Amla or what we call as Indian Gooseberry is a sour,bitter,astringent and fibrous fruit consumed widely for its numerous benefits.The scientific name is Phyllanthus Embelica and the fruit has a wide variety of uses!
1.Preserved in brine and turmeric and used as a body cooler in summers.
2.The juice is rich in iron and given to Anaemic patients.
3.Used to make pickles,jams and sweet preserves.
4.Used in Ayurvedic medicines.
5.Lately used in Prescription Drugs as well to reduce Cholesterol.
6.Used for inflammation,cancer and diabetis.
7.Used in Chyavanprash making(an Indian paste of Amlas,saffron and herbs taken everyday for longevity).
8.Chinese use it to cure throat infection.
9.Used in hair oils and also for rinsing hair to make it long and lustrous.
10.After having a piece of Amla if water is drunk then it has the sweetest taste!
It also has a lot of historical significance,right from the fact that Lord Vishnu(The Preserver of the Universe in Indian Mythology) dwells under the Amla Tree.The Tamil poetess Avaiyar was given this fruit by the then King.Even in the Great Ashoka’s time the fruit had great significance.
So having said so much and seeing the technological wave of importance given to this humble fruit,it truly proves its mettle!I am making Amla Candy today.It is an all-beneficial pop-in-the-mouth wonder.Just 2-3 pieces in a day is sufficient for the above mentioned benefits.Plus its made with ONLY 2 ingredients – Amlas and Sugar.
In my building compound there is an old and huge Amla Tree and every year it bears approx 500 kg of fruit.The fruits are equally distributed to all.I had already made the spicy pickle as well as saffron preserved Amlas last year and had still a lot of them in stock.So decided to make some Amla Candy!Lets get going then.
Preparation time-1 week
Makes – Approx 1 kg of candy
700 gms fresh Amla
500 gms plus 50 gms sugar
Wash,wipe and completely dry Amlas.Heat water in a saucepan large enough to cover all the Amlas with water.Bring it to a vigorous boil.Now reduce flame to medium heat and add the Amlas to the water.Let them boil for 5-7 minutes.Bring to a gentle boil.Cook for 1 minute here.Increase heat again and boil vigorously for 3-4 minutes again.Drain the water through a strainer or colander.Let them cool slowly to room temperature.
Boiling the Amlas…
Now they come apart neatly from the seed in the middle of the fruit.Here we need to segment the flesh into parts.One fruit separates easily into 5-6 segments.After having done with all the fruits you will have a lovely pile of Amla segments.Put these segments in a wide-brimmed pan or bowl.Over the segments add the sugar.Cover and keep aside for a day.
Immersing the Amlas in sugar…
Then we see that the Amlas have released enzymes which have dissolved the sugar into a thick syrup.The Amlas are floating in the syrup now.After a day or two they would have completely submerged into the syrup.The Amlas would have started settling at the bottom of the bowl!So we give them a day more to absorb as much of the liquid as they can.
Now take a pan and fit it with a sieve or a soup strainer.Drain the Amlas into the sieve and take out on a Steel/Ceramic plate.Now leave the plate in the hot sun for the Amlas to dry naturally under the sun.They would have shriveled up a little in 7-8 hours.They need an approx of 2-3 days under a very hot sun to reach the “dry stage” – a point at which they are bone dry and hard like a candy.
Sunning the Amlas…
After the Amlas are hard,brush off the extra sugar accumulated with your hand and place the segments in a bowl.Powder 1/2 cup of plain sugar and sprinkle 3-4 spoonfuls over the segments.Mix thoroughly with a spoon or your hand to coat each segment.
Place in an airtight storage jar or bottle and eat whenever required – after meals,on an empty stomach or just for a “timepass”..;)they are fun and very beneficial for health!!
The Amla Candy ready!