Chukku Vellam –Kerala’s Rosy Tonic
If you travel to beautiful Kerala, India, chances are you will see an elephant walking down the road. Another thing you will likely see is a glass of a pink beverage placed in front of you in the restaurants. Since you are probably already familiar with elephants, I am going to talk about the latter in today’s blog!
Chukku vellam, also known as Karingali, and Dahashamani, is basically water that has been boiled with a blend of Ayurvedic herbs with medicinal properties.
I remember gingerly raising the glass to my lips the first time I tried it, wanting to please my in-laws-to-be, but remembering the warnings in all the travel books – “Whatever you do, don’t drink the water!” But this water is boiled, and on top of that, many of the herbs have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, and can actually protect against water-borne diseases. Sure enough, I had no adverse reaction to the water, and in fact liked the subtle spice flavors so much as to make Chukku vellam the first thing I ask for when I sit down at a restaurant there. (Of course I must insert a disclaimer here – I am writing from my experience, and am not qualified to say if it is safe for everyone.)
Chukku vellam, which literally means “dry ginger water,” can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature. The name is a little deceiving because ginger is usually just one of many in the herbal combination. Some of the other herbs commonly used are Karingali (acacia), sapanwood, sandalwood, cloves, cardamom, and coriander, all of which have healing and preventative ayurvedic properties.
Curious to try it? If you’re not in India it is very hard to find the herb packets with which to make this at home. However, you can easily make Jeera water, which is also tasty and good for you, simply by boiling some water with cumin seeds, then straining out the seeds. Instead of pink water, the cumin gives the water yellow hue. Give it a taste and share your thoughts!