HERBAL INDEPENDENCE

Free India enters 70 today, as it broke the shackles of colonial rule on Aug 15, 1947.
Let’s celebrate the rich legacy left behind by those martyrs who made us realize our freedom. Let our vibrant and young India, celebrate its plurality and diversity. And let us also celebrate the rich herbal legacy, which due to short of time and advanced technology, is losing its importance. Let us be free from diseases and problems with help of herbs.

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Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary,  medicinal, cosmetics, sacred and spiritual.We had used herbs to treat all our ailments, when medical science was not that developed, but today, determining whether the herbs would be helpful or not, seems challenging to many of us. We are supposed to check the traditional and proven uses, its potential benefits, possible adverse effects and interaction with other herbs or medicines.

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I feel there is no harm if we give herbs their due credits, at least at the initial stage of the ailments, as the earliest written records came from ancient Egyptian,  Chinese and Indian cultures. The Ebers Papyrus that dates from 1550 b.c.e describes some eight hundred different medicinal remedies and numerous medicinal procedures. They used spices and herbs in medicine, as cosmetics and perfumes, to kill and repel pests, for embalming and in cooking.

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Let us check certain ailments with some easy and instant herbal cure……….

AILMENT                                           HERB

1. Acne                             Calendula, Aloe,
                                           Tea tree

2. Allergy                         Chamomile

3. Anxiety and stress     Kava, Passion
                                            Flower,
                                             Chamomile,
                                            Lavender

4. Arthritis                        Capsicum,Ginger,
                                             Turmeric, Cat’s
                                              claw

5. Asthma                         Coffee, Ephedra,
                                             Tea, Cinnamon

6. Atlete’s Foot                 Tropical tea tree
                                             oil

7. Boils                              Tropical garlic,
                                              Echinacea,
                                              Tea tree oil

8. Cold and
    Cough                            Ginger, Nutmeg,
                                               Cinnamon,
                                               Honey,
                                               Eucalyptus

9. Constipation                 Apple, Psyllium,
                                               Seena,Flaxseed

10. Diabetes(type 2)        Garlic, Beans,
                                                Cinnamon, 
                                                 Flaxseed,
                                                 Green tea,
                                                 Fenugreek

11. Eczema                       Evening
                                                 primrose oil,
                                                 Chamomile,
                                                 Borage seed oil

12. Fatigue                        Cocoa(dark
                                                 chocolate )
                                                  coffee,
                                                  Rhodiola tea

13. High BP                       Garlic, Beans,
                                                 Cocoa, Ginger,
                                                 Hawthorn,
                                                 Hibiscus,
                                                 Cinnamon

14. High cholesterol         Flaxseed,
                                                Cinnamon,
                                                   Evening
                                                    Primrose oil,
                                                    Green tea,
                                                    Apple, Cocoa

15. Indigestion                  Ginger, Pepper-
                                                  Mint, Ajwain,
                                                  Chamomile

16. Insomnia                     Kava, Lemon,
                                                 Evening
                                                  primrose,
                                                  Valerian

17. Migraine                      Feverfew,
                                                   Butter bur

18. Memory                       Thyme, Passion
                                                 flower, Catnip,
                                                 Kava kava

19. Muscle pain                Capsicum,
                                               Wintergreen

20. Nausea                        Ginger, Lemon,
                                             Peppermint

21. Sore throat                 Lemon, Honey,
                                           Salt, Peppermint

22. Toothache                  Willow, Clove oil
                                  
(Source: Dr. Dukes Essential Herbs)

Try and love our herbs, because self- care is the key to better health, and self-education is key to self-care……

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NEEM (MARGOSA )

The bitter Neem with sweet benefits, is a versatile natural product that can be used beneficially on the skin, hair and is packed with loads of health benefits, is also used in yogic sadhana and is a wonder plant.

The fruits, seeds, oil, leaves, roots and bark are all known for their advantages and medicinal properties.

