Archive for July, 2007


This rice can be prepared quickly if you have the masala powder ready in your fridge.

Preparation time 10 minutes.

Cooking time 10 minutes.

Serves 2


  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Cauliflower – 1 and 1/2 cup (cut into florets)
  • Green Peas – 1/2 (half) cup)
  • 4 Curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds (rai)
  • Hing 1/8th of a tsp
  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Ghee

*Ingredients for the masala powder:

  • 1 tbsp Corriander Seeds
  • 2 tbsp Channa dal
  • 2 tbsp Urad dal
  • 3 dry Red chillies (reduce if you need less spicy)
  • 1/6th tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 1 tbsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1/4th tsp Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
  • 25mm (1 stick) Dalchini
  • 1 Clove
  • 1 Elachi (Green cardamom)
  • 1/4th cup dry coconut grated
  • 1 teaspoon oil

Method For the masala powder

  1. Pour 1 tsp oil in a frying pan and roast the ingredients for the powder except dry coconut and roast in medium flame till it turns golden. Add dry coconut and fry for 10 seconds.
  2. Grind the roasted ingredients in a mixer to coarse powder.
  3. Store this powder in an air-tight container.

Method for the rice

  1. Clean, wash and cook rice (for one portion of rice add 2 cups of water) – Prefer to use normal rice (not Basmati rice). Allow the rice to cook in any cooker. Each grain of the rice should be separate.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds. After the mustard seeds crackle, add Hing, Curry leaves, Turmeric Powder and Green Peas and saute for a few minutes.
  3. Then add Cauliflower and add salt (1/2 tsp – if required add to taste) saute till cauliflower is cooked;
  4. Now add the Masala powder (2 tbsp – you can more or less add to suit your taste)
  5. **Put-off the flame and add rice and ghee. Mix lightly with out breaking the rice grains.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl (check the salt/taste of the ingredients)
  7. Serve with Plain curd, mint raita or vegetable raita or a roasted papad.

*The masala powder can be prepared and stored in airtight containers in the fridge for 2 months.

** Allow the rice to cool a little in a shallow dish and add the ghee to it. This will help to keep the rice grains separate.

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The Neem tree (Veepa maram) has an important place in the south indian life style. Neem tree is generally grown in the front yard of the house. In the evenings when all the members of the family generally gather for a chat on the Thinnai(Permanent seats constructed in the front yard), a gentle breeze carrying a sweet aroma of the neem touches our face. This is such a pleasant experience.

Before the advent of tooth brushes Indians used the neem twigs for brushing the teeth. Even to this day we can see people in country side massaging their gums with the neem twigs.

The neem leaf has medicinal properties to cure skin diseases. Now a days soap and tooth paste manufacturers use these in their products.

The neem flower is used in cooking and is a good medicine for stomach aches and indigesion. Clean white cloth is tied to the branches to collect the flowers. The flowers known as “veepampoo” are sun dried and used for cooking.

More about neem tomorrow.

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You return home late and feel like having a hot southindian rasam? Then this one is for you!

Cooking time 6 minutes.

Serves 2.


Tomato -2 nos.

Sambhar podi – 2teaspoons.

Salt -to taste.

For the powder

1. Toor dal – 1 tea spoon.

2. Jeera -1 tea spoon.

3. pepper – 1 tea spoon.

For garnishing

Chopped coriander leaves 2 twigs,

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed,

1 teaspoon ghee.


Dry roast the ingredients for the powder and grind to a smooth powder.

Cut tomato into small pieces put in 2 cups of water, add Sambhar podi, salt and bring to boil. Boil till tomato is cooked. Add the grinded powder and 1/2 cup water and bring to boil. Garnish it with coriander leaves and mustard seeds fried in ghee.

Microwave method

In a microwave safe container place the chopped tomatoes and micro high for a minute. Add 2 cups water, sambhar powder and salt. micro high for 4 minutes. Add the powder and micro high for 1 more minute. Garnish with corianderleaves and mustard seeds fried in ghee.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot with rice or in mugs.


