Archive for the ‘Healthy Eats’ Category


 In my previous posts, I wrote about  Navarathri and Saraswathi poojai-Vijayadashami and mentioned about sundals, but didn’t have a chance to write how each variety is made. When I came across the event  “My Legume Love Affair”- 15th helping in  Sia’s Monsoon spice, couldn’t resist a post dedicated to sundals. So, here it is…………

During Navrathri we make sundals with legumes every day for 10 days and offer it to Goddess Devi and partake. Also, this can be a great protein packed evening-after school snack/tiffin for kids. It’s great for pregnant women. Also great for weight watchers diet, as it is low or no fat and high in protein content. Almost 15 types of sundals can be made with different legumes using different methods.

Method: 1 ( This method can be used for Green chana, White chana and Black chana-Garbanzo beans. It is called Podi thoovina sundal)

Chana Sundal

Chana Sundal


  • Black or Green or White chana (Garbanzo)- 1cup.
  • Salt-to taste.
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch.
  • Lemon juice- few drops.

For Seasoning:

  • Oil- 1tsp.
  • Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp.
  • Urad dhal- 1/2 tsp.
  • Curry leaves- 1 arc.
  • Green chilly-1(optional)
  • Asafoetida- a pinch.

For Masala powder: Dry roast the below and powder them.

  • Dhania or coriander seeds- 1tsp.
  • Dry Red chillies- 2.
  • Channa Dhal-1tsp.
  • Urad dhal-1tsp.
  • Coconut scrapes- 2tsp.


  1. Soak the chana in water for 10-12 hours.
  2. Add salt and pressure cook till 1 whistle, so that it doesn’t over cook.
  3. Keep oil in a pan and add the above mentioned seasoning one by one, in the order mentioned above and turmeric.
  4. Add the cooked chana to the pan, after draining excess water.
  5. Add the masala powder and give it a toss.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice.

Method 2 ( This method can be used for Chana dhal(Kadala parupu- split chickpeas), Split Moong Dhal (Payatham parupu) and Kidney beans( Rajma) and Black eye peas(karamani)

Navrathri_24 Ingredients:

  • Legume of interest- 1cup.
  • Salt-to taste.
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch.
  • Coconut scrapes- 2tsp.

For Seasoning:

  • Oil- 1tsp.
  • Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp.
  • Urad dhal- 1/2 tsp.
  • Curry leaves- 1 arc.
  • Red chillies-3.
  • Asafoetida- a pinch.


  • Rajma soaked in water for 10-12 hours. Karamani soaked for 1 hour. Need not soak chana dhal and moong dhal as they cook directly.
  • Pressure cook till 1whistle, with just enough water.
  • Keep oil in a pan and add the above mentioned seasoning one by one, in the order mentioned above and turmeric.
  • Add the cooked legume to the pan, after draining excess water and cook 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with coconut scrapes.
  • Method 3 ( Green patani-vatana, White patani, Groundnut-peanuts, Chora can be done in this method)

    Navrathri_23  Ingredients and Seasoning and Preparation method:

    • Same as mentioned in Method 2.
    • Instead of red chillies, green chillies are used here.
    • Lemon juice can be used in this variety.
    • Groundnuts need not be soaked, directly cooked.
    • Chora and vatana can be soaked, but cooked carefully, as they become soft easily.
    • In green vatana sundal, cut mango pieces can be added to make Thengai-maangai-patani sundal.

    Method 4: (Sweet version can be made with green gram(Paasi payaru) and Red Karamani (which is hard to find in the US)

    The idea is pretty much the same except that Jaggery(vellam), coconut, cardamom and ghee are used. Avoid seasonings mentioned above.

    Method 5: ( Green gram Masala Sundal with onions)

    If it is not used as neivedhyam, just prepared as a snack, green gram can be soaked, and allowed to sprout and method 3 can be used. But can saute chopped onions, tomatoes and a pinch of garam masala can be added.


    Asafoetida or Hing can be added to all the sundals, as legumes may cause gas to form in the stomach. Gas formation can be further avoided by letting the legumes sit in hot water for few minutes and draining the water. Then they can be soaked and cooked.

