Manathakkali keerai kootu

Black nightshadow (manathakali keerai) is one of the common plants grown in the kitchen gardens in Tamilnadu. Children like to take tiny red/ black berries and chew their leaves as they are useful to treat mouth ulcers. Manathakkali leaves are also useful for adults to treat stomach ulcers and to protect the liver. Still, people in rural TamilnaduIt use these greens to treat Hepatitis. We prepare keerai kootu in different ways: sometimes we prepare kootu with/ without coconut, and other times we prepare this with/ without lentils. Here I have added spicy coconut paste and cooked green gram lentils (moong dal) for making manathakkali keerai kootu.

Greens Curry with Cottage Cheese

Greens curry is one of the most favorite Indian curries not only for Indians but also for the people across the globe. It is a traditional winter curry prepared using different leafy greens & cottage cheese (paneer). Palak paneer is the most commonly prepared curry using palak (spinach) all over India, and saag paneer is prepared using mustard leaves popular mainly in Odisha, West Bengal, Kashmir & Punjab. Here I have prepared this curry with the locally grown Amaranth leaves (mulai keerai).

Murungakkai Masala (Moringa mash)

Moringa trees are the most common trees grown in almost every house here in South India. Despite the facts that moringa trees attract pests and they are so fragile that they can not withstand strong winds, we grow this tree mainly to enjoy the benefits of nutritious leaves, flowers & pods. Normally, we don’t allow the children to go near this tree as woolly caterpillars found on it may cause itchy skin hives when contact with their strands. Also it is a common phenomenon that branches of drumstick trees break apart and falling down during windy or rainy season.

Vatha Kuzhambu

The larger population of the world generally prefers to preserve their bountiful seasonal fruits, vegetables & other fresh produce by freeze-drying them. But we, Indians, prefer to sun-drying our fresh herbs, berries & spices. We have been using sun-dried (dehydrated) ingredients for culinary and medicinal purposes for over 1000 years. Ayurveda, Siddha, and other Indian medicine systems prescribe medicines prepared using sun-dried herbs or fresh herbs. We use dried herbs for making powders & tablets (chooranam) and fresh herbs for external applications, or for making decoctions, etc. We also prepare delicious vatha kuzhambu, a traditional South Indian kuzhambu, using sun-dried vegetables, berries, or fruits and serve with rice.

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