Nepali Times
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Exotic Nepali drinks


RUBEENA MAHATO


PICS: BHEEM RAJ RAI

Forget foreign brands when it comes to fruit juice in Nepal. Local options like bel (marmelos) and sea buckthorn juice will have you asking for more once you experience their exquisite taste and enjoy their health benefits.

Fabulous marmelos
Marmelos, which grows wild in the Tarai region of Nepal, had long been an underutilised crop before it hit the stands in a bottled avatar. Now marketed by the Alternative Herbal Company under the brand name Marmelous, they sell 15-20,000 bottles of juice every month during the summer.

Some say marmelos comes closest to litchi in terms of taste, although it is a whole lot healthier. The juice is packed with vitamins and minerals and comes sans artificial colours and flavours. The use of marmelos in Ayurveda is well known, and it is used as a cardio tonic, to treat indigestion, and is prized for its memory-enhancing properties. Bel juice also revitalises the body instantly and fights fatigue.

"People who know of its health benefits keep coming back for more," says Gobinda Ghimire of the Alternative Herbal Company. But it is not just health you are looking out for when buying Marmelous. You are promoting the local economy as well. Fifty-one percent of the total sales of the juice go to the local producers in Siraha and Bardiya, who have been trained by the company to collect and process the fruit.

Local farmers and community forest user groups are also making good money from the sales of marmelos that just rotted in the woods earlier. "A single person earns up to Rs 2,400 everyday from selling marmelos," Ghimire says.
One glass of Marmelous can make four glasses of sorbet without adding sugar. This is why they are being widely used in wedding parties as well. With restaurants in Kathmandu offering bel juice, the demand is likely to rise even more. Dhokaima Cafť, for instance, offers a bel juice cocktail, 'Nepal libre'.

Wonder fruit, sea buckthorn
The people of the Khumbu had never imagined that they would be serving local sea buckthorn juice to tourists, as it was a fruit they had frowned upon as bird food till now. Today, sea buckthorn is a must-have item on menus throughout hotels and teahouses in the Khumbu; it has become an important alternative income source for high mountain farmers.

Locals collect the sour berries that grow wild along the river banks and the trekking trails in the region and process them manually to create a highly concentrated juice. This initiative started after the Khumbu Alpine Conservation Council, with support from The Mountain Institute, trained locals to turn sea buckthorn into an edible health drink.

There are few fruits in the world that can match up to the nutritional credentials of sea buckthorn. Largely cultivated in China for its medicinal properties, sea buckthorn is being heralded as the new wonder fruit. This citrus fruit has 15 times the Vitamin C found in oranges, and is also rich in carotenoids, Vitamin E, amino acids, and minerals.

Sea buckthorn has long been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to treat diarrhoea, ulcers, and cardiac disease, and to promote tissue regeneration. Russian scientists have developed drugs from sea buckthorn oil to increase immunity. The berries are also believed to be potent against cancer and the dengue virus. And the good news is, sea buckthorn grows like anything in the alpine regions of Nepal, from Mugu to Taplejung.

However, juice made from sea buckthorn has caught on only in tourist regions like the Khumbu, Mustang, and Manang, where demand is high. Manual processing and the lack of human resources means that production is limited, and it is already difficult to sustain the huge demand.

"The demand for sea buckthorn juice is so high that imported juices have been almost displaced and we cannot even supply enough to Namche, let alone Kathmandu," says Ang Rita Sherpa of The Mountain Institute. But they are not pushing hard for mass production either. "We want the initiative to progress gradually without damaging the ecosystem, our priority is local consumption," he adds.

Apart from making for a healthy drink, sea buckthorn also helps control soil erosion and retains water. There is enough sea buckthorn not just to produce juice for export but also for use in the pharmaceutical industry. "If the government brings in the right policies, we can transform Karnali in a few years from sea buckthorn alone," says Youbaraj Pokharel of the Tree Improvement and Silvicultural Unit, who was awarded the Abraham Conservation award by WWF last year for his work in promoting sea buckthorn.

For now, Kathmanduites will have to either wait or ask their friends returning from the Khumbu, Manang, or Mustang to get a taste. Sea buckthorn is on the horizon, but you may have to go to the source first.

READ ALSO:
Oriental tastes
One tree at a time
Marvelous Marmelous



1. Muwgli Cordemans
Long live sea buck thorn,i absolutely love it, delicious, ramro!!!!!!!
Can t wait to get a taste of marmelos!!!


2. KiranL
Amazing and positively slanted story on how Nepal's unsung heros are showing entrepreneurship where it counts: by giving jobs to women at the grassroots. Combining this with good marketting as Marmelos has done is really cool. This is what we need more of in Nepal. But judging by the lack of feedback on this article compared to, say, phone banking or politics, we can see where the priorities of Nepali Times readers are. Thank you editor, for also thinking of the small people.


3. Gole
One such discovery was making juice cold drink out of Lali Guras Flower. There are Chutro Kafal . Laudsi is very popular with Expats as well.Herbal teas with many plants are the tradition  in Ayurveda as KAnda.
But finally the bottling test export from Nepal. Himalayan Spring Water Can create real bonanza.
Multi-nationals can join in. This can be the greaKeep them out of reach of polical leader's sons and budi-sasujs( apology to Surendra K.C.).Let not Rasuwa repeat again . Don't drive the Korean out as some of  you have done there with the connivance of political son. . NO VISIT FROM POLITICAL ANIMALS.
No room for greedy Kripan political dons. keep  projects out of their reach.


4. DG
Seebuckthorn ( Nepali-- ma Chuck) was being used in Dang and the west as CHUCK, for makig achar only. Now the people of Kathmandu shpold try it making Aluko Achar also.


5. Battisputali
Rubeena Mahato has to be one of the best journalists currently working in Nepal. She  deserve a prize for her impressive run of stories on rural development in Nepal. Story after story has shed light on amazing things happening in Nepal (that is not Kathmandu). Compare her detailed news stories to minor blurbs on other English (or Nepali) language dailies and you will see what i mean.


6. Battisputali
Scratch that rural development part.I forgot the story on eye-donation and Tilganga, which was amazing.


7. aawartan.org
In this age of Web 2.0, please consider using bigger, higher resolution pictures. If you are concerned about your bandwidth costs, just host them free on some popular site, or even on your facebook page.


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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