Oil bath is almost a forgotten weekly routine followed by every South Indian family until 3 or 4 decades ago. Surprisingly it offers pretty much the same benefits of Ayurvedic massage. But people nowadays prefer to visit Ayurvedic clinic for massaging therapy, and spend a few hours & a few bucks there. Most of us take oil bath at home only as a religious ritual on the day of Deepavali festival every year.
Oil bath traditions in our family:
Earlier my grandfather was so particular that we all should take oil bath every Saturday or Sunday. After taking oil bath in the morning we were served classic uluntham paruppu kanji (blackgram porridge) for breakfast, and meals with poondu kulambu (garlic curry) for lunch. Afterwards we usually take a good nap and wake up with renewed energy in the evening.
As children we were hostile to the idea of applying tepid sesame oil all over the body, leaving it at that for about half an hour, using herbal bath powders that redden our eyes, and drinking bland milky porridge for breakfast. Later we realized the following only after reaping the benefits of this amazing tradition: Oil bath rejuvenates the body & mind and acts as a stress buster; herbal bath powders are the safest cleansers & scrubs; and classic porridge soothes the entire digestive system. Nevertheless we don’t take oil bath regularly but we take oil bath as and when required particularly during summer.
Classic Blackgram Porridge (Ulundhu Kanji):
Classic south Indian porridge is normally prepared by using blackgram lentils as the main ingredient and also by adding ample pods of garlic & a small piece of dried ginger. This porridge is usually mixed with copious amounts of cow’s milk and served with cane jaggery bar (achchu vellam) and/or curry leaves chutney (kariveppilai thuvaiyal).
For children who refuse to take bland porridge we can make it sweet & creamy by pouring palm jaggery (or cane jaggery) syrup & coconut milk into the porridge and enhance the flavor by adding cardamom powder.
Generally it is recommended to take classic porridge for 3 consecutive days from the day we take oil bath as it is useful to increase the stamina, alleviate mouth ulcers & stomach ulcers, ease the digestion and reduce the excessive body heat. I would like to leisurely sip this porridge after taking oil bath to combat the scorching heat waves during summer. Needless to say that we can take the same porridge even after undergoing an Ayurvedic massage therapy.
Now you can find the recipes for milky blackgram porridge (ulundham paruppu kanji), sweet porridge (karupatti ulundhu kanji) and also for curry leaves chutney (kariveppilai thuvaiyal) posted in the next page.