     Revealing my Legume love affair to the world by sending this to Sia’s Monsoon Spice , who is hosting the event for Susan of  The Well Seasoned Cook.


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    Flavored Milk

    It’s 4 pm in the evening…………

    Me: Come on honey. It’s time to drink your milk.

    My daughter: No mommy. I am busy.

    Me: Please da kanna. Come on, drink it quick.

    My daughter: Mommy. Stop bothering me.

    Me: Drinking milk makes you strong da chellam.

    My daughter: (Showing her muscles) See mommy. I am already very strong.

    Me:If you drink your milk, I will give you a scoop of ice-cream.

    My daughter:Ice-cream is junk food mommy.( all of a sudden she gets  a “nyanodhayam” that ice cream is junk food).

    Me: How about your favorite movie “Finding Nemo”?

    My daughter: It’s boring!

    Me: If you do not drink your milk now, I will give your toys to Riya.( her friend)

    My daughter: Yes mommy. we have to share our toys. You can give.

    Me: I said, drink it right now, otherwise, the ghosts are gonna come and catch you.

    My daughter: There are no ghosts in this world mommy. People just “pretend” to be ghosts during Halloween.

    Me: If you do not drink it, I will give  you a adi (Slap).

    My daughter😦 with a grumpy face) This is not fair, you dont love me. I will talk to strangers…..

    Yes, this is the latest way my 5 old blackmailed me, that she will talk to strangers, (Because we tell her not to talk to strangers). She uses the exact same words. That’s how much she hates milk. Every single day, I have to follow the strategies of Sam, Dhan, Bedh, Dand( the four strategies in Sanskrit literature meaning treating polite, reward, discrimination and punishment respectively) wasting 1/2 hour of my precious time. Punarapi Jananam, punarapi Maranam”– same story repeats every single day- three times a  day.

     Fall in love with milk contest enthused me to find interesting and fun ways to feed her milk, that she, most kids for that matter hate the most. In the US, we get Strawberry milk, Vanilla milk, Chocolate milk etc. But back home, we used to drink Rose milk, Badam milk (Almond Milk) and Pista (Pistachio) milk, which are very flavorful. They are so tasty, aromatic and the pastel colors are so pleasing to the eyes that, anyone will fall in love with milk.

    Flavored Milk

    Flavored Milk

    Milk is the most nutritious thing in the world, which is why “Cow is worshipped in the  Hindu culture”. By making milk, more appealing to the kids, I am sure all moms would not only find great relief & lot of time saved, but also feel happy seeing the milk mustache of their kids after they finish the milk.


    • Chilled Whole milk or 2% milk- 1 glass.
    • Flavored essence- Rose(pink), Pista ( green), Badam ( yellow) available in indian grocery stores. It adds color and flavor- few drops. The brand I used is “Roopam”-synthetic soft drink concentrate.
    • Sugar-if required-1tsp.
    • Rose petals,almonds, pistachios for garnish-optional.


    1. You can either use boiled, and cooled milk or pasteurized,, homogenized milk, straight from the refrigerator, add few drops of the essence of your choice with or without sugar. Stir well and enjoy! It literally takes less than a minute to get this ready.
    2. Edible rose petals can be used as garnish for Rose milk to add interest.
    3. Powdered pistachios can be added for Pista milk and crushed almonds for Badam milk, for that nutty crunch at the end.


    1. If you do not want to have ice-cream, cake or any other high calorie options for dessert, you can simply enjoy this deliciously appealing, yet simple made in a snap-flavored milk as a great dessert drink.
    2. I personally like the  pista milk for its wonderful color and elaichi-pista flavor. It’s too good.
    Yum yum yum

    Yum yum yum

    Submitted to “Fall in Love with Milk event in http://www.sanghi-tastybites.blogspot.com/  Sanghi’s Food delights.

