By Dr M S Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu) PhD.
Ayurveda prescribed several food recipes which are indeed tasty, carminative and contribute health benefits along with nutritional components. Raga and Shadava are two such food recipes which are mentioned in primordial Ayurvedic texts like Charaka-Sushruta samhita and Astanga hridaya texts. In fact they are the preparations similar to chutney and pickles.
The texts like Raja Nighantu, Kaiyadeva Nighantu, Bhavaprakasha Nighantu, Yoga Ratnakara etc explain this with elaborate description followed with action and its uses.
Sour and sweet fruits like fresh and tender mango, kapittha (Feronia elephantum) are taken and submerged with salt for 5-10 days (may extend for 30-40 days also). To this sesame oil, ginger etc are added and mixed thoroughly. This is called Raga shadava.
This can be assumed as a semi finished product of pickle.
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Sugar candy, black salt, rock salt, fresh lime juice or juice of tamarind- grewia fruit (Parushaka) – blue berry and mustard powder are mixed together and preserved. This mixture is used to make the pickle (spice mixture of the pickle).
It is the salted fruits of sweet or sour taste; bitter fruits and vegetables are never used for this purpose.
Usually jujube – Kola (Zizuphus jujuba), wood apple – Kapittha (Feronia elephantum) are used in general practice.
The fruits like Feronia elephantum, tamarind, citron fruit, pomegranate are taken individually or altogether and mixed along with sugar cane juice. This is called Swasthya shadava. It is a classical fruit salad or sweet pickle.
Sugar candy, honey, jaggery etc sweet substances are mixed together and stored in a container.
This thin sweet preparation is called Accha raga.
Qualities of Raga and Shadava
In general both Raga and Shadava are light for digestive, appetizer, pleasure enhancing, tasty and nourishing in nature. Due to sweet, pungent, sour and salty taste as well as deep penetrative quality, they clear the mouth.
But excess intake may decline the sexual virility, vitiate the blood and may also decrease the eye sight. Occasionally they may cause gastric irritation as well as skin diseases too.
It is the reason, one should see the contents and method of preparation of a particular pickle or its semi finished product to remain healthy, tasty and happy!
Contact Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD