Category Archives: Fermented


Kara Kuzhipaniharam is a well known South Indian, savoury Chettinad dish made for breakfast and tiffin. This interesting offshoot of the Idli batter is tasty, vegan, gluten free, fermented, healthy and easy to prepare.

It is prepared on a traditional Kuzhipaniharam kalu chetty made of cast iron for heat retention, with several hemispherical indentations, placed directly on a stove top. Similar types of pan used in other cusines are Appam pan – Kerala, Æbleskiver pan – Danish, Poffertjes – Dutch, Gai dan jaan pan – Chinese, Takoyaki pan – Japanese.

Kuzhipaniharam’s distinctive sphere shape, makes it an inviting pick me up delight, fun and appealing to all, especially children.

An avalanche of scrumptious Kara kuzhipaniharams for one and all!

Prep time :  2 – 3 hrs; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :

  • 3 cups of fermented Idli Batter (rice | millet)
  • 1 tbsp Channa Dal | Bengal Gram lentils
  • 2 – 3 green chilies
  • 1/2 cup Sambhar onions | shallots or 2 onions
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
  • 3 sprigs of coriander leaves
  • Rock salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil or any cooking oil
The Steps. Savoury Kuzhipaniharam sizzling away on the traditional kuzhipaharam heavy cast iron kalu chetty | pan


1. Finely chop the onions, green chilies, curry leaves and coriander leaves. To the fermented Idli batter add all of these, bengal gram dal and salt, keeping in mind the already salted fermented Idli batter. Mix well. Set aside for 2 – 3 hours which helps to soften the bengal gram dal and makes it a chewy bite.

2. Heat up the Paniyaram | kallu chetty | pan on the gas stove, pour 1/2 tsp oil into each of the pits and then pour a spoonful of the prepared batter till each pit is about 3/4 full. Cover and let it cook on low flame for 10 mins. Uncover and with a stick, a skewer or back of a spoon, upturn the kuzhipaniyarams and let it cook on this side too, for about 5 mins. Make sure to cook till no raw batter is inside the kuzhipaniyarams.

Variations :

1. Grated coconut, grated carrot – either or both can be added to the batter.

2. Pour the batter upto 1/4 into the pit then add 1/2 tsp of green chutney / tomato onion chutney / any chutney of choice. Nowadays restaurants have come up with grated paneer / tofu / cheese additions too. Then pour over, some more batter such that the stuffing is sandwiched in the center and prepare stuffed Kuzhipaniharams.

Savoury kuzhipaniharams can be served along with coconut chutney, flax seed molaga podi and tomato onion chutney.




A year back, the main intent of starting this blog, was to note down recipes for my girls. Along the way, am happy to find it being appreciated by many!

“Maa, you’ve surpassed yourself!” exclaimed, my older one after having ‘Moar kuzhambu’. Woah! Mammoth compliment, elevating me right up to cloud nine.

‘Moar kuzhambu alias Butter Milk Stew’ is a mildy spiced stew. Loved by all in the family, this blog would be incomplete without it. Landed and firmly grounded back to earth, I’m now busy jotting down the recipe. Voila!

Moar Khuzhambu

Prep time : 5 – 10 mins; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 3 1/2 cups  buttermilk (thick and slightly sour would be preferable)
  • 1/2 cup cut vegetables like  Lady’s finger (okra), Brinjal ( egg plant) or Capsicum (bell peppers)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt as per taste

For grinding into a paste:

  • 1 1/2 tsp bengal gram dal / channa dal
  • 1/2 tsp raw rice
  • 3 – 5 green chilies
  • 1/4 tsp cummin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red gram lentil / thuvar dal (optional)
  • a handful of coconut scrapings

For seasoning :

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 – 3 broken red chilies
  • a few curry leaves
  • 2 – 3 tsp Sesame seed oil

For garnishing (optional) :

  • a few fresh coriander leaves

Method :

  1. Soak the dals and rice for a few minutes. Grind all the ingredients given under the list for grinding, into a smooth paste. Keep it ready.
  2. Chop Lady’s finger, Brinjal or Capsicum into 1 inch large pieces and scald well in a tsp of oil. Set aside.
  3. If you are using curd then churn it into smooth buttermilk and also make sure it is at room temperature. Add the ground paste, turmeric powder, salt and mix well. Boil it on slow fire in a large wok,stirring continuously to avoid curdling.
  4. Once it starts boiling. Add the scalded vegetables and let it boil for a few more minutes, then switch off the flame.
  5. Heat sesame oil for seasoning, throw in the mustard seed. Once they splutter, add the red chilies and curry leaves. Scald and pour the seasoning over the buttermilk stew.
  6. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. Enjoy along with hot steamed rice and dry vegetable curries.

