Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Phool Makhana is Puffed dried lotus seeds, also known as Foxnuts. Phool Makhana is very famous in North India during Vrat Season for making kheer, sabji or just roasting it for snacking.It is considered to be very healthy as its low in saturated fats and cholestrol content, Isn’t that nice to hear you don't need to feel guilty while you munch on these super healthy crunchy roasted phool makhana, it tastes a bit like popcorn but I tell you this is more tasty and healthier...and you can prepare it in a jiffy.
I had seen Phool makhana used to thicken gravies in North Indian curries.  But that’s all I knew about it. But when I came to live with the North Indians in Singapore, I saw that they used it extensively during the fasting season. They made a kheer(Milk dessert) out of it or used it in a vegetable or simply ate roasted Phool Makhana like popcorn. Now, this variety impressed me the most as I love popcorns.

Then again, when I googled on Phool Makhana...

I learnt that.......
1. Lotus seeds benefit the spleen, kidney, and heart.
2. The seed also has calming properties that alleviate restlessness, palpitations, and insomnia.
3. It is also rich in calcium. It can be easily digested by all the age groups.
4. It is a highly regarded herb for restoring sexual vigour and youthful energy in older men.
5. It regulates blood pressure, relieves numbness and aching near waist and knees.
6. It is Suitable for arthritis, helps fighting impotency and premature aging.
7. Makhana is very useful for women during and post pregnancy period.
8. It is also helps your respiratory system, veins and digestion.
9. Popped makhana contains almost 12% of protein! (excellent especially for vegetarians!)

Anti – aging :- Fox nuts are rich in antioxidants which works as age lock system and makes us younger for much longer. Fox nuts are effective for individuals with high risk of premature ageing, premature grey hair,wrinkles  and other signs of aging. It reverses the aging process over a period of time......This definitely has caught my Attention

Diabetes :- Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which is accompanied by high blood glucose levels. It is a result of improper functioning of the pancreas, which secretes the insulin hormone. Fox nut is a sweet and sour seed These seeds contain starch and protein which is excellent for diabetes .

AYURVEDA AND UNANI (BRANCHES OF MEDICINE) texts have accepted its aphrodisiac and spermatogenic properties.
Herbs of phool makhana are considered worth in vajikarnana therapy.
Makhana helps in Cardiac Protection and builds the action in dysentery and frequent urination.
Phool makhana has astringent property, hence it gives relief from diarrhoea and helps to improve the appetite.
It helps in increasing the quality and quantity of semen, also prevents the premature ejaculation, increases the libido and also helps in female infertility.
Phool makhana is sweet to neutral in nature. Therefore, helps to detoxify the spleen, reinforce the kidneys and nourish the blood.

According to principles of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), fox nut is used to strengthen spleen and kidneys.  Makhana helps in conditions like arthritis, erectile dysfunction and premature aging. These seeds have antioxidant properties and help in digestion, rejuvenates respiratory system and prevents frequent urination.
“25 to 30 grams” phool makhana is considered as a healthy food/diet for the whole family.
Wow!!!!.......So many benefits...then why not add it into our daily lives....and I decided to make the healthy popcorn (Roasted Phool Makhana).
My kids loved it and kept munching. I tried adding some flavours too like chat masala, red chilly powder, pepper powder etc. They liked the original lightly salted the best though.

Makhana - 2 cups
Oil/Ghee – 2 tsps
Salt as per taste
In case you want to add color / flavors
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp (Yellow color)
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (Red Chilly flavour)
Paprika powder – ½ tsp (Paprika flavour)
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp (Pepper flavour)
Chat Masala powder - 1 tsp (Masala Flavour)
Tomato powder – 1 tsp (Tomato Flavour)
Cheese powder – 2 tsp (Cheese Flavour)
Or any flavour you please. You can make a combo of flavours too....

