Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sutkeri ko Ausedhi or Masalaa - सुत्केरी को औसधि - सुत्केरी को मसला

Delicious ground nuts, seeds, dried fruits and edible- gum-based medicinal sweet confectionery prepared especially for lactating mothers

Enjoy the sample of sutkeri ko ausadhi and have a complete Nepali experience!
Dear reader of Taste of Nepal blog -  I would like to thank you for your interest in my blog and hope you will enjoy the new topic of this month: Sutkeri ko Ausadhi (सुत्केरी को औषधि)

 Sutkeri ko Ausedhi  is a nutritious, delicious, and sweet medicinal confectionery that has been prepared in Nepal for centuries. "Sutkeri" is a Nepali term used to describe a mother after giving birth to a baby.   The "ausedhi" refers to specially prepared medicine.  According to ancient customs, new mothers are given the sutkeri ko ausedhi along with other nutritious foods after child birth. It is ultimate health supplement to recover from postpartum healing, to boost energy and to encourage milk supply to a lactating mother.

Sutkeri ko Ausedhi is also known as Sutkeri Masalaa (सुत्केरी मसला), Mishri Paakh (मिश्री पाख), Battissa ko Paakh (बत्तिसा को पाख).  In Newari, it is known as Pokhuna washaw ( aushadhi) पोखुना वासा औषधि Phaku Bansa Pakh (फकु बंसा पाख), Pokhuna Jwala (पोखुना ज्वाला), Mishri Pakh Jwala (मिश्री पाख ज्वाला).

It is made by mixing several medicinal herbs and spices, clarified butter, edible gum, khuwaa (thickened and concentrated milk products), rock sugar, and largely dominated by ground nuts, seeds and dry fruits (almond, cashew, pistachio, coconut, dates, raisins etc).  Another important ingredients are Battisaa powder, Jesthalangwagi churna which is medicinal herbal plants mixture consisting of 32 different herbal plants in different proportions.  The mixture is cooked until it becomes a fudge-like consistency, somewhat a little chewy, rich and sweet.  The delicious and nutritious sutkeri ko ausedhi is typically eaten one to two tablespoons at a time, in the morning and evening along with warm milk.

The old traditions and ancient customs are a part of everyday life in Nepal. The pregnancy, child birth, and post-postpartum care is taken seriously and it is called "sutkeri ko syahaar- सुत्केरी को स्याहार" in Nepali. New mothers are not allowed to work or lift any heavy objects. They are relieved of all household responsibilities, and are encouraged to stay in-doors for at least 4-6 weeks to have complete rest and recovery. Furthermore, cultural beliefs dictate that a mother may not go out and be exposed to wind, cold air rain, which in Nepali is called "cheeso laglaa" (चीसो लाग्ला). This custom helps new mother heal and recover rapidly and restore health as they are nurtured, and cared for via nutritious foods.  Mostly, older family members or an experienced helper is assigned the task of taking care of new mother, to prepare foods and to take care of the newborn. The sutkeri and the baby is given warm mustard oil massage right after delivery to speed up postpartum healing. In some families, the mother and her newborn gets a full body massage two to three times a day.  Elder relatives are always reminding the new mothers by saying, "sutkeri maa syahaar ne gare, jeu bigrincha सुत्केरी मा स्याहार नगरे जीउ बिग्रिन्छ" - (translation - widely believed that if one does not take care of body during post-postpartum period it could lead to serious illness later in life. If nourishing food is not eaten, one can suffer from back pain, premature aging, joint pain, and digestive disorder.

In addition to complete rest, certain  postpartum diets are prepared using traditional recipes that is passed down from generations.  They include broth-soup made out of any variety of meat served with buttered rice (gheu haaleko ko bhaat re maasu ko ras) that helps to speed up recovery.   Another common and ultimate sutkeri food is ajowain soup (jwaano ko ras) is so beneficial to boost milk supplies, and known to soothe gas pain.  Some people even combine goat leg bone to the soup to make it more nutritious. Another popular meal is served right after delivery is gheu-chaaku-bhaat; chaaku is Nepali jaggery, gheu is pure clarified butter and bhaat is rice.  Other foods include simple, nourishing, comfort foods, and digestible foods with vital nutrients.  For instance, boiled milk with honey, lentil soups, fresh vegetables cooked with minimum spices, and fresh fruits are given.  Heavily spiced foods, chilies, caffeine, deep fried foods, sour foods and ice cold foods are avoided.

