I suffer from allergies — the cursed seasonal ones — and having inherited them from my father. I have, expectedly, passed them on to two of my three kids. Ah, it’s not something I could help, but it does not mean I am not reminded of my genetic gift to them each time they are afflicted with a bout of itchy nose, sneezes and teary eyes.
As I was getting ready to submit this article I was attacked by the sneezes and, just as I was about to pop a Benadryl pill, it suddenly dawned on me that I had suffered from allergies all my life and was able to combat them for a better part of my life when in Karachi (without medication) and not the US. Why?
The answer was simple — a homemade brew called joshanda.
My father was very aware and sympathetic to the fact that he had handed me allergies as a genetic gift and, because we shared this father-daughter bond, we commonly talked about the curse of the sneezes. They incapacitate at the most inopportune of times, and it’s how pathetic an onslaught can make one feel — the strong smell of a perfume can trigger them, a picnic in the glorious outdoors can potentially be ruined and result in a day in bed with a tissue box for a companion and so forth. My father had a solution for this suffering of mine and it was called the magic homemade joshanda.
I may have been a pre-teen 10, or a little younger, when my father, after having observed my misery come an allergy bout, decided that it was time for me to taste the brew.
“No way dad, it looks and smells like a witch’s brew,” I protested. But my dad had decided that the brew had definite benefits, so no child of his could be left denied. Bedtime came a little too early that day and I sat perched on my bed as dad insisted I sip the brew.
Beat your seasonal allergies with this homemade joshanda with all natural ingredients
My first taste of it was mighty nasty but, regardless, I had to finish every last sip of it, and I did. That day forward, our household had two officially allergy-stricken individuals. I had finally been inducted into the club.
The next decade-and-a-half was spent drinking the homemade brew through spring, summer and autumn, and the result, an allergy free me. Unbelievable as it may sound but I actually came to enjoy its taste and smell, it was the real stuff, no additives, no freeze dry concoction, no ready-to-drink sachet, but a simple medicinal brew filled with age old hikmat and nature’s best, a dad’s love.
My father would make a trip to Gizri or Dehli Colony to buy the individual herbs, soak them in water overnight, boil the essence down to two cups, then strain the concoction, and it was ready to drink. The word joshanda literally means ‘essence of the boiled stuff’, and that is exactly what I drank all those years.
My dear mother, who has passed since, was kind enough to pass on the exact amount of herbs needed to make the brew, and while passing on that information, relayed the story as to how my father stumbled upon the important recipe. It was at a family funeral, when my father apparently appeared teary eyed, not due to the death in the family but because of the apparent affliction of a bout of serious allergies, when a distant relative took pity on his condition and passed on the magic formula.
With the ingredient chit in hand and mission in heart, I begin my search for the herbs. I do not know of the outcome, I do not know if I will be successful, all I know is that the taste and smell of the real thing reminds me of a sweet man in my life, it brings memories of someone who loved to see me enjoy all seasons. It brings the warmth of parental love, and I call it joshanda love.
4 grams Munnaqqa, (dried black grapes)
2 grams Khatmi seeds, (althea)
4 grams Sapistaan, (Indian cherry)
6 grams Mulethi (sweet root, licorice)
2 grams Khubbazi seeds, (common mallow)
2 grams Banafshan, (sweet violet)
4 grams Unaab, (jujuba)
2 grams Bahi dana, (quince seeds)
Soak all ingredients in eight cups of water for a couple of hours, let it simmer for an hour, with the lid covered. Once reduced to approximately to six cups, turn off flame. Enjoy, share with family, this makes six servings. If you prefer making just a cup reduce ingredients to personal preference.
Published in Dawn, EOS, Octoberr 25th, 2020