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Archive for August, 2008

I haven’t met my namesake – Lakshmi – but have heard quite a bit about her from Valli. Lakshmi is 28 years old with an adorable son and a school going daughter. She’s had a difficult life so far – suffering from coronary heart ailment, Lakshmi takes care of kids inspite of deteriorating health with almost no support from her husband.  She is currently dependant on her parents.  She has 5-6 months of life left in her in her current condition – assuming she continues to respond well to the high dosage of medicines she is under.

All doctors consulted so far have recommended an operation as soon as possible.  Unfortunately there are two problems that are delaying the operation –  the cost of the operation and the obstacles in access to free health care.

The costs of operation and sustenance works to 5-6 lakhs ($15000) – a daunting figure for Lakshmi’s family who are economically disadvantaged.  

The State General Hospital in Chennai which is well known for its Cardio Vascular department has a long list of people in queue for the operation. Lakshmi is way down that list that it might very well be 4 months before her turn materializes. I believe that although right to health is proclaimed loudly in a million mandated documents around the world – access to health care is universally difficult and often leaves little to individual choice.

Lakshmi’s mother works in Valli’s household. Valli is one of those rare food bloggers who post with an undiminished enthusiasm everyday.

Valli’s has decided to go ahead and raise funds online. The last date set to raise funds is the 15th of September.  We request our readers to contribute towards a life for Lakshmi.  

You can donate via Paypal. To Donate Click Here or access The Chip in widget at Valli’s blog in her sidebar.  After you get the confirmation mail from paypal, forward the same to Valli at lakshmi.fundraising@gmail.com.

If you’d like to send a Demand Draft send a mail to Valli at lakshmi.fundraising@gmail.com for the details.

Looking forward to your support.

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Srirama navami – 30th April

Tamizh Varuda Pirappu -14th April

Chithra pournami – 6th May

Aadi Pandigai – 16th July

Aadi Velli Kizhamai – 20th,27th  July,3rd and 10th August

Andal Thiruaadipuram- 23rd July

Pathinettam Perukku-2nd August

Avani Avittam/ Upakarma-1st August

Janmashtami/Gokulashtami-9th August

Vinayaka Chaturthi/Ganesh Chaturthi-19th September

Varalakshmi Viratham-27th July

Kovil Kannapiran Srijayanthi-8th September (For Iyengars)

Puratasi Sanikizhamai – 22nd, 29th September and 6th and 13th October

Navarathri Pujai Arambam-16th October

Saraswathi Puja ( Mahanavami)-October 23rd

Vijaya Dasami (Aayuda Puja) -October 24th

Deepavali (Naraka Chaturdasi) -November 13th

Thiru Karthigai-13thDecember

Boghi Pandigai -13th January 2013

Pongal/Sankaranthi-14th January 2013

Mattu Pongal-15th January 2013

Karadaiyan Nonbu-13th March 2013

Tamizh Puthandu-14th April 2013

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This year Varamahalakshmi puja is on 15th August. I’ve received many requests to detail the exact puja procedures. I am just a beginner when it comes to performing the pujas on my own. I have already published some details in my last years post along with the recipes for the viratham.

The exact puja procedures are available in CDs and also in the internet. For the Indians staying abroad, I would suggest that during your next trip to India make sure to buy books that explain the puja details very well.

For any puja devotion is most important. Our relationship with God should be one of faith and not fear or guilt. So just go ahead and do the puja with whatever knowledge you have.

May Goddess Lakshmi bestow upon all of us Happiness and Peace! :)

I will update with pictures of the Kalasam when I decorate for the puja tomorrow.
varalakshmi kalasam01

Preparing the Kalasam

Fill a pot ( Silver, copper or mud) with water. Put some coins, jewellery, tulsi, saffron and some flowers into the water. Place 5 mango leaves and coconut smeared with turmeric over the pot. You can also use leaves of 5 different flowering plants instead of mango leaves. Tie the Mugam of Ambal on the coconut. Now your kalasam is ready for the puja.  You can further decorate the Kalasam with kumkum(Haridra Soornam), Sandal paste ( Kandham) Flowers ( Pushpam) etc.

During the Puja we invoke the presence of 7 holy rivers( Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswathi,Narmada,  Sindu, Kaveri) in this order. Later we invoke the Devi and perform the Aaradanai and Archanai.