In a wok, add ghee and once the ghee is hot, add the phool makhanas and roast them. Don’t leave them unattended on the fire as they are very delicate and tend to burn fast. Keep roasting till it’s light golden in color.  Check if it’s done by sampling one...If it’s crunchy then it’s done. Put off the gas.
Add salt and toss. Fill a nice bowl with the crunchy phool makhanas and enjoy this healthy snack 
In case you want to add flavours then,
After sampling add in the spice powders of your choice and toss.  Serve and Enjoy.
If you’ve made a big batch then let the Phool Makhana cool down completely then store them in an airtight container. Phool Makhana has a very good shelf life, you can store them in air tight container for many months. Keep them away from the moisture and direct sun light.

·         The plain salted tastes better when roasted in Ghee

·         After you add the spice powders don’t toss with the gas burner on as the spice powders will catch       the bottom and burn spoiling your batch of makhanas.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Mojito (read Mohito) is a traditional Cuban highball. Traditionally, a mojito is a cocktail that consists of five ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water and mint.
Main alcohol: Rum
But since I don’t consume alcohol I will share with you this wonderful non-alcoholic recipe which is very refreshing and has health benefits too.

Note the recipe of Mojito served on the rocks.

Mint leaves – 6-8 fresh mint leaves
Soda water – ½ glass Club soda
Lime juice – 2 tablespoons (freshly squeezed)
Sugar – 2 teaspoons
Ice cubes – As required (For one glass of Mojito you require one glass of ice)

In a tall glass, Add lime juice, sugar and about 6-8 mint leaves. With the help of a spoon or a cocktail muddler crush the mint leaves into the lime juice and sugar. This releases oils from the mint and helps the sugar dissolve into the lime juice. Stir well then pour into a glass filled with ice, leaving about an inch of room then top with club soda. Garnish with extra mint leaves and a lime slice.
Serve on the rocks; poured over ice with a straw

You can make this for a family of four with the quantity as below
Freshly squeezed lime juice - ½ cup
Sugar - 3 – 4 tablespoons
Fresh Mint leaves – About 30 plus some for garnish
Ice – 4 cups
Soda water - ½  cup
Lime slices – 4 for garnishing.

Here are some health benefits of drinking this mocktail.....

Click here to read the benefits of drinking soda water…..Trying to make weak indulgences guiltless!!!!

Mint is not just a mouth refresher, it’s health benefits include digestion, nausea, headache, and asthma.

Enjoy this Refreshing non alcoholic drink. You can serve it in parties and they make an excellent alcohol- free cocktail for adults.

Some info courtesy - Wikipedia

Monday, October 6, 2014


This is probably one of the easiest sweets to make. This is also one of the first sweets I ever attempted to make. I would call this a beginner’s sweet or a no-fail recipe for anybody. Just follow the recipe step-by-step and you will have one the easiest sweets to prepare for Diwali or any festival or just to gobble like that. I also call Rava Laddoo one of the easiest sweets as it is prepared with ingredients easily available at home like Semolina, sugar and ghee. Rava Laddoo in Tamil is known as Suji ke Laddoo in the North and Ravyacha Laadoo in Maharashtra.
Here is the recipe for Rava Laddoo

Semolina/Rava/sooji - 1 cup 
Sugar – ¾ cup - 1 cup (depending on how sweet you like)
Ghee - ¼ cup 
Milk (optional) - 1 tblsp 
Cardamom powder (elaichi) – 1 tsp
Cashew nuts – 2 tbsps sliced in halves
Raisins – 2 tbsps 

In a wok (pan), add the semolina and roast evenly by continuously stirring it with a spatula over a medium flame until a nice toasted aroma comes out of it. Be careful not to burn the rava while roasting it as it will completely ruin the taste of the laddoo. Let the roasted rava cool down. Keep it aside.
Now powder the sugar and keep aside.
Now take the cooled down roasted rava and mix with the sugar and run in the blender till it becomes one uniform mixture. Add in the cardamom (elaichi) powder and run it in the blender along with the rava and sugar.
Now transfer this mix to a big plate. I usually take a big plate so it’s easy for me to mix. In a saucepan, add in the ¼ cup ghee and to it add the Cashew nuts and Raisins and fry until the raisins become plump and the cashew nuts get slightly toasted. Add this to the rava and sugar mixture.
Sprinkle the milk and mix thoroughly (This step is optional). In case you are using milk, heat up the milk slightly and add in warm milk to the mix. Milk is added to enable binding the mixture well enough so as to make the laddoos easily. I haven’t used milk in my recipe. I have made the laddoos completely with ghee. Adding milk reduces the shelf life of the laddoos.
Once, you have added the ghee, make small balls out of the mixture immediately, make tight balls. Rava Laddoo is ready to enjoy!!!

