Grandma’s Recipes

Grandmas are store houses of wisdom and reassurance. Their tips are time-tested gentle and easy to follow.  In this series on home herbs,  Dr T V Sairam brings useful information on the applicable properties of medicinal plants.

Caution:  Any plant substance, whether used as food or medicine, externally or internally can cause allergic reaction in some people. It is advised not to try self-diagnostic or attempt self-treatment without consulting a medical professional or qualified practitioner.


Many Indian households grow the tulsi or basil plant as a traditional practice. Apart from being worshiped, it is also used in a variety of grandma’s cures. Tulsi: A Profile Latin Name: Ocium tenuiflorum Linn (Ocimum sanctum Linn) Regional Names: Tulsi, Kali tulsi, Krishna tulsi, Siva tulsi, etc . Family Appearance: Erect, aromatic, hairy subshrub […]

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Do you know that there are over twenty million air-purifiers installed in South Asia which belch out massive oxygen, gobbling up carbon-dioxide? Yes, the government of Nature has entrusted this job of oxygenation to all greens, particularly to those trees popularly called ‘neem’ . Apart from air-purification, neem performs a number of tasks which alleviate

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Attention please! A foreigner has been hiding in your kitchen! Yes, Fenugreek, known as methi in Hindi, is not a plant indigenous to the Indian soil. Originating in Eastern Europe, methi has merged with our cuisine and has become almost inseparable from our kitchen. Well over 20,000 tons of fenugreek are produced in India, of



The Therapeutic Turmeric – It there is an answer to India’s tropical weather and bacteria it is turmeric. Turmeric, more popularly known as haldi, is a colourant and an inseparable part of the Indian cuisine. Almost any Indian dish has a dash of turmeric, adding a therapeutic touch to it. As parts of India are

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Garlic is known as lasoon in India and has been held in high esteem for its medicinal uses for at least 6000 years. Khnoom Khoufouf, the builder of one of the ancient Egyptian pyramids (4500 BC), decreed that all his workers should take garlic every day to maintain their health and strength. It is known

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Ginger is known as a universal medicine (Vishwa bhesaj). It is a tonic for the heart. It is quite effective in arthritic conditions, relieves gas, cramps in the abdomen and menstrual cramps. Its paste is good for headaches and pain. Ginger: A Profile Botanical Name: Zingiber Officinale Roc Indian Names: Adrak, Sonth, lnji, Chukku, Andrakam,

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From time immemorial, cloves have occupied a pride of place as an important ingredient in the Indian cuisine and medicine. In the distant past, it has been the main export item from the shores of the Tamils. Mainly, the flower buds and essential oils extracted there from find use as antiseptic, antispasmodic, anodyne, carminative and

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A Profile Latin Name:  Murraya koenigii Indian Names: Karipatta, Metha Neem, Kariveppilai, Gandhela, Kadhi Neem,etc . Family: Rutaceae Appearance: A large shrub or a small tree. Distribution: Widely cultivated in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra  and North India for its leaves which are used for flavouring curries. Grows wildly in Indian forests. Curry Leaves: How to use



One man’s poison is another man’s meat. The poppy plant that is the cause of spreading the use of drugs all around the world, through its alkaloids and derivatives like morphine and heroin, also gifts precious poppy seeds to our cuisine. The white poppy seeds are so small that a thousand of them would hardly

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Saffron, known to the Chinese since ancient times, is widely used by indigenous medical practitioners. Compared to the Ayurvedic system, the Tibbi system uses it more. Hippocrates and other ancient authors have written about saffron in their treatises. Although quite expensive, it is used to counteract spasmodic disorders and in the treatment of several digestive

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Zeylanicum, the botanical name of this plant, refers to the land of its origin, Sri Lanka. However, it had reached as far as ancient Egypt by the fifth century B.C., thereby standing testimony to the age-old trade relations that existed between these two ancient civilisations. Cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf form the Three Great Aromatics

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The Gem of a Gum Although dirty brown in colour, its flavour elevates the spirit of Indian cuisine, making it an out of the world experience. As it expels wind from the stomach, it is the main ingredient in Ayurvedic digestive powders (churan). In certain parts of India, the entire plant is used as fresh



The fig tree which traces its origin to the distant lands of Arabia has enriched Indian households. The dried fruits are highly nutritive. They help in increasing red blood corpuscles. They cool down the human machine and stop nasal bleeding due to heat. They are also diuretic. Figs –  A Profile Latin Name: Ficus carica

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There is a common misconception that vegetarian food lacks protein. Almond defeats such myths as it contains as much as 20% protein, which cannot be found even in meat. The quality of its protein is such that it is much more easily digestible than any animal protein. For ancient Greeks, almond was a symbol of

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Charaka, Sushruta, Galen, Dioscorides – just to mention a few names – all ancient physicians had recognised ajwain’s use as a carminative medicine. There are two varieties of Ajwain: one with longer seeds and the other with small ones. The latter is preferred as a medicine. Ajwain has been traditionally used for the treatment of

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Liquorice has been known for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Its root is used both in Western and Oriental medicines. In ancient Western medicine, liquorice has been used as an expectorant, antitussive agent and as an additive for sweetening. For the Chinese, it is a drug for strengthening muscle and bone and curing



The name, West Indian Turkey Berry (WITB) may appear as complicated as any South Indian name like Thiruvidai maruthur Sreenivasaraghavan Venkatakrishnan. But this herb is a commonly available simple remedy in South Indian households. The dried berries and roots are highly medicinal. The berries are often stored in the kitchen for the preparation of vattal



A native of the Mediterranean region, although used chiefly as condiment or spice, it is equally well-known for its carminative and cooling properties. Both the leaves of coriander and its seeds are used for cooking as well as in medicine. Coriander seeds are often dried and stored when ripe. The seeds cool down the entire