. Population pressure in which larger numbers of people require larger supplies of plant-based foods and medicines
  3. Deforestation, done usually for economic incentive, housing, or lumber gain
  4. Changes in land use pattern created by multi-national trade pressures on farming for export and trade and propagated by discontinuation of traditional cultural practices
  5. Increase in the demand for raw materials related to medicinal plants for economic gain.

To create urgency among the masses, biodiversity experts have highlighted the status of medicinal foods and plants that have been used effectively for millenia. Their loss is threatening our own future health and knowledge.

A Red List of 560 plant species of India was created by the IUCN to identify priorities for preservation, of which 247 species are in the actively-threatened category. Red-listed plants are usually categorised as either extinct, extinct in wild, critically endangered (facing extremely high risk of extinction), endangered - defined as only 50% or less number of species still present or impending destruction within 3 generations, and vulnerable.

Some of the well-known endangered species on the IUCN Red List are foods, which excellent medicinal properties:

  1. The bael fruit, Aegle marmelos, known in Sanskrit as bilwa
  2. The brahmi śaka, or spinach, Bacopa monnieri, known in Ayurveda as mandukaparni
  3. The licorice tree, whose sweet bark and branches are used as a spice or in tea, Glycyrrhiza glabra, known in Sanskrit as madhuyashti or yashtimadhu
  4. The stevia flowering plant in the aster family, Stevia rebaudiana, also known as sweet leaf and grown for its sweet-tasting leaves that are 3 times sweeter than saccharose

Conservation of these plants have become more urgent because they belong to a human ecosystem.


Using tools of genetics and biotechnology, conservation of medicinal plants and associated knowledge is being attempted, documenting best practices and slowly also stimulating the ancient wisdom and practices of cultivation and preservation by involving the local people.

Using plant cell and tissue culture, stem culture, and micro-propagation techniques,  rapid proliferation can be achieved from tiny stem cuttings and auxillary buds, without killing the donor plant. Breeding programmes investigate how to provoke germination of difficult or immature seeds. Judicious use of growth regulators are used, such as auxins and cytokinins, molecules known to increase maturation. Incentives for scientists promote techniques to multiply and conserve medicinally important species within short periods of time and limited space. But ecologists and field botanists are also highly valued because they can connect to ethnopharmacology, the knowledge in local cultures of drugs and medicinal applications in forestry and the plant world.

The hope is that through a variety of modern conservation and propagation methods, more endangered species can be saved and passed to future generations.

Dr. Deepika Bhargava recently completed her masters degree in dravyaguna from Ashwini Ayurvedic Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre in Tumkur, Karnataka.

dhaanyaka water

Cooling Decoctions for Summer: Dhaanyaka Pānaka

Dhaanya or coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is used widely in every corner of India. Known as dhaanyaka in Sanskrit, it is also known as Chinese parsley, as cilantro in the USA, and as coriander leaves in most of the non-Indian world

Ayurveda advises that only foods that produce cooling inside the cells will actually cool our body. The ancient texts of Ayurveda gave us the original sweet cooling drinks, from which today's modern cold drinks and ice sodas and carbonated beverages have evolved. Ayurveda's preparations used ingredients that naturally cooled the body without halting the metabolism inside, essentially reducing radiant heat loss from each cell's factory. These sweet cooling drinks are known as pānaka, described in the pākaśāstra, texts of Ayurveda devoted to the topics of dietetics, culinary arts and the science and art of cooking (paka, S., to cook).

Preparations of cool drinks were made with cane sugar, green unripe mango, ripe tamarind and lemon, buttermilk and digestive herbs such as coriander, black pepper, cloves, cardamom and camphor. These ingredients were known as pittashamaka, destroying the radiant heat of pitta to give a cooling effect.

The Indian kitchen spice dhaanya or coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is used widely in every corner of India. Known as dhaanyaka in Sanskrit, it is also known as Chinese parsley, as cilantro in the USA, and as coriander leaves in most of the non-Indian world.

Two parts of this plant have medicinal value. The plant's fruits, known technically as schizocarps, are known as coriander seeds or dhaanya beej because each fruit splits in half to produce two seeds. These whole, light-brown round dry fruits are commonly mis-called coriander seeds. The green light feathery leaves of the plant come with long flimsy stems and have an unmistakable smell.

According to Ayurvedic wisdom, dhaanyaka leaves have microbe-killing properties (krimighna) due to metal chelators stored within the dark-green leaves, and those same metals and minerals assist in hair growth (keshya). Dhaanyaka leaves improve the ability to taste (ruchikara) and thus improve appetite.

Dhaanya beej, the dry fruits of coriander known on the spice rack as coriander seeds, are pittashamaka, and effective for cooling the body inside. Throughout late spring and early summer, prescriptions are given by Ayurvedic physicians for making coriander seed-infused water each night for drinking in the first half of the day. Consumed daily, this water gradually cools the body noticeably and acts as a health supplement to protect our body from trapped heat.

A pānaka preparation made from coriander seeds (dhanya beej) is described in the 15th century classic Ayurvedic text called Bhava Prakasha, written by the ancient physician Bhava Misra, a native of southwestern Bengal. In the recipe, the fine powder of dried dhanya seed-fruits are utilised.