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    Parupu Usili

    If God created something that can be used from top to bottom, it is the Banana tree. Banana tree( Vaazhai maram) itself, along with the raw banana cluster( Vaazhai Thar), is used as an auspicious symbol  of prosperity in Wedding altars, temples and festive occasions. Banana leaf ( Vaazhai Ilai) is used as a platter in South Indian households. Raw banana(Vaazhaikai) is used to make chips and used in vegetable side dish preparations. Banana fruit (Vaazhai pazham) of course, can be enjoyed as a fruit and also used in halwa and panchamirtham etc. Banana stem or (Vaazhaithandu) can be made as a dry vegetable dish and in gravies. Banana flower( Vaazhai Poo), can be cooked into exotic dishes like parupu usili.

    Parupu usili means lentil crumbs.It’s full of protein and Vitamins. It is my all time favorites. Since I posted  Morekuzhambu, I felt the need to post Parupu usili coz, the combination is like Shiva -parvathi. They just go hand in hand with each other. Parupu usili , morekuzhambu combo would be my typical weekend menu. It such a deadly combination, that anybody that eats would fall in love with the dish. The preparation is a little elaborate. My mom would give me the task of separating the “Kallan- or thief”, which is the pith of the flower. It has to be removed, as it would be hard to digest. I would patiently sit and remove all the kallans. Then my mom would chop the flowers and start the preparation. Lemme tell you how its done.


    • Thoor Dhal- 1 cup.
    • Channa dhal- 2tsp.
    • Banana Flower-1.
    • Red chillies-2.
    • Salt-to taste.
    • Turmeric powder-a pinch.
    • Asafoetida- a pinch.
    • Oil-4-5 tsp.
    • Mustard seeds-1tsp.
    Banana Flower

    Banana Flower

    Cooking 152
    Pith removed

    Pith removed

    Ground lentils

    Ground lentils

    lentils getting cooked

    lentils getting cooked

    Rice balls with ghee and usili

    Rice balls with ghee and usili


    1. Soak the Thoor dhal and Channa Dhal in warm water for half an hour.
    2. While the dhals are soaking, remove the pith from the banana flowers and chop them finely.
    3. Cook the banana flowers with a little water. Can be done in a microwave and drain excess water.
    4. Drain the water in the dhal, add red chillies, salt , turmeric and asafoetida and grind them to a fine paste in a mixer.
    5. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and after the seeds splatter, add the ground paste.
    6. Cook well, using two ladles, until, it gets cooked.
    7. Add the cooked flowers to the  cooked lentils and mix well.
    8. Leave it for 5 minutes in the stove and turn the heat off.
    9. The parupu usili is ready now and can be served with white rice, ghee and of course morekuzhambu.

    Method 2:

    The ground lentils can be steamed, (instead of cooking with oil) like you would do for Idlis.This would save some time in cooking and would consume very less oil.

    1. Other popular vegetables that are used to make parupu usili are Beans, clusterbeans or kothavaranga, Cabbage.
    2. Make sure, you remove excess water from the cooked flowers, so the parupu usili will be dry and not sticky.
    3. I use a dedicated cutting board for banana flower, raw banana cutting, as it may leave some stain inthe board.

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    Cooking 001-1

    Summer is here. This fruit basket is all geared up, just in time for the patio season. Look at the beautiful color. I am totally in love with watermelons. The taste, the water content, the color-what an amazing fruit. My dad would buy this fruit every summer because he knows that I simply love it. My husband got a huge watermelon from the grocers and I decided to try my hand in fruit carving. Walla!- what a beautiful serving bowl for the bright fruit.

    Watermelon Tulip

    Watermelon Tulip

    It reminds of beautiful tulips of Skagit Valley. Talking about cooling your body, Let me tell you more than a dozen simple ways to beat the heat and stay cool.

