Edible Lamps

Elders in our families are unable to withstand to watch the children blowing out candles on their birthday as lighting up lamps is considered auspicious here and it symbolizes brightening up the people’s lives. Earlier traditional lamps (kuthu vilakku) were treated as supreme deities at home, but statues & pictures gradually gained the special status…

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Moringa Mash

Despite the facts that moringa trees are known to attract pests and they are so fragile that they can not withstand strong winds, they are grown in almost every house to enjoy the benefits of nutritious leaves, flowers & pods. Normally we don’t allow children to go near this tree as woolly caterpillars found on…

Murukku

“Can you crunch murukku?” is one of the commonly asked questions when oldies meet each other during the festival of Deepavali. It is regarded as a blessing (or as a sign of good health) if one could relish crunchy murukku even at an old age. There is an old saying in Tamil “norunga thindral nooru…

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…

Saffron Rice

Sweet saffron rice (zarda pulao), a Persian rice dish, was popular during the Mughal era dated back to 16th century. Noor Jahan, the multi-talented Mughal empress, devised a new technique to stain rice grains with edible dyes. Later zarda pulao made using such rice grains of various colours became so popular that it was served…

Karamani Sundal

Navarathri is a festival of worshiping the goddesses Parvathi (for creative power), Sarasawthi (for wisdom) & Lakshmi (for wealth). Navarathri celebrations in Tamilnadu is incomplete without offering sundal (legume salad) to deities. I like to make karamani (black eyed beans) sundal for the soft skin & creamy texture. Today I used karamani of mahogany, peach &…

Amla Relish

Besides candies, chocolates, ice cream, ice pops, and other sugary snacks there were healthy snacks like boiled peanuts & Palmyra sprouts, roasted corncobs, and locally grown fresh berries & fruits sold in our school canteen. We all children relished them as much as any other snacks like puffs, samosa, or chips during intervals or at…

Chinese Spinach

I am thankful to the creator of The Popeye show for motivating my son, a picky eater, to have a liking for insipid spinach even at his tender age. This cartoon show made my job easier to convey the importance of taking wholesome food and also made a small kid to understand a profound theory,…

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…

Pesarat

As a child I used to feel shy talking about food fearing that I might be mistakenly stamped as a gourmand. Nowadays it is a common sight that teens talking all about food with their peers with no inhibition, there is also a welcome trend that kids happily wielding small ladles to cook up their…

Poppy seeds payasam

Poppy seeds payasam is a delicious yet nutritious dessert popular in Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh. Earlier I had been using poppy seeds scantily as a thickening agent along with coconut. But when I started to use them profusely for making payasam, the flavor became so conspicuous that I could notice the nutty flavor similar to sesame…

Vatha Kulambu

It is a common practice in most parts of the world to preserve bountiful seasonal fruits and vegetables by freeze-drying them in a freezer for the household use. But on the contrary Indians preserve them by drying under the sun as it shines here for most of the year. Sun-dried (dehydrated) products have been used…

Sweet corn soup

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…

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,…

Stir-fried Balsam Pear

It is a myth that bitter gourds (Balsam pear) are always bitter. Bitter gourds are similar to onions: they both have strong flavors when eaten raw and lose their flavors when cooked. Thus bitter gourds taste bitter when taken raw, when cooked its bitterness reduced by half, when deep fried they are slightly bitter, and…

Piquant Poriyal

It is really challenging to prepare piquant poriyal using mildly-sweet earthy-flavored beetroots. I tried various preparations with different ingredients to make beetroot poriyal more palatable, eventually I found that sauteing beet root along with garlic in coconut oil adds a burst of flavor and also adding pepper & coconut aids to spice up the sweet…

Cauliflower peas masala

If I feel exuberant and joyful I would like to please my palate with a delectable meal, and on the other hand when I feel anxious and stressed I would like to cook an elaborate meal as it succors to shift my focus of attention in a positive manner. In either case, my family gets…

Faux Mutton Biryani

Being born into a vegetarian family I have been totally clueless about the taste of meat of any kind and hence I used to wonder what makes people to have cravings for meat. So I began to try out the most popular recipes like biryani, kebab, kurma, etc. by replacing meat with vegetable substitutes. Earlier…

White Pumpkin Juice

Spiritual leaders in India used to stress the importance of including white pumpkin in our diet regularly as it is considered Saatvik (meaning ethical, pure & vital) conducive for practicing yoga & meditation. Food plays an important role in meditation because each food generates different effects on different parts of the brain. Saatvik food is recommended to…

Fermented rice

Pazhaya sadam (fermented rice) is a classic version of overnight oats popular in the west. It has been the staple food for working class here in India, but this humble meal is in vogue even among elites in the recent times. This is mainly because people prefer to take simple nourishing meal over a lavish…

Mixed Fruit Juice

My father never missed to treat me with a glass of delicious mixed fruit juice when he took me out for shopping during hot sunny days. He always preferred to take fresh mixed fruit juice without ice & sugar, thus I got motivated to prepare fruit juice without ice (or ice cream) and to use…

Cornmeal cake with Jackfruit glaze

Generally I prefer my cake moist & spongy but frosting free as buttery sugary frosting makes me feel guilty. Instead I enjoy my cake glazed with honey, fruit juice, or chocolate syrup. Now I have made spongy cake glazed with jackfruit pulp dotted with cucumber seeds. For the spongy texture I added starch as suggested…

Cottonseed milk dessert

Cottonseed milk is the traditional vegan milk used by the people in the villages near Madurai, my home town, for making nutritious desserts. As a part of my college education, I served as an NSS (National Service Scheme) volunteer. We used to camp in the surrounding villages during summer vacation to understand the living conditions…

Miraculous Drink

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…

Cornmeal Puttu with Sweet Sundal

I feel it is more beneficial to take cornmeal than cornflakes for breakfast, so I prefer to make gluten-free cornmeal puttu and protein-rich green gram sundal for breakfast. Puttu is usually prepared using rice flour, but you may refer the table below to find out how cornmeal serves good for making puttu. Whenever my mother prepares…

Veppampoo pachadi

We normally celebrate every new beginning with sweets, but it is exceptional that we prepare bitter neem flower pachadi specially on our New Year usually falls on the 14th of April. On this day of Chithirai Vishu we used to have an elaborate lunch meal consisting of bitter neem flower pachadi, astringent raw jack fruit…

Anna Payasam

Whenever I heard the word payasam, I was visualizing rice & lentil jaggery payasam aka anna payasam during my childhood days. It was a delicious staple dessert prepared in our family whether to treat our guests, or on our birthdays, on any festival, or simply to offer to deities at home on Fridays. However we…

Neem flower rasam

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….

Mango Pickle

Typically pickling is a time-consuming process and those fermented pickles have longer shelf life. But I like to make instant pickles that can be consumed immediately and has limited shelf life. Besides I like to prepare melt-in-mouth mango pickle unlike the conventional one made al dente. So anyone who shares such similar taste would definitely…

Melon ball fruit salad

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. Also I stopped making musk melon juice with added sugar for myself but started taking salads to enjoy its health benefits completely. Now lets make melon ball fruit salad…