Amalaka is Sanskrit for Avla also called Indian Gooseberry and has great significance in Hinduism and is highly valued in Ayurveda as the balancer of all doshas- a rare quality in any one ingredient. Amla is believed to have originated from Amrit when drops of it fell to the earth. Regular consumption is said to improve general health. It is used in Ayurveda as a fever and heat reducer (great in the summer), aid digestive and hair growth.
The fruit is so treasured temples have the shape carved as a motif in stone relief. Lingaraja temple has a roof top in the shape of Amla.
My grandmother grew this in her garden in Belgaum. We pickled it also but the sherbet with a hint of cinnamon poured over ice is so refreshing. There are many different ways to prepare it. If you use castor sugar you get a clearer yellow liquid like the one in the photo but if you want to avoid refined sugar, sugarcane juice is a good option but you will not get this yellow hue. A stick of cinnamon, mint leaves, edible flowers, powdered cumin, black peppercorn can all be used flavor enhancers and garnishes. It is also a good base for cocktails made with white rum, vodka and gin.
1 KG AMLA OR INDIAN GOOSEBERRIES, WASHED
2 LITERS OF NATURAL SUGARCANE JUICE OR USE 750 GRAMS CASTOR SUGAR
JUICE OF TWO LEMONS
75 GRAMS PEELED AND COARSELY CHOPPED GINGER ROOT
STEAM THE GOOSEBERRIES UNTIL TENDER. THIS MAKES THEM EASIER TO PROCESS. RESERVE THE WATER FROM THE STEAMING.
SLICE THE GOOSEBERRIES OPEN AND DISCARD THE SEEDS.
RETURN THE GOOSEBERRIES, SUGARCANE JUICE OR SUGAR, LEFTOVER LIQUID FROM STEAMING, GINGER AND LEMON JUICE TO A LARGE COOKING POT. USE A STAINLESS STEEL CLAD OR ENAMELED POT.USE A POTATO RICER OR MASHING TOOL TO PRESS DOWN ON THE GOOSEBERRIES TO RELEASE THEIR JUICES.
COOK THIS ON A MEDIUM FLAME UNTIL REDUCED TO HALF ITS VOLUME.
COOL, STRAIN, PRESSING DOWN ON THE FRUIT WITH THE BACK OF A SPOON. DISCARD THE FRUIT AND GINGER.
RETURN THE JUICE TO THE POT AND COOK UNTIL YOU HAVE ABOUT 4 CUPS OF THICK SYRUPY LIQUID.
CHILL THE CONCENTRATE AND USE OVER 6 WEEKS WHEN DESIRED.
ADD SOME CONCENTRATE TO A GLASS AND FILL WITH COLD WATER, CLUB SODA AND ICE.
GANISH WITH A SPRIG OF MINT OR STIR IN A STICK OF CINNAMON.