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Indian Gooseberries

Indian Gooseberries
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Indian gooseberry / Amla

Phyllanthus emblica
, the Indian gooseberry,or Dhatrik or Amala, Amalaka, Amlaki, Nellikai, Aonla from Sanskrit amalika, is a deciduous tree of the family Phyllanthaceae. It is known for its edible fruit of the same name.


A native of India, amla is the round-shaped, vertical-striped fibrous fruit of the deciduous tree "Euphorbiaceae". It is greenish-yellow in colour and has a distinctive sour flavour, which nevertheless lends itself well to many culinary uses. With cooling and antioxidant properties, amla is also used extensively in Indian medicine for treating a variety of conditions ranging from hair loss and indigestion to inflammation and dry cough. 

Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits. The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries steeped in salt water and turmeric to make the sour fruits palatable. It is also used to straighten hair.

While Selecting:

1. Choose the small or large variety of amla as required by the recipe, or suggested by your Ayurvedic doctor. 
2. Ensure that the fruit is clear and free of any patches or cuts. 
3. It should have a round shape with vertical stripes. 
4 .Ensure it is greenish yellow in colour. Avoid those that are brownish or spotted. 

Culinary Uses

1. Amla is majorly used in the preparation of spicy pickles and murrabas.
2. It can also be consumed in the form of freshly-prepared amla juice, with a dash of honey to make the bitterness palatable. 
3. It can be dried and then powdered to make amla powder, which can be used in the preparation of health drinks. 
4. Freshly-sliced amla can be stewed in sugar syrup and then used as a topping for fruit tarts, cakes, cheesecakes etc. 
5. Amla is processed into syrups and crushes, which are commonly used in many mocktails.
6. When amla is in season, south Indians often parboil it in salted water and preserve it in glass or earthen jars along with the water in which it was cooked. There should be enough water to drown all the gooseberries. Called Neer Nellikkai, this can be stored in the refrigerator for more than a month. 

Health benefits of 
Indian gooseberry:

Amla stands out as it is the richest source of the antioxidant vitamin C. Every 100 gm of fresh amla provides nearly 700 mg of this vitamin which is 20 times higher than what is found in an orange. Amla when tested recently for its chemical composition was seen to contain 470 - 680 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams fresh fruit. The vitamin value increased further when juiced. The dry and dehydrated berry was seen to contain 2428-3470 mg of vitamin C per 100 g. 

Amla contains low molecular weight hydrolyzable tannins namely Emblicanin A and Emblicanin B along with pedunculagin and punigluconin. The fruit, leaves and bark are rich in them.

Vitamin C present in Amla is present in a complex form and not as free vitamin C. Emblicanins, the active ingredient of Amla are attached to the vitamin. It has been proposed that the superior effect of the fruit in disease prevention is actually due to the more stable and potent “anti-oxidant effect of tannins or emblicanins” present in the fruit rather than just vitamin C.

The fresh fruit contains more than 80 percent water. The nutrient content includes calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, vitamin B complex and fiber. Even if dried in shade, amla retains most of its vitamin C. 

Amla is reported to possess hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, diuretic, laxative, stomachic, restorative, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory properties. It is a hair tonic, and a natural digestive medicine. It has its uses in treating ophthalmic problems, dyspepsia, gastritis, hyperacidity, constipation, colitis, hemorrhoids, hematuria, anemia, diabetes, cough, asthma, osteoporosis, premature graying of hair, weakness and fatigue.

How to cook Indian gooseberry / Amla.
Read More at Wikipedia.
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