Neem leaves contains appreciable amount of protein, minerals and carotene and adequate amount of trace minerals except Zinc.

The Neem tree has over 130 different biological active compounds and the neem leaf is one of the most complex leaves you can find on the planet.

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HEALTH BENEFITS :

1. Anti bacterial properties:
When as a child we used to suffer from chicken pox, Ma use to spread Neem leaves on the bed, used to soothe the skin with Neem leaves and used to hang neem leaves on the door because of its anti bacterial properties.

2. Controls Diabetes :
Chewing Neem leaves daily and drinking Neem tea, takes care of non – insulin,  dependent type 2 diabetes.

3. Maintains Oral health:
Using Neem twigs as brush takes care of our teeth.

4. Beneficial in digestion :
Digestive disorders like Gas and Constipation can be treated just by chewing few Neem leaves.

5. Blood purifier :
5 leaves daily, if taken empty stomach purifies our blood.

6. Takes care of skin problems:
Clears acne, dark pigmentation, pimples, skin dryness, skin aging etc.

7. Enhances hair growth rate:
Neem oil treats baldness, dry scalp, dandruff and other hair problems.

8. Heals Ulcer:
Neem bark extract helps in healing ulcer.

9. Treats Malaria:
Neem is an antipyretic agent. Eat a few leaves daily to keep the liver safe from malarial side effects.

10. Pesticide /insecticide  controller :
The team of social workers in our area comes to spread the awareness about pesticide spray in which they take a litre of water, add some liquid soap and Neem oil, stir the solution and spray to repel insects.

11. Cures Asthama :
Neem oil if taken according to ayurveda procedure, cures Asthama.

12. Controls Cancerous cells:
Consuming neem every day keeps the number of cancerous cells within a certain limit.

NEEM OIL AND PASTE FOR HAIR

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Do you want long shiny healthy hair like Rapunzel??? Try Neem oil…

Neem is the ultimate treatment for scalp infections, dry scalp, itchy scalp, dandruff and so on…

It prevents premature greying.
It removes head lice.
It reduces inflammation of the scalp and infection.

Heat Neem oil. Massage the scalp with the warm oil, wash after an hour. Apply Neem oil twice a week. If you want you can mix it with any of your favorite carrier oils (olive, almond, coconut,  jojoba etc.)

The smell of Neem oil is disgusting, still tolerate it and imagine the lustrous hair which you will get soon

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Neem paste is the another alternative for hair. Get some fresh Neem leaves, make a smooth paste, apply from root to tip of the hair. Shampoo after 1 hour. You can also use Neem powder, which you can get in departmental store or pharmacy. Make the powder into paste, apply, rinse the hair once the paste dries.
But using fresh Neem leaves is recommended.

Tomorrow we will continue with Neem flower, how to eat the leaves, dark eye circles removal, nail solutions, Neem tea and so on.
Till then try it. Take care…

Tulsi

Tulsi or holy Basil is a sacred plant in Hindu belief and today on Herbal Monday, let us know more about the holistic properties, use in Ayurvedic and Naturopathic medicines, Tulsi tea, Tulsi mala, Tulsi seeds, Tulsi oil and so on…

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Tulsi plant is regarded as the holiest of all plants. Traditionally, the daily worship and care of the plant is the responsibility of the women of the household. The plant is regarded as a women’s deity and a symbol of ideal wifehood and motherhood.

Tulsi is also known as Vaishnavi, Bishnu Vallabha or Haripriya.The Tulsi with green leaves is called Shri Tulsi (synonym of Lakshmi). The Tulsi with dark green or purple leaves and stem is called Shyama- Tulsi (synonym of Krishna).

Let’s start with the benefits of tulsi.