         While blending the semolina, ensure that it is blended to a fine powder which will enable to make the laddoo easily. If the mix is coarse then it won’t be easy to make the laddoos.
         The finer the blend the more melt-in-the mouth the laddoo’s will be.
         In case, you are not using milk and find it difficult to bind, add in more melted warm ghee to the mix until it’s easier to make the laddoos.
         Sugar can be added according to taste. 3/4th cup is just ok not overly sweet. If you like it more sweet you can add 1 cup of sugar.

         You can reduce the ghee by 2 tbsps in the recipe and it still turns out fine. 

Friday, July 18, 2014


The biological name of Cluster beans is Cyamopsis tetragonoloba. It is an annual legume and the source of guar gum. It is also known as Gavar, Gawar Phali, Guwar or Guvar bean.

This is yet another weekend special from my kitchen. The reason it’s cooked over the weekends is simply because the process to cook this dish is quite lengthy and time consuming. But it’s one of my absolute favorites. There are some dishes which amma (my mom) knows; that can make me happy any day and this is one of it.

Now, cluster beans is called Cheenivarikkai at my place. I guess it must be a kerala iyer (Tam brahms from Kerala) name.  I don’t know how many people call it as that. I didn’t know for very long that it is also known as Kothavarangai.

Paruppu usili is made in different houses differently but I absolutely adore my mom’s recipe and follow it to the T.
I even heard that many people use Bengal Gram (Chana dal) to make paruppu usili, but my mom uses Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas).
Apparently many people don’t like Cluster beans and it seems in yesteryears when old people would go for Pilgrimage to Kashi (Explanation below) they would usually give up on Cluster beans.

Kashi Vishwanath temple  - A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is one of many methods believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (salvation) hence people from all over the nation try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage at the temple.

When I asked my Grandma why they would give up on such a lovely vegetable, my grandma would say, because Cluster Beans is usually very gassy and as you age your digestive systems would become weak so it would be best to avoid it.

Thank god we are not in those times and I probably may not have to give up on this lovely vegetable. There are some people who steam the paruppu (Dal), but I don’t, here is the recipe for all of you to enjoy.

For the Kothavarangai Mezhukkuvaratti (Poriyal)
Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai (Cluster Beans) – 750 gms chopped
Oil – 2 tsps
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
Red Chilly – 1 broken in halves
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Shredded Coconut – 2 tbsps

For the Paruppu Usili
To grind to a coarse paste:
Toor Dal - 1 cup
Dried Red Chillies – 1
Green Chilly – 1
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
Rinse & soak 1 cup Toor dal for about 1-2 hours.
Trim the edges and chop cluster beans finely. Rinse it well. In a Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal and the dried chilly broken in half. When the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the chopped cluster beans, mix well, ½ tsp of Turmeric powder, a pinch of Asafetida, Salt as per taste,  stir and close with lid and cook on low flame till it is cooked. Once it’s cooked, Transfer to a plate.
Drain the Soaked toor dal and grind it coarse in a blender with 1 dried red chilly and 1 green chilly, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of asafetida and salt as
per taste. Keep aside

In the same Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the  coarsely blended dal mixture. Keep sautéing until the mixture separates and become golden brown. Once that is done, add the cooked cluster beans and mix well. Now, finally, add in the shredded coconut and mix well. Check for salt at this point as well. Incase there is salt you can add some at this point as well. Cook for 2-3 minutes on sim.

The Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai Paruppu usili is ready. Enjoy with Rasam and rice.

Variation to the above method
Steam method – After you coarse grind the dal paste. Boil water in an idli pan, spread the coarse mixture on the steamer plate and steam it for 5-7mins, once it cools down, crumble it with your hands and set aside.
Now heat oil in a wok,  Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the add the dal mixture & sauté till golden brown, then follow as above.

  • Ensure that the dal mixture is blended coarse, if it becomes a fine paste then you will not get the perfect texture. To ensure that it doesn’t get ground fine, make sure to drain the water completely.
  • If you are using the steaming method then follow as above. Please ensure to spread the mixture and then steam it as it crumbles easily.
  • This recipe can be used to make French beans, flat beans (Avarakkai), Long beans, Banana flower (Vazhapoo) etc.

Friday, July 4, 2014


This is a vegan recipe. I was also careful to use the NON GMO Soya bean Tofu.  
(Kindly do click on the word "NON GMO Soya bean" hyperlink to learn more about Non GMO Foods).
There are many varieties of Tofu available in the market. For this recipe choose the medium firm ones. In Singapore you can buy it everywhere and they are known as Tau kwa.
Soya bean is high in calcium which is good for your bones and teeth.

Tau Kwa also has a high amount of Isoflavones which allows one to prevent heart disease. FDA states that consumption of 25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. With these kind of health benefits isn’t it good to add tofu to your vegetables?

This dish is very easy to cook and very healthy as it’s packed with proteins and vitamins. I would call it a crunchy crispy delight. You can eat this with brown rice/ white rice/ Noodles or just dunk into a bowlful of this nutritional delicacy.

Stir fry vegetables with soya sauce is made in many south asian countries with a variation to the sauces / spices used.

Below is the Indo-Chinese, Indo-thai, Indo-Pinoy fusion version. (Indo because there is an Indian twist to it)

You can add any vegetables to it like Broccoli, Celery, Mushrooms, Cauliflower….the list of variations is endless. You can rustle this up with whatever you have at home.

Tofu cubes (Tau Kwa) - 1 teacup
Carrot - 1
French Beans / Snow Peas – 5 - 6
Onions   2
Tomatoes - 1
Capsicum – 1
Green chilly – 1 big (non – spicy variety)
Stem of spinach – a few
Oil – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (optional)
Soya Sauce – 1 tbsp
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp (optional)
Salt as per taste
Pepper – a pinch of coarsely ground pepper (optional)
Spring onion for garnish
Coriander leaves for garnish

Cut the Tofu into cubes Deep fry the tofu until medium brown (about 5 to 8 minutes). Set aside. You can avoid frying and can add the tofu at the end when the vegetables are almost done. Tofu cubes are soft and tend to break, hence, frying would be a good option to keep its texture and shape good.

Chop 1 onion, tomato and the ginger and make a coarse paste in the blender. Keep aside.

Julienne ( cut thin strip lengthwise ) the carrots , beans , capsicum, Chilly,  Cut some Spinach stems about the same length as the julienned carrots

Now, heat a pan and pour-in 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Add the cumin seeds, when it splutters, Sauté the onion. Once it’s translucent, add in the blended coarse paste of the Onion- Ginger Tomato and sauté well, until you see the oil come out of the paste indicating its cooked well. Now add the fried tofu and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add all the vegetables and stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes. Put-in soya sauce, salt as per taste, chilly powder and pepper as required. Cook in steam till it’s done. The vegetable shouldn’t be overdone. It should be cooked but crunchy.
Garnish with finely chopped spring onion leaves and cilantro (Coriander leaves)
You can make a vegetable broth to pour on top or just enjoy the way it is. Serve steaming hot with Rice/ Noodles or just plain.
Flavors of Cumin & Tomatoes give an Indian twist to this dish. Do enjoy this healthy recipe.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Toddlers / Babies can get mouth ulcers and swelling in gums too. This may also lead to bad breath and your toddler / baby becoming cranky.
There are a few home remedies that can be administered before you take your baby to the doctor. Home remedies are safe and harmless but they are not a substitute for a doctor's consultation.

