Saturday, January 20, 2018

North Arcot Style Vendaya Masiyal | Vendhaya Masiyal Recipe | Traditional Fenugreek Dal Recipe from Tamil Nadu | Gluten Free and Vegan

Vendhaya Masiyal Recipe

Hi Supermoms,

Time flies. We are already 20 days into 2018.  Those who resolved this New Year to "start dieting" are already finding it hard to stick to their resolution. All those expensive and glamorous diet regimens, which looked, 'easy to follow,' beginning of the year, are now looking "complicated" and "too strict".  

Well what we need to remember is, the diet that works for one person may not suit another. What most of us forget is that home made food using seasonal ingredients keeps us nourished and healthy . They may not look glamorous but we have to remember that all  traditional recipes are tried and tested for years and most of them have healing ingredients . They are affordable and also  easily available. Along with regular exercise, it is the most practical and sustainable form of staying fit. I am sure you will agree.  

Today, I am going to share another tasty and healthy traditional recipe shared by Nandini mami ( my aunt), one of the most down to earth, humble and loving person that I have met. I remember spending a month with her during my summer holidays as a teenager. She used to make amazing curries ( gravies) to go along with chapathi /roti , which were very new to me then.  One such dish was the 'matar paneer' that she cooked by blanching tomatoes and juicing them. Cooking them with mild and aromatic spices and the addition of soft and succulent paneer , made it even more memorable. Whenever I make matar paneer , I am always filled with nostalgia. She is a self-taught baker and tries out various recipes and has also inspired her daughter Divya to start baking. Apart from cooking , mami also loves art and crafts. She loves creating and decorating the house with her handmade creations. An ardent Sai Devotee , mami spends her free time taking free tuitions for the underprivileged and involving herself in other charitable activities.  

Always happy to cook and serve

Nandini mami making pori urundai

I feel so happy and proud  to share one of her signature dishes with you today. ' Vendhayam' in Tamil means 'Fenugreek' or methi seeds . Fenugreek is filled with goodness and  acts as a coolant too.  Masiyal means 'to mash'. Fenugreek , dal and tomatoes are cooked and mashed. They are then simmered along with tamarind and tempered with spices. A quick to make, delicious and healthy side dish that can be served along with hot rice or even as an accompaniment to tiffin dishes. 
Vendhaya Masiyal Recipe

Recipe Courtesy : Mrs. Nandini Balasubramanian

North Arcot Style Vendhaya Masiyal Recipe : 

Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 30 minutes
Serves : 4
1 cup = 250 ml cup

Chef tip : You can cook this masiyal in stone ware ( Kal chatti ) or earthenware ( mannchatti) for the most authentic taste. 

Ingredients :

1/2 cup pigeon peas/tuvar dal/toor dal
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds /methi seeds
2 tomatoes ( roughly chopped)
small gooseberry size tamarind OR 1 tablespoon tamarind ( pack it tightly in a tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder 
salt to taste

For tempering :

2 teaspoons coconut oil ( or sesame oil)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon bengal gram/channa dal
1/2 teaspoon husked and split black gram/urad dal 
3 green chillies ( half them vertically) ( if you are not vegan, you can use more molaga/buttermilk fermented chillies)
1" ginger ( peeled and crushed using mortar and pestle )
1 sprig curry leaves ( tear them roughly)

Method :

1. Wash the dal and fenugreek seeds twice. 
2. Add 2 cups of water, chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder and allow them to soak for 15 minutes. 

3. Then pressure cook them upto 3 whistles over low flame. 
4. Soak tamarind in 1 cup of warm water for 10 minutes and extract juice.

5. Add this juice to a heavy bottom vessel ( or the vessel you are going to cook the masiyal) .
6. Place it over low flame and let it cook for 5-7 minutes or till the time the raw smell of tamarind escapes. 
7. Whisk the cooked dal mixture.

8. Add it to the boiling tamarind juice .
9. Mix and add salt.
10. Let this mixture simmer for another 5-7 minutes .
Chef tip : Adjust water quantity at this stage. Masiyal is usually thicker in consistency, but you can adjust it according to your liking. 
11. Heat oil in a small iron ladle or pan and temper with ingredients given for the same.

12. Pour it over the masiyal and switch off. 

Your traditional North Arcot Style Vendaya Masiyal is now ready to be served. 

Vendhaya Masiyal Recipe

Happy Cooking !

With love,


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sigappu Arisi Sakkarai Pongal | Kerala Matta Arisi Sakkarai Pongal | Broken Red Rice Sweet Pongal Recipe

Hi Supermoms,

Hope you all had an amazing Pongal celebration. It was a busy but enjoyable week for me too. 

