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Amla are small, round berries with light-green skin. The skin is almost translucent, with 6 to 8 faint yellow striations, making the Amla appear to be segmented. The skin is tough, yet thin with a flesh that is crisp and juicy with a taste both sour and bitter. The flesh of an Amla is also somewhat astringent. In the center of the berry lies a hexagonal-shaped stone with 6 small seeds.
Amla is available during the winter months.
Amla or Indian gooseberry, is the subtropical fruit of a tree of the same name, native to India. The marble-like berries are not only used in a variety of food preparations, they are also highly revered in Ayurvedic medicine. Known botanically as Phyllanthus emblica, Amla is also known as Emblic, stemming from its other known botanical name: Emblica officinalis.
Amla fruit has exceptional antioxidant content; the berries are juiced for their extracts and dried into powders for capsules. Studies have shown its nutrient content to have phenols, flavonoids, and tannins, along with a wide array of other antioxidants. The Indian gooseberries contain 20 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.
Amla can be eaten fresh, though the bitter taste is better offset with a sprinkle of salt. To rid the berries of their bitter flavor, soak them in salt water before preparing. Traditionally used in India for pickles and chutneys, the Indian gooseberry has both sweet and savory applications. Amla murabba is a sweet preserve served with Indian flatbread. Amla can be baked into tarts or the juice used as a flavoring for vinegars and marinades.
Amla has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to restore health and vitality and to quench thirst. The fruit stimulates the salivary glands. It is prescribed for diabetes and high cholesterol, digestive health, heart health, coughs and throat inflammation. In rural India, it is said that if you take a sip of water after eating an Amla, the water will take on a very sweet taste.
Amla is native to the subtropical South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Amla is grown in topical desert areas of India and is commercially produced in northern India. It is revered by the Hindu and its use has been woven into religious rites and ceremonies. During World War II powder, candies and tables made from dried Amla were given to Indian soldiers as a vitamin C supplement.
Recipes that include Amla. One is easiest, three is harder.