I have been asked by so many people about sutkeri ko ausadhi and how to make it. Some food memory of our childhood stay with us forever and sutkeri ko ausadhi is one that goes back to when my mother was giving birth to my younger siblings. I still remember as a young child tasting and enjoying the traditional postpartum diet of my mother after my younger siblings were born. According to the old custom the medicinal ausedhi is only given to new mothers after 22 days of delivery.  While growing up in Kathmandu, I can still remember the aroma of cooking the medicinal food in my grandmother's kitchen. Within a week of delivery, the older family members or experienced lactation team will come and gather together in the kitchen helping, cutting, grinding the different ingredients and gently cooking and stirring in a large, heavy-bottomed pan called karai. The ausedhi was ready when the clarified butter started to separate from the side of karai, becoming thick and brown would last for 2/3 months. To me it was a beautiful family affair and enjoyable cooking experience.

Here is the list of ingredients given to me from one of the most popular Baidya Ausedhi Pasal in  Kathmandu
Believe it or not, I have been wanting to write a blog about sutkeri ko ausedhi for quite a while. When my daughter gave birth to a baby, I was determined to figure out how to make this medicinal food – the authentic way! I started calling friends and family for their authentic recipes.  Many people were not sure about the proportions, the hand gesture of "alikiti" or a little bit more or less was not a proper guide. One of my cousin remembered her mother-in-law making the ausedhi by adding generous amount of soaked fenugreek seeds.  The soaked water is always discarded. She preferred not to grind the seeds as soaking process softened the spice.  One of my friends told me not to grind the dry nut into powder, instead just chop halfway for a better texture.  Some people use fennel seeds  sparingly. I found that each family had their own selection of ingredients, and own preferred method of cooking which has been passed down from their grandmothers, mothers and other family members.

I would like to thank my daughter's good friend, Rosy Aryal for calling her mother in Nepal to get the classic recipe. I am proud to say that Rosy has a passion for food, is a wonderful cook and simply loves to create traditional Nepali masterpiece from simple ingredients. I also like to add that she has a commitment to get anything she cooks right. Thank you again Rosy for being there one afternoon, when we attempted to make sutkeri ko ausedhi.  After several attempts we finally figured out a recipe that looks just as good as it tastes.

Sutkeri ko Masalaa (Major Ingredients)
Please note that the selection of ingredients and amounts varies from family to family, please adjust according to your taste
1 cup fenugreek seeds - (methi ko geda मेथी को गेडा)
1/2 cup ajowain seeds - (jwaano ज्वानो)
2 cups fennel seeds - (saunp or saunf सौंप सौन्फ़)
3 cups clarified butter - (gheu घीउ) or unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups edible gum - gum arabic - (goond गूंद)**
Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
1 cup Battisaa powder (बत्तिसा को धुलो) - powdered mixture of 32 variety of locally available medicinal plants**
1/2 cup Jesthalangwadi powder - (जेस्थालाबंगारी को धुलो) powdered mixture of medicinal and herbal plants**
7-8 cups of milk khuwaa - (खुवा) - (Khuwaa is milk cooked down to the consistency of soft cream cheese and basis of many Nepali sweets)**

** - these ingredients are available to purchase at Nepali, Indian and Asian stores
Nuts, seeds and dry fruits - lightly toasted and chopped
2 1/2 cups whole raw almonds (badaam बदाम)
1 cup raw pistachios - (pistachu पिस्ताचु)
1 cup raw cashews - (kaaju काजु)
1 cup pecans - (peekaan पीकान नट)
1 1/2 cups shelled walnut - (okkhar ओखर)
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips - (Nariwal नरिवल)
1 cup raisins (kishmiss or monakka - किशमिस, मुनक्का)
2 1/2 cups dry dates (chowara छोहरा)
Other spices
Seeds of 15 cardamom pods, finely ground (sukumel सुकुमेल
Seeds of 10 black cardamom pods, finely ground (alainchi अलैंची)
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder - (daalchini दालचिनी को धुलो)
1 teaspoon clove powder - (lwaang ल्वाङ्ग)
5 small whole nutmeg, finely ground - (jaiphal जाइफल)
1 cup pumpkins seeds - (pharsi ko beyaa फर्सी को बीयाँ)  (melon seeds, ash gourd seeds, pumpkin seeds),  1/2 cup for decorated topping
3 1/2  cups granulated sugar (or rock sugar or sugar crystal) - (mishri मिश्री)

Cooking Directions
1. In a medium-size saucepan, combine fenugreek, ajowain and fennel seeds and enough water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and continue cooking until the spices are soft, about 10 minutes or less.  Remove and drain, but save the water (to facilitate blending later).  When cooled, place the drained spice mixture in a food processor or blender and process adding up to 1/2 cup water to make a semi-thick puree.  You may want to do this in two batches if needed. Transfer the puree in a bowl and reserve.