Variations :

  1. Vegetables like Ash gourd, Chayote squash (Chow Chow), Cucumbers, Potatoes and Colocasia  can be peeled, cut into large bits, boiled and added to the stew. Inch long chopped bits of Drumstick too, can be added.
  2. Dried and salted Manaithakkali, Chundaikai can be fried and added to the stew.
  3. Fried small round balls made with [(equal measures of soaked bengal gram dal+red gram dal+black gram dal) + salt+ red chilies] can also be added to the stew.
  4. 1/4 tsp of coriander seeds can be included in the ingredients for grinding into a paste.
  5. 1/4 tsp of Thymol or carom seeds / Ajwain may be added while seasoning, if one likes the taste.
Lady’s finger Buttermilk Stew




I am doing very well, thank you, in case you wondered.

Come Summer and Maavadu | Vadu Manga | Tender Mango pickle is a welcome delicacy, gives one – a good gut feeling. In the good old days, lady of the house, in South India successfully made it in bulk, shared in detail, her adventures relating to the tender mangoes selection, her recipe and then, distribute it in jars / bottles to all her near and dear, kith and kin, as she believed, ‘a success’ unshared, is a failure.

Only homemade pickles can claim to be healthy!

Pickles have higher content of salt, chilly and oil, necessary to  preserve them for longer periods of time. If the pickle is homemade, ingredients used will definitely be natural, organic, genuine in comparison to a store bought one, where one questions the quality, quantity of ingredients and may even contain, chemical preservatives. I rest my case.

Prep Time : 9 days; Serves : 21

Maavadu|Vadu Manga|Tender Mango pickle

Ingredients :

Maavadu | Vadu Manga | Tender Raw Mango – 9 cups

Sea Salt Powder – 1 1/4

Cold pressed Sesame Oil / Castor Oil – 1 tbsp

Turmeric – 1 tsp

Mustard Seeds – 1 tbsp

Red chilly powder – 2 tbsp

Method :

1. Wash, clean and dry the tender mangoes. Keep the tender mangoes in a glass or ceramic jar. Make sure to coat oil, turmeric powder and salt, evenly to all the mangoes and set aside for 2 days. Checking and tossing it around, every evening and morning and if possible, even in between. Two days later, the mangoes will ooze out water due to the salt applied.

2. Grind the mustard seeds in a dry grinder. Add mustard seeds powder and red chilli powder to the mangoes. Mix well, again set aside, for about a week. Check and toss it around, every evening and morning. Once the mangoes shrivel, shrink and absorb all the spices, it is ready for consumption. Store in glass bottles or ceramic jars. Refrigerate, in case, the weather is too hot but under ideal conditions, they can be kept outside to last for about 6 months to a year.(never tried that long, as I love this pickle)

Cook’s Note :

1. Keep the stems on the tender mangoes, if one plans to store this pickle for a long time.

2. If, not enough water oozes out of the mangoes, it means salt content is less, One can add about 1/4 cup more.

3. Sesame oil, is the better option, if Castor oil ( used as per traditional recipe) is not agreeable.

4. Use a fresh, clean and dry spoon every time you serve the pickle – helps to preserve the pickle longer.


Idli, ranks as, a number one health dish. Fermented, steamed, easily digestible, you name it and It gets, all the ticks in the box, under that category.

Senior (as sometimes, Pa addresses my older one) when she was a little junior, used to be a pro at negotiating bedtime stories. She would say ” But Maa, am I asking you for 20, just 3 stories tonight, will do.” How does one argue this law point logic, with a mop of curly hair and peering big black eyes?! ‘Everything happens for good’ story most certainly her favourite, would feature as one of her 3 stories for the night.

Once upon a time, a king had a wise minister, whose all time advice was “Everything happens for good”. One day the King had an accident and he cut off his little toe, everyone around him sympathized but the minister maintained that “Everything happens for good”, upset by the lack of sympathy shown by the minister, the King, sends him to prison and jibes him to figure out ‘how this happened for good’. Later when the King ventured out hunting, he was caught, by the man-eating jungle cannibals, for their evening meal. Before putting him into the cooking pot, they happened to see his foot with a missing toe and declared him to be an imperfect meal, as per the Cannibal tradition. The king, who was spared, immediately comes back to his kingdom. Realizing the truth in his minister’s words, releases his minister and apologizes to him for the inconvenience faced in prison, to which the minister repeats “Everything happens for good”, for had he not been in prison, he would have gone along with the king and been the ‘next in line candidate’, to be a totally perfect meal for the cannibals.
No prizes for guessing, my lunch box during my school and college days, yes, Idlis, invariably. However, now I realize that, whenever I I look up for healthy recipes, I already have the best one, I can ever find, under my belt, effortlessly handed down to me. It is the most ‘taken for granted dish’ that is a daily standard affair as breakfast / tiffin in south. This soft and spongy steamed dumpling delight ‘The Idli’ is a sure testament of ‘Everything happens for good’!