शिलायां साधु सम्पिष्टं धान्याकं वस्त्रगालितम् |

शर्करोदकसंयुक्तं कर्पूरादिसुसंस्कृतम् |

नूतने मृण्मये पात्रे स्थितं पित्तहरं परम् ||१३६||

Bhava Prakasha Nighantu, kṛtanna varga, chapter 12, slokas 136


Transliteration: dhānyakapānaka

śilāyāṁ sādhu sampiṣṭaṁ dhānyākaṁ vastragālitam |

śarkarōdaka-saṁyuktaṁ karpūrādisusaṁskr̥tam |

nūtanē mr̥ṇmayē pātrē sthitaṁ pittaharaṁ param ||136||

Translation: Freshly-dried coriander seeds (dhānyākaṁ) are mashed (piṣṭaṁ) by using a stone slab and stone cylindrical pestle known as sil-batta (śila), then filtered through a sieve (vastragālitam) made by using a clean cotton cloth (vastra) to obtain very fine powder. Separately, fresh natural water mixed with red cane sugar (śarkarōdaka) is made and put in an earthen pot, which is naturally cooling. Then the coriander powder is added (saṁyuktaṁ). Finally, karpura is added and mixed thoroughly. The liquid should be kept in the earthen pot until ready to drink. This is considered one of the best (param) pitta reducers (pittaharaṁ).



coriander seeds and powder dhaanyaIngredients

Fresh dried coriander fruits (seeds), crushed and sieved – 10 g (about 2 tsp)

Clean cotton cloth, finely woven like muslin

Fresh clean water - 1 litre

Red cane sugar, freshly ground - 20 g (about 4 tsp)

Earthen pot - 1.5 litre capacity

Camphor/karpura -1 g


From your garden or from a local market, fresh dried dhaanya beej is collected and then washed carefully by hand to remove any small stones or dust particles. After washing, it is purified by drying in the sun (atapa) for two hours on a cloth or non-metallic surface. Then it is mashed completely by using the flat stone called śila using a cylindrical stone called batta.  No metal should be used, as it generates mechanical heat.

After filtering the powder through the sieve of a fine cotton cloth, take 2 teaspoons of fine coriander seed powder and place it in a small bowl. Into an earthen pot, add 1000ml water that has been boiled then naturally cooled to room temperature. Add 4 teaspoons of red cane sugar that has been freshly ground to powder; freshly made pure red cane sugar does not raise blood sugar levels. Add the dhaanya powder and 1 gram of fresh karpura/camphor. Stir well for five minutes, adding prayers for good health. Keep in the earthen pot for two hours. Serve with a smile. The rims of the serving glasses may be lined with fresh-powdered red cane sugar.

Lemonade pitcher

Lemonade as Medicine: Nimbuka-Phala-Pānaka

Lemon was placed in the phala-varga, the fruit family, by both ancient physicians Charaka and Sushruta, and both mention its abundant uses as both food and medicine, and catalyst in ancient chemistry

When we think of summer, we often think of lemonade - the refreshing lime-based drinks - and the use of sour-sweet citrus fruits as a fresh reminder of sunlight and early mornings

Known as nimbu or nimbuka in Sanskrt, this round green or yellow fruit is predominantly citrus in nature, with amla-rasa (sour) taste. Citric acid possesses a deep connection with the fire in the body. According to Ayurvedic wisdom, it is both deepana and pachana. The quality of deepana is that which increases the digestive fire. The quality of pachana is that which digests that which the gut is not digesting easily. Its botanical name is Citrus medica, in the Rutaceae or citrus family.

Lemon was placed in the phala-varga, the fruit family, by both ancient physicians Charaka and Sushruta, and both mention its abundant uses as both food and medicine, and catalyst in ancient chemistry. Its taste is sour (amla-rasa). Its qualities are light-to-digest (laghu) and piercing (teekshna). Its taste remains sour on the cellular level after gut digestion (vipaka) due to its abundant and resilient acids, and its cellular effect is to raise the heat in the microenvironment, known as ushna-virya. Lemon is described for its ability to relieve thirst, its ability to promote digestion, and its use in relieving excess accumulation of phlegm and kapha in the stomach. It is very useful for relieving the cough and phlegm of the common cold. Its acidity however, when eaten raw, solo, and only diluted in water, raises pitta and the acidity of the stomach.

lemon trees

Pāṇaka is a drink in which cool water, specific digestive spices, and fruits or vegetables containing abundant pulp or juice of the plant are mixed to produce a therapeutic and delicious drink that cleans the body and protects it from the heat of summer.

Nimbuka-phala-panaka centers around the ripe nimbu fruit (fruit, phala, S.), celebrated for its properties in the 15th century classic Ayurvedic text known as the Bhava Prakasha, written by physician and ancient pharmacist Bhava Misra, who originated in the southwestern area of Bengal. In this recipe the fresh-pressed juice of nimbu is used.



भागैकं निम्बुजं तोयं षड्भागं शर्करोदकम् |

लवङ्गमरिचैर्मिश्रं पानं पानकमुत्तमम् ||१३४||

निम्बूकफलभवं पानमत्यम्लं वातनाशनम् |

वह्निदीप्तिकरं रुच्यं समस्ताहारपाचकम् ||१३५||

Bhava Prakasha Nighantu, kṛtanna varga, chapter 12, slokas 134-135

Transliteration: nimbuka-phala-pānaka

bhāgaikaṁ nimbujaṁ tōyaṁ ṣaḍbhāgaṁ śarkarōdakam |

lavaṅgamaricairmiśraṁ pānaṁ pānakamuttamam ||134||

nimbūkaphalabhavaṁ pānamatyamlaṁ vātanāśanam |

vahnidīptikaraṁ rucyaṁ samastāhārapācakam ||135||

Translation: One part (bhāga) lemon juice (nimbujaṁ) is mixed with six parts (ṣaḍbhāgaṁ) of ground red cane sugar water (sarkara udaka), after which clove (lavaṅga) and black pepper (marica) are added and mixed; this is called nimbu panaka. It is sour, destroys vata (vata-nasaka), enhanced digestive fire in the gut, improves appetite (rucyam), and helps in digestion of all types of food.





