The Malayalam month of Karkidakam is quite special when it comes to following special diets and adopting unique life styles to rejuvenate the body. This annual rejuvenation during the monsoon plays a vital role in refreshing the body and mind. Besides, it helps in balancing the metabolism through the diet. The Karkidaka kanji (herbal porridge) is the most common item that is enjoyed during this month. Pathila thoran or stir fry made with ten varieties of herbs and leaves and healthy soups too are consumed during Karkidakam.
The Karkidaka kanji is prepared in a kashayam or a herbal concoction made of various herbs and spices like the green grams, cumin seeds, black cumin, fennel, ashali (cress seed), fenugreek, coriander, karinkurinji (strobulanthus heiniyanus), ajwain, kurunthotti (sida coridifolia), turmeric, dried ginger, dill, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, star anise, nannari (sarasaparilla), orila (desmodium gangeticum), moovila (psuedarthria viscida), adapathiyan (holostemma adakodien), nilappana (curculigo orchiodes), vayalchulli (hygrophila auriculata), putharichunda (poison berry), thazhuthama (punarnava) and changalavaranda (cissus quadrangularis).
The kashayam is passed through a sieve and the navara rice is cooked in it. Mix some cow’s or goat’s milk to make the kanji extra nutritious and delicious. You could also use matta raw rice with bran. It is better to have the kanji as the first meal in the morning on an empty stomach. You could have it in the evening as well.
Ready to cook Karkidaka kanji packets, in which all the ingredients are neatly packed, are easily available in the markets. Government-owned medicine outlets like Oushadhi too sell the kanji packets.