Similar to the lassi you enjoy at your local Indian restaurant, takram is an age-old Ayurvedic health drink that is said to relive disease and promote health.
First, let’s clarify some nomenclature. In Bhishagratna’s translation of Shushrut, he renders takram as whey. This is incorrect. Whey is the clear yellow liquid that forms when milk is curdled e.g. to make paneer. (The water that rises to the top in yoghurt is actually known in Sanskrit as mastu.) In many other books and websites, takram is misleadingly translated as buttermilk.
Traditional buttermilk is the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream. This is what the word buttermilk always meant when I was a girl growing up in a dairy-producing area of rural Leicestershire.
Cultured buttermilk is milk that has been soured with lactobacilli. This is used to make buttermilk pancakes etc. It is not the same thing as takram.
Actual takram is yoghurt or dahi churned with water. Traditionally, this is done using a hand-held instrument called madhani, although we typically make it in a blender. (We also sometimes make it from kefir). Takram is the Sanskrit name. It is called chaas or chaach in some parts of North India and tak in Maharashtra. Technically takram is not identical to the beloved yoghurt drink lassi, due to the fact that lassi is thicker. But sometimes a lassi-type thick takram is used medicinally.
Another amazing feature of takram is that is can be combined with different spices to make a variety of home remedies.
According to Sushruta, takram is made by combining equal parts of dahi and water and then churning it until the butter rises to the top. However, different varieties of takram can be made, using twice as much dahi as water or twice as much water as dahi.
The more recent text, Bhavprakash, indicates several different types of takram:
Ghola: This is actually a thick lassi with no water added, just churned yoghurt.
Mathita: Again, this is simply churned yoghurt but the cream that rises to the top is removed (it can only be made with unhomogenized yoghurt)
Takra: 4 part yogurt, 1 part water
Udhashvita: 1 water, 2 yogurt
Chacchita: 1:1, butter removed
Ghola: Add sugar (just like lassi). It is delicious and pacifies vata and pitta.
Mathita: Is also a delicious and pacifies kapha and pitta.
Takra: Has astringent and sweet tastes, heating virya, sweet post-digestive effect, binds stools, is light to digest and is a wonderful remedy for diarrhoea. It promotes appetite, improves semen production, and satisfies and calms vata while not aggravating pitta due to its sweet post-digestive effect. It is also beneficial for kapha due to its astringent taste and heating virya. ‘One who drinks takra regularly will never develop diseases,” claims Bhavprakash. As nectar bestows longevity to the Gods, takra does to humans.
Udhashvita: Strengthens the body and removes undigested material.
Chacchita: Is cooling, light, alleviates pitta, relives fatigue and thirst, cures diseases of vata and kapha. To increase its appetizing actions, add rock salt.
Bhavprakash also notes different properties of takram depending upon how much of the butterfat is skimmed off.
· Butterfat completely removed: lighter, good for sick or convalescent people or those with malabsorption.
· Butterfat partly removed: heavier, promotes semen, pacifies kapha.
· With all the butterfat: it is heavier to digest, can increase kapha, is more nutritious and building.
Takram home remedies:
1. Vata: Sour takram with dried ginger and salt
2. Pitta: Sweet takram with sugar
3. Kapha: Takram with trikatu ½ tsp or black pepper
4. Vata: Ghola type takram with fried hing and cumin
5. Burning urination: Ghola with jaggery
6: Anaemia: Ghola with jaggery 1 tsp.
7: Haemorrhoids: Takram with pippali ½ tsp.
8. Malabsorption: Takram with 1 tsp. ground cumin and 2 pinches nutmeg.
9. IBS with bloating: Takram with pippali and rock salt.
10: Gastritis or peptic ulcers: Takram with sugar and licorice root powder 1 tsp.
11. H. pylori: Takram with sugar and 1 tsp. cardamom powder.
Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.
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