Rice flakes is a traditional breakfast cereal consumed in almost every part of India. Earlier my grandmother used to make upma using freshly beaten rice flakes, but we, as children, liked to snack on aval (rice flakes) along with milk & sugar in the same way cornflakes, an American counterpart, is typically devoured. Rice flakes is generally used as the substitute for rice or other grains for making snacks, sweets, desserts, and many other dishes. However I prefer to make delicious red poha often for breakfast as it is a light but a hearty meal, and poha is a popular Maharashtrian dish prepared with plenty of onion (kande pohe), or with boiled potato (batata pohe), or garnished with grated coconut (dadpe pohe).
Horse gram crops are usually grown in drought-hit parts of India particularly in South India, and both the beans & hay are used as fodder mainly for horses. Since horse gram is considered a nutritional powerhouse, it is normally recommended for workmen or sportsmen who involve themselves in physically challenging activities, but for others, it may be consumed in small quantities. So I used to make horse gram idli or dosa when my son actively participates in sports, and I also like to include horse gram into our diet during winter or monsoon as it is useful to keep our body warm in this season.
We celebrate a plethora of festivals continuously between August & November every year. Every festival is celebrated distinctively in various regions across India. It is quite astonishing to find how the cuisine, culture, and customs vary from one region to other. Kosambari is a traditional lentil salad popular in South India (particularly in Andhra, Karnataka and some parts of Tamilnadu) with little variations. This salad is offered to deities in this festive season and also served to guests at the wedding banquets or festive gatherings.
Ever since I underwent a course of detoxification procedures in an Ayurvedic clinic I realized that detoxification is as important as nourishment of our body. It is essential to keep not only toxins but also toxic thoughts & toxic people at bay for our well being. Since Ayurveda is popular for effective detoxification, I feel it is a good idea to include detoxifying herbs & spices by incorporating ayurvedic concepts into the detox diet. We all know that Ayurveda is pivoting on the principles of three major forces of energy vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (water) and we have a mixture of these energies (dosha) within ourselves and in our environment in different proportions at different times. Ayurveda believes that when any of these forces are out of balance (or exerted excessively on us) it causes disease, so it recommends us to take appropriate dosha-pacifying food (or avoid taking dosha-aggravating food) to reduce the effects of excessive dosha. You may refer the comparison tables below to understand how our body & mind is influenced by these forces.
We often felt shy talking about food during our childhood days as we might get teased by our peers or others as gourmands. Nowadays, it is a welcome trend that the kids are happily wielding small ladles to cook up their favorite meals (thanks to the TV shows like Masterchef Juniors), and the teens turn to food critics with élan. Today the gourmands proudly declare themselves the foodies and try various cuisines. Apparently, a foodie would find Pesarattu, the golden green crepes, served with melt-in-mouth savory sooji (upma), flavorful lentil stew (sambar), spicy ginger chutney and creamy coconut chutney as a gastronomic delight.
Actually I am not a soup enthusiast and I like to take hot vegetable soup only in the rainy evenings or winter nights. Nevertheless I like the idea of serving simple yet wholesome soup & salad for dinner as it makes us feel absolutely satiated. Sweet corn soup with sprouted moong salad is one such hearty meal that can be prepared with little efforts.
Few years ago I had a serendipitous encounter with an amazing fruit kudampuli while I was looking for a gut-friendly substitute for tamarind used in south Indian cuisine. Kudampuli (Garcinia Cambogia or malabar tamarind) is a rich source of an interesting chemical compound hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA is well known to western medicine for its astounding property to convert food into energy and also hinder the accumulation of fat in our body. Thus HCA extracted from Garcinia Cambogia is mostly used in the manufacture of weight loss supplements and they are recommended to treat obese particularly diabetics.
Ever since I realized the weight loss properties of musk melons I started including them in my diet as much as possible during the entire summer. Generally musk melons are used to prepare refreshing juice or milkshake by adding milk & sugar (or condensed milk) but people, who are calorie conscious, would prefer to make guilt-free salad using musk melon to enjoy its health benefits completely.
Nowadays drumstick (moringa) pods are grown abundantly in my mother’s garden, and she used to keep sending me a batch of these pods every now & then. But it has been boring to see these drumsticks (murungakkai) in our sambar, kuzhambu, kootu & poriyal on our plates every day. Nevertheless I don’t have the heart to waste these amazing fruits of a “miracle” tree considering their nutritive values and health benefits.
Indian medicine system recommends anything that tastes astringent such as banana flowers, pomegranate, red gram (toor dal), Indian blackberry (black plum), etc. for women’s health as they keep uterus healthy. Consuming cooked banana flower with curd or yoghurt is believed to be one of the most efficient ways of treating excessive bleeding during menstruation as it increases the level of progesterone. So it is always better to prepare banana flower lentil crumble (vazhaipoo paruppu usili) and serve with yoghurt curry (mor-kulambu).