On the next day after punar puja the water in the kalasam is distributed to all family members(Theertham) and some water is sprinkled all over the house. Rest of the water is poured into Tulsi plant. The coins can be deposited in Hundi of any temple we visit.

SARVEJANA SUKINO BHAVANTHU!

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Happy 1st anniversary to the yum blog

The main ingredient in any food is love! That is why home cooked food is always much more delicious than outside food! :) And that is why men think their mother and wife are the best cooks in the world!!And that’s why we think our grandma and amma are the best cooks! :)

My appa always used to complain that we always reserved the best dinner sets for some special guests! I always make sure that I use the best serving bowls and dinner sets when he visits me! :)

My amma knew the favourite dish of everyone in the family . She always made sure that she prepares it for us when we visit her.

After amma passed away many of our friends and relatives who could not personally visit us spoke over phone. One Mr. Prabhu, a family friend spoke about amma for almost 1 hour. During one of his visits to our home he had observed how amma served water for the family and visitors!

Amma always tied a pure white cloth to the tap in the kitchen. This was to avoid mud and any other dirt. She filled this water in huge vessels, boiled and cooled the water. The boiled water was again filtered using a water filter as there was no other water purifier available those days. She then filled this water in bottles and kept them to cool in the fridge. All this may sound simple. Serving water this way for a family of nine, with hordes of visitors, in a hot city like chennai  is’nt simple at all! May be she spent 2 hours every day just to serve pure water for the family! I am really amazed that our friend Prabhu observed  and remembered amma for this!

Better late than never! He He…..

Our first post in the blog was on 28th June 2007. Every recipe I have published are what I have learnt from my mother. All the recipes have been tried and tested umpteen times before they are posted. With 227 posts and 4.2 lakh hits ( that is on our blog anniversary) the support we have received has been overwhelming! We have more than 200 non bloggers commenting on the blog or mailing us! Many people land here looking for festival recipes.  I have already published the dates for various festivals this year on the side bar and promise to add more recipes as the festivals approach.

My favourite way to pass time is to just get forget myself seeing natures beauty! These days I spend atleast 1/2 hour every morning gathering and stringing Pavazhamalligai!

Pavazhamalligai

Pavazhamalligai string

Thank you, dear readers, for your support!

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There are two, maybe three things, that I cannot live without in my fridge. Tomato, curry leaves and coriander. I’ve known coriander since I was a tiny baby, enjoying my cup of warm rasam sadam mashed with ghee.  I know it by a few names – kothamalli, kothmiri soppu, dhania, coriander, cilantro. I relish kothamalli. A rasam is never complete without kothamalli. A chaat without dhania is like eating a dish without its finishing touch. I cannot imagine Rava Idli without coriander. It goes with anything, into almost everything. But the coriander is not just about garnish or addition for flavour. There’s Kothamalli Thogayal (a delicately flavoured thick sauce), Kothamalli Pickle, Kothamalli Podi – all of which are made from the leaves and not the seeds.

You can head to this Wikipedia link for your dose of information such as ‘every part is edible’ and ‘the Europeans except the Portuguese gave up coriander from their cooking’.  You can check out a “How to Grow” at this link.

There are few new pieces of information about coriander “the herb not the spice” that I gathered today while researching for this post. 

The Web Gyaan: Many sites say that the coriander leaves have a pungent taste. And a equally pungent odour

My Take:Odour? Fragrance would be a more appropriate word.  Pungent?!! Babies usually love rasam and most don’t mind massive use of the coriander at all. Babies’ opinion wins hands down. Coriander leaves are fragrant with a mild warm taste.

The Web gyaan: Coriander refers to the seeds, coriander leaves or cilantro to the leaves.

My take:Contray to what the web says is the norm, when we say coriander, we mostly mean the leaves – when we say coriander seeds, we mean the seeds.   Note that the we refers to my small world much like the world of the frog that lived in the well.

The Web gyaan: The herb is an aphrodisiac. The Chinese used them in potions for immortality. The Arabian Nights has many stories providing more proof, though fictional, that the herb has aphrodisiacal properties or at least people believed them to be so. The Ayurveda lists it as an aphrodisiac.