I cooked all the traditional dishes and completely enjoyed serving them to my family . This year for bhogi ( the first day of Pongal celebration ) , I cooked a dessert using the Kerala Matta Rice in broken form. I have heard so much about this rice and even tasted it a few times, but never really cooked them at home. 

This time when I went to get my monthly provisions from the South Indian Grocery store, I remembered to purchase broken Kerala Matta Rice to try few recipes. I know that this rice is more nutritious and takes a little longer to cook than the white rice. 

I used just half  cup of the broken matta rice for this recipe and it was enough for the four of us. I dry roasted the rice , washed it twice and soaked it in water for 2 hours before I pressure cooked it for 5 whistles on low flame. Though , I started with the intention of making payasam with the rice using jaggery and milk, I ended up making sakkarai pongal (did not add the milk ) as I loved the texture of the jaggery and broken rice mixture. 

The rice had swollen well and was soft to bite into. I had added very little ghee to temper the pongal. You can completely avoid it if you are vegan. 

If you have not cooked Matta Rice ( Kerala Red rice)  and hesitating to give it a try, this recipe will surely motivate you. It was an enjoyable experience of cooking and every one loved the taste. You can also break the whole red rice by coarsely grinding it. 

Kerala Matta Arisi Sakkarai Pongal

Kerala Matta Arisi Sakkarai Pongal :

Preparation time : 2 hours
Cooking time : 30 minutes
Serves : 4
1 cup = 250 ml cup 

Ingredients :

1/2 cup broken matta rice
1 teaspoon moong dal/broken and husked green gram
1/2 cup jaggery ( powdered)
1-2 green cardamom ( coarsely powdered)

For Garnish :

1 teaspoon ghee/clarified butter 
6-7 cashew nuts
6-7 raisins ( optional)

Method :

1. In a thick bottom vessel/pan, roast the broken rice and dal till they are fragrant.
2. Wash and soak them in 4 cups of water for a minimum of 1 hour.
3. Pressure cook the soaked rice and dal mixture along with water upto 5-6 whistles.

Chef tip : Cook the pressure cooker in low/medium flame. Use an inner vessel to boil the rice .
4. Melt the jaggery in 1 cup of water and filter the impurities.

5. In a heavy bottom kadai/wok or vessel add the melted jaggery water and bring it to a boil.
6. Add the cooked rice and dal mixture ( along with the water).

7. Let them cook over low flame for another 10 -12 minutes or till the time the mixture thickens.

8. Switch off and garnish with ghee,  cashew nuts and raisins.

Your delicious broken Matta rice sakkarai pongal is ready to be served . I served it along with our Bhogi lunch platter. The other bhogi specialities I cooked and served were  paruppu vadai and thengai poli

Kerala Matta Arisi Sakkarai Pongal

Happy Cooking !

With love,


Monday, January 15, 2018

Tirunelveli Appalam Vendhaya Kuzhambu | Appalam Mendhaya Kuzhambu | Gluten Free and Vegan Recipe

Tirunelveli Appalam Vathal Kuzhambu Recipe

Hi Supermoms,

Vathal Kuzhambu is a tasty , spicy and tangy South Indian curry. It is usually served as the first course during a traditional Tamil lunch. Hot rice with plain paruppu ( cooked, mashed and salted plain pigeon peas ) , ghee and few drops of Vathal Kuzhambu can transport one to food heaven. 

And the best part of the kuzhambu is that, it really helps on a day you are out of fresh vegetables. "Vathal" in Tamil language means 'Dried'. A Kuzhambu or tangy curry , usually made using sun dried vegetables, and seeds is called as Vathal Kuzhambu. I usually have sun dried cluster beans, black night shade seeds, Turkey berries , Karu vadam ( sun dried urad dal balls) in stock to make this kuzhambu. Even Drumstick Vathal Kuzhambu tastes great.

Recently when I was talking to my friend Radha, she shared that 'Appalam Vendhaya Kuzhambu ' is the favourite Vathal Kuzhambu at her home. Our conversation immediately changed to the details of the recipe and she so sweetly shared the entire recipe with me . I have known Radha for more than ten years now and she is the person who introduced me to the world of Cakes & Pastas. We used to live in the same apartment complex and I was always fascinated and inspired by Radha's wide knowledge in cooking , arts and spirituality just to name a few. 

She is such a cheerful person, always ready to share her knowledge with everyone. I vividly remember her fun cake workshop one winter where she taught a group of friends to bake a delicious carrot cake. Till date , I follow her fool proof recipe to make tomato pasta . She is also a great teacher and she loves to spend time teaching underprivileged children. 

