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Soma

Soma is an ancient drink popular among the early Indo-Iranians and the Indo-Aryans or Vedic and Persian cultures. It is frequently mentioned in the Rig veda, praising its energizing or intoxicating qualities.

It is said to be prepared by squeezing juice from a mountain plant. Though not clear which plant, it has been variously hypothesized as psychedelic mushroom, cannabis, peganum harmala, opium or ephedra.

In the Vedas, Soma is portrayed as sacred god. Soma is similar to the mythological Greek ambrosia, the god's favoured drink. The consumption of Soma by humans was believed to bestowed divinity on them. In the Rig veda, the plant is described to be growing in the mountains of himalaya, having long stalks and a yellow color. The drink used to be prepared by the priests and was taken before religious rituals and war. The juice was then mixed with other ingredients such as milk and honey to make it palatable.

The mysterious plant called soma by the Indians and haoma by the Iranians grew in the Hindukush, as believed by many scientits and historians. The famous ayurvedacharya Susruta wrote that the best Soma was found in the upper Indus region and Kashmir valley. Over the years, knowledge of the sacred plant was lost altogether and non-psychedelic substitutes are now used in place of the mysterious soma.

The juice extracted from the soma plant was called Soma-Rasa and was described to have a sharp taste. It was either taken as it is or mixed with milk, curd or honey. The drink was given to the deities and was forbidden to the commoners. Only the Brahman's and royalty was allowed to drink it. It was an integral part of ayurveda, an ancient vedic system of medicine practiced even today.

There has been much speculation as to the original Sauma plant. It was reported in vedic texts to be hallucinogenic. Among the various suggestions, more or less convincing candidates have been cannabis, ephedra, syrian rue, ginseng, opium, rhubarb and wild chicory. In the late 1960s, scientist R. Gordon Wasson proposed a new candidate for soma - the fly-agaric mushroom. However, Syrian rue started to take the place of the fly-agaric mushroom as the most likely candidate for soma, since its hallucinogenic effects are still known among the Indo-Iranians even today. Recent discovery in ancient shrines in Russia, of the remains of opium, cannabis and ephedra in ritual vessels dated between 2000-1000 BC show that soma may have been a psychoactive drink comprising of cannabis and ephedra or opium and Ephedra.

Despite so many painstaking efforts made by scientists over the years to discover the identity of soma, the mystery is still not satisfactorily solved. Among botanists it is commonly refereed to as the soma-haoma problem.

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Dal moth is a spicy and crispy snack made from gram flour, asafoetida, turmeric powder, chili powder, moong, sugar, amchur, oil and salt. Its delicious and is popular as an anytime snack or serves as a very good tea snack. [See Recipe]

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