The powder can be prepared in larger quantities ( say a cup full of each ingredient) and can be added almost to all south indian rasam before garnishing. So that it will give a special taste to all rasams.

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Whatever you do, do it with love and respect is the advice given to us by our elders.

The Iyengars respected their cuisine. Read on to know more.

1. The Kitchen is Madapalli in Tamil. The Iyengars add a Thiru to it and say Thirumadapalli.

2. All the dishes are followed by an Amudu (Amrit or Nectar)

Saathamudu for rasam, Kariamudu for curry, Thirukkannamudu for payasams , and so on.

Making noise with the vessels was to be avoided, as it meant less food for the others in the household who are yet to have their meals.

Until six months ago I never had a maid to wash the vessels as I was averse to the noise made while handling the vessels.

I usually work silently in the kitchen, unless I want to show my anger of course!

In tamizh culture a well balanced diet is served. The menu has all the nutrients required for good health.

There was also a day of fruit diet once in a fortnight. On Ekadasi many tamilians fast or have only fruits.

There was also restriction on the diet served for dinner. Heavy and spicy food is generally avoided. The dinner usually consisted of podis and some medicinal herb. Curd rice is a must to culminate the meal.

Some of the delicious preparations for dinner are as follows:-

Veepampoo sathamudu.

Kandathippili sathamudu.

Milagu sathamudu.

jeeraga sathamudu.

milagu kuzhambu.

Paruppu thogayal.

Angaya podi

And so many more. The recipes will be posted in the coming days.

Also included in the menu are

Manathakkali vethal and Veepampoo Fried in a teaspoon of ghee.

Manathakkali is also called black night shade or sun berry or wonder cherry.The dried fruit is called vethal.

We can get the manathakkali vethal in tamizh stores all over India. It is available as salted and plain variety.

Fry 1 table spoon of the manathakkali vethal in 1 teaspoon of ghee, in low flame till the berrys bulge. Crush and mix the fried vethal with 1/2 cup cooked rice (Hot)and a little salt.This manathakkali vethal saadam is really yummy, and a good relief from the regular heavy food.

You can also have the fried vethal as a side dish for thayir saadam(curd rice).

This berry has some medicinal values. I am not an expert to provide the details on this subject. So please refer to ayurvedam.com

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This tasty dish is so quick. Goes well with manja pongal.


Tamarind – lemon size (soaked in luke warm water)

Red chillies – 5 nos (cut into 1 inch pieces)

Mustardseeds – 1/2 teaspoon.

Toor dal – 1 tablespoon

*Manathakkali vathal (sun berry or wonder cherry, dried)

2 teaspoons.

Sesame (Til) oil 1 tablespoon.

Curry leaves 1 twig.

Rice flour 2 teaspoons.

Salt to taste.


Squeeze out the pulp from soaked tamarind by adding one and half cups water.

Heat oil in a kadai, add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add toor dal and red chillies. When toor dal is almost golden add the manathakkali vathal and fry. It will bulge in a moment, pour the tamarind water and add chopped curry leaves and salt. simmer for 6 minutes. Mix rice flour in one tablespoon water and add to the kuzhambu. Boil for 2 more minutes in low flame. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot with Manja pongal or Rice.

* Ayurvedam.com

Manja pongal

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This pongal is prepared on Aadi velli kizhamai.


Rice -3/4 cup.

Toor dhal – 1/4 cup.

Turmeric powder – 3/4 tea spoon.

Asafoetida powder – 1/4 teaspoon.

Salt to taste

Ghee – 3 table spoons


Pressure cook rice with toor dal, adding enough water and turmeric powder.Cook for 3 minutes more than usual so that the rice can be easily mashed. Take out from the cooker mash nicely when still hot and add salt and ghee and mix well.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot with killu milagai kuzhambu.


People who like coconut oil can add 2 teaspoons with ghee to the pongal.

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