Monday 21 April 2008

Desi Nuske for New Mothers

Because of the number of new mums and mum-to-be around me, I thought I would put up some of the recipes (or home remedies - desi nuske as we call them) that my family and many people from the subcontinent use around this time..

The most important are the following two and can be adapted to suit taste and preference, but the last one is also very useful. As always, keep in mind your personal dietary needs and quirks (i.e. nut allergies) and avoid if in doubt (or better still ask your doctor).

Saffron Milk.

When I started to go into labour with my first child, my lodger put this on the hob for me. The only problem is keeping it down as it can threaten to come up later in labour. One of my friends tried this before me and just threw it up. I think it did help me as the baby slipped out fairly easily. I forgot to drink this with the second baby and he took much longer. A Trinidadian colleague told me that their equivalent is eating Okra as its slimy and I guess the English version is castor oil (which doctors tend to discourage).

I cup of milk
A teaspoon of saffron – for strength
A good tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter). If this is unavailable then olive oil, but I think this is very hard to get down.
A small handful of nuts (almonds, pistachio, cashew) – for strength
A few dreid dates (3 or 4)

Let the milk cook on low heat for a while (15-20 minutes), then sieve and drink a while before you leave for the hospital


This is something my mother made for me and every women in Pakistan who can afford it makes or has made for her. Its benefits are supposed to include helping your body heal, helping your milk come in more abundantly, increased strength and stronger bones and joints. One of my great aunts used to make two buckets of this, one for the last months of pregnancy and one for after the birth. She had 16 children and still looked young and fit. I personally would not recommend this before the birth as its ayurvedic property is Heat and it might even induce the birth. Please keep in mind the amounts are approximate and can be changed to suit. The ingredients can be found in an Indian food store

1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup ground almonds (not too fine)
1 cup ground pistachio (not too fine)
1 cup ground cashew nuts (not too fine) all for strength
½ cup grated coconut if desired
1 tablespoon finely chopped dates if desired
2 tablespoons chopped raisins if desired.
2 cups semolina (suji)
1 large chunk (approx 400 grams) gur/jaggery (raw sugar) ground roughly– for taste and heat
Handful of char magaz (mixture of dried pumpkin, melon and watermelon seeds), ground roughly.
100 grams gaund (edible gum crystals)
1 heaped tablespoon of ground ginger root – for heat (this is a key ingredient, but if you hate the taste you can decrease the amount. Also, the raw sugar can mask it)
3 tablespoons cous-cous (poppy seeds)
50 grams phool makhane (dried lotus seeds) – these are supposed to help the milk kick in and keep it plentiful.
1 teaspoon ground ajwain (carom seeds)
2 tablespoons Kamarkas (Butea Frondosa). The Indian name means “fortifying the back” and that's what it’s for.
1 tablespoon saunf (aniseed) ground
1 teaspoon green cardamom (chotti elaichi) ground

Use the heaviest cooking pot you have and melt the ghee on a low heat. Fry the gaund in the ghee, first over high and then over low heat, till cooked through (i.e. when it has puffed up). Remove and grind. Fry the suji and makhane on a low heat till golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to fry until golden. Stir well or use hands to rub the ingredients into each other. The mixture should stick together but can be slightly crumbly. Can be poured into a tray and sliced into small squares (inch squared) or formed into small balls if sticky enough (inch diameter approx) or eaten with a spoon – two spoonfuls is plenty. Too much is not good because the formula is so strong; also if you are breastfeeding and you’re baby gets heat rash, it’s probably too strong for you.

Chicken Soup

1 litre water
1 small chicken pieced
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2-3 cloves of garlic – as much as you like
Small chunk of ginger (peeled) if desired. Salt to taste
2 tablespoons mixed masala – whole not ground. This is a mixture of coriander seeds, bay leaves, black cardamom pods, peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon and available from Indian food stores.

Place all of the ingredients in a pan and bring to boil, then let simmer for further 15-20 minutes. Drain soup.
The chicken is removed and can be eaten as is, cooked in a curry, coated in a tandoori masala and grilled.


  1. Aslamu alakum sis
    very intresting post , my mum makes me something similar being DESI but from the North of Indian it differs in Varitaion, we have a panjerre too, she makes me 'sadola' made with sond(dried ginger) also pinniya, which is like the pangerre but ladoo shape containing all the delights you mentioned. Now here in Algeria when the women enter the pangs of labour she is given endless cups of teasan to drink made from , cinnimon sticks, cloves, kubbeckia (i don't yet know the English term for this), i throw in some green and balck cardomons for extra strenght too (must be the desi in me),i tend to eat dates (fresh) in the bulid up to my due date also while in labour as Maryam (mother of Isa Alahiysalam) while in the pangs of labour under a trees was told to eat its fruits which were dates to help her pain , subhan Allah, the women in Algeria will drink small amounts of olive oil neat , its certainly an aquired taste and be ready too heave but makes a slippery passage into the world as we know it!!!
    I have ofen been told about the chicken soup for new mothers from my Pakistani counterparts growing up, tasted some once, very nice indeed!!! Mum made me something similar but less spicy, i always think the Pakisatani pallet is far more liking hotter chilli consumption than the Indian palett in IMHO ofcourse!!!! Its nice to read you are still using these acient methods of natural assistance as alot of cultre has the risk of dieing out over time esp in the west.

