We, generally, prepare puttu using rice flour and serve for breakfast along with spiced or sweetened legumes. Here I have tried using cornmeal (makka chola maavu) as I find cornmeal ideally suitable for breakfast compared to rice flour. You can refer the comparison table below for the nutrient values of cornmeal.
Generally, we prefer to welcome every new beginning with sweets, but we follow a unique tradition of preparing an elaborate meal of different flavours (arusuvai virudhu) on the occasion of Chithirai Vishu (New Year) celebrated on the 14th or 15th of April every year. It is actually an Ayurvedic tradition to stimulate all the parts of our palate by taking a nourishing meal of six flavours like sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, salt & pungent. This also encourages us to embrace each season, or every change in our life gracefully. So we never miss to include the bitter ingredient, neem flower that blooms plentifully in this season, into our New Year feast (Vishu sadhya). We prepare the traditional veppampoo pachadi, a confluence of all the six tastes, using neem flowers and many other ingredients.
Whenever I heard the word payasam, I was visualizing jaggery payasam (made using rice & lentil) aka anna payasam during my childhood days. It was a delicious staple dessert prepared in our family whether to treat our guests, or ourselves on our birthdays/ festivals, or simply to offer to deities at home on Fridays. However we gradually switched to other payasam made of rice adai, vermicelli (semiya), tapioca pearls (javvarisi), jackfruits, etc. Nevertheless we still follow the tradition of feeding the traditional anna payasam to babies in front of the deities at home or in a temple when solid foods are introduced to them for the first time.
As a child I hated few things imposed by my grandparents during our visit every summer. It was disgusting to find all our clothes reeked of bitter neem oil as they were washed using neem detergents. We also disliked to gobble up extremely bitter balls made of neem leaves paste forcibly given by our grandmother. But now I have been yearning for such eco-friendly chemical-free detergents suitable for my washing machine, and also I feel guilty to give de-worming tablet to my son as I am unable to persuade him to take the home-made herbal substitute available plentiful around us. Nevertheless I feel contented that I can prepare delicious soup using neem flowers that possess almost same properties as that of neem leaves.
Our traditional method of making pickles using raw mangoes, amla, lemon, etc. is a time-consuming process as these vegetables are left in the mixture of oil, spices & salt for fermentation for few days and hence a longer shelf life. But I like to make instant pickles that can be consumed immediately and has limited shelf life, besides I like to relish melt-in-mouth mango pickle unlike the conventional one made al dente.
Generally, we prepare refreshing musk melon juice or milkshake by adding milk & sugar (or condensed milk). 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. Needless to say that calorie conscious people would prefer to take fresh musk melon salad than creamy milkshakes during this summer to enjoy its health benefits completely. So lets make melon ball fruit salad that will satiate our hunger as well.
It is really challenging for every mother to cook vegetables that don’t have distinct flavor. Yard long beans (karamani) is one such insipid vegetable full of nourishments compared to the commonly used green beans. So it is hard to ignore the properties of these native beans and include tender green beans often instead of fibrous long beans. Now I have prepared a delicious poriyal using native beans commonly known as yard long beans or pachai karamani.
I have been receiving complimentary reviews from unexpected people who are away from homeland for their studies or jobs preparing their meal themselves by looking at videos or by reading recipes. I sincerely thank all those visitors for their support & feedback. Now I am posting a recipe for vegetable kurma, a one-pot recipe, preferred by such busy bees who are unable to spend much time for cooking.
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. So I find the drumstick pods soup as a distinctive alternate recipe to use the large quantity of drumsticks in one go.
Turmeric rhizomes are inextricably intertwined with our culture & traditions. We perform all our religious rituals only in the presence of turmeric in the form of turmeric powder, kumkum, turmeric pillaiyar, or turmeric thread. We regard turmeric smeared thread as the sacred thread as our family ties are religiously acknowledged only by tying a sacred thread. Turmeric thread is usually tied around the wrist or neck (only for the wife) as a wedding ritual in the presence of priests, other elders and also in front of the deities. Women observe fasting on the day they get married until the sacred thread is tied around her neck. They also observe fasting on the day of Karadaiyan nombu, perform pooja after tying turmeric thread and end their fasting by taking karadaiyan nombu adai.