Fresh ripe Lemon - 2 fruits

Fresh clean water - 1 liter

Red cane sugar - 20 gm (about 4 tsp)

Clove/lavanga, crushed - 1 gm, about 3-4 clove fruits

Black pepper, freshly ground - 1 gm


From a local lemon tree, freshly pick 2 ripe lemons. Wash them with clean water to remove any dust or grime. Cut it into 4 pieces and squeeze the juice by using two fingers to scrape along the rind, using as much pressure as possible to liberate and collect all juice into a small pot. Set aside. Add 1000 ml clean freshly boiled and air-cooled water into an earthen pot. Add 4 teaspoons red cane sugar that has been ground to powder. Add 1 gram of freshly crushed chunks of lavanga and 1 gram of freshly-ground black pepper (golmorich, kali mirch, marica, Piper nigrum). Add the lemon juice and stir well for two minutes only. Too much stirring will turn the panaka bitter. Add prayers for good health.

The rims of the serving glasses may be lined with ground cane sugar. If the lemons are very sour or bitter, line the rims with saindhav lavana. Serve with a smile.

herbal teas

Transforming Your Body Via Tailored Ayurvedic Diet

Adopting a routine of shifting the diet, activities and daily routine at the end of winter according to your body's needs will allow it to enjoy and not suffer through spring

The spring season is unfortunately known to many people as allergy season. Many illnesses take over the body in some people, yet not others. While the quantity of pollen increases in the air during the spring, some are heavily affected while others remain cool and un-itchy. Those who suffer from allergies experience fever, cold, flu, headaches, skin breakouts and respiratory allergies. Persons with weak immunity of the lungs are more careful during this season, as they are prone to bronchitis and chronic coughs and post-nasal drip.

Ayurveda reminds us that our food choices and general dietary habits strongly influence our respiratory and oral-nasal health by introducing dosha imbalances as the weather heats up, the winds increase, and ice turns to water and humidity.

chronic cough diet spring
Persons with weak immunity of the lungs are prone to bronchitis, chronic coughs and post-nasal drip, in the spring

Spring is closely aligned with kapha dosha aggravation in most locations, because the congealed phlegm and mucous of cold season thaws with the increasing temperature of the environment and tends to melt the excess accumulated kapha lingering in the unbalanced body. People with good digestive fire and exercise routines through the winter tend to digest the kapha and use it to moisten the joints and tissues during the dry winter. But those storing the excess kapha result in suffering from colds, congestion, fever and different allergies in the body. The spring seasonal Ayurvedic routine assists overcoming kapha challenges to bring balance in the internal doshas using the external environment.

To lighten the body for new growth and to shed off the winter layers of inertia, Ayurveda suggests specific guidelines.

  • Just as the rising sun gives bloom to new life in nature, our mind is boosted with energy and new vigor for life when we wake up to see the rising sun. We should spend time with the morning light especially the red and orange rays, to energize the body-mind and relieve sluggishness in the body. This should be done an hour before any food intake.
  • Empower your lungs and breath with pranayama practices and yoga aasanas to rid excess kapha in the body-mind and bring balance the body's kapha Slow, purposeful, mind-connected movement removes sluggishness and fills the body with useful warmth and energy. This should be done before any food intake.
  • Ayurveda suggests udavartana in this season for those who have some excess fat or kapha just under the skin. Udavartana is the pre-bath practice of rubbing the body with dry herbal powders after applying a very thin sheath of unrefined oil. This body brushing helps remove dead skin cells and increases the blood circulation in and under the skin. The accumulated kapha underneath the skin melts and takes toxins with it, enhancing the skin health and providing a lustrous glow. This should be done a half hour before bathing, and food intake should be done after the bath.
  • Eating lean foods allows excess kapha to leave the body. Replace heavy, sweet, sour, salty and oily foods with light, astringent and bitter foods. Focus on this principle of rasas – the taste experience -- detoxifies and rejuvenates the body because heavy, sweet, sour, salty foods increase kapha.
  • In the early morning, drink freshly-boiled water brought naturally down to warm temperature. Just before drinking, add some honey and lemon to start a healthy day by balancing excess kapha.
  • Replace caffeinated tea with herbal teas (called tisane) containing fennel, cumin, coriander, ginger, dandelion, black pepper and long pepper to enhance metabolism. These spices increase digestive fire and unclog the channels in the body.
  • Include spices like ginger, cardamom, mustard, black pepper, asafoetida in the diet because they increase digestive fire, lower high blood sugar, cut through clogged channels, and lower excess wind in the gut.
  • Reduce the intake of meats and heavy meat preparations, avoiding beef, pork and lamb, as they are heavy to digest. Avoid fish as they are generally heating to the body.
  • Avoid intake of curd, bread, nuts and other bakery items. Curd/yogurt is heating and clogs the channels of the body. Bread is heavy to digest and constipates the body. Nuts are heavy to digest. Bakery items are filled with preservatives in the modern day due to processed white flour, insecticides in flour, and granulated processed sugar.
  • Choose seasonal fruits. If you are prone to phlegm in your sinuses or throat, reduce the intake of watery fruits and vegetables like cucumber, oranges, melons and coconuts, especially in the evenings, until your excess kapha dries out.
  • Intermittent fasting followed by a light diet promotes weight loss in the spring season.
  • Daytime napping should be avoided, especially lying down, as it enhances kapha and kapha-related problems in the body. If you need to rest, recline in an armchair with your legs elevated.
yoga spring diet
Empower your lungs and breath with pranayama practices and yoga aasanas to rid excess kapha in the body-mind

