Gandrayani ( Angelica Glauca Edgew) is an aromatic root. It is used in Uttaranchali cuisine as a flavouring agent in vegetables and dals. Alternatively, it can be used also for tadka (tempering). Here, the root is powdered and is added to the tadka along with cumin seeds or mustard or garam masala. Roots are also used in the preparation of gin and liqueurs known as bitters. The root is used like hing (asafoetida), but its smell is not as overpowering as hing but it gives a distinct flavour to the food.
A medicinal herb, it increases appetite and is used to cure stomach ailments. The roots of the plant are pungent, aromatic, diaphoretic and diuretic. It increases appetite and combined with tonics it is given in typhoid conditions, bronchitis, flatulence, colic and pain in stomach.
In remote villages of Uttarakhand, it is used to cure stomach aches—the roots are powdered and boiled in water. It also has digestive properties, so is used in cooking dals.” Unlike in cities, where dals are available in the split or polished form, whole dals are consumed in most villages. Whole dals are difficult to digest and can cause flatulence. That’s why when dals are boiled a generous piece of gandrayani is added. It not only adds flavour, but also has digestive properties.
Gandrayani grows in the wild, but is also cultivated between August and September. The oil from the roots is considered highly valuable and is used for aromatherapy.
Its considered among the most under-researched of spices or medicinal herbs. In most research papers, it is clubbed with other similar herbs.
Gandrayani grows in slow moving streams, damp meadows, forest gullies in rocky substrata of Western Himalayas from Kashmir to Uttaranchal at an altitude of 2,700-3,400m. Dry roots yield essential oil (1.3 per cent), resin and valerianic acid and several furocoumarins such as angelicin, bergapten, xanthotoxin and umbelliferene,” says Organic Products from Uttaranchal, published by the Uttarakhand Organic Board.
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