My take:I am not sure if anyone ever became immortal from having coriander potions. If coriander is indeed an aphrodisiac and listed by Ayurveda as one, I am surprised that it finds its way into the food culture of the community I hail from. Many times we’ve been chided right on this blog for using onions or garlic in an odd recipe. In not too ancient times, in generations as recent as my grandparents the use of onion and garlic in cooking was considered a sin by Iyengars because these were bad “tamasika bhava” food. To my knowledge coriander leaves definitely don’t occupy this list. I can almost imagine a historical scene – the clever maamis and silly mamas have a grand meet to cook food, eat food, have a community burping session and decide on food rules. The silly mamas boom about the banning of onions and garlic from “saatvik” food. The maamis readily agree – they can do away with tons of peeling, putting up with pungent smell and crying. One really  really silly mama who hates coriander suggests, “let’s do away with coriander”. One clever maami retorts, “You mean let’s subject ourselves to tasteless torture? Let’s take a vote”. Coriander wins hands down and stays put in the Iyengar cuisine. Please note that this account is entirely fictional!

The recent addition of a muffin tray to my kitchen was accompanied by an empty gas cylinder. I baked these muffins for breakfast a couple of days back. They’re eggless, savoury and almost oil free.

Makes: 6 medium, 10 small

Ingredients

  • All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
  • Carrots – 1 cup (grated)
  • Coriander (Fresh Leaves) – 1/2 cup (chopped into fine bits)
  • Black Pepper Corns – 1 tsp (crushed)  
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Cooking Soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Curd – 1 tbsp
  • Tomatoes (pureed into medium consistency) – 1/2 cup
  • Milk – 3/4 cup
  • Olive Oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. Grease or line a muffin tray.  Preheat oven to 220 C.
  2. Saute the coriander in some oil till the crackling sound subsides.
  3. Mix the All Purpose Flour, Coriander, Carrots, Baking Powder,  Cooking Soda, Salt and Black Peppercorns.
  4. Fold in the Tomato Puree and Milk into the flour mix. Add curd.
  5. Pour batter into muffin moulds all the way to the top.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Carrot-Coriander Muffins are off to Divya at DilSe for Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB).  WHB is a weekly food blogging event started by Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen focused on herbs in cooking.

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I have been dreaming of making savoury muffins ever since Raaga mentioned about her famous vegetable cake. We never ended up baking it together as we planned to but the idea was stuck in my head. Some months ago when I had just bought my oven, I ambitiously set out to buy baking ware to complement it. At that time, I had imagined my oven to be this ultimate machine which could cook 16 muffins at one go!! The 16 mould muffin tray obviously din’t fit into my puny 30L oven. Thankfully I have a better sense of proportion when it comes to cooking!

Arudathi passed on a 6 mould muffin tray she’s bought for me sometime back yesterday. I quickly threw in a few ingredients to make a batter going by whatever  I knew about what goes into a cake. The results were fabulous and looked decent for first time muffins. I got fairly good domes, not very smooth but decent.  

These muffins are savoury, eggless and have just a tbsp of oil but quite a bit of cheese.

Makes: 6 medium, 10 small

Ingredients

  • All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
  • Milk – 1/2 cup
  • Tomatoes (pureed into medium consistency) – 3/4 cup
  • Peppers/ Capsicum (finely chopped) – 3/4 cup
  • Feta Cheese (crumbled) – 60 gms (approx 1/4 of a 250gms feta blockCan be replaced with paneer)
  • Onions (finely chopped) – 1/4 cup
  • Black Pepper Corns – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin – 1/4  tsp  
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Cooking Soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Curd – 1 tbsp
  • Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp (increase if you’re using paneer)

Method

  1. Grease or line a muffin tray and preheat an oven to 220 C.  
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, cooking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. Saute the Black Pepper Corns and Cumin in some Oil until they pop. Set aside for cooling. Pound coarsely. Add to the flour mix.
  4. Add tomato puree and curd to the flour mix. Fold in the milk. Fold in the peppers/capscisum, onions and feta cheese. Add the remaining olive oil.   
  5. Pour into muffin moulds.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Notes

  • If you’re replacing the feta cheese with paneer, dunk paneer in some warm water before crumbling and increase the salt. The feta that I used is rather creamy – you may not get the same effect with Paneer. You may increase the quantity of cheese if you are using Paneer. Silken Tofu would also be a good substitute.
  • This recipe does not call for the vegetables to be pre cooked in any way. Finely chopped peppers and onion will get cooked with the 30 minutes of baking.  
  • While pouring each mould should be filled all the way to the top. Only then the rise of the muffin will become a dome. Filling 3/4th of the mould will give you muffins with flat tops. 

Some shameless self promotion:

Check out the Marbled cake Mandira and I tried at BakingBuddies.

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