Category Archives: Vegan

¤ VARALAKSHMI VRATHAM NEIVEDHYAM | THENGAI POORANAM KOZHUKATTAI |ULUNDU VADAI | KONDAKADALAI SUNDAL ¤

Varalakshmi Vratham Poojai is celebrated on a friday before the full moon day, in the Tamil Month Sravana (July-August). Worshiping Goddess Varalakshmi this day, is equivalent to worshiping Ashtalaksmi – the eight goddesses of all riches, prosperity, agriculural wealth, learning, love and peace, fame and power, Strength, victory and success.

Goddess of wealth and bestower of boons (Varams) – Wow! I sure love to welcome her! “Varalakshmi Ra Ve Ma Intiki“!

On the pooja day, Neivedhyam | Food offerings – Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai – sweet rice flour dumplings made with coconut fillings, Ulundu Vadai -savoury crispy fried doughnuts, Kondakadalai Sundal – tempered grabanzo beans and Pacharisi Idli – idlis made with raw rice are some of the main items prepared. At the end of the pooja, married women and young girls in the house tie the turmeric anointed, yellow sacred thread ‘Nombu sharadu’. These lovely delicacies make all in the family want to welcome her even more!

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Busy picture depicting the busy festival day! Thengai pooranam Kozhukkattai to the left, Ulundu Vadai and Kondakadalai Sundal on the right hand side – neivedhiyam for Varalakshmi Vratham! “Varalakshmi Ra Ve Ma Intiki“!

THENGAI POORANAM KOZHUKATTAI 

Prep time : 15 mins; Cooking time : 1 hr; Serves : 4 – 6

Ingredients for the Thengai pooranam :

  • One big fresh Cococnut
  • 200 gms powdered Jaggery
  • 9 green cardamoms

Method for preparing the Thengai pooranam :

  1. Grate the coconut. Peel and powder the cardamoms in a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  2. Powder the jaggery. Heat it in a vessel along with about 2-3 tbsp water. Let the jaggery dissolve in the water, come to a boil, froth up and thicken to form a syrup with a divinely sweet aroma. Add the grated coconut and stir over low flame. Cook till all the water is absorbed and the fillings become sticky. Add the powdered cardamom, cool and keep covered.

Ingredients for the Kozhukkattai covering :

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1- 2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil

Method for preparing the Kozhukattai covering :

  1. In a wide bottom vessel, bring the water with salt and oil, to a rolling boil. Now add the flour in installments and simultaneously turn it with the handle of a long spoon for about 5 mins making sure no lumps are formed. Switch off heat. Keep covered till it cools down a bit and is bearable to touch. Knead well to a smooth dough.

Method for preparing the Kozhukakattai :

  1. Dip your fingers in little amount of sesame oil, grease your palms with it. Take a lump of the flour (arecanut size) and shape it into a cup with your hand and fill it with the coconut filling | thengai pooranam and seal it on all sides forming a conical shape. Make similar kozhukkattais with all of the flour and the filling.
  2. Place a few of them on Idli plates and steam cook them in batches, in a pressure cooker without the whistle for about 10 – 15 mins. Repeat the procedure till all the kozhukattais are cooked.
  3. Ready for neiveidhyam.

Tip :

Children can be involved in the last step activity of preparing the Kozhukakattai and make them feel a part of the ceremony. They love to prepare the kozhukakkattais and do a great job of it. Help from any quarter is welcome on a busy day of festivity!

ULUNDU VADAI | BLACK GRAM DHAL VADAI

Prep time : 2 – 3 hours; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4 – 6

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups Black gram lentils
  • 7 – 9 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 10 – 15 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • OIl for frying

Method :

  1. Soak the black gram lentils for 2 – 3 hours (soaking for a longer time results in crispy vadais). Drain and grind it well to a smooth dough with only salt in a wet grinder. In the meantime finely chop the green chilies and curry leaves, grate the ginger and add it to the dough. Mix well.
  2. Heat oil in a wok | bandli. Take little dough and flatten it out into a circle shape, on a wet piece of plaintain leaf or your wet palm. Make a hole in the centre using the finger. Gently slide it out and slide it into the hot oil. Cook well on both sides, till reddish brown on both sides. Remove it out with a slotted spoon, to drain off excess oil and place it on an absorbent paper. It is now ready  for neiveidhyam.

