Karkidakam Regimen – A Culinary Guide To Survive The Monsoon
Image Credit: Karkidakam regimen has similarities with Ayurveda's Ritucharya | Freepik

Karkidakam marks the last month of the Malayalam calendar and is the period that is considered to witness nature’s fury at its epitome. In Kerala, it is seen as the darkest time of the year. Their ancestors believed that it was the time when our bodies were the most vulnerable and prone to diseases. This also came from experience because the monsoon in the Western Ghats can get very rough, with storms and heavy showers for days at a stretch. So, to mark the beginning of the end of the heaviest rainfall of the year and to remain healthy during the gloomy season, there are specific food items that are advised to be consumed and some that should be avoided. It is similar to Ritucharya, mentioned in the Ayurveda, but has its own specifications. Let us have a look at the dietary practices followed during Karkidakam.

What to eat?

The main focus of the people during Karkidakam is building immunity and staying fit and agile. There are three broad bifurcations of the kinds of food that one can have – sour, salty and ghee based. So, most of the food that is consumed falls under either of the three. So, pickled or brined summer fruits and vegetables like Mangoes and gooseberries are eaten. Another reason behind eating brined food items is the lack of fresh harvests during monsoon, so people of Kerala start storing food for the season during summer itself. Similarly, even fishing is not possible due to heavy winds and storms, so dry fish, that are brined and stored from summer is consumed and used to make a variety of soups and broths.

Karkidakam Kanji | Picture credit : Instagram - @smitha_vinod

Foods that are not easily digestible are recommended to be avoided during Karkidakam. So, red meat and curd should be avoided. The curd in the diet is replaced by spiced buttermilk, which is lighter on the stomach. Stale food is a strict no during monsoon, as is consuming a lot of liquid diet. This is because they slow down the metabolism of the body and put stress on the digestive system. Along with avoiding these foods, getting wet in the rain and taking afternoon naps is also said to dampen our bodies.

Karkidakam lifestyle regimen is as much a tradition as it is a need, an adaptation and a mode of survival for hundreds of years. People needed to survive and eat whatever was available at their disposal during the heavy downpour and storms. Although society has advanced, the seasonal behavioral guides are still relevant and continue to thrive due to the science behind each of the recommendations.