Ayurveda also uses detoxifying procedures during the spring season known as panchakarma therapies, which must be undertaken under the supervision of a competent and experienced ayurveda expert. Foods chosen as the body is detoxifying add or subtract layers of residue from the channels of the body, either aiding or debilitating the work of detoxification.

Spring is regarded as the king of all the seasons for its beauty and celebration of new life. It can be enjoyed by following seasonal dietary regimens and used to turn illnesses around by understanding their gunas and doshas. Adopting a routine of shifting the diet, activities and daily routine at the end of winter according to your body's needs will allow it to enjoy and not suffer through spring. By following a spring diet, the body gets properly prepared for the heat of the forthcoming summer season, without aggravated doshas and with good health and minimal concerns.

1organic sharmila oswal

The Organics of it All!

Sharmila Oswal - Founder of Basillia Organics & 1Organic - talks about organic farming, challenges and advantages, millet consumption in India, and how Basillia Organics, through its social enterprise model, is working towards making pesticide-free food accessible to masses

Mother is a Bar at Law from the UK, and a Water Diplomat from MIT Harvard-USA, and, son a graduate in Philosophy and Economics. Mother-son duo Sharmila and Shubham Oswal decided to leave their careers behind to start a social enterprise startup – Basillia Organics for the cause they believed in – to make organic food accessible to the masses. Their brand 1Organic promotes organic staples and snacks made from natural ingredients, grown using traditional methods and indigenous Vedic and heirloom seeds nurtured in the forests.

With Covid claiming the lives of several of their family members and friends, they reailsed that food is one of the major reasons for lack of immunity amongst people. “Today, every other person is suffering from diabetes, thyroid, blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer or hormonal issues, all thanks to pesticides, chemicals and GMO-laced food we consume. Since good organic food is 10-times costlier, not many people are buying it. So, we both decided to make organic food accessible to the masses,” says Sharmila Oswal.

The result: they left behind their glamorous careers and founded Basillia Organics. Sharmila decided to work with the soil through her social organic agriculture, water and food security nexus. Shubham Oswal brought in his international exposure in related fields (from having worked in France, Canada, Sweden and Singapore).

Sharmila Oswal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated Sharmila Oswal for her efforts to empower women

“We use one of the most advanced technologies and machinery for our packaging operations. We use automated and semi-automated packaging lines, thereby reducing manual interventions. Basillia creates a platform for organic farmers and, in turn, sells their produce to marquee clients like TATA, ITC, Big Basket, etc. Our experience in respected fields helped us float the venture and run it successfully,” Sharmila tells AYUVE.

In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recognised and lauded the agropreneur for her relentless efforts to empower women.

1Organic for Cruelty-Free Organic Staples

Yet another brainchild of the mother-son duo, Pune-based 1Organic is a recognised brand for affordable, cruelty-free organic staples and snacks, which help enrich a healthy lifestyle amongst communities who find it difficult to switch from junk foods.

“Plants here are grown by indigenous Vedic and heirloom seeds nurtured in forests with high organic carbon and rich humus land. Natural fertilizers like manure and compost are used to ensure healthy produce. Weeds are controlled naturally through crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching and tilling. 1Organic innovates and creates the same kind of tasty food, using millets and other indigenous ingredients, so that nutrition and health are never compromised. It provides an entire range of organic products at an affordable pricing to help consumers with their eating choices,” elucidates Sharmila Oswal, Managing Director of 1Organic.

The firm follows strict regulations and quality checks in the procurement of the raw material directly from the organic farm. The products are ISO certified and grown organically with zero usage of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It strictly avoids the usage of any chemicals and pesticides for increasing the shelf-life of the produce. Currently, it is present in 500+ stores across 12 cities like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, catering to more than 10,000-plus customers.

Basillia Develops Farmers’ Clusters

Both the companies offer over 150 products to consumers – from groceries to ready-to-eat snacks – all sourced from 5000-plus tribal farmers located in 13 farmers’ clusters developed by Basillia, across the country. “We also have women farmers’ clusters cultivating farm products for us. Our philosophy is to empower women farmers by creating sustainable livelihoods for them and their families.”

Sharmila Oswal interacting with farmers, as part of creating awareness on the benefits of organic farming

The companies deploy field teams to assist farmers with seeds, sowing, harvesting, etc. After harvesting, they arrange for mandatory lab sampling/testing of the entire batch. “Only after getting positive results, the produce is shifted to our processing centre located in Pune where we grade, sort, clean, grind, crush and then pack it. Our processing centre can handle a capacity of more than 10 metric tonnes per day,” the entrepreneur-healthcare influencer explains.