2. Heat 1 cup clarified butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat and add the gum and fry until it puffs up stirring constantly. With a slotted spoon, transfer the gum to paper towels to drain and set aside.

3. In the same pan with the remaining hot butter, fry almonds, stirring constantly, until they start to get browned toasted through.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels.  Similarly, fry cashews, pistachios, walnut, pecan, coconut chips, dates and raisins, one by one until they are toasted through.  Remove immediately and drain.  Don't get it burned as they will continue to cook after being removed from the heat.

4. Chop the toasted nuts into small pieces or use food processor.  For the best texture, chop nuts by hand. Set aside.

5.  In a separate large saucepan, heat 2 cups clarified butter over medium-high heat and add Battisaa Powder and Jesthalangwadi powder and  stir until well mixed.   Mix in the ground fenugreek, ajowan and fennel paste and khuwaa, and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add toasted-chopped nuts mixture (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnut, pecan, coconut chips, dates raisins) and mix well. Add all ground spices (cardamon, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg) and pumpkins seeds and mix well. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the mixture has thickened and has reduced, about 25 minutes.  Add sugar and continue cooking, stirring, scraping the sides of the pan, until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the pan to create a thick solid mass and butter starts separating from the pan.

6.  Mix in edible fried gum and stir well.  Remove the sutkeri ko ausedhi from the heat and let it cool completely and transfer into a serving tray.  Sprinkle with the melon or pumpkin seeds and remaining fried gums.

I would like to thank, Mr. Manik Kazi Shakya from Baidya Ausidhi Pasal, Kilagad, Kathmandu for taking his time to list the most authentic major ingredients to prepare the medicinal ausedhi.

What is Battisa Powder?
It is a powdered mixture of 32 Ayurvedic herbs and spices. 
It contains locally available medicinal and herbal plants. The powder is added with other ingredients to make special kind of food suited for pregnant and lactating women. It is widely believed that it possesses beneficial or curative effects to the women who have health problems such as, excessive bleeding, pain in lower abdomen, miscarriage, etc.  It has been used not only as food but also as Ayurvedic medicine.  The amount of Battisa powder mixture - in sutkeri ko ausedhi production varies from family to family. 

Here is the list with Nepali name and English name of ingredients - Amalaa (gooseberry), Arjun (terminalia arjuna), Ashwogandha (winter celery), Baayubidanga (embelia), Barro (terminalia bellirica), Bel (Bengal quince), Bhringaraaj (trailing eclipta), Daalchinee (cinnamon), Gurjo (heart shaped moonseed), Gokhur (calthrops), Harro (chebulic myrobolon), Jethi madhu (licorice), Jira (cumin), Jwaanu (ajowan), Kaafal (bay berry), Kaauso (common cowitch), Kachur (east India arrowroot), Koiraalo (mountain ebony, bauhinia), Kurilo (wild asparagus), Majitho (madder), Marich (black pepper), Naagakeshar (iron wood tree), Naagarmoothe (cyperus scariosus), Paasaanved (rockfoil), Pipalaa (long pepper), Punarnavaa (spreading hog wood), Sataawar (wild asparagus), Shankhapuspee (butterfly pea), Simal (red cotton tree), Sutho (ginger), Tej pat (Indian cassia lignea), Thulo okhati (astilbe rivularis bush).  Source - Research paper Food Science, Nepal - Acharya, Kharel, Bhandari

Sutkeri ko Ausedhi for sale from Himalayan Herbal Collection Center - photo captured at Bhrikuti Mandap exhibition hall in Kathmandu, Nepal in one of the trade shows.

What is Jesthalangwadi?
It is another type of powder made by mixing of different medicinal and herbal plants used to prepare medicinal Sutkeri ko ausedhi.

