Kurunai Dosai

A majority of my ancestors were farmers, they mostly grew rice & lentil crops in their farmland. Unfortunately, my maternal grandfather became the last agriculturist of our family due to several reasons such as scarcity of water, lack of manpower, declined profitability, etc. Earlier there were large amounts of nutrient-rich broken rice and broken lentils…

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Classic Blackgram Porridge

Oil bath, almost a forgotten weekly routine followed by every South Indian family until 3 or 4 decades ago, offers pretty much the same benefits of Ayurvedic massage. Nowadays people prefer to visit Ayurvedic clinic for massaging therapy, and spend a few hours & a few bucks there, but they take oil bath at home…

Tamarind Soup

According to ancient Indian medicine systems Siddha and Ayurveda, tamarind fruit is believed to have numerous healing powers. It is a quintessential ingredient of the commonly prepared south Indian curries like sambar, rasam, or kuzhambu. In a recent study it was found that we can largely reduce the loss of nutrients while cooking vegetables by…

Diwali Dumplings

Dumplings are not only traditional but also universal preparations, they are ubiquitous in almost every cultural cuisine in various forms be it boiled, baked, steamed or fried. Chinese dim sum, Italian ravioli, Nepalese yomari, Jamaican fried dumplings, Polish potato plum dumplings, British herb dumplings, American apple dumplings, etc. are some of the old-fashioned adorable dumplings…

Poomparuppu Sundal

Lord Ganesha is worshiped by Hindus in the same manner God Janus is regarded in Greek mythology. It is interesting to find the striking similarities between the two as they both hold the honor of being the first god worshiped in every ritual. My day starts by listening to the hymn, Vinayagar Agaval, written by…

Indian Beetroot Relish

I feel sad that children today are not able to savor our traditional beetroot relish as I did in my childhood. It was a delightful experience for the kids to relish the beautiful reddish-purple beetroot puree infused with delicious flavors of native fruits served in wedding feasts. Beetroot sweet pachadi, the most popular fruit dessert,…

Appala Kootu

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 was upset with my cousins or siblings I used to run…

Kadamba Sambar

Kadamba sambar is a traditional flavorful curry prepared with locally grown assorted vegetables & tubers. Kadambar sambar is popularly known as idi sambar (meaning pound sambar) in Tirunelveli & Kanyakumari regions, as the sambar powder was earlier prepared by pounding in a large stone mortar (ural) using a 3-feet long metal-tipped wooden pestle (ulakkai). We…

Sodhi with Inji Pachadi

Sodhi is an exotic Sri Lankan curry prepared with lentils and vegetables cooked in coconut milk. Although sodhi is not a spicy curry, it has grown popular among people living in & around Tirunelveli. Meals with sodhi is a lavish spread in the wedding feasts in our family comprising creamy sodhi, pungent ginger chutney, spicy potato fries,…

Neivilangai

Neivilangai has always been featured in our family’s Deepavali menu every year. These melt-in-mouth lentil flour laddu are popular among Indians & Sri Lankans. North Indians use Bengal gram (Besan) flour & south Indians use green gram flour to make delicious laddu. Neivilangai prepared by our grandmothers were extremely delicious and aromatic as they used…

Thattai

Thattai (meaning flat disc) are inexorably delicious crackers prepared in our family for Deepavali. It is so astonishing to see numerous varieties of thattai made all over India using various spices, lentils & grains. Thattai found in every state, every district and even every family has its own distinct taste, flavour, texture or colour.  Also…

Porivilangai

Porivilangai is a traditional sweet made of pan-roasted rice & palm jaggery. Our grandmother usually prepared these laddus for Deepavali and my aunts used to keep them for us till our visit during summer. In those days these flavorful porivilangai were made into hard-to-bite orange sized balls but now I have made them into small…