As bland white cabbage has always been my family’s bête noire, I find vibrant purple cabbage/ red cabbage the best alternate, and I have prepared cabbage poriyal using purple cabbage and served with radish sambar as below.
Panakam is a traditional ayurvedic lemonade offered as neivedyam to deities at home on the day of Sashti Viratham (fasting) observed by Saivites and also on the day of Rama Navami celebrated by Vaishnavites. Rama navami is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Rama and Kandha Sashti Viratham is usually observed on the Sashti thithi of every month and is also observed for seven consecutive days in the month of Iyppasi after Deepavali.
Mushroom masala is a healthy and also a hearty dish that can be sandwiched between toasted bread slices or served as a side for rice & roti. Since I have spiced mushroom masala up with pepper & ginger and avoided using chillies, it can be served to people who can not bear the heat of chilli particularly to kids.
I like to take a bowl of fresh fruit salad for my lunch whenever I don’t feel like cooking an elaborate meal. I also don’t feel like missing my meal because of mint leaves & chaat masala, the star ingredients used in here. So anyone who wants to reduce the in-take of carbs can try this salad as it satiates one’s hunger. Besides we can serve this delicious fruit salad to children who refuse to take fruits, as they like the flavor of chaat masala.
We prepare buttermilk by diluting curd (yoghurt), and we also prepare creamy lassi using curd made of full fat milk. Spiced buttermilk is a traditional south Indian drink usually served after taking an elaborate lunch meal to improve the digestion. Buttermilk with jeera powder or chaat masala is popular in other parts of India. Lassi is usually served chilled as a dessert in almost every part of India.
Panang kizhangu (Palmyra sprout) is popular among south Indians & Sri Lankans. We usually steam the palmyra sprouts, pound them when dried, and relish the pounded palmyra sprout as a savory snack. Sri Lankans boil these sprouts, dry them, make into a flour and use the flour to make sweet puttu, koozh or add into some non-veg curries as a thickening agent.
Millet noodles is a delicious gluten-free meal that can be prepared in a jiffy using instant ragi noodles. Finger millets (ragi) can be included into the children, women and also old people’s diet as they are rich in calcium and iron. Iron is fully absorbed by our body only in the presence of Vitamin C. So it is a good practice to add the ingredients rich in Vitamin C like tomatoes, bell peppers (kudamilagai), lemon juice, etc. into a recipe using ragi millets. Here I have used tomatoes & bell peppers into my ragi idiyappam, and we can also add a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.
Horsegram or kollu is a humble yet power-packed bean with amazing health benefits. Generally horsegram is recommended by Ayurvedic practitioners for weight loss, to control cholesterol, treat jaundice & menstrual problems and also to keep us warm during winter. The best way to include horsegram into our diet is by adding a teaspoon of horse gram idli powder (kollu podi) into a cup of buttermilk as it helps to reduce the body heat generated by horse gram.
I prefer to make my dinner light, so I try to reduce oil as much as possible while cooking as it helps to reduce the load on liver. I also prefer to make foods that are rich in protein using beans or lentils for dinner. Hence I find my chickpeas gravy (chana masala) ideal as it is prepared with boiled chickpeas, that are easily digestible and also rich in protein, using little or no oil.
Avarakkai poriyal (Broad beans poriyal) is a delicious side dish that goes well with rice & sambar, rasam, morkuzhambu, or any other kuzhambu. Kids also like this vegetable mainly for the nutty beans inside the tender pods. Indian broad beans (avarakkai) are good sources of calcium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and iron, and they also contain some dietary fiber and vitamin C.
Since drumstick leaves (moringa leaves) contain all the nutrients required for active mind & body, drumstick leaves idli or murungai keerai idli is a nutritious breakfast ideally served to energetic children, dynamic professionals and busy women to meet their dietary requirement. These keerai idli are also good for weight-watchers as they are so filling that we could very well reduce the intake of idli to a great extent than the plain idli. Besides it is as easy as making an ordinary idli, we can simply add a handful of fresh drumstick leaves into idli batter, pour into idli moulds and then steam them for few minutes.
Millet porridge is one of the best breakfasts that can be taken on a scorching sunny day during summer as it keeps us cool & energetic all through the day. It is so filling that we don’t require to take anything until lunch. You can check out the link here to know more about various millets, their health benefits and also millet recipes, I found this site on millets very informative. Millet porridge or koozh is usually prepared by cooking millets like varagu, saamai, kudhiraivaali or kambu, ground into a paste (whereas for millets like ragi or thinai the porridge may be prepared by mixing the millet flour with water and bring it to boil) and diluted by adding either milk or buttermilk.