Here is the list of medicinal and herbal plants in the preparation of Jesthalangwadi - Alainchi (black cardamom), Ashwogandhaa (winter cherry), Bhringaraj (trailing edipta), Chandan-shreekhanda (sandal wood), Jaifal, Jaaipatree (nutmeg), Jatamashi (spikenard), Thulo piplaa (Java pepper), Krishna Jirak (black Niger), Kush (sacrificial grass), Marich (black pepper), Mungrelo (black cumin), Nilo Kamal (blue water lily), Rukh Keshar (iron wood tree, bark, leaves, flower), Sukumel (green cardamom)
Source - Research paper Food Science, Nepal - Acharya, Kharel, Bhandari

Hungry for more? A simply delicious traditional sutkeri ko ausedhi from my kitchen!
Please share your experience about your family version of postpartum confectionery, "sutkeri ko ausedhi" or "sutkeri ko masalaa".  Any suggestion on how your family prepares the diet that is suitable for pregnant and lactating mother in your area. Please share them in the comment section of this blog.  I am always looking for more input.  Thank you.

All information on the Taste of Nepal blog are restricted use under copyright law. You may not re-use words, stories, photographs, or other posted material without the explicit written consent and proper credit to Jyoti Pathak. If you would like to use any materials here, please contact me.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Greetings to all!

Namaskar and Greetings to all! 

नमस्कार - सु:ख, शान्ती र सम्ब्रिद्धिको लागि हार्दिक शुभकामना!

Now that Christmas and New Year is almost here, it's a wonderful time of the year when everyone is in a festive mood. I would like to wish the "Taste of Nepal" blog readers Health & Happiness this Holiday Season and throughout the New Year!

The Taste of Nepal blog was born in September 2011 and has been around for four years. I had no idea it would become an important part of my life.  I have now 108 blog postings published with pictures.  Visitors from 212 different countries have visited this site, and we've had 676,338 total page views all time history so far.  All the writing and photography in my blog is my original work and the idea behind this blog is to highlight Nepal's unique cultural heritage, cuisines, regional foods, ingredients, recipes, festivals, lifestyles and many more. I have truly enjoyed sharing with you all my postings.  I promise that there will be many more blog entries throughout next year about different aspects of Nepali cuisine.  I know I am embarking on a long journey and my blog readers really keep me motivated.  I would like to thank you for your support, feedback, taking time to read my blogs, commenting and sharing my posts.

I will really appreciate if you let me know what you liked about my postings, what I missed and what you are looking forward in my blog of 2016.  I am always looking for more inspiration.

What is the most visited blog posting of 2015?

List of most common fruits of Nepal 

List of most common vegetables of Nepal
Momos - म:म: or मोमो (Dumplings)
The Traditional Sweets of Nepal (Part 1-4)
Sel-Roti - Fried Rice Bread
Absolutely love my Daal-Bhaat-Tarkaari!
Juju Dhau - The King Yogurt from Bhaktapur, Nepal

Which country visited the Taste of Nepal blog the most?
Please read my Flag Counter to get the details - The most visited are from the USA (104,878), Nepal (57,657), India (44,395), Australia (22,938), UK 22,692

Published Comments - 530
Can we use your photo and write-ups of this blog?
Yes, I would be honored if you use my work.  Please refer to my "copyright information" posted in the blog.

Copyright Information
All information on the Taste of Nepal blog are restricted use under copyright law. You may not re-use words, stories, photographs, or other posted material without the explicit written consent and proper credit to Jyoti Pathak. If you would like to use any materials here, please contact me.


As this year come to an end, I would like to share my recent interview with Samridhi Goyal, "Kathmandu Foodies" about "putting Nepali Food on the Map - Jyoti Pathak".
Recent Interviews and Press

Nepal as a country is immensely rich in its varied traditions and cultural norms. From breathtaking dances to soulful songs and little celebrations that make us such a varied society where colors of happiness abound. The common thread that runs through it all is the heartwarming food of the nation. From chowela to daal bhaat power we love eating and rightly so. For each Nepali a copy of The Taste of Nepal is a must have on their shelves. Kathmandu Foodies talked to Jyoti Pathak food writer and author of the aforementioned book to see what drives her forth.

Kathmandu Foodies: How did your fascination with food begin? What started you of this journey?

