Fresh amla fruit has an interesting flavor. I’d already been using the powdered version for a while when I found some in an Indian grocery store and bought a bag.
Cutting it open the first taste is quite sour and tart and my initial thought was that I might struggle to eat them all. I’d read though about a couple of tricks to try when eating amla.
The first was to taste a little salt before you bite into them. I tried this and it definitely improves the flavor. There was much more depth, less sourness and more of a combination of flavors, but hard to describe.
The next was to have a sip of water with it. Even stranger. The taste was suddenly sharply sweet.
I had a few more of these of these Indian gooseberries for the novelty value, but ended up using the rest of them, one a day, in the breakfast smoothie I’ll share coming up next.
If you do live near an Indian grocer who can get amla fresh and want to try some unique and unusual flavors then this would be the best way to have them. Just a single fruit a day can have some amazing health benefits.
If not, powdered amla is inexpensive, easy to use and full to bursting with antioxidants. It’s a mainstay of my daily health regime.
Five Ways to Use Amla in Your Diet
Fresh is great if you can get it, even occasionally. Some Indian specialty grocers online have weekly deliveries from India and will send out orders the same day. If you live near an Indian market they may also sell them. Look for firm fruit as apparently the older ones can shrivel a little.
Not all of us have access to fresh amalaki though so let’s look at some other options.
Amla juice is popular in India but unfortunately most of them have added sugar or, even worse, glucose syrup. It’s fairly pointless to pay for a health food that is full of sugar in my opinion (same goes for amla candy obviously). The preservative sodium benzoate is also often used, which is best avoided where possible.
Local Indian grocers may stock a good version of amla juice, but based on what I’ve found online I wouldn’t currently recommend it. If anyone does know of a high quality, reasonably priced source of amla juice please share it in the comments below.
Pickles and Chutney
Amla pickles and chutney are an interesting way to get the health benefits of amla into your diet. They can add a spicy kick to steamed vegetables and rice and should be available from specialist Indian stores. Once again though, if your health is more important than the taste, try to avoid brands with excessive sugar, salt, preservatives or flavor enhancers.
If you do have access to fresh Indian gooseberries, here’s a simple recipe for amla chutney. Take 300 grams of amla fruit, 200 grams of cilantro, 50 grams of green chilies, a small piece of ginger and sea salt to taste. Blend them all up well in a good food processor. Store in a jar and cover with olive oil or avocado oil to prevent oxidization. It should keep for at least a month in the fridge.
Whole fruit amla powder is, in my opinion, the best and most inexpensive option for using it in your daily diet. Due to amla’s positive effects on your digestion, some practitioners recommend taking a small amount of it before each meal. Personally, I find I really feel it first thing in the morning and mostly use it then, often in the afternoon before gym as well.
Suggested dosage for Indian gooseberry powder is 1 teaspoon, around 4 grams. While there are no commonly reported side effects of amla, as with any new health supplement is best to begin slowly and see how your body tolerates it.
You could start with just a quarter of a teaspoon, approximately 1 gram, building up to half a teaspoon or 2 grams over the course of week. If this is well tolerated, the following week you could increase your dose to a maintenance dose of 4 grams.
I’ve read of some Ayurvedic practitioners recommending a teaspoon of powdered amla after each meal to help treat digestive problems and acidity in the body. This would likely be a temporary dosage though and it would be advisable to seek the advice of someone knowledgeable in Ayurveda if you intend to use it in these larger amounts.
Some sites recommend taking amla powder with a teaspoon of sugar or honey. Once again, that seems like unneeded sugars when so many of us are already overloaded with stuff (manuka honey with all of its beneficial properties could be a good exception).
While the powder isn’t sweet, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be mixed up in a small glass of water, perhaps with some fresh lemon juice for cleansing the digestive system first thing.
In the past, I’ve sprinkled it on soft fruit like bananas and papaya, mash it up with a fork and barely tasted it. It can also be mixed in with a small amount of good quality fruit juice (but be aware that large glasses of commercial juice can really spike your blood sugar, often leading to a tiring crash after that brief sugar high).
These days, the best way to have amla that I’ve found is to mix it into a superfood smoothie. I share the complete recipe with lots of variations next.
Amla powder is also a key ingredient of two of the most famous Ayurvedic preparations – triphala and chyavanprash. I’ll be covering them in detail ahead.
The simplest way of all to use Indian gooseberries is in the very popular amla powder capsules. While I usually tend to find the powder better, these Amla C Gold capsules have a very high percentage of antioxidant tannins and beta glucogallin and are good value on special. They can be taken just before a meal to help improve digestion and are a convenient way to get its health benefits where ever you are.
I’d be interested to hear of any other ways you know of to use amla. While it is still relatively unknown outside of the Indian community in the United States, I don’t think a superfood this good will stay that way for much longer.