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Friday, December 24, 2010
WHAT IS FALSA? GREWIA ASIATICA- A SMALL PURPLE-BLACK FRUIT: MEDICINAL USES: HOW TO MAKE FALSA KA SHARBAT
Grewia asiatica originated in Southern India, but it now grows in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In the subcontinent it is highly sought after in the hot summer months as it can be made into a cooling, refreshing drink, falsa sharbat. In fact it is said to be the third favourite summer fruit, after mangoes and peaches. It has a tangy, sweet flavour with dark purple fruit surrounding one or two small hard seeds. It grows on a small tree or found wild, may grow on a rather straggly-looking bush, and grows to a maximum height of 15 feet.
The fruit juice contains magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, carbohydrates and vitamins A and C. The anthocyanin flavonoids it contains are thought to be protective against cancer. The fruit, leaves, bark, roots and root bark are all used for medicinal purposes, and in Ayurvedic medicine it is also used as and aphrodisiac and a cooling tonic. The seeds contain a bright yellow oil which contains palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic acids. An infusion of the bark is used to relieve fevers, to treat diarrhoea and as a demulcent. It is astringentand aids digestion, and used as a remedy for stomach upsets and indigestion.
The leaves are applied to skin to heal wounds, cuts and grazes and to relieve irritation and painful rashes. They are thought to have an antibiotic effect. They are also used as cattle fodder and the root bark is used to help people who suffer from rheumatism. The stems of the shrub and the bark can be made into rope, baskets and are harvested for fuel.
The bark is used in the gur (brown sugar) making process to purify the sugar cane juice from which it is made; this is because the bark is mucilaginous.
The wood is fine-grained and cream coloured, strong and flexible and has been used to make archer’s bows, spear handles, poles and baskets.
The fruit is eaten raw with black salt or salt and black pepper. The fruit and the juice have been employed for centuries to treat liver and gall bladder problems, to purify the blood and regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and to protect the heart. The fruit is said to help prevent coughs and colds and to relieve them if you have them.
For skin problems, you should soak the bark overnight and then pound it and apply the pulp directly on to the affected area.
Falsa Sharbat is good to help sunburn victims and to treat sunstroke. If you have been exposed to sunlight for a long time, this recipe below will help remedy the harmful effects you might suffer from.
250 gr falsa
100 gr sugar or to taste
black salt to taste
2½ glasses very cold water
fresh mint leaves to garnish
Wash the fruit thoroughly and the sprinkle liberally with salt and leave to macerate for an hour.
Mash the berries and then sieve the pulp to get rid of the seeds.
Put the falsa pulp into a jug and add the sugar and black salt and salt if you wish.
Pour the chilled water over the pulp and mix well or blend.
Pour into glasses over ice, and garnish with the fresh mint leaves.
This has Taste and is a Treat.