The following remedies can be tried : -
  • If you are breast feeding your baby. Keep breast feeding him/her. Breast milk can be very healing for mouth ulcers. (FOR TODDLERS & BABIES
  • You can apply coconut milk during the day time to the insides of the mouth and the gums. It will be soothing and help in healing. (FOR TODDLERS & BABIES)

  • Add salt to warm water and rinse your mouth with it. The proportion of salt should be high i.e., 3 tbsp of salt in one glass of warm water. Gargle with this water and let it stay in your mouth for at least 30 seconds. Swoosh the water around inside your mouth so that it covers your teeth and gums thoroughly. Do not rinse your mouth with plain water immediately if you want to have relief from the pain for longer time. (FOR TODDLERS ONLY)
  • If your baby suffers from swelling and infection in your gums more often, make it a habit of brushing your baby's teeth 3 times a day. Do not use a brush, but use your forefinger to brush gently. Please ensure that your finger nails are cut. Do not forget to make him rinse his mouth after every meal. Carry out proper hygiene. (FOR TODDLERS ONLY)
  • If the swelling does not subside for a couple of days and your baby is not eating properly or crying, see a dentist and go through the treatment prescribed.


Monday, April 21, 2014


This year when I saw raw mangoes arrive in the market I decided to pickle them. Yo(my husband is very fond of pickles) and nowadays the pickles we buy in the market have a pungent flavor to them, no matter which brand you buy, eventually you wear off the brands as you start feeling this. So, I thought better make them at home.  I was not sure whether I should make Avakkai(the south Indian style) mango pickle or the Gujarati style Mango pickle so I asked all my Facebook friends and somehow got tempted to make the Methi Rai Kuria Mango Pickle. I absolutely adore the Mango pickles that my Gujarati neighbor used to make in big porcelain pickle jars during the summer months back in India. Not only would the home made ones have a lot of Masala, but the mangoes would also be quite soft unlike the ones we buy from the shop.

I read on some websites that this pickle is made either with methi na kuria (crushed fenugreek seeds) or rai na kuria (split mustard seeds). I decided to add both because I like the masala more than the mango itself.

If I can make these at home anyone can make it…It’s incredibly easy to make.  The main preparation is the ingredients, once everything is ready, it is only assembly.


Cut Mango Pieces – 1 ½ kilo / Approximately 10 teacups of cut raw mangoes.
Salt – 2 teacups
Broken Yellow Mustard ground coarsely – 1 cup
Methi (Whole)  ground coarsely – ¼ cup
Kashmiri Chilly powder – 1 cup
Asafetida – 2 tbsp
Oil – 41/2 cups

Before you start the process of assembly you need to take the following precautions.

·         Work in an open space with the windows open.

·         Don’t sit under the ceiling fan lest the masala blows into your eyes and nose.

·         Wear plastic disposable gloves, because some people have sensitive hands and they may find their hands burning with the chilly powder for a long time.

First wash the mangoes, wipe them and then cut them in big chunks, I made slightly smaller chunks. After you cut don’t wash them, just let them dry out on a newspaper in the sun for a while. Meanwhile make your other ingredients ready.

Lightly Roast the whole fenugreek seeds and when cool, crush them coarsely as shown in the picture.

Lightly Roast the Broken Yellow Mustard seeds, this is readily available in the market. No need to grind this, you can use it as it is.

Heat the oil lightly till it is warm (not up to the smoking point) and let it cool. This process is to remove the raw smell of the oil. This step maybe avoided in the readymade pickles available in the market hence the pickles start to give a pungent odor.


As you can see in the picture I kept all my ingredients ready.

I mixed the salt, red chilly powder, crushed fenugreek seeds, the roasted broken yellow mustard seeds and asafetida together in a big open plate, After which I added the cut mango chunks.

Ensure everything coats well.
Finally add in the Oil and give it a good mix.
You can mix using a spatula or your hand.
Once you feel everything is mixed well, slowly, gently take spoonfuls and drop into a sterilized porcelain or glass jar/bottle. Every day keep the jar in the sun for 2-3 hours.