    1. Fruits like Watermelons, Cantaloupes and Honeydew melons- with abundant water content.
    2. Cucumber salads.
    3. Vegetable like bitterguard/Karela.
    4. Green Moong Dhal-soaked and can be used with cucumbers in Kosambari’s.
    5. Tender Coconut water.
    6. Barley water.
    7. Buttermilk.(see my previous post)
    8. Lemonade or Nimbu paani.
    9. Fenugreek seeds, leaves(Methi or Menthya)- in cooking as well as ground paste can be applied to head, and washed.
    10. Avoid Spicy food and drink plenty of water.
    11. Applying Henna, which is a hair colorant is also  a great way to cool off your body.
    12. Applying Kajal( Men -dont attempt this) will help cool your eyes. Cucumber rounds around  your eyes.
    13. Exercise- Sweat from workout, will make the heat get away from your body and will help you stay cool.
    14. Last but not the least, the good old practice in India-Oil Bath with sesame or gingelly oil. Sesame oil is highly effective in cooling your body. A little oil can be warmed and applied on center of the head and massaged. leave for 1/2 hour and shower. There  is no medicine to cool your body, better than a refreshing oil bath. This is the reason why Sesame oil  and methi are used in preparations like pickles and thokkus. The idea is your body could get heated up from the spices and chillies. So, to offset the heat, sesame oil and methi are used. Your heat boils, prickly heat and burning eyes would vanish after the oil bath.
    Cooking 011

    Water Melon Juice

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    Homemade YogurtMy previous post Morekuzhambu, inspired me to write a post about making curd/Dahi or Yogurt at home.The pic above doesn’t do justice. Will try to post a better picture, when I make yogurt the next time.

    Making Yogurt at home is as easy as 1 2 3. Lot of my friends ask me, do u make yogurt at home. Living in the US, people have forgotten how to make yogurt and with the busy lifestyle, people tend to use store bought yogurt. Also with the weather getting very cold in some parts of the United States, yogurt making could be in vain, if right temperatures are not maintained. Even I tend to buy yogurt from store occasionally. But for the most part, I make my own at home. Store bought yogurts are expensive, pasty, firm and less sour. Home made  plain yogurt  is really in- expensive, has a soft texture, mildly sour with a wonderful aroma. 

    Back home in India, making Yogurt is like a daily routine for women.Yogurt can be made from any milk. It’s traditionally made with Cow’s milk or Buffalo’s milk. The only time, I remember eating a different type of yogurt is, when we went to Jaipur- Rajasthan for touring, had a chance to eat Camel’s Yogurt, which was thick and tasting different. Was good though.

    Coming to the science behind it………Yogurt has two main bacterial cultures. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Pasteurization, Homogenization, Inoculation, Incubation, Fermentation are involved in yogurt making. Pasteurization is a process that slows down microbial growth in foods. Homogenization is a generic term which refers to processing a solution so that it becomes uniform. Since milk is an oil in water emulsion, it has to be homogenized for the fat molecules to be dispersed evenly. Inoculation is adding live starter cultures to the Luke warm milk. Incubation is keeping the inoculated milk at right temperature. Bacterial fermentation of milk gives yogurt. The milk sugar or lactose is fermented by these bacteria to lactic acid which causes the characteristic curd to form. The acid also restricts the growth of food poisoning bacteria. The presence of lactic acid, produced during the lactic acid fermentation is responsible for the sour taste and for the improved microbiological stability and safety of the food.

    Store bought milks are pasteurized and homogenized. How ever we have to take care of  inoculation and incubation ourselves to get yogurt. Accurate temperature control assures rapid coagulation. I hope I am not making it sound too complicated. Its actually as simple as telling 123. I use Garelick farms 2% milk for making yogurt. Whole milk will give much firmer yogurt. So, all you need is


    • 2% milk or Whole milk-1 gallon.
    • Starter culture- from store bought yogurts having live cultures-3 tsp.


    1. Boil milk in a pan and let it become Luke warm.
    2. Remove the top layer of skin from milk and transfer to a new container.
    3. Add 3 tsps of live yogurt culture and mix well.
    4. Cover and keep it near in a warm place like inside the oven with light bulb turned on(in winter).
    5. Keep in undisturbed.Do not stir or move while its still forming.
    6. After approximately 8 hours yogurt will be done. You can make its done,out by the firmness.
    7. The fermented yogurt can be stored in refrigerator
    8. When the yogurt is about to be done, use 3tsp of  yogurt you made as a starter culture to make fresh new yogurt.

