Doddapatre: An Ayurvedic Antidote To Beat The Monsoon Blues
Image Credit: Indian Borage/Doddapatre

When you are under the weather with a cold, cough, or flu and feeling low in energy, you may seek out various home remedies like tea made from ingredients like ginger, black pepper, and more. But have you ever tried Indian Borage as a remedy for these seasonal ailments and more that you might be susceptible to during the monsoon season?

If you're bogged down from work or are having the sniffles, a simple tea from this herb can relieve stress and anxiety and clear mucous and phlegm from your respiratory tract and sinuses to provide relief.

Indian Borage is a tropical herb found in India, Africa, and Mediterranean countries. It smells sweet and camphoraceous, with a warm and peppery taste. It is so fragrant that holding the leaves in your palm or rubbing them between your fingers will leave a camphoraceous scent for hours at a time. This herb is known for its therapeutic and medicinal properties. The oil extracted from the leaves of this plant is used for aromatherapeutic rituals in the form of incense, diffuser oil, perfumes, and potpourri.

Although Indian Borage's taste is similar to ajwain leaves and oregano, they are different from each other. And they are called by different names across India, with the most common ones being pathar choor in Hindi, pani koorka in Malayalam, karpuravalli in Tamil, and doddapatre in Kannada.

This is a pot herb and a common sight at homes across South India, especially in Kerala, where people sought after Ayurveda for medicinal remedies. It is almost a compulsion to have the plant in the house if there are kids, as pannikoorka is a remedy for many ailments, including colds, coughs, and flu. The leaves are ground to a paste and applied as topical ointment on bruises and wounds, as they are known to provide relief from infections and heal them quickly. It is considered an effective antidote for scorpion bites and insect bites, including mosquito bites.

Just like its various names and the wide medicinal benefits it provides, the culinary uses of karpuravalli or doddapatre are many. Although the leaf is edible on its own, it is a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine and is used widely in South Indian cooking to make fritters, chutneys, curries, tea, and even as a garnish. The flavorful leaves are added to dishes as a spice to season meat, soups, and fish. If you are from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, or Karnataka, you might have most definitely tasted a chutney or a gravy made from these leaves at your homes during the monsoon. Doddapatre pulp is used to make dough for chapati and also chitranna, or lemon rice. Let's explore some of the popular dishes that use karpuravalli effectively during the monsoon:

Doddapatre Thambuli

This is a popular cold yoghurt curry made with doddapatre across Karnataka. The thambuli is made by frying doddapatre or sambarballi leaves lightly with a little ghee, along with jeera and peppercorns, and allowing them to cool down. Later, this mixture is ground along with yoghurt and grated coconut into a fine sauce before being transferred to a bowl and poured over a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, and asafoetida. This dish pairs beautifully with steamed rice, idly, and dosa. It is also called as karpuravalli thayir pachadi in Tamil. The dish is so light, fragrant, and refreshing on the palate that you may not require an accompaniment like rice, dosa, or so.

Karpooravalli Rasam

Karpuravalli rasam is made by blending karpooravalli leaves with tomatoes, garlic flakes, pepper, and cumin to a fine paste. In a pot, mustard seeds, asafoetida, and curry leaves are tempered before adding the ground paste to the pot and frying lightly. This is followed by water, which is seasoned with salt and a hint of turmeric before bringing it to a boil. The rasam is covered for a bit to allow the flavours to meld together and brew well. This is a broth that can be had on its own or eaten along with rice. The warmth from the camphoraceous rasam spreads through your body to cure any chest congestion or stomach ache within a day or two, making it a perfect dish for the monsoon.

Panikoorka Chammanthi

This sweet-smelling chutney or condiment from Kerala is made by frying panikoorka leaves with garlic, onions, and birds-eye chillies, which are later ground with coconut to a coarse paste. A tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves is added to the mixture. This is mixed well together and shaped into small balls that accompany piping hot boiled rice, or patthri, which makes for a satisfying meal on a rainy day.

Sambarballi Podi

These are batter-fried fritters, which are also known as karpooravalli bonda or bajji. These fritters are a popular snack enjoyed during tea time or as an accompaniment during lunch. The leaves are dipped in a gramflour batter seasoned with ginger-garlic paste and spices and deep fried to cook. Serve it hot with a karpooravalli tea.

Karpooravalli Dosai And Idly

The karpooravalli leaves are chopped or ground into a paste and added to a regular dosa batter made of rice and urad dal to make dosas on a tava or simply poured into a mould in the steamer to make idlis that make for a nourishing breakfast when served with coconut chutney or sambhar.

Karpooravalli Chutney

Karpiuravalli leaves are washed and lightly fried with urad and channa dal, red chillies, and blended in a mixer after being cooled along with some grated. A tempering of mustard seeds, cumin, and asafoetida is poured over the mix to complete the dish. Serve it with dosas, idlis, rice bath, lemon rice, or even steamed rice. It pairs beautifully with lemon rice, where a hint of tanginess from the lemon complements the fragrant and peppery karpooravalli leaves beautifully to enhance the taste of the dish.

Doddapattre Gojju

The spices like cumin, red chillies, pepper, and turmeric are dry roasted along with garlic, ginger, and chana dal and blended into a powder. This spice mix is blended with blanched doddapatre and coriander to make a thick paste, which is later cooked to reduce along with a tempering of mustard seeds, asafoetida, and red chillies to a thick paste called the doddapatre gojju. This is a condiment that pairs beautifully with steamed rice, dosa, idli, and chapathi during the monsoon season. And it has a long shelf life. If stored properly, the gojju can stay fresh for a month.