Chukku malli kaapi is a classic South Indian digestive elixir prepared using dried ginger & other spices, herbs and palm jaggery. Siddha and Ayurveda recommend to take fresh ginger in an empty stomach in the morning & dried ginger later in the night for the improved digestion. So we usually take fresh ginger juice or ginger jam (lehium) before breakfast & dried ginger classic elixir after dinner. Besides, we can serve the same elixir as a home remedy for common cough, cold & sore throat after infusing it with appropriate medicinal herbs & spices.
Chukku malli kaapi for infants:
Traditionally this elixir has been even fed to the babies every fortnight as it prevents regurgitation of milk. I remember my grandmother forcibly feeding chukku kashayam to my cousins when they were babies using an age-old infant feeding spoon, paladai. Paaladi also known as sangu (meaning conch shell), and got this name for the shape similar to a conch shell. Paladai is useful to feed bitter or spicy medicinal potion to infants as babies can not bear its sharp peppery or bitter flavor. When the potion is fed with sangu, the babies would gulp the liquid down instantly and they can’t spit this out. But for toddlers or kids we can use a spoon instead.
Chukku malli kaapi for adults:
My grandma used to say “virundhum marunthum moondru naal”, meaning whether you are enjoying a feast or taking a medicine, it should be limited to 3 days only. So we take this medicinal usually for 3 consecutive days or until we can notice a significant improvement. But there are people who are addicted to this elixir. They can not fall asleep if they don’t drink chukku kaapi.
When I got married I was surprised to see the relatives & friends of my parents-in-law turning up without notice and was amazed by mother-in-law’s hospitality. She used to keep serving food to all of us every 2-3 hours till 9 pm (of course she had a cook to assist with). Everyday her last preparation in the kitchen would be a spiced elixir, and she served it with milk specially to her grandchildren. We were all playing cards or carrom with renewed energy while sipping chukku-malli kaapi late in the night. This recipe reminds me of those beautiful moments when we rendezvoused with my extended family.
Recipe for chukku-malli kaapi :
Time taken: 15-20 min
Yields : 500 ml
Serving: 100 to 150 ml for adults, 15 ml for infants
- Dried ginger – 1″ piece
- Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
- Peppercorns – ½ tsp
- Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Palm jaggery (or palm sugar) – as required
- Water – 1 Litre
How to prepare chukku malli kaapi:
- Grind dried ginger, coriander & pepper into a coarse powder.
- Toast cumin seeds in a hot pan until the aroma is released.
- Add spice powder, roasted cumin, turmeric powder & water into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.
- Add palm jaggery while boiling.
- When jaggery is dissolved into the solution, simmer until it is reduced to half.
- Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh.
- Serve warm with or without milk.
Tips & Tweaks:
- Chukku malli kaapi for digestion: We can prepare chukku malli kaapi by adding betel leaves (paan leaves) while boiling the elixir and take this for improved digestion mainly after a heavy meal in the night. But adding too many leaves (or a finely chopped leaf) leads to strong unpleasant flavor, so one whole betel leaf is sufficient for every litre of water (not decoction).
- Chukku malli kaapi for treating common cold: We can add a few tulsi (holy basil leaves) and/or thoothuvalai (Solanum trilobatum) leaves.
- You may replace palm jaggery with any available sweetener, if you are using honey, you can mix honey before serving when lukewarm.
- Pepper & turmeric is a remarkable pair that it is not advisable to leave either of them.
- It is not recommended to prepare chukku malli kaapi powder in large quantities and store them for later use. We can prepare this powder such that it can be used within 3 or 5 consecutive days but you can refrigerate the elixir up to 1 week.