As an internationally certified (EU, US, Canada, India etc.) organic foods company, Basillia Organics aims to empower farmers and women, by providing them with opportunities to cultivate, process and package organic foods. All the products are made as per Ayurveda and native Vedic culture, using stone grinders. Here, food is processed using 100% organic methods like natural fumigation, natural preservation by using Neem

While on the topic, here are a few insights on the status of organic farming and market in India:

Thanks to the Green Revolution of 1960s, agriculture in India was converted into a modern industrial system by the adoption of technology, to overcome the enduring food crisis owing to famines and low productivity. The use of high yielding variety seeds, mechanised farm tools, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilisers were promoted as part of Green Revolution.

But, little did we realise that substantial increase in the production of food grains was achieved at the cost of soil health and that sustainable production at higher levels is possible only by the proper use of factors which will help to maintain the fertility of the soil. The gravity of environmental degradation resulting from faulty agricultural practices has caused alarm among the concerned farmers, scientists and conservationists. Further, greater viable and sustainable farming systems became a necessity, in view of the long-term effects of these chemicals on people’s health. Thus, organic farming turned out to be an alternative agricultural system to help overcome the problems of soil degradation, declining soil fertility and public health.

Ever wondered what’s the market for organic foods in India? According to Expert Market Research report, the Indian organic food market stood at a value of $849.5 million in 2020. For the forecast period of 2021–2026, the trend in the organic food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 20.5%, to reach about $2,601 million by 2026.

The study, conducted in major regional markets in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other states, took into consideration various products like cereals, grains, spices, pulses, processed food, fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and beverages.

It observed that the rising disposable incomes, increasing population, health consciousness and consumer spending on health & wellness products served as the major market drivers. Besides, the substantial growth in e-commerce industry and the mushrooming specialty stores, convenience outlets, hypermarkets and supermarkets are aiding the related enterprises to appeal to potential customers.

These apart, the Government of India is promoting organic food by offering financial assistance to farmers through various schemes like National Food Security Mission, Mission for Integrated Horticulture Development, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

Certification & Merchandising – Challenges

India is home to more than 50% of certified organic producers in the world and the numbers are growing rapidly. However, with more organic food products flooding the market every day, how far can we trust their quality and nutritional values? “Well, it really depends on the brand – as to what kind of ingredients they use in their products. The core values, principles and philosophy of such brand also play a central role. The only way to be safe is to check the nutritional content and quality of the product prior to purchasing,” Sharmila Oswal asserts.

basillia organics
Organic food products from Basillia Organics

But, getting organic food certification is one of the major challenges for food manufacturers. “Organic certification process is one of the strictest in the food industry and is strictly monitored by the government. Every brand has to buy the produce only from certified processors and farmers so that the entire integrity of the chain is maintained. All transactions are monitored by the certification bodies and the Government of India, to ensure end-to-end traceability,” she explains.

After all this, the companies do come across various problems while merchandising their products: shelf life of the products, infestation problems, distribution, convincing the market and channel partners, educating consumers and many more, “which are addressed step-by-step.”

International Year of Millets

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council and the 75th session of UN General Assembly (September 2020 - September 2021) approved India’s proposal to observe the year 2023 as ‘International Year of Millets’. Rich in protein, fibre, vitamins, phytochemicals, amino acids, antioxidants and macro and micronutrients like zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and manganese, millets are considered superfoods. These help maintain a healthy life and are ideal food for people suffering from chronic ailments like diabetes, obesity and heart diseases.

Roughly 90% of these nutri-cereals are grown in developing nations, mainly in Asia and Africa, where food and nutritional security are major challenges. These are known for their high drought-tolerance, can be grown in areas with infertile soils, under non-irrigated conditions and have low carbon footprint.

As per FAO, the global millet market was estimated at 28.2 million metric ton in 2019 and 30.5 million metric ton in 2020. It is projected to register a CAGR of 4.8 % during the forecast period (2022-2027). Further, India has been identified as the largest global producer of millets with a global market share of 33.3% in 2020. Rajasthan topped the list of millet-producing states in India with over 40% of total production in the country followed by Karnataka with over 3 lakh tonnes of millets every year.

Declining Domestic Consumption

Millets have been a traditional staple food for people living in rural areas and hilly regions across India. But that’s never the case with the urban population. Historically, according to Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), millets were cultivated in an area of 35-37 million hectares in India. Over the years, the cultivated area reduced to 20-22 million hectares. Most of the area under millets has been diverted largely to soybean, maize, cotton, sugarcane and sunflower.

A combination of factors like low remuneration as compared to other food crops, lack of input subsidies and price incentives, subsidised supply of fine cereals through Public Distribution System and change in consumer preference (difficulty in processing, low shelf life of flour and low social status attached to millets), have led to shift from production of millets to other competing crops. However, with its strategic planning, the IIMR is expecting to attain at least 30% increase in millet acreage over the current levels by 2050. The IIMR is estimating a demand of 30-35 million tonnes for millets in 2025.

It may be mentioned here that more than 50% of India’s produce is being exported to other countries, while the domestic consumption of millets as food staples is declining due to various factors like growing urbanization and lack of awareness on nutrition values and health benefits. Interestingly, African nations like Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Burkina and Sudan hold more than 40% of global millet consumption.

“We are innovating new products to keep people incentivised, interested and happy to consume healthy millet choices” - Sharmila Oswal

Reacting to this, Sharmila Oswal said: “Millets were the original crops of India. Wheat was, in fact, introduced by the British and promoted by foreign countries. Slowly, wheat products became the gold-standard of food in India. However, the Indian government and food scientists are now trying to make millets widely accessible, as their nutritional quotient is way higher than that of wheat or rice.”