    The shelf life of yogurt is about a month. The reason why yogurt has a better shelf life than milk is because of the pH and the number of beneficial bacteria present in them. In general the pH of yogurt is 4.4 -4.2 , which is not favorable for other bacterial growth except lactic acid producing bacteria, the bacteria our starter culture has.


    • The key thing to note in yogurt making is the lukewarm milk. If the milk is too hot or too cold, the yogurt will not form properly.
    • Casseroles or thermos bottles can be used to make yogurt.
    • When I run out of culture, I get it from my friends or even Indian grocery stores & Indian restaurants will be happy to give you some starter culture.
    • Making buttermilk is a snap-if you have yogurt- 2 tsp yogurt, salt, a pinch asafoetida, curryleaves, crushed ice-all mixed in a glass of water would be heavenly to beat the heat during summer.


    Health benefits of Yogurt:

    1. Great source of calcium, great addition to low fat, low calorie diet.
    2. Facilitate digestion of milk. The enzyme lactase digests milk sugar Lactose. So, yogurt is good for “lactose intolerance”.
    3. Nutritious cocktail of  proteins, calcium and minerals.
    4. The 9 amino acids help maintaining muscles.
    5. Builds bone density.
    6. Friendly bacteria in yogurt maintains the digestive tract.
    7. Great source of Vit B6 and B 12 especially for vegetarians.

     Yogurt not just satisfies your taste buds, its also a balanced diet.

     Eat healthy! Live happy!

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    Maanga Pachadi

    Maanga Pachadi

    “Maanga Pachadi” is my all time favorites. This is a must in Weddings and Festivals. I would ask even 5 helpings to the serving guy in the wedding, without being ashamed about it. My mom used to do it just like that, coz she knows that I love it. This dish in particular is done on Tamil New Year’s day. The term “arusuvai”- means 6 tastes. The speciality of this dish is, it has all the 6 tastes, our taste buds would recognize and the reason why its done on New Year’s day is to signify,  Life is composed of Ups and Downs and Victory and Defeat, Happiness and Sorrow. These are the ingredients with 6 tastes.

    1. Mango- Sour.                                                                              



    2. Jaggery-Sweet.
    3. Green Chilly- Pungent or Hot and Spicy.
    4. Salt-Salty.
    5. Methi seeds & Vepampoo or Neem Flower- Bitter.
    6. Turmeric-Astringent.

    “Ayurveda” mentions including all 6 tastes in a meal for optimal nutrition. Each taste feeds our mind, body, senses, and spirit in its own unique way. From a modern nutritional perspective, the 6 Tastes satisfy each of the major dietary building blocks. Sweet foods, for example, are rich in fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and water, whereas Bitter and Astringent foods are high in vitamins and minerals.

    The brain sends the body signals when it requires energy in the form of food. By incorporating all 6 Tastes into each meal, we ensure that these signals are adequately met, thus avoiding food cravings or the over-consumption of certain foods.

    Taste-Primary actions,(Common Sources)

    Sweet -Builds tissues, calms Nerve, (Fruits, Grains, Natural sugars).

    Sour -Cleanses tissues, increases absorption of minerals, (Sour fruits, Yogurt, fermented food).

    Salt-Improves taste, Stimulates digestion, maintains electrolyte balance, lubricates tissues, ( Natural salts, sea weeds).

    Bitter -Detoxifies and lightens tissues, (Dark leafy vegetables, bitter guard, herbs).

    Pungent -Stimulates digestion, metabolism, ( Chilly peppers, garlic, herbs,spices).

    Astringent– Absorbs water, tightens tissues, antiinflammation, (Turmeric, legumes, raw fruits,veggies). 


    • Sour Mango-1.                                                               Cooking 003-1
    • Salt- To taste.
    • Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp.
    • Jaggery scraped-1/2 cup.
    • Green chilly-2.
    • Mustard seeds-1/4 tsp.
    • Asafoetida-a pinch.
    • Fenugreek seeds or Methi seeds-1/4 tsp.
    • Curry leaves-5.
    • Neem flowers or Vepampoo-1/4 tsp.
    • Oil-1tsp for seasoning.