The pickling process starts as the Mangoes start to marinate in the masala.

Every day in the morning open the jar and with a long dry spoon, give it a good stir.

In about 10-15 days the pickle is ready for you’ll to eat. 

I have not used any preservative. The oil and salt are natural preservatives and will help preserve the pickle.

This pickle can be stored for a year but you have to be careful not to use a wet spoon while you scoop out small portions for your immediate everyday servings.

Store this in a cool dry place. Enjoy this lovely condiment with your food.


·         Preferably use Kashmiri chilly powder as it imparts a lovely red color to the pickle.

·         This pickle can also be made with ½ cup rai na kuria (split mustard seeds) only.

·         This pickle can also be made with ½ cup methi na kuria (crushed fenugreek seeds) only.

·         If you wish, you can use drained baby mangoes in brine, in which case, you should reduce the quantity of salt in this recipe.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Here I am proud to present yet another kerala-iyer dish, the Green tomatoes Aviyal, this is very popular at home.
Green tomatoes are a healthy source of fiber, which your intestinal and digestive systems rely on for good health. One cup of green tomatoes supplies about 2 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber is present in most fruits, vegetables and whole grains, so increasing your intake of these foods, including cooked green tomatoes, can help you get enough in your diet. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that a diet that includes plenty of fiber may help you reduce your risk of several life-threatening conditions, including heart disease, colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Fiber also keeps your digestive system working well so you are less likely to experience constipation.
Green tomatoes also contain nutrients like beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and vitamin K. This recipe would make it worth to add these lovely green tomatoes to your menu.
Once in a way when I visit the Giant hypermart I get to see some green tomatoes nestled in between the ripe red ones or the semi-ripe tomatoes. This time I decided to pick a few for my dish. In yesteryears, where people used to grow tomatoes in their garden they had the luxury to pluck and make these but now we have to rely on supply from our super stores. Green tomatoes have a tart taste to it which is loved by many. It’s usually made as a side dish with Molaghootal / Kootu

Green tomatoes - 6 nos
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 1/4tspn
Fresh grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Dried Red Chilly  - 1
Cumin seeds -1 teaspoon
Salt as per taste
Coconut oil -1 tspn
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Rinse the tomatoes well. Slice the tomatoes into 4 parts, don’t make think slices or small pieces as it will melt when cooked into a puree. The tomatoes have to be chunky before cooking.  In a vessel, add the sliced tomatoes, some turmeric, red chilly powder  and salt and curry leaves and cook it covered.
Meanwhile, Grind the coconut with the dried red chilly and cumin seeds to a smooth paste.  Once the tomatoes are cooked, Add in the ground coconut paste, check for salt, if required you can adjust now, you can also add chilly powder for a slightly fiery taste. Don’t let the gravy boil for too long as it will become very watery. After a boil or so, once all the ingredients are mixed well and the taste according to you is perfect, drizzle some raw coconut oil on top. This is done for giving it a dash of flavor. It’s kind of a grand finale for this dish.
Now put the lid on and let the flavors mingle for a while.
In some hot white  rice, drizzle some ghee, add your Molaghutal to the rice, mix well, take a helping of the Tomato Aviyal and eat Molaghutal rice with it and with some fried lijjat papads. That’s the way we eat this and savor the blend of various tastes in our mouth.

Note -:

·    While grinding the coconut instead of dried red chilly you can add green chilly. I like the flavor of the dried red chilly so I added dried red chilly to my dish.
·       Don’t add tamarind or Yogurt as Green tomatoes are quite sour on it’s own.
·    You can add onions/shallots to this dish for more flavor, but what I have shared is a traditional recipe.
 (Nutritional Value Info courtesy – www.Livestrong.com)


Friday, March 14, 2014


Today we will be celebrating the festival of Karadayan Nombu.

