Every Diwali many people in TamilNadu make the Deepavali “Marundu”. Marundu in Tamil means medicine. This is made during Diwali and eaten right in the morning before eating anything else as it helps in digestion and has several medicinal herbs that help ward off many diseases. If we pay close attention to our traditional festival food, we will realise that everything had some medicinal value besides just tasting good. The food also took into consideration the local weather conditions and ingredients that were available during that season.
Its a very different philosophy and approach to food, unlike the way we deal with food today. Most people buy sweets and savouries from sweet shops rather than making them at home. The prime concern is “taste” – and all types of food is eaten at all times. Even fruits and vegetables are not spared, they are frozen and made available right through the year, regardless of whether they retain their nutritional value and taste. Seasonal fruits are seasonal because the human body needs those particular nutrients to deal with that season. Easier example – you want to drink hot ginger tea in winters, but don’t feel the urge in summers. Thats how nature is designed, it puts out the food that is needed for that season.
Am not even going into the mindless way we eat – heap the plate, plonk ourselves in front of the idiot box, keep shovelling food even after the body burps itself back from hell because its overloaded, wash everything down with some sweetened “cola” that your favourite movie star peddles and take a nap. Wake up and check our weight and start yelling…. go on the latest fad diet and end up fatter than before. Blame Diwali sweets, ghee and Indian fried food :):):). Yes, even Indian food fried in “bloody” expensive Olive oil while there are local inexpensive oils available that have similar or more nutritional value, but no “oomph” value.
So let me get back to my Deepavali “marundu” after meandering all over the place. Here’s the list of ingredients. Wherever I could find the English or Hindi names I have used them. Just go to a local store selling medicinal herbs and they will know what these are.
Chukku (Saunth, Dried ginger); Yelakkai (Elaichi, Cardamom); Lavangam(Cloves); Almonds (Badam) – 100 gms each
Rice Thippili; Kandan Thippili (Dried Long Pepper) ; Narukumoolam; Jaadipatri (Mace); Val Milage (Cubeb); Omam (carom seeds); – 50 gms each;
Jaadikai (Nutmeg) – 2 pieces;
Dry roast all the above without charring them. Grind them into a fine powder, keep sieving till nothing is left as coarse grains. All of them can be ground together. Remove the cardamom shells.
Juice fresh ginger till you have half a kilo of thick ginger juice. I used the cold press juicer and the ginger juice is really thick and without water in these juicers. Mix about 200 grams of the above spice mix to the ginger juice. Add 1.5 kilos of jaggery to the ginger juice+spice powder and start heating it. You can add ghee in the beginning or once the mix thickens a bit. Keep stirring it on low flame till it reaches the consistency of a thick cake batter – something that can be poured with a little difficulty. Add more ghee and let it cool. Put it into a glass or steel jar and this will keep for a year if you added a good quantity of ghee (150 to 200 gms) otherwise it will spoil. You can leave it outside and not refrigerate. Just don’t let moisture get in and don’t put a spoon that is wet into this “marundu”. Eat a small dollop, the size of a playing marble everyday in the morning and digestion is guaranteed. It tastes like spicy halwa.