Awesome India: Chukku Kappi

India, the land of many religions and cultures, boasts a cuisine that is extremely healthy, therapeutic (anti-cancer etc.) and sustainable for a huge population. Most Indian foods are prepared using more than 10-15 ingredients and the cooking methods are extremely elaborate, complex and involved. It is also worth mentioning that marination, fermentation, soaking and slow cooking are very common in the Indian cuisine. A cuisine so varied, so deep, so involved, so powerful and so delicious absolutely HAS to be so-bloody-healthy and I am sure it is… in its original form. Hence, I have resolved decided that in 2011 I will research the original Indian diet, learn from it, experiment with it on myself (and my loved ones) and blog about it. (Note: All posts about this will be filed under the category ‘Awesome India’.)

A wise man (a.k.a Raj) once said…

In a world where there were no food labels, people ate real food and there lay the elixirs of life.

On that note, say hello vanakkam to Chukku Kappi (Ginger Coffee) – A south Indian specialty coffee overflowing with an unbelievable number of health benefits.

Chukku kappi is a traditional South Indian beverage which is very spicy and sweet.It has a rich aroma that even opens nasal blocks that are caused due to cold and give relief to throat infections also.It can be used as very good remedy for slight cold or fever.

The botanical name of Chukku is Zingiber Officinalis. Chukku helps in digestion. It is used in almost all the Ayurveda medicines. According to Ayurveda, indigestion is the root cause for all kind of diseases.

In addition to chukku (ginger), the kaapi (coffee) traditionally contains tulsi (holy basil), black pepper, cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, coffee and jaggery. This amazing article on The Hindu, a national newspaper in India, from August 2003 describes beautifully the benefits of Chukku.

In almost all Ayurveda medicines, `chukku’ is a common ingredient because of its carminative and digestive properties. According to Ayurveda, indigestion in all levels of metabolism is the root cause of all diseases. So a daily intake of such an ingredient is good enough to keep sickness away,” says Dr. E. T. Neelakandhan Mooss of Vaidyaratnam Oushadashala, Thaikkattussery.

Dr. K. Sreedharan Nair, retired Professor, Shoranur Ayurvedic College and visiting physician, Keraleeya Ayurveda Samajam, explains, “The `chukku’ has catalytic properties and hence it boosts the medicinal value of other ingredients. After a sumptuous meal, you find people serve `chukkuvellam,’ which helps digestion. In Ayurveda, we often concentrate first on the stomach to see if the ailment has anything to do with improper digestion. If we suspect so, we advice the patient to starve for a couple of days and drink only medicated water so as to cleanse the stomach off its undigested food.”

But seriously, why is this drink so damn good for one’s health?

Well because it contains ingredients that are nothing short of bloody-freakin-awesome! Let’s take a look.

  • Tulsi –  Research shows that Tulsi reduces stress, enhances stamina, relieves inflammation, lowers cholesterol, eliminates toxins, protects against radiation, prevents gastric ulcers, lowers fevers, improves digestion and provides a rich supply of antioxidants and other nutrients. Tulsi is especially effective in supporting the heart, blood vessels, liver and lungs and also regulates blood pressure and blood sugar. As a matter of fact, Tulsi is a part of almost all Hindu religious practices in India and is given to every devotee when he/she visits the temple. You can read more about Tulsi here.
  • Ginger – Ginger works wonders in the treatment of everything from cancer to migraines and ovarian cancer treatment, colon cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory agent, menstrual cramp relief and migraine relief are just a few. You can geek out more about ginger and it’s health benefits here and here. Both links are very highly recommended.
  • Cumin – The health benefits of cumin include digestion, piles, insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, lactation, anemia, skin disorders, boils, immunity, and cancer. Check this webpage out for more details and this article from The Times Of India.
  • Coriander – Treatment of swellings, high cholesterol levels, diarrhea, ulcers, anemia, digestive disorders, menstrual disorders, eye care, skin disorders and blood sugar disorders some of coriander’s benefits. Click here and here for more info.
  • Cloves – Two words – Digestive health. Gut health is the path to longevity and cloves are big on that! More detailed information here.
  • Cardamom – Detox agent, promotes gut health and… drum roll… aphrodisiac! More info here.
  • Cinnamon – In traditional Chinese medicine, Cassia cinnamon is used for colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods. It’s also believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation and be particularly useful for people who tend to feel hot in their upper body but have cold feet. In Ayurveda, cinnamon is used as a remedy for diabetes, indigestion, and colds. More info here.

Holy shit!! One drink with so many health benefits? Heck yea! You better believe it ‘cos this ain’t BS. Every single one of these ingredients have been used for thousands of years in many traditional cuisines (Greek, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian etc.) and people have benefited immensely from them.

How do I include this in my diet?