KONDAKADALAI SUNDAL

Prep time : 9 hrs; Cooking time 15 mins; Serves : 4 – 6

Ingredients :

  • 500 gms kondakadalai | chick peas | kabuli channa
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp udad dal | black gram lentil
  • 3 – 4 broken whole red chilies
  • 3 stems of curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 th of a fresh coconut

Method :

  1. Wash and soak the chick peas overnight. Next morning drain, wash and pressure cook the chick peas with turmeric powder and 1/4 cup of water, till 3 – 4 whistles.
  2. Grate the coconut. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a bandli | skillet and add mustard seeds, once they splutter add the udad dal. red chilies, curry leaves in that order. Then add the pressure cooked chick peas, red chilli powder and salt. Toss and mix well till the chick peas are dry and well coated with the seasonings.
  4. Garnish with grated coconut and it is ready for neiveidhyam.

¤ THENGAI PAL PAYASAM| COCONUT MILK PAYASAM ¤

On the friday following the Varalakshmi Vratham poojai, Coconut payasam is prepared. The coconut  which was kept on the ‘Kalasam’ for the poojai is stored in a rice bag, through the week and then used for this preparation.This payasam recipe is vegan and gluten free.

Pure goodness of delicious, smooth, flavoured coconut milk is indeed a treat for the Gods!

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Prep time : 30 mins; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 1 large coconut
  • 2 tsp rice
  • 3/4 – 1 cup sugar or jaggery
  • 7 – 9 green cardamoms
  • 7 – 9 saffron strands
  • a dash of grated nutmeg powder
  • a pinch of edible camphor | pachai karpooram
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1, 2, 3 Coconut milk extracts and the simmering ‘Coconut Milk Payasam’ made with palm sugar.

Method :

  1. Wash, rinse and soak the rice in lukewarm water for about 15 mins.
  2. Grate the coconut. Peel and powder the cardamom in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Grind the grated coconut along with the soaked rice and about 1 1/2 cups of warm water in a blender. Filter with a strainer or a muslin cloth and obtain the 1st extract of (coconut + rice) milk. Repeat the procedure twice, to obtain the 2nd and 3rd extract of (coconut + rice) milk.
  4.  Mix and pour all the milk extracts into a vessel and heat it over a low flame and stir continuously. When it gets heated up, add sugar or jaggery and when it starts to simmer, switch of heat and add cardamom powder, grated nutmeg powder, saffron and pachai karpooram (lends a divine aroma). Coconut payasam is ready for neivedhyam.

Note :

  1. Do not allow the milk to boil as the milk will curdle. On the other hand, if removed too soon, it will have a raw smell. The thumb rule is to allow the milk to get hot enough i.e upto its simmering point but not be allowed to boil.
  2. Since it is for neivedhyam, one can err on lower levels of sugar. If required one may add more sugar after the neivedhyam.

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¤ KARA KUZHIPANIHARAM ¤

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.

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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
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The Steps. Savoury Kuzhipaniharam sizzling away on the traditional kuzhipaharam heavy cast iron kalu chetty | pan

Directions:

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.

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☆ MANGO MILK | MANGO SMOOTHIE ☆

I see mangoes everywhere I go, mangoes hanging down from homegrown mango trees, farmer’s market, grocery stores and on the home front too, T who loves mangoes, is always tugging at my sleeve asking for a Mango Milkshake or a Mango Lassi or maybe even a Mango ice cream, whenever we step outdoors. In fact, she gravely announces to me yesterday “Maa, I think I have ‘Mangoes going extinct’ phobia”. Are those fantasy fiction library books to be blamed?!

A tough ask now would be, to think of anything but Mangoes!, this reminds me of ‘The Popular Hilsa fish Story’, an interesting story, that I would like to share with you.

Once upon a time, Hilsa fish, being available only once a year had everyone’s attention and interest. Come Hilsa fish season, house wives exchanged recipes, shopkeepers haggled with customers over the latest price of Hilsa and fishermen talked about catching the biggest Hilsa of the season.

The then ruling King, Krishnadevraya was surprised to see even his ministers discussing Hilsa fish rather than important state issues, unable to bear this anymore, he announced a reward to anyone who could bring to the palace, a big Hilsa fish from the market, without a soul talking about it.

Tenali Raman, the court jester takes up the challenge. Next morning, shaves off, half his beard, dishevels his hair, covers himself with soot, wears torn and tattered clothes and walks out of the house looking like a tramp but please note, royally jostling a Hilsa fish in his hand. People, shocked by his appearance wonder, if he had finally gone mad. The palace guards, who hardly recognised him, went inside to inform the king. The king summoned Tenali. One look at him and the King laughed and announced Tenali, the winner of the challenge. No one had noticed the Big Hilsa Fish, in the hands of his clever and witty court jester.