Government to Promote Cultivation & Consumption

organic farming in india
Millet products from 1Organic

With a view to promote cultivation and domestic consumption, the Government of India assured support for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption and branding of home-grown millet products. It announced Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millets Promotion, under which more land is being brought under cultivation. Also, 300 post-harvesting units have been set up in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

Few home science colleges have involved women self-help groups in preparing traditional millet-based products, besides teaching them quality control measures, packaging and labeling and hand-holding for local marketing. Such measures gave much-needed boost to millet-based food brands in India like Trumillets by Urban Millets Pvt Ltd, Slurrp Farm by Wholsum Foods, MilletAmma, Grami Superfoods, FittR, etc. These brands are creating several traditional, non-traditional, read-to-eat snacks and convenience foods with millets like roti, noodles, cake mixes, khichdi, upma, biscuits, snacks, etc.

1Organic does offer millets and millet-based products like cookies and chikki. The company is focused on bringing back the ancient grains, which our ancestors fondly called as ‘Satvikfood’. “Millets are known for their magical benefits. We are innovating new products to keep people incentivised, interested and happy to consume healthy millet choices, by eliminating junk food, refined flour, gluten, sugar, oil, etc. For example, we are getting enormous response for our Millet Noodles, Millet Pasta, Millet Khichdi, Millet Biriyani, Millet Chiwda, etc.,” Sharmila Oswal signs off.

Sanjay Sethi

Plant Protein is Not a New Concept in India – Sanjay Sethi

Plant Based Foods Industry Association is the India's first CEO-led association placed in Gurugram, Haryana. This is a national association formed in late 2021 by Sanjay Sethi, Executive Director with a simple objective to create an ecosystem of plant-based foods in India.

Sanjay SethiPBFIA is an apex organization that has in its short span of existence already taken necessary steps towards integrating plant-based sector in India. India is a hub to more than 2000 plant-based food start-ups and some of the leading brands such as Good Dot, Plantmade, BVeg, White Cub, Evolved Foods, etc. already have PBFIA membership. In addition to this the association offers its support to consumer groups such as Vegan Fest.

Recently a delegation led by PBFIA met Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Government of India to enable the plant-based ecosystem in the country. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed his intention to promote the sector, it is evidently important to constantly work together to overcome the challenges and resolve macro and micro level issues in order to leverage on the increasing buzz on the consumer end.

In an interview with AYUVE – Sanjay Sethi, shares, “Our mission is completely India focused as we see plant-based industry as an answer to various current challenges of food security, economic growth, environmental impact, health risks, antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases and pandemics. We are constantly looking to grow our membership to strengthen the plant-based ecosystem and its representation in the country.”

Excerpts from the Interview where Sanjay Sethi talks about the plant based food sector in India, consumer sentiment and the challenges in the food sector like protein deficiency.

What is the focus of most Indian plant-based food companies? What is your view?

Currently, the sector is held together by young enterprises/ start-ups and they are innovating to deliver products that can become a well fit to the Indian palate.

Since, each cuisine of India has its unique taste, texture and flavour, the focus is to make products as tasty as meat and dairy. The palate of Indians is accustomed to certain flavour of chicken curry vs butter chicken, so Indian entrepreneurs have taken up this challenge and launching some authentic tasting plant-based products in the market.

In addition to the taste factor, they are working on price parity as this is another major purchase driver for consumers to make a shift towards plant-based foods.

The companies are becoming more and more focussed on the nutritional value of the plant-based alternatives that they offer as well, to become a sustainable business.

"We will not call plant-based protein as an alternate protein because the concept is existing in Indian from the Vedic times. However, the recognition is increasing because we have spoilt the choices of people with easy access to animal-based products - Sanjay Sethi

What about alternate protein sector in India?

We will not call plant-based protein as an alternate protein because the concept is existing in Indian from the Vedic times. However, the recognition is increasing because we have spoilt the choices of people with easy access to animal-based products.

The plant-based sector is an answer to food security, climate change, malnutrition, rising prevalence of NCDs (non-communicable diseases), and pandemics. India’s ambition and commitment to go carbon neutral by 2070 will be impossible without a major shift in its population’s dietary preference. Transitioning to a plant-based diet is specifically crucial because of the growing population, increasing disposable income of the Indian middle-class and their demand for high quality proteins. Which, without the shift from animal-based proteins, will ultimately have an impact on our diminishing water and land resources, increase greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, eutrophication, etc. IPCC’s latest report on climate change also suggests the need to reduce methane emissions by 33% by 2030. Most of the methane produced is a resultant of natural fermentation of ruminant animals. India has the world’s largest livestock population and is the leading producer of milk and exporter of buffalo meat, globally. Thus, India with a necessary transition to plant-based foods, can ease the strain on the nation’s limited land and water resources posed by the production of less efficient animal-based foods. India can also economically benefit from this futuristic opportunity by leveraging on its vast Agri-sector and by becoming a global plant protein supplier.

Plant-based foods companies will play an important role in climate action. The dairy heavy diet followed by most Indians are being tapped by some of the promising Indian plant-based dairy start-ups such as One Good (formerly GoodMylk), Alt Foods, etc. Meanwhile, over 70% of the Indian population, surprisingly, is a meat-eating population. Indian startups are already offering numerous tasty plant-based meat options, such as Good Dot, Letz Viz, BVeg, Vezlay, etc. Much more innovative and disruptive start-ups are on the rise, enabling more products at the disposal of the consumers.

Has the Indian alternate protein consumer evolved?

