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Deepavali Legiyam

  Deepavali festival is not only sparkling of lights, but also tickles and sparkles the taste buds with a plethora of food varieties. Nonetheless, after a marathon session of hand-to-mouth activity, it is heavy work fo stomach, pancreas and the liver to digest and transform them into energy in the body.

   Sweets, fried food, junk food, crunchy tit-bits  brought in by neighbors, family, friends and business associates results in a global malady that occurs on these five days of festivity.

The ancients had an answer to this collective indigestion. There is a unique tradition in many South Indian homes that is part of the early morning festivities of
Deepavali. A little dollop of a black lehiyam or chooran is given to the family members immediately after the ritual oil bath. Then the sweets and savouries are given to start of the celebrations. This lehiyam is also called marundu or medicine. It is not really like the western concept of pills and potions. It is a tasty mixture of herbs and spices cooked in ghee and jaggery/vellam/gur and consumed during the festivals.

How - Medicinal?:
 The herbs are rich in anti-oxidants neutralizing the heavy oxidative sugary components of the sweets and the fried oil toxic compounds. The toxic garbage of chemicals needs to be thrown out of the body. These herbal ingredients help in the detoxification process.

Consuming sweets the immune system gets down for four to six hours. It causes damage to blood cells. The phyto-nutrients of these herbs prevent this damage and
boosts the immune system. What deep insight of our ancestors.

The original recipe for this marundu can be quite elaborate and incomprehensible.
Each family has its own version.

This medicine is also given to women who have delivered babies as
after delivery care.

Recipe 1:


Alpina calcarata (siddharathai)- 10g          Kandathippili (long Pepper) -10g
Omam (
Alpina calcarata seeds) -100g
Nutmeg-half .                                       Lavangapattai (cinnamon)-- 2 gms
kasakasa (poppy seeds) -- one spoon      Sombu (aniseeds) -- 2gms.
Krambu (clove) --. 2peices                     Licorice-Vasambu -- 2 pieces.
Pepper -- 50 grams.                             Cumin seeds (Jeera) --2 gms.
Inji (ginger) -- -10g                             Sathukudi (orange) -- 1(juice).
Ghee -- 100gm.                                  Gingily oil (sesame oil) -- 4 tsp.
Honey -- 1 ladle full.                            Vellam (Jaggery) -- 250 Gms.
cardomom - 5g

Siththarathai -
Alpina calcarata (galangal) is also known as rasna in Sanskrit, kulainjan in Hindi and chittaratha in Malayalam. indigenous system of medicine for relieving throat inflammation, stimulating digestion, purifying blood, improving voice and marinating youthful vigour. Alpinia Calcarata rose, a family of medicinal ginger used for stomach disorders. The two bis-labdanic diterpenoids showed cytotoxic activity against human KB cells in vitro.


Pound the hard ingredients like sukku and dry them in the sun with the other items. Heat the pan and fry the items one by one to golden brown and keep aside. Grind them to powder in a Mixie (blender)and sieve the flour. Store the flour in an air tight container.
 Wash the Ginger nicely, grind it using one ladle of water and make juice out of it. Make juice out of the Orange and filter it. Pour both the Ginger juice and Orange juice into the pan. Powder the jaggery and add it to the juice mixture. Heat the mixture. Do not add water.
 Once the jaggery dissolves, filter it to remove the dirt. Wash the pan, pour the mixture again and boil it for 2 minutes.  Then add the prepared flour slowly and when it becomes like a gravy, stop adding the flour. Add Ghee and sesame oil. Cook on a medium flame.
 Touch and see, if non-sticky remove from fire and add honey. Stir well. Cool the mixture. Store in a bottle or a container. The remaining flour can be used if and when needed.
 Note: This Legiyam can be given to women after delivery (

Recipe 2- Deepavali Legiyam
This marundu is also given to women who have delivered babies with the addition of garlic.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Makes 1 - 2 cups of legiyam

½ cup pepper
¼ cup coriander seeds (dhania)
1 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tbsp thyme seeds (ajwain)
A one-rupee coin sized piece of dry ginger
10 cardamoms (elaichi)
10 cloves (lavang)
½ cup ghee
2 - 2 ½ tbsp of honey
Around 1 ½ - 2 cups of powdered jaggery (depends on the quantity of paste obtained)


1. Soak all the ingredients (except honey, ghee and jaggery) in hot water for half an hour or till they are soft.
2. Drain the water and grind the soaked ingredients in a mixer-grinder using required amount of the same water in which they were soaked, to make a thick smooth paste. Measure this ground paste.
3. The amount of jaggery to be used can be 1 ½ to 2 times the amount of paste obtained, according to your taste. That is, if you get 1 portion of ground paste, you can use 1 ½ - 2 portions of powdered jaggery.
4. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat required water. Add the powdered jaggery and continue heating till it dissolves completely. Filter the jaggery water to remove any impurities.
5. Add the ground paste to the jaggery water. Add more water if required to obtain a gravy-like consistency. (For the raw smell to go, the paste should cook for some time before it becomes semi-solid. So make sure you add enough water and start with a gravy/ sambhar-like consistency).
6. Then keep it on the stove and continue heating, stirring constantly. The final consistency of the legiyam after cooling should be like chyawanprash, but remember that the legiyam will definitely thicken a little on cooling. So, continue heating only till the paste cooks well, the raw smell goes and the mixture comes to a semi-solid (like idly batter) consistency.
7. Then, add the ghee and mix well. Now, when the legiyam curls and leaves the sides of the vessel, remove from fire, add honey and mix well.
8. Allow to cool. The legiyam will solidify. Then, store in an air-tight container.
This can be kept for close to a year, till next Diwali essentially!

Recipe 3:

To make 250 grms of the lehiyam:
Peppercorn              2 Tsps            Cumin seeds Jeera             21/2 tsps     
Coriander seeds        2 1/2 tsps       Bishop weed seeds/Ajwain   25 grms/3tbsps
Dry or fresh ginger  30 gm              Cardamom                         1gm/2 to 3            Nutmeg or jaadhikkai  ½   piece      Ghee or clarified butter  100gms                        KandaThipli (Desavaram Pipala mool)   10 to 12 sticks      
Crumbled Jaggery (equal to the amount of ground paste) 50 grms                      

1. Smash all the dry and medicinal ingredients in a mortar and pestle.
2. Pour some water and soak them for about 10 - 15 minutes
3. Grind into a soft paste in a blender.
4. Add 1/2 cup water and thoroughly mix up the paste and place in a heavy bottomed wok or vessel
5. Cook it on a slow flame, stirring it all the time with a flat ladle so that no lumps are formed.
6. When the water is nearly evaporated add the crumbled jaggery and stir it in.
7. Add spoonfuls of ghee and keep stirring.
8. When the lehiyam comes together in a ball and the ghee is separated from it, turn
off the heat.
9. Stir in the honey and store in an airtight container.
10. Take one spoon of lehiyam on Deepavali after taking bath and before you eat anything else.

PS: This lehiyam can also be made using readymade powders that are available in many local medicine shops. Mix the powder with two times the water and cook in a heavy bottom vessel. Add jaggery and ghee until the lehiyam comes together and the ghee is separated.

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