Jyoti Pathak: I have been fascinated with food and interested in cooking since my early childhood. My earliest memories are of my grandparents’ house in Kathmandu. I remember playing and spending time in the kitchen which was in the uppermost section of the house., watching and observing our family cook, sitting on a wooden platform (pirka) in front of a wood fired stove and preparing delicious Nepali meals. Although I wanted to go and help stir the bubbling pot on the stove she never let me help or interfere with her chores. Maybe because a wood fired stove is not the safest thing for a child and produces too much smoke. I learnt the basics of Nepali cooking techniques and it was just the start of wanting to learn more.

Although I did not cook much as a young girl my real culinary interests began when I arrived in America. At that time I had very little hands on experience. I came here as a newlywed beginning a new life in a new world to join my husband who had a nostalgic longing for the Nepali food he had eaten all his life. I started to spend a lot of time trying out recipes from my own research, from my childhood memories, from visitors and friends.
Kathmandu Foodies:How do you compare the food culture of America to that of Nepal?

Jyoti Pathak: Like most regional cuisines, the winds of globalization are leading to an interesting fusion of cooking ideas. These days in Kathmandu, KFC chicken, pizza and north Indian dishes are immensely popular. When I started the Taste of Nepal project, I was hoping to provide a record of some of Nepal’s rich culinary heritage. I hope we continue to be proud of our own foods and continue to prepare them in our family gatherings, parties and other important events.

Visitors who have had the opportunity to spend time in Nepal have come to understand the virtues and diversity of Nepali food. Many tell me they appreciate the freshness and healthy aspects of our food. I’ve heard many stories of families moving out of Nepal still cooking and serving Nepali food to their families years after they have left. I often receive queries on my blog about the traditional way of cooking. As the size of the Nepali diaspora expands, we are starting to see Nepali or Himalayan restaurants in most large cities.

Kathmandu Foodies: How and why did you get into blogging?

Jyoti Pathak: My book Taste of Nepal and my blog is my attempt to introduce Nepal’s unique culture, culinary heritage, regional foods and festivals. Both my cookbook and blog reflects the tradition of my home country and cultural upbringing. If I am able to introduce Nepali culinary traditions, even on a small scale that would be great.

Kathmandu Foodies: What do you think about the food culture in Nepal?

Jyoti Pathak: Nepali food has the characteristics of being simple, light and healthy. A typical Nepali meal has the freshest ingredients, minimum cooking fat and an artful combination of fresh herbs and spices without being overpowering. I think this balanced, delicious cuisine is just waiting for discovery in the world!

Kathmandu Foodies: The west has a huge presence of food in its TV programming with huge food shows, food channels and such. Do you think it should be emulated in Nepal too?

Jyoti Pathak: Of course cooking is an art and TV food shows would help one to appreciate their own cuisine more.
Kathmandu Foodies: Do you think the Indian food influence is a problem for Nepali food?

Jyoti Pathak: No-not at all, Nepali food is often fused or associated with North Indian food or Tibetan combination of both, but it has its own distinctive flavors and textures. In the southern Terai regions of Nepal, the food has more of the neighboring influence. Food tends to have more North Indian flavor in terms of spicing. Commonly used spices in both cuisines are cumin, coriander, black pepper, turmeric, red and green chilies, garlic, fresh ginger and onions. Most authentic spices such as Jimbu (Himalayan herb) and Timbur (schezwan pepper) are not seen in Indian cooking. In Kathmandu the spicing is milder and subtler. Dhindo, Gundruk, lentil stews, sun dried vegetables, bamboo shoots, sukuti (dried meat) are more common in hilly areas. Tibetan influence brings momo, the stuffed dumpling, fermented bamboo shoots and such. I would say Nepali food is neither Indian nor Tibetan but a confluence of the two with a unique Nepali flavor.

I have also noticed that in many feasts and celebrations Nepali food is being replaced by savory North Indian dishes. This may eventually lead to disappearance of Nepali culinary heritage. However, the fusion of different cuisines is a worldwide phenomenon and will expand more in this modern digital age.

Kathmandu Foodies: What are your favorite dishes?

Jyoti Pathak: I love fresh vegetables, simply boiled rice and various daal dishes. I simply love daal-bhaat, tarkaari achaar combination.
Kathmandu Foodies: What exciting stuff can we look forward to in terms of Nepali food from you in the future?

Jyoti Pathak:What’s next on my literary plate? Hmm. I would like to explore more in the regional and ethnic cooking in Nepal. I am eager to start research on these topics soon.

Dhanyabad (धन्यवाद) - Thank you!