There is a growing awareness around environmental impact, sensitivity towards animal cruelty, health concerns associated with meat and dairy. With access to digital media, knowledge dissemination is taking place at a breath-taking pace. Something which is known to a few scientists and industry people today, is likely to percolate down to masses very quickly. It is already happening, with scores of new cafes and restaurants in major cities starting to offer soy, oat milk and other plant-based foods as a choice to customers.

With the growing educated population, more consumers are now reading the food labels and are concerned about the origin of the food products. They are consistently educating themselves, through the abundant information available in the internet, on the impact of their food choices. This level of awareness and understanding has helped the take-off of the nascent plant-based industries in India. This awareness is spreading towards the more suburban and rural areas of the nation as well. While flexitarians being the main target group of the plant-based startups, improving the taste and decreasing the price of the final product will help achieve a wider consumer acceptance. Meanwhile, vegans and vegetarians will have more delicious and enjoyable options to try out.

What about the processing and technology involved - How do we ensure healthy practices and standards are in place in food technology-based companies?

FSSAI has drafted the definition for veganism and has also introduced vegan logo to empower consumers and plant-based companies. Plant-based companies can get FSSAI Registration, and after complying with the vegan food regulation standards, their products can bear the FSSAI vegan logo.

The quality can be obtained by following the proper food safety protocols, SOPs and HAACP principles. By complying with the international standards such as ISO 22000, the companies will be able to deliver safe and high-quality products. Additional export standards, such as for EU Standards or US FDA Standards, can also be met by the companies who are willing to specialize in the export arena of the plant-based foods.

It is important to note that alternatives like soya chap, soya keema, kathal (jackfruit), tofu have been embraced by several Indians and are recognized as alternatives. Moreover, other sources like peas, rice, and indigenous millets and pulses are widely grown in India

Are Indian companies eyeing various protein sources - What are the main sources that are being tapped by the alternate protein sector in India? What is the scope?

Plant protein is not a new concept as it has been existing since ages in our dietary habits. It is important to note that alternatives like soya chap, soya keema, kathal (jackfruit), tofu have been embraced by several Indians and are recognized as alternatives. Moreover, other sources like peas, rice, and indigenous millets and pulses are widely grown in India. These plant sources when consumed in appropriate quantities and combinations can be substitute to meat, whey or even eggs that too without the side effects of consumption of the animal-based proteins.

Plant protein market captures about 10% of Asia Pacific (APAC) plant protein market. With the APAC region poised to see the largest growth of the plant-based food sector, we could expect a rise in start-ups which will only add to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and sustainable development.

Despite being one of the largest consumers of plant based food, Indians are said to be low on protein consumption. What is the reason?

The Indian Market Research Bureau suggests that protein deficiency in Indians is more than 80 per cent, and as per the recent National Sample Survey, India has a declining per capita protein consumption in both urban and rural areas. This Survey was done about 10 years ago and we do not know if the increased prosperity indeed reversed the trend and protein consumption is rising now.

Talking about the reasons for poor consumption, lack of knowledge about protein source apart from animal produce, irregular intake of plant-based sources such as pulses could be few of the reasons. Data from the National Family Health Survey conducted in 2015–16 in India indicates that only 20–30% population is vegetarian, having never had fish, chicken, meat, and eggs. Yet, majority of the non-vegetarians report that they consume meat only occasionally. Furthermore, The EAT-Lancet Commission report mentions that legumes are the main source of non-cereal plant protein in Indian diets. However, their consumption is low. Also, the production of pulses has grown slower than the population, resulting in a steady decline in their per capita availability and consumption over the last five decades.

It was decreasing in the past few decades, but for the 10 years, Because of the increasing prosperity, we hope that (no survey data) it is increasing now.

In this context of health and protein deficiency what are the foremost areas that need to be addressed in the sector?

Animal source foods are viewed as the significant contributions to human health through providing high quantities of essential nutrients. However, globally, it is one of the largest sources of GHG and one of the leading causal factors in loss of biodiversity, and in developed and emerging countries it is the leading source of water pollution. While derived animal foods may contain more protein density per gram, plant proteins can avoid the numerous pitfalls associated with consuming animal-based proteins. Some of these include obesity, high blood cholesterol level, heart diseases and some types of cancer.

80 per cent of the Indians are protein deficient and the proof of this statement lies in the fact that India is the diabetes capital of the world. One of the reasons for that is the carbohydrate rich diet of its population which also translates to poorer protein consumption. Apart from diabetes, carbs rich diet is also linked with other lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, obesity, PCOS, etc.

All the fundamental nutrients present in animal-based foods are also available in plant-based foods, provided it is a balanced diet. Traditional combinations of meals such as rice or roti (wheat) with dhal compliments the amino acid composition and provides complete proteins which makes them no lesser when compared to proteins from animal-based foods.

Plant-based foods give us a way to bypass the undesired compounds like cholesterol, trans fat and high amounts of saturated fats that are present in animal foods. Also adding to the long list is the presence of hormones, antibiotics and growth promoters, which bring their own set of complications to the human health.