1. Fever –
The juice of Tulsi leaves are beneficial to cure fever.

2. Headache –
Make paste of Tulsi leaves and Sandalwood and apply on forehead. It gives instant relief.

3. Eye problem –
Few drops of black Tulsi juice in eyes is a wonder medicine according to ayurveda.

4. Reduces stress –
Eat twelve leaves of Tulsi on a daily basis, leaves work as an ‘adaptogen’ or anti stress agent.

5. Insect bites-
Paste of root can be applied on insect bites.

6. Aid in digestion –
Works as appetizer, promotes digestion by helping secretion of digestive enzymes.

7. Controlling diabetes –
Keep Tulsi leave powder in water over night and take it early morning. It maintains insulin levels in the body.

8. Stomach problems-
Severe stomach problem like acidity and constipation can be cured by Tulsi leaves.

9. Common cold –
Chewing Tulsi leaves in an empty stomach will help you get rid of cold.

10. Sore throat –
Boil few Tulsi leaves and use it for gargling, also helpful in asthama and bronchitis.

11. Dental problem –
Mix dried leaves of Tulsi powder and mustard oil.  Make a paste, massage your teeth and gum, it will prevent bad breath and pyorrhea.

12. Aids to weight loss –
Tulsi taken with home made fresh curd helps in reducing excess weight.

13. Anti cancer-
Tulsi restricts the blood vessels that feed tumor.

14. Skin disorder –
Juice of Tulsi can also be used to cure problems like leucoderma.

15. Kidney stones –
Mixture of Tulsi leaves and honey will help to remove kidney stones.

16. Helpful in quitting smoking –
Chain smokers can try chewing Tulsi leaves to get rid of their addiction.

Tulsi oil

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Tulsi oil is simple to make but its benefits are unlimited.
— Prevention of hair loss.
— Treats dandruff and dry scalp.
— Strengthens the hair.
— Treatment of grey hair.
— Rejuvenate hair follicles.

Take 1/2 cup of tulsi leaves and make a paste. Heat 1/2 cup coconut oil, add the paste in it, along with some fenugreek seeds. Cool it and apply. You will see the difference within few days.

Tulsi Mala

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Tulsi mala is worn by many people, and the logic they say behind it is, it keeps mind very calm and peaceful. It prevents mind from negetive effects due to its divine properties.

Tommorow we will carry on with Tulsi Tea, Tulsi seeds, Tulsi vivah and benefits for skin. Before I wind up today, tell me, have you ever wondered why tulsi leaves are traditionally put in the mouth of a dying person????
It is said to guide the departed soul towards heaven. But in truth, perhaps Tulsi’s anti bacterial properties were needed to prevent the body from decaying too early.
Give a thought to this interesting fact. Meanwhile, so long, take care…

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Turmeric

Turmeric (haldi), the most granted spice in curry, often referred as the ‘queen of spices’, traditionally known as Indian saffron, rich in medicinal values, known for its golden colour, peppery, warm, bitter taste and mild flavor, is the idol of my Herbal Monday.

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Turmeric is native to Indonesia and Southern India. It is an excellent source of both iron and manganese, also a good source of Vitamin B6, dietary fibre and potassium.

Curcumin is the primary pharmacological  agent in turmeric and it does not produce toxicity. Before turmeric is used, the turmeric rhizomes are processed. They are boiled, then dried in sun and when it is sufficiently dry, it is powered.

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Beside the uses and benefits, I mainly want to dig into the method of eating it raw and also the method and benefits of turmeric milk.

Benefits:
1. It improves liver function.
2. A potent yet safe anti- inflammatory.
3. A powerful blood purifier.
4. It improves digestion.
5. It heals wounds.
6 . Perfect weight manager.
7. Efficient treatement for bowel diseases.
8. It provides relief from rheumatoid arthritis.
9. It lowers cholesterol.
10. It protects against Alzheimer.
11. It controls diabetes.
12. It prevents cancer.
13. It helps cystic fibrosis sufferer.
14. It reduces risk of childhood leukemia.
15. It provides cardiovascular protection.
16. It is immunity booster.

Erode, a city in Tamil Nadu, is the world’s largest producer of and the most important trading center for turmeric. It is also known as Yellow City, Turmeric City or Textile City.