Explanation for the younger generation
There are a few festivals in India which are very male oriented and centered around men. Primarily because in the past the men were the bread winners and the woman’s role was taking care of the hearth and homes. Their lives were intertwined with their husbands and they usually used to pray for the long lives of their husband, so that he is always there for them till the day they die. This was also a way to profess their undying love for their husbands. As per one of my cousins this could be known as the “Karwa Chauth” of the South Indians (Tambhrams).

This festival is primarily observed and celebrated by the Tamil Brahmins. It is celebrated during the transition of Tamil Month of Maasi to Panguni. Due to this legend Karadaiyan Nombu is also known as Savithri Vratham.

Why is the festival called Karadyan Nombu?
Karadiyan Adai is the name of a unique dish prepared on this day and Nombu means Vratam or upvasam (fast).

The Story of the Tamil Karadayan Nombu festival is based on the legend of Satyavan Savitri which is one of the stories that we read in the epic story Mahabharata.
You can read the story of Satyavan and Savitri here.
It is believed that Savitri got her husband’s life back from the clutches of death.
Each region in India observes a fast (upvas/vrat) in a different time of the year, like the Maharashtrians observe this as Vata Savitri and the North Indians as “Karva Chauth” etc.

How do we celebrate
On Karadayan Nombu day women worship the Goddess Gowri and offer her a Neivedhyam (offering) of Sweet & Savoury mini steamed Adais.
Unmarried girls pray for a good husband and married women pray for their husband’s long life.
There is a muhurtham time for tying the sacred yellow thread which indicates that we have offered our prayers. During this time, Women pray to the Goddess and tie the sacred yellow cotton thread known as Manjal cheradu or Nombu Cheradu for the well-being of their husband. This thread is not as thick as the Thali Kayaru(cheradu), this is a thinner version as shown in the picture.
You can read more about the way the pooja is done here.

The following shloka is chanted while tying the yellow thread
In Sanskrit,
“Throram Krishnami subhake saharitham
Dharami aham bharthu Ayushya Sidhartham supreethabhava sarvadha”
Which means,
By tying the sacred tyellow thread, I hereby pray for a long life for my husband and also pray that we always live happily together.

In Tamil ladies chant,
Urugaadha Venneyum, Oru adaiyum, Oru Noolum naan noorthaen
Orukkalumum en kanavan ennai vittu piriyaada irukka vendum.
Which means,
I offer unmelted butter alongwith the adai, Tying a thread doing nombu,
Bless me O Goddess that me and my husband never get separated and always live happily together.

I will share with you an easy method to make the adai without compromising much on the taste.
Before you make the adai (for sweet adai and the savory adai), roast the rice flour in a wok so it loses its raw smell. The color of the flour should still be white. Transfer it onto a plate to cool.

Rice Flour - 2 cups
Jaggery (powdered) - 1.5 cups
Water - 1 cup
Black eyed beans - 1/2 cup
Coconut (cut into small cubes) - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cardamom (Elaichi) - 2-3

Soak the beans overnight or for around 3 hours, pressure cook and set aside.
Pound the cardamom, separate the skin and further pound the seeds inside into a powder.
In a wok, add Ghee, the cardamom seeds and coconut pieces, Allow the coconut pieces to fry until golden. Then add the water and let it boil, once it starts boiling, add the jaggery.
When the jaggery starts to froth and the raw smell of jaggery disappears, add the roasted rice flour, cooked black eyed beans, and mix the ingredients well. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Once it is cool enough to touch, make balls of the mixture and flatten it to round shapes. Put a hole in the middle with your finger just like a doughnut, place on the idli moulds.
Steam them in an idli cooker for 7 - 10 minutes. Serve with a generous dollop of white butter (usually made at home).


Rice flour - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Cooked black eyed beans - 3 tbsp
Green chillies / Dried red chillies - 2
Coconut, diced - 2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a Sprig
Asafetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Heat some oil in a wok, add some mustard seeds, asafetida, green chillies or dried red chillies and curry leaves and sauté for a minute, till the seeds stop spluttering. Add the water to it next and let it come to a boil. Add in the salt, coconut pieces, cooked black eyed beans and the roasted rice flour and stir well so that lumps don't form. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Make balls out of it, flatten the balls and cook in an idli steamer for about 10 minutes.
Serve with a generous dollop of butter.
Enjoy the Adais as a reward of breaking the vratham kept for your dear husbands or would-be husbands.