Forgot about the mangoes for a while, did we? Maybe a reward for me would be in order, right?!

Coming back to our subject, a trivia on mangoes is that, the lovely colour of the mango is called ‘Mambazha colour’ in Tamil and is a very popular colour choice for the famous South Indian traditional Kanjeevaram Silk Sarees.

Personally, love to gorge on the juicy mangoes, as is, but if you are toying with the idea of civilizing them, Mango Milk | Mango Smoothie is the way to go. 

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Mango Milk with the ‘Mambazha colour’ saree as backdrop

 Prep time : 15 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients  :

  • Mangoes ( Alphonso | any variety, fully ripened) – 6
  • Milk   – 1 Liter
  • Brown Sugar – 8 – 9 tbsp s
  • Green Cardamom – 1
  • Saffron – 3 – 4 strands

Method  :

1. Peel and crush the cardamom to fine powder in a mortar and pestle

2. Boil the milk, then add add sugar, saffron and cardamom powder when hot. Let it cool down then strain the milk with a strainer.

3. Chop the mangoes into small pieces and puree them in a blender. Add the cooled, boiled, strained milk to the mango puree and mix well.

4. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more before serving it chilled.

Options :

1. You can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the Mango Milk and call it Mango Milkshake.

2. Vegan version – Blend Almond Milk, sugar and the mango puree. Chill and serve.

To make your own Almond Milk, soak about 250 gm of Almonds in warm water overnight. Peel and blend them with about 4 – 41/2 cups of water, adding the water gradually, in installments, to get the required consistency.

This ‘Mango Nectar’ must be savoured slowly, spoon by spoon!

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Mango Nectar

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🌿 POTHINA THUVAIYAL | THOGAYAL | MINT CHUTNEY 🌿

Master chef calls for challenge

Domestic looks for balance

Testing recipes, call for a duel

To which, day-to-day fire may not fuel

Thuvaiyal‘ – minced spiced veggies with lentil

Stock on table, is fundamental

Back in times, it was hand ground

On an Indian stone mortar pestle, all around

Old school chefs, still vouch by the flavour

Of the energetic, manual labour

However, modern world surrender

To the electric blender

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Pothina thuvaiyal

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

Ingredients  :

  • 1 bunch of Pudina or Mint leaves
  • 3 whole red chilies (small round variety)
  • 1/4 tsp whole pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp udad dal | Black gram lentil
  • 1 tsp thuvar dal | Red gram lentil
  • a marble size piece of tamarind
  • salt to taste
  • 11/2 tsp sesame oil / cooking oil of choice

For tempering (optional) :

  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp udad dal | Black gram lentil
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • a red chilly (small round variety)
  • few curry leaves
  • a tsp of sesame oil / cooking oil of choice

Method :

  1. Pinch out the mint leaves, discarding the stems. Wash, drain and scald them on a pan, with half a tsp of oil.
  2. Fry in a tsp of oil mustard seeds, red chilies, pepper, black gram lentil, red gram lentil and tamarind, till the lentils are golden brown.
  3. Grind them coarsely in a mixer jar with salt and scalded mint leaves. If required sprinkle little water to ease the grinding process.
  4. Fry ingredients given under tempering, in a tsp of oil and temper the ground thuvaiyal. This step is optional.
  5. Serve mint thuvaiyal as an accompaniment, along with steamed ghee rice. It can also be used as pesto or spread, on different types of bread.

Variation :

The list of thuvaiyal / thogayal, among many more, which one can prepare in a similar fashion are with coriander leaves, curry leaves,  finely chopped coconut, Kamala orange peels, onions, garlic, brinjal, ridge gourd (peerkangai), chayote (chow-chow), ginger, sesame seeds, coriander seeds and red gram lentils .

 

🍋 FRESH LIME JUICE | LEMONADE | NIMBU SHERBET | NIMBU PANI 🍋

“It’s HOT! It’s HUMID!”, we utter

“This year’s the hottest”, echoes every summer

Mercury reaches 39 C, Breaking news play

Guess now it’s official! Touché

Fresh lime juice, a quick-fix potion

Refreshing, energising, thirst-quenching solution!

