Charoli: An Indian Spice With Nutty Qualities

Charoli is the name for the seeds of the Buchanania lanzan plant. The seeds are also commonly known as chironji seeds or almondettes. The Buchanania lanzan plant grows wild in forests all over India. Charoli is commonly identified with food from the state of Maharashtra, which spans western and central India. The seeds are harvested by the state’s tribal population, for whom they are a source of income.

According to practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, charoli can enhance your life force and purify your blood. Charoli has been used for centuries in India and is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts.

These days, the Buchanania lanzan trees in India are considered a vulnerable medicinal plant due to excessive deforestation and over-exploitation.

Charoli flavor profile

Charoli can be used whole and is often eaten as a nut. Its flavor is the same sweet and nutty flavor that is common to almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts. When heated, the flavor intensifies and it can take on a mild bitterness and a flavor that has been likened to the flavor of nutmeg. That mild bitterness also makes it useful as a savory spice.

Health benefits of charoli

Charoli contains a range of health improving compounds, such as:

  • Minerals: While it is not as healthy as the almonds to which it is often compared, charoli is a good source of iron and phosphorus. It also contains a small amount of calcium.
  • Fiber: While it does not contain a large amount of fiber per serving, it does contain a modest amount of it that can be beneficial for health.
  • Protein: Charoli is an excellent source of protein. It contains more than six times the amount in an equivalent serving of peanuts.

As a staple of Ayurveda, the seeds have many medicinal benefits ascribed to them. Charoli is used in different forms of Indian traditional medicine as a febrifuge and as an emetic. It is also said to be good for treating or preventing these health problems:

  • Gastrointestinal ailments: The oil in charoli seeds is believed to be effective for making bowel movements more regular and can help to make stool more solid for remedying diarrhea. Charoli is also effective for treating ulcers, both in the intestines and in the mouth.
  • Reproductive issues: Charoli seeds are said to have aphrodisiac properties and are able to restore libido.
  • Obesity: Because they are rich in protein and do contain some fiber, charoli seeds are able to increase the feeling of fullness and may thus help to prevent overeating. As a result, a person will eat fewer calories and lose weight.
  • Low energy: Charoli is often used as a tonic and can help to boost energy to prevent fatigue.

Common uses

The most common use of charoli in India is as a topping for desserts like halwas and a yogurt dessert called shrikhand that includes it along with cardamom and sugar. It is also used in a drink similar to eggnog called piyush.

It has savory uses, especially in the state of Maharashtra. When ground into a powder, it makes an effective thickener for soups and sauces. Ground charoli seeds can also be used in batters. One popular application in Maharashtra is in qalia, a stew that contains mutton and a range of spices that is both thickened and flavored with charoli seeds. Elsewhere in India, ground charoli seeds are used to flavor kabobs and added to rice in biryanis.

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