This Vathal Kuzhambu is her son's favourite and she makes the kuzhambu a little watery so that it can hold a lot of appalam/papad. Another interesting fact is that, this Appalam Vendhaya Kuzhambu is her grandmother's recipe . 

I am so happy to share this heirloom recipe with all of you. 

Tirunelveli Appalam Vathal Kuzhambu Recipe

Recipe Courtesy : Mrs. Radha Ramabhadran

Tirunelveli Appalam Vendhaya Kuzhambu Recipe:

Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 25- 30 minutes
Serves : 4
1 cup = 250 ml cup 

Note : You can also break the appalam ( instead of deep frying ) and add it to the tempering . 

Ingredients : 

2 appalam /papad ( fried)
lemon size tamarind ( soaked in 1 cup warm water ) or 1/4 cup thick tamarind paste 
3 cups of water 
2 &1/2 teaspoon sambar powder
rock salt to taste

For tempering :

1 tablespoon sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon urad dal/husked and split black gram 
1 teaspoon channa dal /bengal gram
1/4 teaspoon methi seeds/fenugreek
pinch of asafoetida
1 sprig curry leaves 


1. Heat a kadai with oil and temper with the ingredients given for the same. 
2. Add the sambar powder , salt and immediately add the tamarind juice.

3. Add water, cover and allow the kuzhambu to simmer for 20-25 minutes or till the time the kuzhambu thickens.
4. Crumble the fried papad/appalam and add it to the kuzhambu.
Chef tip : Add the appalam just few minutes before serving the kuzhambu. 

Your delicious Appalam Vendhaya Kuzhambu is now ready to be served along with your lunch.

Tirunelveli Appalam Vathal Kuzhambu Recipe

Happy Cooking !

With love,


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Pongal Kuzhambu | Thaplam Kuzhambu| Pongal Puli Curry Recipe | Gluten Free and Vegan Recipe

Pongal Kuzhambu

Hi Supermoms,

I am sure all of you are busy in cleaning the house and shopping  for the biggest Tamil festival,  'Pongal '. A week long holiday adds to the excitement. I always miss  Pongal vibes here. Drawing of huge colourful kolams in front of the house, drawing sun, ponga paanai ( earthern cooking pot) and sugar cane as a part of the kolam, cooking of pongal in terrace , worshipping Sun God and offering Pongal , shouting ' Pongalo Pongal' and later enjoy eating the cut sugar cane as a many memories. 

Mostly it is a working day here and the only excitement I create at home is cooking all the traditional dishes and serving an ' Ellai Saapadu' ( feast served on a banana leaf). Also I look forward to big Tamil movie releases 😁.

Have you read my previous posts on Bhogi Special Recipe and Moonu Raja Pongal ? Because, this post is a continuation of my previous post. Along with the sweet pongal , this kuzhambu is served. All vegetables that are seasonal can be used to make the kuzhambu. It is easy to make and is a perfect accompaniment to pongal, but tastes equally good with plain rice too. 

Pongal Kuzhambu

Recipe adapted from 'The Pondicherry Kitchen'

Pongal Kuzhambu Recipe :

Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves : 4-6
1 cup = 250 ml cup

Note : Chop all vegetables into approximately 2 " pieces . I used yellow pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, drumstick, radish, flat beans 

Ingredients :

3 cups mixed vegetables ( steam the vegetables for 10 minutes)
10 shallots/sambar vengayam
2 tomatoes ( finely chopped)
1/4 cup tamarind or medium lemon size tamarind ( soak in 1 cup of warm water)
4 cups water 
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder 
salt to taste

For the spice powder ( to be roasted till fragrant and ground):

2 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon channa dal/bengal gram
1 teaspoon pigeon peas/tuvar dal
1 teaspoon urad dal /husked and split black gram 
1 sprig curry leaves 
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder ( no need to roast) 

For tempering :

2 teaspoons oil ( I used sesame oil)
1 teaspoon thalippu vadagam ( if you have stock ) or mustard seeds 
1 sprig curry leaves 

Method :

1. Heat a kadai or an earthen vessel with oil and temper with ingredients given for the same.
2. Now add the shallots, tomatoes , turmeric powder and allow it to cook over low flame for 3-4 minutes.

3. Now add all the steamed vegetables and the ground spice powder.

4. Add salt and mix well.
5. Now, add the tamarind juice and another 4 cups of water.

6. Cover the pot and allow it to simmer for approximately 20 minutes or till they become thick, stirring occasionally.
Chef tip : You can adjust the consistency of the kuzhambu according to your liking . 

Your wholesome, tangy and delicious Pongal Kuzhambu is ready to served along with steaming hot rice or Pongal. 