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Now how to eat the turmeric raw! Take fresh turmeric root, peel away the dry outer layer. Grate the turmeric, mix with your salad or it can be taken directly. My dadi use to make small balls of it and used to ask us to swallow, so that it doesn’t stain our teeth. It is generally considered  safe to take doses of between 1.5 to 3 grams daily.
There are endless uses of turmeric but taking it raw is the best thing you can do for long term health.

Turmeric Milk

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Just mixing it with milk and drinking it is not enough, other spices also plays an important role to enhance its benefits.
It is a traditional Ayurvedic drink to boost our health and vitality. Usually taken at night to promote sleep and heal an array of ailment like sore throat, common cold, headache, arthritis, body pain etc.

You need:
1glass low fat milk
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1 small cinnamon stick
4-5 seeds from cardomom pod
1/2 tsp virgin coconut oil
1tsp honey

Boil the milk adding all the ingredients except honey. Strain it and sweeten it with honey.
Drink it daily at night before going to bed.

Now let us see how the ingredients are helping us–
— Benefits of turmeric comes from its key components, curcumin.
— Black pepper contains piperine, a component that helps the body absorb Curcumin better.
— Cinnamon helps control blood sugar, reduces bad cholesterol and improves blood circulation.
— Cardamon improves digestion, aids detoxification and beats bad breath.
— Virgin coconut adds to the immune boosting and cholesterol lowering benefits.
— Honey has its healing and antiseptic, antibacterial properties.

Besides this, turmeric paste is applied to the skin of the bride and groom before marriage in many parts of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The benefits of it and Turmeric face mask , we will discuss tomorrow.  Till then take care…

Aloe Vera

This Herbal Monday let’s talk about a miracle plant, which is a treasure trove of health and beauty benefits. Ancient Egyptians called it the plant of immorality.

Aloe Vera, belongs to Lily family, comprises of more than 75 effective components, which includes the 20 amino acids and 8 essential amino acid indispensable for the human body. Substances in Aloe vera such as salicylic acid, saponins and sterols provide its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Now the point is, why are we discussing Aloe Vera? Besides the benefits, uses and composition, which we will discuss now, the main aim of today’s topic is, how to use a potted Aloe vera for our skin, hair and how to make a Exotic mocktail out of it.

So let’s start with its benefits, when used in form of capsules, gel or syrup.

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Benefits for health:
1. Eases inflammation.
2. Boosts nourishment.
3. Promotes digestive health.
4. Cures radiation burns.
5. Improves circulatory health.
6. Regulates Blood pressure.
7. Prevents Heart attack and stroke.
8. Manage diabetes.
9. Support dental health.
10. Prevents cholesterol  and triglycerides.
11. Protects renal health.
12. Provides First-aid solutions.
13. Eases heartburn and acid reflux.
14. Heals external wounds and insect bites.

Benefits for beauty:
1. Enhances skin health.
2. Take care of acne.
3. Erases wrinkles.
4. Improves complexion.
5. Provides moisturiser.
6. Avoids pigmentation.
7. Erases stretch marks.
8. Perfect antiaging.
9. Strengthens nails.
10. Promotes hair growth.
11. Reduces dandruff and conditions hairs.
12. Helps in sunburns.

And you know, what is there in Aloe vera gel?
Well…
— water
— 20 minerals
— 18 amino acids and
— 200 activeplant components (phytonutrients).
Interesting isn’t it??

Now let us see, how we can take out the gel. For that, cut a leaf, take out a piece, cut both the sides (thorny), peel the green top and scoop out the gel. Store the gel in a container. It will stay well in freezer for 5 days.

So now let us see the miracle of the miracle plant.
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ANTI- AGEING MASK

1tsp Aloevera gel
1/2tsp olive oil
1tsp instant oatmeal

Mix all, apply on face. Keep for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water.
As you age, skin tends to get drier and loses its elasticity. This mask prevents premature signs of ageing.

