Medhu vadai or ulundha vadai is a gluten-free savoury doughnut prepared using black lentils (urad dal). Any feast or festival in South India is incomplete without serving soft vadai with crispy golden skin. Nevertheless medhu vadai is a commonly prepared evening snack in our family particularly during monsoon.
Thuvaram paruppu sadam (rice with split pigeon peas) is a traditional flavorful one-pot meal popular in Tirunelveli. I like to prepare our favorite thuvaram paruppu sadam for lunch on a lazy weekend as it does not require much of a planning. It is so delightful when we pour coconut oil lavishly over the rice and relish with crunchy appalam & vadagam.
Shallot chutney also known as chinna vengayam chutney is a traditional chutney mainly prepared for young girls & pregnant women in our family. Shallots contain flavonoids that have powerful antioxidant properties, and they are also useful for improving emotional health & heart health. Other ingredients in this chutney are curry leaves & black grams. Curry leaves are rich sources of iron & folic acid and hence good for pregnant women. Black gram lentils contain calcium & other minerals required to increase the bone density, and hence useful for old women.
Mango pachadi is a sweet, sour & spicy jam prepared to welcome the Tamil New Year. It is a delicious side dish for rice and goes well with any kuzhambu or rasam. Also we serve this dish with the traditional ulutham paruppu sadam or black gram rice.
Vazhaipoo vadai or banana flower patties are gluten-free snacks prepared with banana flowers & yellow peas. These are delectable flavorsome patties with crispy skin and soft flesh. We can include banana flowers into our diet in the form of patties (vadai), stir-fry (poriyal), coconut curry (kootu), lentil crumble (paruppu usili), soup, or salad.
Puli Kuzhambu or Tamarind Curry is a traditional south Indian curry prepared using garlic & shallots. We can enjoy its taste to the fullest only when the flavors of all the spices are completely infused into the curry. So this curry can be used for 2 or 3 days without being refrigerated (used for 15 days when refrigerated). Puli kulambu tastes divine when served with soft idli or spongy dosa/ uthappam/ appam the next day.
Ulundhu kali is a soft silky ebony sweetmeat specially prepared for girls & women as it helps to strengthen the uterus & hip bones. It is a traditional south Indian delicacy mainly served to young girls (during their cycles particularly in their first cycle) and also to pregnant women.
Thayir pachadi (raitha) is the most common yogurt-based vegetable salad prepared in almost every part of India. We prepare thayir pachadi using cooked vegatables or raw vegetables and spice it up with black pepper, chopped green chillies or red chilli powder. Generally, we serve raitha as a side for flatbreads like chapathi, stuffed paratha, etc., and also for spicy rice dishes like biryani, tomato rice, etc.
Kootanchoru is a traditional one-pot meal prepared for lunch, and it is a complete meal with the carbs, protein, vitamins & minerals. My grandmother used to prepare this flavorful rice dish at our family gatherings especially in the summer vacation every year. She preferred to use the locally grown vegetables like drumsticks, drumstick leaves, raw banana, raw mango, jackfruit seeds, etc. and served us kootan-choru with home-made fried appalam & vadagam. I still remember the mixed flavors of vegetables, spices and deep-fried vengaya vadagam emanating from her kitchen when we all played in the courtyard. The main attraction for the kids in those days were the nutty jackfruit seeds & the mango seed encapsulated by tangy fleshy mango.
According to people living in Tirunelveli kichadi is a side dish for idli or dosa prepared with vegetables, but for others kichadi is a main dish using whole grains and/or lentils. Kathirikai kichadi (brinjal/ eggplant gothsu) is one of our favourite accompaniments for idli & dosa. It is a very unique gothsu with spicy and tangy flavors. We usually prepare this delicious side dish for breakfast on Sundays.
We take inji legiyam, a digestive jam, the day after Deepavali as we all enjoy a sumptuous feast consisting of sweets & savories during this festival. It is also known as Deepavali legiyam or Deepavali marundhu. A teaspoon of legiyam taken in the morning on an empty stomach helps improve the digestion. So we can take this legiyam after the feasts enjoyed during festivals or weddings. It is also beneficial to children or sick people to increase their appetite.
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.
A wedding feast or a festive feast in our family is incomplete without aviyal. Aviyal is a medley of native vegetables & tubers cooked in coconut gravy. Traditional Indian recipes like kummiyanam, adai, avial, panchamirtham, etc. use assorted grains, pulses, vegetables, or fruits. But nowadays we could find the nutritionists recommending us to include a medley of vegetables, pulses, grains, or fruits in our diet regularly as it prevents vitamin & mineral deficiency. Hence it is a good practice to prepare such foods often and serve them particularly to growing children and old people.