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Fresh Lime Juice

Prep time : 15 mins ; Serves : 4

Ingredients  :

  • 1 juicy medium to large lime or lemon
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups of water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 – 9 tsp of sugar

Method :

  1. Cut the lime into 2 halves and squeeze out the juice into a vessel. Strain the juice to discard the seeds.
  2. Lime juice + water+ salt+ sugar. Mix well till completely dissolved. Chill and toss in a couple of ice cubes, just before serving. Cheers!

Variation :

  1. A pinch of black salt powder, roasted cumin powder, chaat masala powder, pepper powder, dry ginger powder, cardamom powder, few crushed mint leaves can be added to make Nimbu pani aka Shikanji or shikanjvi.
  2. Use clear soda instead of water, to prepare fresh lime soda or add a pinch of Eno to make the juice frothy.
  3. Sugar may be replaced with Jaggery syrup or honey.

Tips :

Taste the juice before serving. Quantity of sugar and salt may vary, according to taste and sourness of the lime.

 

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Chilled lemon sherbet

🌳 BROCCOLI PARUPPU USILI | VAZHAIPOO PARUPPU USILI | BEANS PARUPPU USILI | KOTHAVARANGAI PARUPPU USILI |VEGETABLE LENTIL CURRY 🌳

Paruppu Usili

“Really!”

Home folks willing support, in sucession

Weekday or weekend, is the discussion

Paruppu usili‘, veggie rich string of superlatives

A Sunday special, one off, childhood prerogatives

Vaizhapoo paruppu usili‘, though arduous ‘n’ labourious

Totally worth it, oh! so glorious ‘n’ scrumptious

Broccoli paruppu usili, a twist to the traditional tale

The gamut now notched up, the wellness scale

 

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Broccoli Paruppu Usili

 

Prep time : 1 hr; Cooking time 30 mins; Serves : 4 – 6
 Ingredients :

  • 350 gms Broccoli 
  • 1/2 cup Thuvaram paruppu / Red gram lentil
  • 1/2 cup Kadalai paruppu / Bengal gram lentil
  • 3 – 6 Red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp Milagu / Black peppercorns (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Jeeragam / Cumin seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Manjal / Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Kadugu / Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Asafoetida / Perungayam powder
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 – 6 tbsp Sesame Oil / Coconut oil / cooking oil of choice

Method :

1. Chop the broccoli into small florets. Steam cook them in a vessel with turmeric and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
2. Wash and soak Thuvaram paruppu and kadalai paruppu together for about an hour. Drain out completely.
3. Grind red chilies, peppercorns, cumin seeds and asafoetida in mixer jar, then add the drained out lentils. Coarsely grind them all.
4. Steam cook in a pressure cooker or steamer, the coarsely ground  lentil mixture on an oiled idli plate or vessel, for about 15 minutes.
5. Once cooked, roughly crumble the lentil mixture into small pieces, with a fork or spoon.
6. Heat oil in a wok or a wide base pan, add mustard seeds, once they splutter, add the curry leaves, the crumbled lentil mixture and roast well for about 10 mins. Then mix in the cooked broccoli florets and salt. Roast the curry for about 15 – 20 mins, till the lentils are golden brown and crispy. Serve hot with steamed rice and Goddu Rasam and/or  Moar kuzhambhu and/or Menthi khuzhambu.
Variations :
1. Vegetables like French beans, Broad beans, Cluster beans (Kothavarangai), Carrots, Cabbage and Plantain flower (Vaizhapoo) are used to make this preparation.
2. Green chilies can be used instead of red chilies.
3. Red chilly powder, pepper powder and cumin powder can be added instead of grinding the whole spices with the lentils.
4. Paruppu usili can also be prepared using only red gram lentil.
Plantain flower curry or Vaizhapoo Paruppu usili 
A classic heritage dish, where we need some additional steps to prepare the florets.
 Directions to prepare the Plantain flower ( also refer pic below ) :
  1. Oil the cutting board, knife and your hands, to avoid staining.
  2. Peel open the outer petal, to discover a bunch of florets inside.
  3. Remove the stamen out of each floret.
  4. Chop all the florets after removing the stamen.
  5. As you keep peeling off and discarding the petals, at one stage, the florets will be so small that you do not have to remove the stamen as they will be very tender, then chop it, as such.
  6. Soak the chopped florets, in bowl of water, to which a spoon of buttermilk is added to avoid discolouration, until you steam cook them in a pressure cooker or a pan.
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Vazhaipoo Paruppu Usili