MOISTURISING MASK

1tsp Aloevera gel
1tsp honey

Mix both. Apply on face. Keep it for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water.
This mask helps in sun burn and also retain the moisture in the face.

MAKE UP REMOVER

Take out Aloevera  gel, soak in cotton ball, swipe away the make up. It also provides a great compress for tired, puffy eyes.

FACE WASH

1tbsp Aloevera gel
1tbsp almond milk
1tbsp lemon

Mix all. Apply on face. Keep for few minutes. Then rinse it off.

EXFOLIATOR SCRUB

2tbsp Aloevera gel
2 tbsp sugar

Mix both. Then rub on your elbow, heels, arms or wherever needs softening. Rinse it off after 5 minutes.

HAIR TONIC

2tbsp Aloevera gel
1tbsp castor oil or olive oil

Mix, apply and keep it overnight. Rinse with a gentle shampoo next day.
It promotes luscious locks, acts as conditioner, moisturises the hair and prevents dandruff.

SKIN SOOTHNER

Grap an ice tray, fill with aloe vera gel and freeze it. Take out an Aloevera  ice cube, rub it gently on your face, heaven…
Your face will shine and glow. Get ready to drench in the shower of compliments.

All the seven things we discussed, right now… antiaging mask, moisturising mask, makeup remover, face wash, exfoliator scrub, hair tonic and skin soother are not feminine stuff, rather its unisex.
Exotic Aloe vera mocktail, I will cover under Foodie Saturday. So stay connected and let me know about your rendezvous with Aloe vera.

Ber Chutneys and Ber Pickles

This Herbal Monday, lets continue with  Ber (Jujube ), the chestful of goodness.
Hope you have tried the juice, now let us make chutneys and pickles out of it.
Jujube extracts are also used to manufacture skin care products to reduce wrinkles, dryness, redness, swelling and for relief from sunburn.

Let’s start with chutneys.

First one is, Bong style of chutney known as Kul’er’ chutney.  Ofcourse learned it from Ma, she makes both the version,
from dried ber as well as fresh ber. Both way it’s very delicious. Kul means ber.

Kul’er’ Chutney

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Ingredients:
1 bowl of Ber (fresh or dried)
5-6 Dates
2-3 Tomatoes
10-15 Eaisins
1 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp panch phoron
2 dried red chilli
1/4 spoon Amchur(Dry Mango) powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp oil

Method:
De-stone the kul (ber) and cut in small pieces.
Heat sauspan, add oil, temper with panch phoron and dry chilli.
Then add kul (ber) , dates, raisins and tomatoes.
Then add sugar and little water along with anchur powder and salt.
Let it simmer slowly for 10-15 minutes till all ingredients  turn mushy.
I add a pinch of chilli powder also, to balance the taste.
Cool it, try it, it’s  yummy.

This panch phoron is a mix of 5 ingredients,  rai/mustard, kalaunji/onion seeds, sauf/fennel seeds, jeera/cumin seeds, and methi/fenugreek, in equal proportion.

Ber Chutney

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Ingredients :
10 Ber
2 green chilli
1 fistful pudina
2tbsp lemon juice
5-6 cashew nut
1/2 tsp roasted jeera
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Method:
Grind all in blender.
Serve it as a dip with any snack.
It tastes so good.

Anything made out of ber, chutney or pickle, is very delicious. De-stoning the ber is bit tidious.

Kul’er’ Achaar

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This bong style kul’er’ Achaar stays for more than a year (Ofcourse if you don’t  finish it off☺)

Ingredients :
250 gms kul (ber)
1tsp turmeric powder
5 tsp panch phoron powder (roasted)
3-4 dry red chilli
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 cup jaggery
4-5 tsp mustard oil
1/2 tsp salt

Method :
De-seed the ber and sun dry it for 4- 5 days.
Dry roast red chilli and cumin seeds. Grind it.
Dry roast the panch poron and grind it.
Heat oil, add jaggery, sprinkle few spoon of water.
Add red chilli- cumin powder.
Then add the ber.
Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add salt and turmeric  powder.
Switch off the gas and add panch poron powder  at the end.
Cool it, and bottle it.