Prep time: 9 – 12 hrs; Cooking time : 20 mins; Serves : 9 – 12

blog idli

Ingredients :

  • Parboiled Idli Rice / Parboiled Brown or Red Rice / Parboiled Millet Rice – 41/2 – 5 cups
  • Black gram dal / Udad dal (skinned whole / split) – 1/4 – 1/2 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • Water – as required
  • Rock Salt – as per taste
  • Sesame Oil / ghee – 1- 2 tsps

Method :

1. Wash, rinse, soak the rice separately in one vessel and similarly, Udad dal along with fenugreek seeds in another vessel, with sufficient water, to assist in swelling up of the grains, for about 2 hrs.

2. Then, grind the udad dal along with fenugreek seeds in a wet grinder, adding water gradually, as required, for at least 20 mins, till you see stiff peaks in the fluffy batter. Remove it out into a vessel and set aside.

3. Now, grind the idli rice in the wet grinder, adding water gradually, as required, for at least 20 mins, till you get a batter of  pouring consistency. After about 20 mins, add the fluffy udad dal batter gradually in installments and continue grinding for another 20 mins. Keep the batter overnight for fermenting.

4. Next morning, add salt, about 1 1/2 tbsp or as per taste and mix well. Grease the idli plates with sesame oil / ghee, pour the batter in each of the moulds, place it on the idli stand and steam the idlis in a pressure cooker, without the whistle or an idli steamer for about 15 mins.

5. Serve these hot along with Coconut chutney, green chutney, tomato onion chutney, sambhar and Flax seed Molaga podi. It can combine with just about any accompaniments that you like.


1. For Millet Idlis, Brown rice and Red rice Idlis, Raw rice idlis (pacharisi idli for Varalakshmi Vritham) replace the the parboiled Idli rice with par boiled Millet of your choice, parboiled brown rice, parboiled red rice, raw rice respectively and follow the same recipe.( we cannot get healthier than this!)

2. Idlis can be cut into wedges and dipped in Flax seed Idli Molaga podi and served as canapes or a hors d’oeuvres to be snacked up on or even a great ‘To go’ kids lunch box idea.

3. Idlis can be cut up into small pieces and made like upma and called Idli seeyali.

4. Idli batter is also used to make Dosas, Uthappams and Kuzhipaniharam.

Cook’s note:

1. All the steps for preparing, the idli batter (just like the cake batter) are important for getting soft and spongy idlis.

2. Stone Wet grinder is a must and grinding the batter for a longer time period, gives it good amount of aeration, once again, the key to getting soft and spongy Idlis.

All the very to best to all, towards your efforts in mastering the art of making Idlis!


Summer is here and so is the Maangai, the Green mango. Yay!

The famous Maangai pickle, is a traditional family recipe, that has lasted and will continue to last the test of  many  generations. Reason simply being the ease with which one can make this fermented food, abundant with health benefits.

Mouth watering, sour and tangy in taste can be an accompaniment to just about any dish, maybe not all.I take that back, definitely not with desserts but other than that, I still insist everything, trust me, comes in very handy on “Oh! I don’t feel like cooking” days.

Instant gratification.

Prep time: 15 mins ; Cooking time: 10 ; mins ; Serves: 8-10


● Green mango – 1.5 kg or 4 big
● Gingelly/Sesame Oil – 3 tbsp
● Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
● Fenugreek seeds – 2 tsp
● Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
● Red chilly powder – 2 – 3 tbsp
● Rock Salt – 1 tbsp or to taste
● Asafoetida/Hing powder – 1/4 tsp


1. Wash, clean and dry the green mangoes thoroughly. Chop them into small 1/4 inch dices with the skin on.
2. Heat the oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and salt. Once the mustard seeds crackle, switch off the gas.
3. Pour the oil on the chopped mangoes and mix well. The pickle can be had instantly or one can let it ferment for a day or two and then requires refrigeration, especially, in a city as hot as ours. It can be bottled and used for months, if it lasts that long, never does at my place.Like wine it tastes better n better as it ages.

All bottled up for storage