Medically reviewed by Shahzadi Devje, Registered Dietitian (RD) & Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
Gul papri is a traditional Gujarati sweet delight, offered to new moms to support postpartum recovery and boost milk production. Made with wheat flour, ghee (clarified butter), jaggery (sugar from cane juice) and unique spices. Rich, soft and simply melts in your mouth.
What did you eat to help you recover from childbirth? Were you reluctant to try some of the traditional desi remedies? Or did you embrace all that the moms pushed your way?
I have to admit, there was some reluctancy on my part (wanted to lose the extra pounds, not gain more). But, after hearing a myriad of benefits, coupled with my eagerness to recover quickly, I was open to sampling.
My first experience of gul papri was over 13 years ago, when our first bundle of joy, Roohi, was born. I recall fondly, my mother-in-law handed me this gigantic container. I opened the lid, and was consumed by the strong scent of warm earthy spices. The container was full to the brim with slices, resembling mithai - traditional sweets often enjoyed on special occasions and festivals in the South Asian culture. I guess, one could consider this as mithai; it was certainly a very special occasion.
Gul papri, commonly offered as part of the post-partum care in some South Asian cultures, is made with katlu powder; a unique spice mix of around 32 different Ayurvedic herbs and spices. The spices are mixed in optimum quantities to boost intake of vitamins, proteins and other nutrients. Katlu powder, along with the other ingredients are believed to have healing and strengthening properties, and touted as milk-production boosters. Some even refer to the recipe as katlu.
Key herbs and spices used to make katlu powder with their purported health benefits include:
- Fenugreek seeds - support nursing mothers with breast milk supply. There are anecdotal reports of powdered fenugreek seed 1-2 grams up to three times daily increasing milk production in lactating women. However, clinical studies are limited and conflicting. One preliminary study suggests that women who drink fenugreek tea three times daily during the second week postpartum have increased milk volume compared to the first week postpartum without the tea.
- Turmeric - to support internal healing and acts as an anti-inflammatory through the action of curcumin - a powerful antioxidant
- Dry ginger powder - provides heat to the body. According to Ayurvedic principals, cold foods are avoided as they are hard to digest, drawing water from the body, which may lead to constipation and gas. Ginger also offers anti-inflammatory effects
- Dill seeds powder – to support healthy digestion
- Fennel seeds powder - Contains dietary fibre, and is rich in iron and vitamin C; offering anti-inflammatory qualities
In addition to katlu powder, almonds and pistachios; rich sources of energy, protein, fats, and minerals are combined with wheat flour, ghee (to help nourish the body and support bowel movements) and jaggery to create a crumbly doughy mixture. Gond (edible gum taken from the bark of trees) is also added, providing heat to the body and also to support lactation.
Just look how beautiful gond is. It appears like jewels when bought, and swells when fried in ghee.
The mixture is flattened into a baking tray, lined with parchment paper, and finished with a sprinkle of nuts.
There are different types of recipes used in the South Asian culture to support healing and recovery in the postpartum period.
What foods were you given after birth? Share in the comment below.
- 230 ml water
- 400 g jaggery
- 320 g ghee
- ¼ cup gond
- 500 g wheat chapati flour I use multigrain with oats and lentils
- 1 tbsp katlu powder
- ¼ cup almonds coarsely ground
- ¼ cup pistachios coarsely ground
- 5 saffron strands
- 1 tsp green cardamom pods
- In a saucepan, add the water and jaggery and cook on slow heat, until the jaggery is melted
- In a separate pan, on medium heat, add 30 g of ghee. Once melted, add the gond, stirring to coat with ghee and cook until they swell and change colour. Set aside
- In a separate pan on medium heat, add the remaining ghee. Once melted, stir in the flour, katlu powder and cook until brown. Stir continuously to prevent the flour mixture from sticking to the pan and burning
- Add the cooked gond, most of the nuts (leaving some aside for sprinkling on top) and the jaggery to the flour mixture. Stir continuously on slow/medium heat, ensuring that the mixture does not stick to the pan and burn
- Once the mixture dries and thicken, add the saffron and cardamom and stir well
- Transfer the mixture into a baking tray, lined with parchment paper and flatten with a pallet knife
- Sprinkle with the remaining nuts and slice into diamond-shaped pieces
Please note the nutritional analysis values are estimates and suggestions. This nutrition facts table does not know your life - your body, including your hunger and satiety cues, change daily. It's okay to eat more or less. Say no to food guilt and instead embrace mindful eating.
Shahzadi is an award-winning registered dietitian (RD) regulated by the College of Dietitians of Ontario and certified diabetes educator (CDE), approved by the Canadian Diabetes Educator Certification Board. A YouTuber and notorious foodie, she's dedicated to helping you end your cooking wars, transform your health, and be the best version of yourself! Shahzadi is an on-air nutrition expert for CTV Your Morning and a regular contributor for Global News and other national media outlets.