    1. Peel the skin of Mango and cut them into thin sheet like pieces.
    2. Add Salt, turmeric powder and add just enough water and cook it.
    3. Add jaggery, after the mango is cooked and wait until it melts.
    4. Keep oil and add mustard seeds. Once the mustard splatters, add green chilly, methi seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and finally neem flowers.
    5. Remove from heat and enjoy a tasty and healthy mango pachadi.

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    Malabar Adai

    Adai is one of this wholesome tiffin dishes that is very filling and healthy. It’s rich in protein from the lentils that are used. It’s easy to prepare. My daughter loves to eat this with sugar and ghee. My husband and I enjoy eating this with Avial,Jaggery and a dollop of butter.


    • Rice- 1/2 cup.
    • Preboiled rice-1/2 cup.
    • Thoor Dhal-1/4 cup.
    • Channa Dhal- 1/2 cup.
    • Urad Dhal-whole-1/4 cup.
    • Dried Red Chillies-3.
    • Salt to taste.
    • Asafoetida(Hing)-a pinch.
    • Finely chopped onions.
    • Curry leaves-1 arc.
    • Coconut scrapes-2 tbsp.


    1. Soak the Rice and Dhals for about 2-3 hrs.
    2. Coarsely grind it in a mixer with salt, asafoetida,red chillies.
    3. You can allow it to ferment, if a slight sour taste is required.
    4. Add coconut scrapes,chopped onions and curry leaves just before cooking.
    5. Add water just enough, so the batter becomes easy to handle and pour in a flat pan.
    6. Heat the pan in medium heat and pour the batter with a ladle and make it into a round.
    7. You can make 2 or 3 small holes randomly in the adai, so it gets cooked evenly.
    8. Add oil on the sides and the holes you made,and turn when the bottom looks golden brown.
    9. Let the other side cook well and serve with side dishes shown in the picture.

    Note: Other veggies that can be used are cabbage,carrots instead of onions. I usually do plain for my daughter, as she doesn’t like onions in them.

    Can also be served with Chutney if desired.

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    Avial is a traditional dish of Kerala. It is a very tasty and healthy dish, as it contains lots of vegetables. My mother used to cook this a lot. Whenever she does avial, she would also make plain thur dhaal, so we can have parupu saadham with a drop of ghee with avial side. And she would make the avial little dilute, so we can have avial mixed with rice-with lemon pickle as side.

    Avial veggies Vegetables Used: Clockwise

    Carrots, beans,potatoes,White pumpkin,Raw bananas,Avaraikai-broad beans,chakottai-jackfruit seeds,Chowchow-chayote,Drumsticks.

    Other vegetables that may be used in avial preparations:

    Raw mango pieces,Orange pumpkin,Cluster beans-kothavaranga, suran-senaikizhangu or  malabar Yam.


    • Vegetables peeled and chopped lengthwise into 1 1/2 inch pieces-3/4th cup in each variety.
    • Coconut oil-3tbl sps.
    • Curry leaves-1string.
    • Fresh thick Curd-1/2 cup.
    • Salt to taste.
    • A pinch of turmeric.(optional).

    Grind to a paste

    • Grated fresh coconut-1 cup.
    • Cumin seeds-11/2 tsp.(optional).
    • green chillies-6 or depending on your spice level.
    • Raw rice- 1tsp-soaked in water-for better consistency.(optional).


    1. Keep a wide pan with a little water in heat.
    2. I would start by putting drumsticks first, allow it to cook for 3 or 4 min, followed by carrots, broad beans, beans etc. I would add soft vegetables like potato in the last-so all the vegetables are evenly cooked.
    3. Mix the ground paste to whipped curds, with a pinch of turmeric and salt and add it when the vegetables, when theyare about to be done.
    4. Reduce the flame and stir the gravy occasionally, so the curds don’t disintegrate
    5. Garnish with curry leaves just before removing it from heat.
    6. Pour warm coconut oil over and avial and cover it, so the aroma doesn’t escape.

    Note: Avial  is a customary side  dish for Malabar adai. Can be done with 4 or 5 vegetables also.

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