Kummiyanam

Kummiyanam is a nutritious dessert made of rice, assorted legumes & palm jaggery prepared by the people in Tirunelveli, Nagerkoil, or Kanyakumari. It is offered to the lamented souls while remembering them in Aadi month (a Tamil calendar month usually falls between 15th of July & 15th of August). In this month we remember departed men…

Fried Chickpeas

Nei kadalai is one of my favorite snacks and it brings me back fond memories associated with this delicious savory during my childhood days. I still cherish those happy days with my father who used to bring nei kadalai and Tirunelveli halwa whenever he visited me. Our family get-together is incomplete without savory nei kadalai and…

Blackgram Rice with Sesame Chutney

Ulundham Paruppu Sadham (Black gram Rice) is a unique rice prepared by people in Tirunelveli, a southern town of Tamilnadu. Sesame chutney is similar to Mediterranean Tahini sauce and is an essential side served with black gram rice. We usually serve this nutritious meal to young girls during their cycle every month. Although we prepare this meal specially…

Pounded Palmyra Sprout

Panang kizhangu (Palmyra sprout) is popular among south Indians & Sri Lankans. We usually make steamed & pounded palmyra sprout and relish as a savory dish. 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 recipes. Traditionally palmyra sprouts…

Pigeon Peas and Rice

Thuvaram paruppu sadham (rice with split pigeon peas) is a traditional flavorful one-pot meal popular in Tirunelveli. I prepare our favorite thuvaram paruppu sadam for lunch on a lazy weekend. It is so delightful when we pour coconut oil lavishly over the rice and relish with crunchy appalam or papadam (sun-dried lentil discs) & vengaya vadagam…

Tamarind Curry

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…

Ebony Sweetmeat

Ulundhangkali is a soft silky ebony sweetmeat usually 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. It is our customary to serve the traditional…

Thayir Pachadi

Thayir Pachadi Thayir pachadi (raitha) is the most common yogurt-based dish prepared almost in every part of India. We can prepare thayir pachadi using cooked or raw vegetables, spiced up with black pepper, chopped green chillies or red chilli powder. Raitha is usually served as a side for bland flatbreads like chappathi & stuffed paratha…

Grandma’s One-pot Meal

Kootanchoru is a traditional one-pot meal prepared for lunch by my maternal grandmother during our family gatherings especially in the summer vacation every year. She used to prepare this flavorful rice dish with locally grown vegetables like drumsticks, drumstick leaves, raw banana, raw mango along with its seed (of course the seed will be discarded),…

Breakfast with Eggplant Gothsu

Eggplant (brinjal) gothsu is one of our favourite accompaniments for idli & dosa and I usually prepare this for breakfasts on Sundays. It is a very unique gothsu prepared by people living in Tirunelveli and is called as kathrikai kichadi. We also make gothsu using yellow pumpkin (poosani) and ridge gourd (peerkangai), you may find the…

Ginger Jam

Ginger jam is an easy to prepare digestive jam. A teaspoon of ginger jam taken in the morning in an empty stomach helps improve digestion. It is mainly beneficial for children to increase their appetite. Coriander seeds, ginger & raisins have medicinal properties of balancing body temperature. You can find my grandmother’s recipe for a…

Avial

Any lunch meal in South India is incomplete without aviyal (Mixed Vegetables in Coconut Gravy). Most of the traditional Indian recipes use assorted grains, pulses, vegetables, or fruits. Nowadays nutritionists recommend to include variety of  vegetables/ pulses/ grains/ fruits in our diet as it prevents vitamin & mineral deficiency; hence it is a good practice to…

Drumstick Leaves Sambar

Drumstick leaves (murungai keerai) sambar is a flavorful nutritious curry prepared without tamarind and hence it is popularly known as puli illa curry (no-tamarind curry) in Tirunelveli. It is usually served with rice, any poriyal or aviyal & roasted appalam. Health Benefits: Drumstick leaves are rich sources of iron. If this curry is taken frequently by…