The stuffed capsicum (bell peppers) laid into spicy creamy gravy (curry sauce) has always been a crowd-pleaser at every family gatherings or children’s birthday parties. So we can impress our guests or kids by serving delicious curry with stuffed capsicum garnished with grated cottage cheese (or Mozzarella cheese) along with pulao (mildly spiced rice dish) and Indian breads like roti, naan, etc.
Ashoka halwa is a protein-rich sweetmeat popular in South India. We offer Ashoka halwa as naivedyam to deities and serve as prasadam particularly during Navarathri celebrations. It is one of my favorite sweets for the beautiful silky texture and the sweet aroma, and I find this as the best alternate for rava kesari. So I like to prepare this melt-in-mouth sweermeat often and serve for the breakfast during festivals and also on special occasion.
Vada pav is similar to American burger, here we use a pull-apart pav bread stuffed with spicy potato dumpling instead of patties. It is a popular street food in Mumbai, anyone traveling to Mumbai won’t like to return home before relishing the street foods like vada pav, pav bhaji, paani puri, etc. It is so fascinating to find people from every walk of life whether a celebrity or a taxi driver dropping in to such eateries to savor these tantalizingly delicious goodies.
One of the most indelibly joyful moments of any mother would be watching her children enjoying the healthy food prepared by her. Serving home-made whole wheat pav bread with mixed vegetables curry (bhaji) to my family is one such moment that I wish to cherish forever. If we serve oven-fresh flavorful pav breads with delectable bhaji to our children, then there is no need for them to visit an eatery for a plateful of high caloric pav bhaji which is a major cause of juvenile obesity nowadays.
Baking bread at home is actually not as exhausting as making roti/ chapathi. It is just a time consuming preparation and hence it just requires a planning well ahead of our meal. Nevertheless, it is truly a rewarding experience to bake the bread at home with the flours and spices of our choice and also to serve oven-fresh flavorful fluffy bread to our family for breakfast. Here I have used equal portions of whole wheat flour & plain flour (maida), neutral oil in place of butter and caraway seeds (omam/ ajwain) for its wonderful aroma and medicinal properties, and baked an egg-free pav bread at home.
Truffles are French candies made using cocoa, nuts & dry fruits and chocolate truffles are nutty balls coated with chocolate ganache. Since all the ingredients in here are rich sources of vitamins, minerals & anti-oxidants, these candies are not only delicious but also nutritious treats. These chocolate truffles act like protein-rich energy balls and can be packed as a mid-morning snack for school-going children. Here I have shared a recipe for ginger and fig truffles that can be prepared easily so that we can gift them to our loved ones on any special occasion.
Appalam making is a leading cottage industry prevalent in my maternal grandfather’s village. As a kid I was completely awestruck watching women & girls in our neighbourhood kneading mountainous dough, rolling appalam at lightning speed, and stacking dried appalam like a tower. Whenever I felt bored I used to run to one of those houses. I spent endless hours there watching them making appalam and enjoying their warmth & their food. During my mother’s recent visit there, they fondly remembered my childhood favorite appala-poo and prepared them along with appalam specially for me, even though they are not into this business currently.
Crispy Masala Dosa was the only Indian food appeared in the list of World’s Best 50 foods compiled based on the online poll conducted worldwide by CNN Travel in 2017. Dosa is a savory south Indian crepe generally prepared for breakfast or dinner. It can be prepared thin & crispy (paper roast) or soft & spongy (uttapam). Although there are numerous varieties of dosa prepared in South India, masala dosa is the most popular dosa as savory potato filling is stuffed inside the crispy dosa.