    1. Does anyone know what kubbeckia is? If so please share

  2. Ooh I love panjeeri! I am not Desi by birth but have been given the title of honorary Desi the Aunties LOL! Thank you for the post :).

  3. Assalma-alaikam
    Sister Rainbow, I forgot the thing about eating dates, thanks for mentioning it here. Interesting about the olive oil, it really is hard to get down though.

    Sister HA,
    Welcome to Desihood. If you've been eating Panjeeri, you realy must be getting desi.

  4. OMG! I love Panjeeri.
    My Mom used to make it for me, when i was growing up(if thats what you say) ... :-). Thanks for the recipe dear.

  5. i would like to know whether i can have panjiri during the pregnancy, i am four months pregnant..

  6. Do not eat it while pregnant.

    1. Assalam-alaikam Anonymous,
      I would always recommend checking with your doctor before you try something new during pregnancy to be on the safe side.

    2. Anonymous30 June, 2016

      Sound advice. My mum has been studied ayurveda for decades. A family friend of ours was being fed panjeri for documented benefits after giving birth, while she was breastfeeding. Her baby who was fine started getting red raw eczema. Mom asked her if she was taking panjeri... answer was yes. She said stop taking it a drink plenty water to flush. Baby eczema gradually went away. Family friend thought was something else so started it again after the village buddhiyan kept nagging who and same thing happened again. Stopped it again baby ok and not taken it since. Her recovery after pregnancy was fine without it. It contains very garam ingredients... baby.s delicate system can't always digest the components. Please becareful. I love the stuff but I'm an adult

  7. Pls stop using the word Desi for Pakistanis and Muslims.... these people have a very different culture, sensibilities... not saying whether these are bad or good, just different from desis.... these are best called Pakis.

    1. Assalam-alaikam Anonymous,
      the use of the term here does not refer to Muslims at all, nor are these specifically Muslim recipes. The term refers to South Asian culture. Wikipedia defines it as:
      The word ' desi' evolved from the Sanskrit term 'desh', which stands for country. With time its usage shifted more towards referring to people, cultures, and products of a specific region . Now a days the word desi is a term for the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia and, increasingly, to the people, cultures, and products of their diaspora.[

  8. Dis is all gud but whats should we do if b.p is high?

    1. Salaam Sister,
      then its better to take advice from your health advisor/doctor as to what i appropriate to be on the safe side.

  9. Hello
    I am pregnant and don't have a mother she passed away, I wanted to know if you can make Panjiri for me 😞 I will pay you please let me know. I am sorry I know you don't know me but ek aurat hi aurat ki madad karsakti hai. Please reply

    1. Assalam-alaikam Sister Farheen,
      I hope you are keeping well insh'Allah. I had this made for me and haven't attenpted it myself. I would feel confident in making the whole thing myself. I am not sure where you are based, sometimes you can find ladies locally who you can pay to make it for you. May Allah (SWT) keep you and baby well insh'Allah.

  10. I made it today myself. Im due in 4 weeks and have no elders with me so i have to do it all by myself. It is not hard just time consuming and needs muscle to fry all the ingredients.

    1. Salaam Sister,
      May Allah SWT make it easy for you and bless you with an easy delivery and healthy baby. Last week I came across panjeeri in a Pakistani sweet/mithai shop called Nirala. It didn't have all of the ingredients above, but is an alternative for those that can't make it.

      My mum said the same, it takes time to amke and makes your arms tired from cooking all the ingredients.

  11. is there a desi totka fro for blood flow after birth, i stopd bleeding after 11 days and my doc says its normal

    1. Hi Ann,
      I have not come across one so far I am afraid. Do get a second opinion from another Dr if you are not satisfied or are still worried.

  12. Aslkm could u clearly tell me what to do before going to hospital for delivery...?? As I m on my 7month ....this is my second delivery time first was girl and it was normal but it lot of pain so help me dear

  13. Aslkm could u tell me what to have before going to the hospital for delivery as I'm on my 7 month first one was girl it was normal but with pain..this is second help me jazakallah

    1. Assalam-alaikam Arzoo,
      The most important thing at this time is to make sure you are getting adeqaute nutrition for both you and baby, through a healthy, balanced diet.
      There are a lot of nuske for making the baby come quickly, but the baby will come when it is the right time and the pain is part of the process.
      Saying that, you can read here about the birth of my fourth child which was my easiest:

      In this post I describe two things which were recommended to me – first to recite “Ya Mujeebo” often which is one of the names of Allah and means “the One who responds to prayers”. The second thing I was told was to recite the following verse from the Quran 500 times with full belief and trust in Allah (SWT):

      Thumma Ussabila Yassarahu
      Then He eased the way for him
      (Quran 80:20)

      Before giving any amount of charity I could afford to the masjid. The sister who told me insisted that I would give birth very quickly. I did so and I truly believe that this verse from the Quran helped me.

  14. What is the right way to eat kamarkas? Please reply!

    1. Assalam-alaikam Noor Afshan,
      It can be ground up and added to milk in small quantities or as per my panjeeri recipe, ground and added to the panjeeri mix.

    2. Wa'alaikumus salaam
      Jazak Allah