Pretty damn simple. Drink it every once in a while. Chukku kaapi is very easy to make and is traditionally made as described below.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp Crushed ginger or dried ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper powder
  • 1 tsp Coffee powder (or per taste)
  • 5-10 Tulsi leaves
  • 3 tsp Jaggery
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • Cloves, cardamom and cinnamon per taste
  • 1-2 cups Water

Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients and bring to boil.
  • Strain and serve.

If this is too much work and/or ingredients for you, here are a couple of simplified recipes from Ginger and Mango and Hubpages.

Or even easier… buy it! Grandma’s Ginger Coffee is pretty darn awesome and I am addicted to it! It is made using ginger, tulsi, black pepper, coffee, cumin, fenugreek, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and palm jaggery. You can buy it in pretty much any Indian store or here is a link to where you can order it from.

  • Vegetarian? Yeah.
  • Vegan? Yeah.
  • Gluten free? Yeah.
  • Paleo? Yeah.
  • Primal? Yeah.
  • Real? Yeah.
  • Low carb? Yeah.
  • Low fat? Yeah.
  • Low calorie? Yeah
  • Tasty? Oh yeah!
  • Healthy? Heck yeah!

I don’t see a single reason to not include this to your diet! What do you think? Have you had/heard of Chukku Kappi before? Were you forced to gulp this when you were sick as a child? Tell us your experiences in the comments section.

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22 responses to “Awesome India: Chukku Kappi

  1. subbulakshmistoned January 3, 2011 at 4:19 am

    I have tried it once so far and didn’t like it as much. I am going to ask mom to make it for me NOW.

  2. Mamatha January 3, 2011 at 10:21 am

    RG, I’m sure you are familiar with WAPF and its principles. “Nourishing Traditions”, a cookbook by its president Sally Fallon, has many such recipes.

    Awesome post 🙂

    • RG January 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      WAPF is legit! I’ve read WAP’s book and been wanting to read Sally’s book. Hopefully I’ll find time soon to get back to reading!

    • RG January 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      Have not. You have? Reviews?

      • Lavanya January 5, 2011 at 5:35 am

        Good. Nice recipes and easy procedures. If you are really into the vaada-pitha-kapam thing, then this is ideal. While I don’t know my kapam from my left foot, I liked the science of marrying a cooling food item to a hot bod and so on. Tried a few recipes and they turned out yum.

  3. Prabhu January 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Hi Raj,
    Good article. People forget the amount of analysis and thought process that have gone into these simple recipes in those olden days. These are simple to make and good on you. Your efforts have really made me interested in nutritional food concepts. 🙂

  4. Vind January 4, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Where can we get this here in India?

    • RG January 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      pretty much anywhere in south India. In Kerala it’s an everyday every meal thing.

      Best option – get all or some of the ingredients and make it yourself. Takes 5mins.

  5. skp January 4, 2011 at 8:21 am

    If any one says chukku kappi is not tasty then I presume it might not have been prepared properly. Even without coffee powder you can make and it will be more delicious with its original flavour and taste… like Chinese tea this one is Indian Coffee… Raj… please investigate the Kerala Cumin boiled water… in Kerala every where you go, you can get only this boiled cumin water ..

  6. malpaz January 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    arent most those spices in curry powder??? i have been trying to use curry but i cant decide if i like it much or not lol

    • RG January 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Yes… but not all of them. In addition to that most store bought curry powders have a load of other crap (sodium) added. Exceptions exist… but you’ve got to look hard.

      Not liking curry is like not liking bacon! Come on now! Email me for some awesome curry recipes.

  7. Meenupriya January 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    hi Raj,

    I have tried it once and I felt that the addition of pepper might cause irritation to those with ulcer or acid reflux.
    But chukku coffee is good even without pepper.

    Good work. Thanks.

  8. Maala January 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I have had this a couple of times and as i am not a coffee person she would make it without the coffee in it. She would call it the Chukku Tani. I hated it as a kid as it was spicy for me. As i got older i started liking the taste and even though i was all fit and fine i would ask my grandmom to make. I really wish she was around now to make this for me 😦 😦 😦 😦 ….

    Awesome article Raj. This could be used in the research study where the US is trying to patent Tulasi .

  9. the mad momma January 8, 2011 at 11:46 am

    i dont know if this is a stupid question, but is it okay to have it without coffee?

  10. Jes November 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Hi RG
    Thank you so much for your very informative article and for the very interesting “chukku Kaapi” recipe, never heard of this before but I’m gonna try it. I’m a nature freak and love all that which is natural and have absolutely no faith in modern medicines.
    I’m Indian and love my curries too, so could you share some of your best south Indian chicken curry recipe and also a vegetable curry. Thank You!!
    O, by the way just one teeny weeny request … it kind of made me sick reading those words … could you take off the words “holy shit” ?? and replace it with “strange concoction” or something like that? Let not this wonderful Chukku Kaapi drink be compared to anything so gross. Thanks again.

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