It is a centuries-old custom still practiced on the day of Vijayadasami that the teachers or parents introduce the syllables of the first language to the kids. We guide them to write the alphabet on a bed of sands as a tradition. Furthermore, we encourage the children to enroll in music, dance, or other art schools on this auspicious day. Now I do feel as if this were the first post when I resume my blogging after a lull of quite a few months. So I have shared a simple Chettinad recipe for a rich and intriguing keerai masiyal. I relished this dish when we dined at a restaurant in Madurai a few months ago before the onset of the pandemic.
Category: Keerai Recipes
There are numerous leafy greens or herbs of different shapes & sizes grown in here mainly for culinary purposes. Each one of them is useful not only to fortify our meal with vitamins & minerals but also to cure common illnesses or even acute diseases. We, Indians, include leafy greens (keerai) into our diet quite often. North Indians prepare curries (sabji), fritters, dumplings, etc. using locally grown leafy greens. South Indians prepare kootu, poriyal, kuzhambu, thuvaiyal, vadai, and many other dishes using keerai. Here are some of the keerai recipes using leafy greens or herbs. I have also mentioned the Ayurvedic properties & health benefits of the greens that I have used in these keerai recipes.
Spinach curry with paneer
Spinach curry is one of the most popular Indian curries not only for Indians but also for the people across the globe. It is a traditional winter curry prepared using leafy greens & cottage cheese (paneer). Spinach curry with paneer is commonly prepared using palak (Indian spinach), whereas saag paneer is prepared using mustard leaves. Here I have prepared spinach curry with the South Indian spinach namely Amaranth leaves (mulai keerai). Actually it is as delicious as palak paneer and creamier than palak paneer.
I am grateful to the creator of the well renowned TV series, The Popeye show, for motivating my son, a picky eater, to have a liking for an insipid spinach even at his tender age. Though he did not like to take spinach with rice, he enjoyed taking plain spinach just like his hero, the great Popeye, gobbled it up! This cartoon show successfully conveyed a profound theory, “we are what we eat”, even to the kids. Hence it made my job easier to convey the importance of taking all the greens including Chinese spinach.
Vazhaipoo paruppu usili
Indian medicine systems recommend all the ingredients that have an astringent flavor such as banana blossoms (vazhaipoo), pomegranate, red gram (toor dal), Indian blackberry (naval pazham), etc. for women’s health as they keep our uterus strong & healthy. Consuming cooked banana blossom 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 a good practice to serve vazhaipoo paruppu usili (lentil crumble) with yoghurt curry (mor-kuzhambu).
Thoothuvalai (Solanum trilobatum) is a quickly spreading herb usually props up in our surroundings after a good spell of rain. It is a medicinal plant used in Indian medicines Ayurveda & Siddha to treat respiratory problems like asthma, cough, cold & flu. So we can add these herbs into our diet during winter or monsoon. Here I have prepared thoothuvali chutney that can be used often for breakfast.
We can prepare restaurant-style Green Chutney easily at home using mint leaves or coriander leaves. A pleasant green chutney with a burst of flavors will surely make anyone salivate. Hence we can also serve this as an appetizer for kids or sick people who refuse to take food. It is heavenly to take soft idli or crispy dosa along with green chutney, red chutney (tomato chutney), hkjhkhd white chutney (coconut chutney) & sambar for breakfast.
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, or we prepare with/ without lentils. Here I have added spicy coconut paste and cooked green gram lentils (moong dal) for making manathakkali keerai kootu.
Adai (mixed lentils crepe) is a traditional protein-rich dosa prepared using rice and assorted lentils. Kara adai is a complete meal when served with aviyal as adai is made of assorted lentils & aviyal with medley of vegetables. Hence we can serve adai aviyal frequently to kids & old people to prevent the vitamin & mineral deficiency.
Drumstick Leaves Sambar
Methi Roti or vendhaya keerai chappathi is a food with low-glycemic index as both wheat & methi are of low GI. If you check your blood sugar after taking them (postprandial levels) using a home kit, you will be surprised to see your glucose at its low. Besides fenugreek leaves have the properties of reducing the body temperature and hence they are beneficial to the people living in tropical country like India.
Vallarai keerai (Centella Asiatica) is an amazing herb used by Indian pharmacologists to prepare a food supplement to improve the memory beneficial to children who are preparing for competitive exams and also to old people suffering from diminished memory. Nevertheless it is better to include such fresh herbs into our diet rather than taking them in capsule form. So we can make vallarai thuvaiyal at home to enjoy its benefits naturally. I personally found a significance difference when vallarai keerai thuvaiyal was served frequently to my father and also to my son.
Murungai keerai idli
Drumstick leaves (moringa leaves or murungai keerai) contain all the nutrients required for active mind & body. So murungai keerai idli is the perfect breakfast for the energetic children, dynamic professionals and busy women as it meets their daily dietary requirements. Apparently, weight-watchers, diabetics, and all the health-conscious people prefer to take these idli over plain idli. These are so filling compared to plain idlis. Hence we can reduce the intake of carbs to a good extent.