Happy Cooking !

With love,


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Moonu/Moonru Raja Pongal | Karaikal Special Pongal Recipe | Gluten Free and Vegan Recipe

Hi Supermoms,

'Pongal' in Tamil language literally translates ' Over Flow' . Milk is boiled in an earthern vessel / pot and is made to boil over, signifying 'abundance '. Pongal is an ancient festival that has references in Tamil literature that dates back to 4000 years. A thanksgiving festival that is named after the main dish that is prepared - "Pongal". The primary ingredients to make this dish are rice, sugar and milk. 

Every year, I make Sakkarai Pongal ( Sweet ) and Ven Pongal ( savoury ) on this special day. This year, I wanted to try a different Pongal  and I stumbled upon the "Muunru Raja Pongal ' recipe by Lourdes Thirouvanziam Louis and was so intrigued. Though the author mentioned about Pongal festival and how this recipe is popular in Karaikal and Puducherry, it was not clear why a 'Pongal' recipe was made on the Epiphany day. 

I found this recipe is very similar to Paal Pongal ( Milk Pongal) , except that this was cooked completely in coconut milk. I found the final texture like a payasam( Kheer). Of course, you can cook longer till it becomes more thick.  I adapted the recipe, made my little additions and the pongal was so delicious. But I was still not sure if I have to give this name to the Pongal or simply call it " Thengai Paal Pongal'.  The name of the Pongal kept me thinking. I had a very interesting discussion with my father about the name "Moonru Raja ' and wanted to share some insights given by him . 

"Tamil Nadu was ruled by three great rulers , the 'Moovendar' and their kingdoms were the Chola Nadu, Pandiya Nadu and the Chera Nadu. The Chola Nadu was the rice bowl as the popular saying goes " Chola Nadu - Soru Udaithu, Nelkalanzhiyam '. The Pandya Nadu is the sugar bowl and the Chera Nadu was rich in Dairy Supply. As this festival was celebrated across all the three kingdoms, the main produce from these three kingdoms - Rice, Sugar and Milk were combined to make one great dish 'Pongal' to offer as a thanksgiving dish ".

This Pongal tasted so delicious. Everybody had two helpings. Freshly harvested rice is used to make this pongal. If you do not have it, you can soak regular raw rice for one hour and then make this Pongal. You can make it using regular milk too. 

Recipe Adapted from 'The Pondicherry Kitchen' by Lourdes Thirouvanziam Louis 

Moonu/Moonru Raja Pongal | Karaikal Special Pongal Recipe:

Preparation time : 15 minutes
Cooking time : 20-25 minutes
Serves : 2
1 cup = 250 ml cup

Ingredients :

1/2 cup raw rice( washed)
1/2 cup sugar
1 small size fresh coconut ( extract 3 cups of coconut milk
2 cardamoms ( powdered)

For tempering :

1 teaspoon ghee ( you can use coconut oil if you are vegan)
6-7 raisins
4-5 cashew nuts

Method :

1. Heat coconut milk in a heavy bottom vessel or earthen pot .

2. When the milk starts boiling , add the washed rice.
3. Keep stirring and let the rice completely cook.

4. Add sugar and cardamom powder and allow it to cook over low flame , till the rice is soft .
5. Switch off .
6. Heat a small pan or ladle with coconut oil ( or ghee) and add the cashews and raisins.
7. When the cashews turn light brown and raisins puff up , add it to the Pongal.

Your delicious Pongal is ready to be served. This Pongal is best enjoyed steaming hot. 

Wishing you all a very Happy Pongal .

Happy Cooking !

With love,


Monday, January 8, 2018

North Arcot Special Jeera Poli | Bombay Khaja Recipe |Bogi/ Bhogi Special Recipe

Jeera Poli

Hi Supermoms,

Pongal is the biggest festival in Tamil Nadu. It is a 4 day 'Thanksgiving' festival , where we thank Nature ( Sun , Earth and Rain Gods) for their generosity and kindness , blessing the people with great harvest and good health.  The Cattle are also thanked and then there is also  a day to have a picnic and get together with relatives and extended family. 

Many people who have migrated to the city for work and various other reasons, visit their native village for this big festival. The  festival has lots of significance . First of all, it a festival that has been celebrated for more than 1000 years  and  is followed in all it's glory till date. Thanking and loving  'Nature' for it's kindness is the most humbling experience for anybody. It is also a day to remember all the farmers for their tireless efforts.  It is because of their hard work and dedication , we get food on our plate. So proud to be a part of this tradition and festival. 