Ber Pickle

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This one is an instant  pickle, no cooking is required.
Very easy to make and very tasty too.

Ingredients:
1/2 kg ber
1tsp black salt
2tsp black pepper (kali mirch)
5 tsp grated jaggery
1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste.

Method :
De-seed ber, add all the ingredients,  and keep in sun for a week. Simple and ready ☺☺

Try all the 4 recipes, let me know whether  you liked it or not.
Before I wind up let me add, the ber leaves are also used as a potpourri to keep homes smelling fresh and good.
Happy Monday!!

Shabri Ke Ber

Let us unwind this Herbal Monday with a fact that there were 53 Mondays in the year 2012. The next time this will happen will be in 2018.

Okay facts apart, today, let us enter the magical world of Ber, that is Jujube Berry. It is also known as Zizyphus.

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In mythology, this was the very same famous fruit which Shabari, an old lady, served Lord Shri Ram in Ramayana, when he arrived at her hut. The old lady was so full of devotion while serving Shri Ram that she tasted every single Jujube fruit, to ensure that it’s aptly ripened, before serving it to Lord Ram. The Lord, being compassionate towards his devotee accepted those fruits with love.

There is a funny analogy which says that a household with marriagable daughters will as surely attract suitors, as a fruit laden Ber tree will attract stones from children, in attempt to knock the fruits off the tree.

Let me add one more. In Pakistan, Bers are also used as metaphors. They say that if you have an unresolved quarrel with a relative or a close friend, you should go over and immediately talk it out coz relationships aren’t Bers. You see, if we leave alone the person with whom we have quarreled, the rift just widens between us. On the other hand, if a Ber falls apart from the tree and onto the ground, instead of getting damaged, the fruit just gets better! If we smooth things over after a quarrel the relationship too gets better like a fallen Ber.

Let these berry interesting tales lead us to look at its another avatar, that is its medicinal values!
The fruit has been used in traditional  medicines as an emollient, expectorant, coolant, anodyne and tonic.

Benefits:
1. Calms the nervous system.
2. It is a good source of vitamin C, potassium,  B-complex, riboflavin, thiamin and pectin.
3. It is free from cholesterol and has negligible level of sodium.
4. It has immunostimulant, antioxidant and wound healing properties.
5. Some of the triterpenoic acids isolated from the fruit are also believed to be useful in fighting cancer and HIV.
6. It aids in controlling body weight.
7. It enpowers the digestive system.
8. It promotes healthy teeth, muscles and bones.
9. It gives healthy and younger skin.
10. It relieves abdominal pain.
11. It fights Alzheimer.
12. It is a real powerhouse of energy.

This Ber is not just a fruit, it is a full fledged medical shop!😊😊

I remember that my Dadi used to make a paste of Ber leaves and apply on our foreheads, when we kids had fever.
It is said that the paste made out of leaves of Ber should be applied externally to relieve burning sensation and fever. It helps to bring down the body temperature.

Apart from Ber pickle, I will also discuss how we can use the dried Ber, after the blooming season is over.

BER JUICE

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Deseed the Ber.
Dry it in Sun till it is thoroughly dried.
Store in a dry container.
Take a handful of dried Ber and boil it in 1litre of water.
Boil till the water is reduced to half.
Cool it, strain it.
Serve it chilled.
Can add sugar/honey in it.
Can add few drops of lemon juice.
Can add few cloves.

This is going to refresh you and it is a long lasting power-packed body-coolant.
Best ever summer drink you can think of!
Consumption of this juice increases energy, builds up stamina, heals injuries quickly and lowers pain.

Next Monday, we will continue with Dried Ber Chutney and Ber Pickles.

So what are you waiting for? Start relishing this amazing fruit to enjoy the blissful benefits.