Srinagar: Having Iftaar with family is the best part of breaking the Ramadan fast, made all the more refreshing by special healthy drinks. One of the most popular among them is Kateer Sharbat (tragacanth drink).
Tragacanth gum or Gond Kateera in Hindi is the sap derived from the thorny, low-growing shrub tragacanth. The odourless and tasteless gum is water-soluble and is used as the main ingredient in a special Iftar drink in Kashmir.
Tragacanth gum is used in several industries for its medicinal properties, besides other varied uses. It is an important part of Ayurvedic treatment as well. It is produced in the mountainous regions of the Middle East where Iran is the biggest producer.
The gum is derived from the roots and the stem of the plant by making an incision. The sap is then collected and dried as flakes or crystals.
Although it can be part of several food items that are consumed on daily basis, in Kashmir its main use is in making the Iftar sherbet.
As per experts, Gond Katira has several health benefits but the best thing about this sap is that it cools the body during summers and warms the body in winters.
It is helpful for treating heat stroke because the gum acts as a cooling agent. In summers, a drink can be prepared by soaking the gum in water and creating a drink out of it when it has become downy.
Among other benefits, it treats constipation due to its purgative properties and is effective in treating sexual inadequacy or weakness in men.
The sap of tragacanth has anti-ageing properties, as it is beneficial for the skin and delays the development of wrinkles and fine lines.
It is also good for new mothers who become weak after delivery. It is said to be rejuvenating for the mother and nutritious for the baby.