Gujaratis love their morning cup of tea made with freshly pounded ginger, mint and tulsi, while the households with green thumb add freshly plucked lemongrass stalks (lemongrass is called lili-cha in Gujarati). Believe me it is the best cup of tea you will ever have, if you plan to go ahead and brew some tea for yourself!! The tea that is infused with all these herbs has immense health benefits and hence we are extremely particular of beginning our morning on a right note 🙂 And then there are individuals ( I know quite a few of them) who refrain from drinking tea in the morning, instead they brew for themselves this green herbal concoction made with pounded ginger, tulsi, mint, lemon grass, fresh turmeric (when available) boil the herbs in enough water, add lemon juice and jaggery or honey to sweeten it. This is their morning nectar or as it is called Lilo Ukalo (lilo means green and Ukalo means brew or kadha in Hindi).
The herbs or the leaves required for brewing this drink were plucked every morning from the garden around the house. Most houses had tulsi, lemongrass, mint growing wild in their compounds. But as the living spaces began to grow vertically we distanced ourselves from the simple pleasures of nurturing even plant in the balcony. So the habit of drinking the Lilo Ukalo is also fast diminishing. It is the elder generation that remains faithful to their habits but even that is becoming cumbersome as one has to source the herbs from vegetable vendor who might not be stocking it on regular basis.
“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin
Since childhood we were encouraged to plant veggies, greens and trees. And this encouragement was instrumental in inculcating a deep love for gardening. Growing up in a large compound house with fruits and berries trees, numerous variety of vegetable creepers and herb patches, we never felt the need of any other company. We had the trees and plants and their residents to give us company and keep us occupied all day long!! These were the simple joys and pleasures of life that I still cherish.
The habit of nurturing a garden has made me have my own little retreat every where I relocate. Our home in Ahmedabad has a beautiful terrace garden, the monkeys do not allow vegetables to grow or flowers to bloom but we have our tulsi, mint, lemongrass, lime, basil thriving well. The summers of my city are too harsh for them but monsoons and winters allow these tender greens to blossom to their complete glory. This year the Kalamansi lime shrub has been extremely giving. So when our shrubs and plants are blooming we make the best use of them. The Lilo Ukalo is a staple in our household every morning and for the rest of the day we enjoy our chai with freshly pounded mint, lemongrass, ginger and tulsi.
I will not talk about the health quotient of this preparation. It is a long trusted and extensively consumed morning beverage. It is immunity boosting, detox , protects from coughs and colds, refreshes and clams your mind, aids digestion and much much more
There is no particular recipe to making this drink. All one has to do is gather tulsi leaves, mint leaves, lemongrass stalks, ginger, fresh turmeric and pound them together. Add the pounded mixture to water and boil it for 7-8 minutes. Strain it in a glass or large coffee mug, add a juice of lemon and honey. Nonetheless will walk you through the ingredient list and method.
Lilo Ukalo - Herbal TeaPrint Recipe
- Handful of mint leaves
- Few stalks of lemon grass (lili-cha), cut in one inch pieces
- A small handful of tulsi leaves
- A piece of ginger
- A piece of fresh turmeric
- Lemon juice
- Jaggery or honey to sweeten
Wash the leaves well.
Skin the ginger and turmeric and cut them in chunks.
In a mortar and pestle put the leaves and ginger-turmeric.
In a saucepan place 4 cups of water to boil.
Add the pounded mixture.
If using jaggery, add now.
Boil the herb infused water for 5-7 minutes.
In a coffee mug, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and honey to taste.
Stir well and drink piping hot.
If using jaggery, use organic jaggery. I prefer honey as it can be directly added to the serving glass. All the proportions can be adjusted to taste and availability. If you do not have couple of ingredients no worries, make the drink with whatever is handy.