Plant proteins either in a properly planned diet or in any protein alternative (e.g., protein powders, tofu) are easily able to avert the need to include animal-based proteins. Enhancing the nutritional properties of plant-derived proteins is also possible by various methods. One, for example, is by traditional fermentation which is especially true in the case of increasing the levels of B vitamins.

tamarind juice panaka

Sweet & Sour Cooling Hima: Tamarind Pānaka

Amlika-phala-pānaka is made from ripe tamarind (Tamarindus indica) fruit, which hang from its leguminous tree as brown bean-like pods filled with seeds surrounded by a fibrous pulp

To cool the body from the inside, especially during hot summers, Ayurveda advised us to take the bounty of nature in the season and understand its gifts. Simple combinations of fruits, spices and clean water were used to create refreshing sweet cooling drinks that actually changed the heat production in the body, in effect making people feel cooler.

Pitta is the dosha of metabolism and radiating heat. While it is responsible for the functions of enzymes and hormones, it also creates a latent heat that is desired in winter but abhored in intense heated environments. Remedies are pitta-shamaka (shamaka, reducing, resolving, S.), and are usually fresh, cooling, and sweet. The fresh and sweet neutralizes the heat of acids produced in hot micro-environments.

Many pānakas are described in the pākaśāstra, texts of Ayurveda devoted to the topics of dietetics, culinary arts and the science and art of cooking (paka, S., to cook). Pānaka (पानक, S., syrup) are light sweet thick liquid drinks made with citric acid, sugar and digestive spices. The citric acid base comes from items as tamarind, lemon, green mango, coriander, and buttermilk. The combination transforms the heating properties into a net cooling effect if made properly.


Ripe tamarind fruits, known as imli or amlika in Sanskrit, appear throughout the tropics in late March, as the heat increases.

Amlika-phala-pānaka is made from ripe tamarind (Tamarindus indica) fruit, which hang from its leguminous tree as brown bean-like pods filled with seeds surrounded by a fibrous pulp. The ancient physician Bhava Misra shared many cooling recipes from his native southwestern Bengal, in the 15th century classic Ayurvedic text known as Bhava Prakasha. In his chapter on stews and food combinations (kṛtanna), he shares several pānaka recipes that take ingredients from various geo-climatic zones and seasons in which one might find the particular ingredients needed to create these hima. Hima are a medicine form in which specific drugs are combined together for a particular effect using cool water.

The recipe for amlika-phala-pānaka uses the fresh pulp of tamarind fruits, which give tartaric  acid, clean fresh water, red cane rock sugar, lavanga, and black pepper to create a light, watery, sweet-and-sour syrup that awakens the taste buds.

The medicinal benefits of amlika-phala-pāṇaka are its ability to create a healthy hunger or appetite, which normally wanes in the heat of summer. The sweet-sour tangy taste reduces vata doshas in the body, but it should not be used in excess because it also mildly increases pitta and kapha. Clove, which is the flower bud of the clove tree, known as lavanga, provides a good smell  and can alter the food experience with its flavor. Lavaṅga/clove is also known for its role as a deepana drug in Ayurveda, increasing digestive fire. It is ruchikara, increasing the flow of taste at the level of the tongue, and also improves the appetite for food. It is an effective agent in the treatment of asthma (shwasa) and cough (kasa-roga) as well. The well-known black peppercorn provides a property of shroto-sodhana, opening and cleaning blocked channels in the body.

Tamarind panaka
Tamarind panaka with ice cubes and mint leaf



अम्लिकायाः फलं पक्वं मर्दितं वारिणा दृढम् |

शर्करामरिचैर्मिश्रं लवङ्गेन्दुसुवासितम् ||१३२||

अम्लिकाफलसम्भूतं पानकं वातनाशनम् |

पित्तश्लेष्मकरं किञ्चित्सुरुच्यं वह्निबोधनम् ||१३३||

     Bhava Prakasha Nighantu, kṛtanna varga, chapter 12, slokas 132-133

Transliteration: amlikāphalapānaka

amlikāyāḥ phalaṁ pakvaṁ marditaṁ vāriṇā dr̥ḍham |

śarkarāmaricairmiśraṁ lavaṅgēndusuvāsitam ||132||

amlikāphalasambhūtaṁ pānakaṁ vātanāśanam |

pittaślēṣmakaraṁ kiñcitsurucyaṁ vahnibōdhanam ||133||

Translation: Fresh ripe tamarind fruits, which look like long pods with brown thick sticky pulp, is removed from shell and seed. It is then mashed with proper quantity of water to make it a paste;   then, crushed sugar, fresh powder of black pepper, and fresh-ground clove powder should be added with it. This preparation is amlika phala pana. It notably is a good preparation for reducing vata (vata-nasaka),  but it also causes increase in pitta and kapha also. This drink increases the sensation in the taste buds (ruchi-karaka) and enhances the body's main digestive fire.



Fresh ripe tamarind - 4 fruits

Fresh clean water - 2 litre

Red cane sugar - 50 g (about 10 tsp)

Lavanga/cloves, fresh ground - 2 g

Black pepper, fresh ground - 3 g


Fresh tamarind fruits

From a local tamarind tree, freshly pick 4 large ripe tamarinds. Wash them with clean water to remove the hard covers, any dust or grime. Put the whole tamarind in an earthen pot. Add 2 liters of clean, fresh water and mash the four pods in the vessels using the water to melt the contents from the pod. After properly mashing and removing the skin and central seeds, mix the pulp and water until it is smooth. Hand-grind 10 teaspoons red cane sugar in a stone mortar-pestle until it is ground to powder, then add it to the tamarind water. Add freshly-ground clove/lavanga and freshly-ground black pepper (golmorich, kali mirch, marica, Piper nigrum). Stir well for five minutes, adding prayers for good health. Serve with a smile. The rims of the serving glasses may be lined with ground red cane sugar.