Friday, January 10, 2014


This time when I went for my weekend grocery shopping, I saw bags of frozen Toovar Lilva, all neatly picked, sorted and frozen. The fresh ones are not available so easily in Singapore and seeing such a convenient pack I decided to buy it.
Usually when I buy this I use it in the Surti Undhio. This time I thought I will make something different from it and decided to make a Pulav out of it which is a one pot meal at home on the days when I am lazy to cook and I need to rustle up something quickly.
Here is a recipe of the Toovar Lilva Pulav for people who like some variety in their palette.
The Toovar Lilva Pulav was such a hit in our house that it got over in no time.

Toovar Lilva / Pigeon Peas – 1 cup
Basmati Rice – 1 ½ cup washed and drained
Bay leaves - 1
Cumin Seeds – 1 tbsp
Cinnamon sticks – 1
Clove / Lavang – 1
Turmeric – ½ tsp (Optional)
Asafetida – a pinch
Onion – 1 finely chopped (Optional)
Freshly chopped coriander leaves – 2 tbsps
Oil – 2 tbsps
Salt as per taste

To Be Ground Into A Smooth Paste (using Little Water)
Chopped Coriander leaves – ½ cup
Green chillies – 4
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Lemon Juice - ½  tbsp
Fresh Green Garlic (Hara Lehsun) – ¼ cup (Optional)

Rinse out 1 ½ cups of long grained Basmati rice and then soak it for a while in water.
I used the frozen pigeon peas, Incase you are using the frozen Toovar Lilva, kindly soak it in some warm water. If you are using fresh ones just rinse the pigeon peas out through a colander and they are ready to use.
Now, take the chopped coriander leaves, green chilly paste, ginger paste, a pinch of salt, Lemon juice and the fresh green garlic and blend to fine consistency in a mixie / blender adding a little water.
(I didn’t use the green garlic & onion in this recipe)

In a wok, put 2 tablespoons of oil, once the oil is heated add in the Bay leaves, Cinnamon stick, clove and the cumin seeds, once you see the cumin getting fried, add in a pinch of Asafetida (I always like to asafetida in my dishes as it has property to remove gases and in this recipe we have beans so it is good to add some), and fry for a minute.
Now add in the finely chopped onions and sauté until transparent. The onion should look shrunk and well fried.
After this, add in the Corriander-green chilly-ginger-lemon juice paste and sauté well. The color of the paste when fried well becomes slightly light.
Ensure that you don’t burn the masala as then the pulav won’t taste so good.
Meanwhile drain the water of the Toovar Lilva by passing it through a colander (if using the frozen ones).
Once, the masala turns into a lighter color. Add in the Toovar Lilva and sauté until the Pigeon peas turn into a lighter green,
After this add in the rinsed and soaked Basmati rice without any water and sauté for 2-3 minutes adding salt as per the taste and mixing everything well.
Once this is done you can put this in a rice cooker and add water according to finger level consistency for example when you put your finger in you will know how much rice is there, that much water has to be added or alternatively add water until the rice is completely immersed and there is another tea-cup of water on top. The water level has to be perfect for a perfect pulav, now switch on the rice cooker and keep to cook position.
I always use the electric rice cooker for pulav in Singapore but you can make it in a non stick wok by closing the lid and keeping the gas on a low flame.
Either way it cooks well. Once the rice cooks, give it a light stir so that everything mixes well without breaking the grains of rice Put the lid back and let it stand for another five minutes. Then turn off the plug.
Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.
If you want to decorate it some more you can even garnish it with freshly grated paneer.
Enjoy the refreshing Toovar Lilva pulav with any gravy of your choice or just with Papad, pickle and raita, It’s a complete meal.


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