The first day of Pongal celebration starts with the Bhogi Festival. A day that starts with  bonfire early in the morning ( as early as 5 am ) in front of every home. I have so many childhood memories of this day. My parents, my brother and myself used to tidy up our respective rooms/ shelves and collect some things that would go into the bonfire. My mother would collect old fallen leaves and branches mostly from the Neem tree for bon fire.  This bonfire and the cleaning of the house has a spiritual message.  " Pazhayadhu Kazhidhalum, Pudhiyadhu Pugudhalum", that signifies getting rid of any bad habits, vices and the entry of new thoughts, fresh ideas and give the added motivation to work harder in the new year. 

Now, moving to the exciting part of my post. 

Mrs. Parvathi Kailasam ( Janaki Paati doing what she likes the most)
Food plays a major role in all our festivals.  Along with the festival, certain dishes are also celebrated  with them. They have been made for so many years and is a kind of tradition now.  I am so happy to share the  family recipe  of Jeera Poli by Mrs. Parvathi Kailasam aka Janaki Paati (My Maami/aunt's mother). Janaki Paati is a simple, soft and gentle person and she loves to cook and feed everyone. She loves preparing food and distributing it to the needy. Even today, she frequently prepares two types of rice varieties for 25-30 people , beautifully packs it herself and distributes it to the poor.  

Bombay Khaja is her signature dish that she makes for  special occasions and everyone in the family simply loves it. She makes it for Bhogi without fail. This is a Kalambur  ( North Arcot ) Speciality dish and I am so lucky and grateful to get this recipe from her. 

She shared that Jeera poli can be made instead of the regular paruppu poli and the best part is that it can be made one or two days in advance and this sweet keeps good for upto 15 days when stored in a clean and odour free airtight container. This Poli is also known as the 'Bombay Khaja' . 

The poli is made using rava/semolina (Bombay Rava works best) . The semolina is mixed into a stiff dough using ghee and milk and rested well before they are shaped into triangles, fried in oil and then soaked in the sugar syrup. A delicious dessert that simply melts in the mouth.

My Khaja/Jeera Poli came out well and tasted delicious though I still have to work harder to get Janaki Paati's perfection. Do try this recipe for Bhogi and enjoy it with family and friends. 

Bombay Khaja Recipe

North Arcot Special Jeera Poli | Bombay Khaja Recipe :

Recipe Courtesy : Mrs. Parvathi Kailasam

Preparation time : 2 hours 
Cooking time : 25-30 minutes
1 cup = 250 ml cup
Makes : 25 small Jeera Poli/Bombay Khaja
Storage : Keeps good for upto 15 days when stored in a cool place in a clean, dry , odour free container. 

Ingredients :

For the dough :

1 cup Bombay Rava/Chiroti Rava 
2 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter
1/4 cup milk 
1/4 cup water
a pinch of baking soda
oil for frying 

For the sugar syrup : 

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water 
10 strands saffron/kesar ( powdered and soaked in 1 teaspoon hot water)

For garnish :

5-6 pistachios ( finely chopped, optional)

Method :

1. In a wide bowl, add the dry ingredients given under ' for the dough' and mix well.

2. Now add the ghee, milk and start to knead the dough.

3. Add water little by little and make a smooth dough. 
4. Cover the bowl and allow it to rest for at least 2 hours.

5. In the meantime, make the sugar syrup by adding sugar and water in a wide, heavy bottom vessel or kadai.

6. Place this vessel over low/medium flame and allow the sugar to melt completely.
7. Add the powdered saffron water to the syrup and continue boiling till you get a one string consistency of sugar syrup.

Chef tip : To check for one string consistency, just take a small drop of the syrup on your thumb ( be careful of the heat) and press with the index finger and release. It will form a thin string. Immediately switch off. 
8. After the resting time, divide the dough into small equal size balls.

9. Using a rolling pin, form a thin circle and fold it into half.

You can make a thinner circle

10. Now, fold it again into a triangle and press gently. 

11. Repeat the same with  the remaining dough balls.
12. Heat oil in a pan or a wok.
13. Once the oil is hot, drop the shaped khaja in batches of two or three and fry till they are cooked and float on the top of the oil.

14. Drain them from oil and drop them into the sugar syrup. 

15. Let the khaja soak in the sugar syrup for 7-10 minutes. 

16. Remove them from the syrup and store them in an airtight container. 

Your Bombay Khaja delicacy is now ready. 

North Arcot Special Jeera Poli

You can serve Jeera Poli along with other special bhogi dishes like the paruppu vadai, Quick paruppu poli ( easy and low oil version) and payasam

Wishing you all a blessed festival - 'Pongal Nal Vazhthukkal'.

Happy Cooking !

With love,


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