Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Coconut tree – “ The KalpaVriksha”!

Coconut tree plays an important role in every Keralite homes. Keralites name the coconut tree as “kalpavriksha” which means-a celestial tree which grants all wishes. This saying is true since each part of coconut tree is useful, which fulfills many of our needs. This tree is that much related to the daily life of the people of Kerala.
We believe coconut tree grows well in the areas where it gets human presence. When the care increases it gives more fruits.

Each part of the coconut tree is used for various purposes.
The leaves of coconut tree are big that has a quill shape. Some of the leaves are removed from the tree twice in a year. Then slit these leaves through its centre. Using a special technique, plaits these leaves. These leaves use for thatching of the roof or making fences etc. Poor people would make huts using these plaited leaves. The mid ribs of the blades of the leaves are used to make brooms. The remaining parts of the leaves use as fire wood.

When a coconut tree is cut, its wood is used to make furniture. Some uses this as firewood if it is not good for constructing furniture. The roots of the coconut tree are very long, which normally go deep down. People dig down to take this out and it can be used as fire wood for many days.

About coconut, it’s a kind of big fruit which has two outer coverings. The first outer cover is green in color and thick. Usually it is removed by a sharp big knife. Recently many instruments have been invented for this purpose. The inside of the outer cover contains a fiber like substance which is strong and has different types of uses. Mostly this part is used for making coir products, like carpets, beds, rope etc. We can see, these outer covers are soaked in the water of the lagoons and later make coir products by the help of human and machines.

The next is the inner cover which is very hard to break. It is like a nut shell and normally breaks as two parts through the centre. The fleshy part of coconut usually takes from this hard cover by scraping. Some imaginative people use this empty coconut shell and outer cover to make crafts. It’s very enjoyable to see such products which adorn the drawing rooms of many houses. Most of the people use these two parts as fuel as usual since it is easy to use.

We can make coconut milk by blending and straining the grated fleshy white part of coconut. This is helpful in cooking especially for making curries, desserts etc. One can use grated coconut by blending only also. Malayalee people prepare most of their dishes using this nutritious fruit. Because of the high nutritive value of the coconut, it is good for giving coconut milk to children who is suffering nutritional deficiencies. I have heard, in old times, people suffering financial difficulties, used to take rice soup (gruel known as kanji) by adding little scraped coconut and salt in it. This was a delicious and healthy food for them. More over, this fleshy part can be eaten with dates or jaggery which is considered as a healthy snack for kids. Coconut contains many enzymes like monitol, albumin, catalase, investin, oxydase, lignin and tartaric acid. Coconut is a fatty fruit but has fewer amounts of carbohydrates.

Coconut milk is also known for its effect in the care of skin and hair. It makes hair smooth and gives excellent growth. By using coconut milk, skin also becomes soft and smooth. By boiling coconut milk for a long time by stirring, people of Kerala would make pure coconut oil themselves, which is very useful for the skin care.
This oil has a very pleasant smell and thus adds extra taste and aroma to the curries.

The other parts of the coconut tree are bunch of coconut flowers ( pookkula), tender coconut ( ilaneer ), and the top portion of the coconut tree (known as karimbu ).

The coconut flowers have a medicinal value and mostly this part goes for making special type of a pudding like sweet dish. In homes of Kerala, this dish is prepared when any of the coconut trees is cut or when some one of the house is having a back pain. The Pookkula lehyam made with this is taken by the delivered ladies, since this improves the health of uterus and stops bleeding. When any one of the women experiences a strong bleeding, the other family members prepare the juice of coconut flowers, by crushing it by the help of a mortar and wooden pestle. The person gets sudden relief after drinking this juice.

I believe there is no need to explain the use of tender coconut. It is well known for its thirst quenching benefit. Puddings, squashes, jams etc can be prepared from the soft flesh of the tender coconut according to people’s imagination and knowledge. This tender coconut water makes body cool. So it’s a highly preferable drink during summer. The very small tender coconut also has some medicinal properties. I have seen people applying it on head after grinding for the treatment of dandruff.

The top portion of the coconut tree has a very tasty particle in side it. Whenever a coconut tree is cut, children wait there to get these delicious parts. We all know, the toddy tapper climbs up the coconut tree and place his pot there. Next day, he comes to take the pure toddy from it. It was a usual scene in the village areas.

The fleshy white part of the coconut is allowed to dry in sun with its shell. After two or three days, the hard cover removes it self from the coconut flesh. Coconut oil is taken from these dried fleshy parts. The remaining part is the oil cake which goes as the food for the cattle.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

For wrinkle free skin

Coconut oil is the best to remove wrinkles. It helps to prevent sagging and age spots. Massage with fresh coconut oil to make the skin soft and smooth.