Amla, Amlaki or Indian Gooseberry come in the season when winter is just about to start and we keep getting amla throughout the winter season. My grandmother used to call Amla as sacred fruit and as a blessing for winters. If one eats one amla everyday one wouldn't get sick ever she used to say and it is so true. Amla is a great immunity booster thanks to very high levels of Vitamin C in it. Read about more health benefits of Amla along with my grandmother's recipe of amle ki chutney.
It was because my Dadi (grandmother) that we got to know that there is a tradition of worshiping amla tree on the day of Amlaki Ekadashi as Lord Vishnu is considered to reside in it. I find it a beautiful philosophy to equate a tree to a God and worship it.
Most medicinal plants are worshiped in some form or the other in India, the traditions are prehistoric and might have tribal origins, but I find these traditions and rituals really beautiful. Just like ritualistic worship of Gods has preserved temples as the only surviving historical monuments, I believe the useful plants have also survived due to some or the other sacred ritual linked with them.
So there used to be a pooja and picnic under the amla tree in Banaras and the practice still survives as I am told by friends there. I remember there is a dedicated orchard of amla trees in Sampoornanand Sanskrit University where a community picnic happens every Amalaki Ekadashi. I have been to it once and it was really good. This day of Amlaki Ekadashi is also known as Aonra tar (below the amla tree) in Banaras and Eastern UP. Aonra is the name of amla in local dialect. ISCON devotees also worship amla this way.
Imagine how well our grandmothers were connected to nature and treated food as sacred. I remember about 10 kilos or more amle ka murabba being made in our home every year and it was a preferred way of eating amla during summer months as it is considered cooling. A great way to enjoy amla in the off season. Till a couple of years back I used to cook my grandmother's recipe of Chyawanprash too. May be I'll do that again with home grown ginger and long pepper, other herbs will be store bought of course.
Make this simple amle ka achar till then. This amle ka achar is a quick pickle that stays for a month in refrigerator, there is lesser salt than the regular pickles where more amount of salt preserves the pickles. Lesser amount of salt in this pickle helps eat more of it in one meal and have more benefits of amla in one dose.
20 large amlas
20 large (Bhavnagri or Anaheim or Jalapeno chillies)
to make a paste with 3 tbsp water ...
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1.5 tbsp Kashmiri red chilly powder (this is very mild hot)
1 tsp fenugreek powder
1 tsp fennel powder
pinch of hing (asafotida)
1 tbsp salt
to temper the pickle...
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
Boil (pressure cook) the amlas with a cup of water till their segments get separated like this.
Chop the chillies in bite sized pieces or whatever size you like.
Make a slurry of the ingredients listed for a paste, adding a little more water if required.
Heat the mustard oil and add the nigella seeds and wait till they get aromatic, taking care not to burn them. Bring the gas flame to minimum.
Pour the spice paste slowly and stir. Let it cook till the oil separates.
Add the chillies and the separated segments of amla (discard the seeds), take the pan off the stove and mix well to coat.
Fill in a sterilised jar. This pickle is ready to eat in a couple of hours and can be refrigerated for a month or so.
One can always make amla pickle just like aam ka achar but do not boil the amla for that. Just chop it with a sharp knife, discard the seeds and follow the aam ka achar recipe. That amla pickle will last the whole year without refrigeration.
Any of these pickles will the right choice for your family if you eat Indian food mostly. The same procedure can be followed to make green chilly pickle as well if you like hari mirch ka achar. This amla aur hari mirch ka achar is really good with roti, paratha or daal chawal meals. Let me know if you find this recipe useful and easy to follow.