Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dwidala in Akka's home

Akka has kaimanam, that some women have, imparting special taste to anything she prepares. Came for cauvery pre dawn dips for karthik navami and it was sheer ambrosia after usual pepper rice with arvi in pg for dwidala.

Agastya Palye, agathi keerai

Poovam vaazhai poo

Mango rice, Coconut pepper chutney, agathi keerai poriyal, vaazhaipoo poriyal, curd

Amla fresh from backyard

Sundaikai poriyal, arai nellikai poriyal, chow chow poriyal, curd
Mango Rice recipe
Splutter mustard, cumin seeds in ghee
Add shredded raw mango, turmeric, salt pepper to taste
Shallow fry, leave it covered for a minute

Coconut Chuntey Recipe
Shred coconut, add pepper, salt to taste, tadka with mustard and curry leaves

Am used to take each stigma separately. Akka removed the maroon coverings in on go, and removed all the stigma in a jiffy.

Vaazhaipoo poriyal Recipe
Cut plaintain flowers
Do tadka with mustards, cumin seeds, curry leaves in ghee
Stir cut plantain flowers, add salt pepper
Leave it covered in slim flame for 10 minutes without adding water

Agathi Keerai poriyal Recipe
Tadka with mustards, cumin seeds in ghee
Add cut agathi keerai and stir for a minute
Add pepper, salt, turmeric, add water as required
Leave it covered for 30 minutes in slim flame
Add shredded coconut

Realized quite late that sundaikai is allowed in dwidala as well as shaak
Sundaikai Poriyal Recipe
Tadka with mustards, cumin seeds, curry leaves in ghee
add cut/uncut sundaikai
Add salt, pepper, turmeric and stir for a minute
Leave it covered, without adding water, for 15 minutes

Arai Nellikai Thokku recipe
Tadka with mustards, curry leaves in ghee
Add shredded nellikai, turmeric, salt, pepper powder
Stir, don't add water, leave it covered in slim flame for 5 minutes
This is yum with curd

Chowchow poriyal
Tadka with mustards, curry leaves in ghee
Add chopped chow chow, turmeric, salt, ground pepper
Stir, don't add water, leave it covered in slim flame for 20 minutes
Add shredded coconut

Monday, September 7, 2015


Akka's home by 3.33

Started off at 3 pm itself, much against the wishes of my team mates, so that i could hit bed by 10 pm at akka's home. Mom was to meet me at akka's place. Lady pickpockets stole mom's purse on the way and mom's reasoning was she travelled on her birth nakshatra (same as lord Krishna) on ashtami. Salem's 3.33 reached in 3 hours 23 minutes. It was another bus trip from Salem. This time, i again travelled further thankfully only 20 minutes before returning. Didn't bother to check yatra panchAng or travel timings. It was pouring heavily and we got thoroughly drenched by the time we reached home. Akka had got castor oil for cleansing tummy before fasting.

River water was full and it was wonderful to stand neck deep in waters and take dips praying. Cauvery current was manageable. Seeing me take 108 dips, the kids nearby started taking 108 dips as well. There was a police van near the river to combat caste based clashes during festivities. Curfew was imposed in the village, but thankfully all went well. Made a sarvato bhadra mandala kolam copying from laptop much to the amusement of neighbours who commented on missing little krishna's feet.

Akka wanted to spare the oil hence she made neivedya kolukattais on wood fire instead of gas stove. End of the day, it was akka's home. Didn't want her to strain making murukku and seedai, so let her do whatever she wanted to offer.

After a midnight prayer to rohini moon and krishna, we hit the bare floor with the cocks mercilessly waking up us early morning with their crowing ruckus. Mom joined me for another final trip to river with dips in swift flowing water and we returned home to find buttermilk with amla and ginger to break fast. Had done EFT on friday itself so that i could break fast on sunday. Helped akka with making agathi keerai chappatis and gorged in previous day evening's kolukattais. Akka made idlis for the family, since with the festivities, agastya keerai was not allowed for the family.

On Sunday, just ate the whole day till tummy burst. Sundaika was surprisingly not at all bitter.
Kollukattais, agathi keerai chappathi, sundaika moong dal, pal kolukattais

Monday, August 17, 2015

Madurai by Seshadri express

My compartment had babies, toddlers and kids of all ages. Reminded me of Kempty falls, where hundreds of kids were present in one place. The breast feeding mom travelling by herself, announced that she had to get down at Thirunelvezhi. Was wondering how come she is wearing black. Early morning, when she was apologizing sorry papa to the crying baby and alighting, it didn't register my sleepy mind.

Hawkers shouting alwa alwa made me wonder, what is this place before Madurai that sells halwa just like in Thirunelveli. Was lying in side upper and wondering why on earth a guy was watching so many snaps of women's hair and backside. When he realized am watching, he quickly switched on the goddess wall paper. I woke up around 6:23 am and decided to get down thinking anyway destination is sometime past 7 am and the whole compartment is empty, let me come down. The first station name i saw was Valliyur and the train stopped at a place between two hills and windmills. On the way i saw clouds sitting on the mountains. Was just gazing at the windmills and a young couple sitting on the platform with their baby.

At last around 7 am decided to ask the guy in the compartment as to when Madurai will come. He said, we had crossed it long before. Was surprised and quickly alighted and asked the uncle on the platform and i got the same answer. Realized busstop was the other side, so had to get down the other side, cross the track and climb up to platform.

There was a Nagercoil lady who said Nagercoil was hardly 15 minutes away in train and she described how different it was from Virudhunagar where she was born. She said who ever came from Virudhunagar to Aralvaimozhi caught wheezing and how people here took bath in rivers instead of closed bathrooms. She was visiting her mom leaving her husband alone because Aralvaimozhi acclimatized husband could not survive Virudhunagar's scorching heat. She kept on stating urangAdhe and asked the ladies next to me to tell me the stop. Got a ticket in Coimbatore express which was arriving in a while and reached brother's new place close to 2 pm instead of 3-4 am. In a way good, bro had to work even on independence day and am glad he did not have to get up so early. Bro's new place was a fine structure, new building and we could see Thiruparankundram hillock from his terrace. Mom came around 9 am on Sunday and we finally left my brother peacefully around 6:30 pm. Mom in one place, sister in another, brother in another and me in another. God only knows if we could ever spend a festival together.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Suppan kannaku

Verdant serenity even in April hot summer in SITHUNAVAYAL near HAPP, Trichy

A home that will evolve as a great healing temple

Shringara Vadivelan

Onum Onum irundu, Om eluthu irundu 1+1=2, letters in Om is 2
Rendum rendum nAngu, iniya vedangal nAngu 2+2=4, vedas=4
Mundrum mundrum Aru, murugan mugam Aru 3+3=6, murugan’s faces=6
nAlum nAlum ettu, suttrilum disaigal ettu 4+4=8, directions=8
aindhum aindhum pathu, suppan arul perum sothu 5+5=10, murugan’s grace is the greatest wealth

Home away from home is swAmy’s home, right in the middle of welcoming wilderness, a blazing budding forest. Swamy is constructing a Singara vadivelan temple, initially summoned to construct a temple for Senthil gurunAthan erected over the remains of a buried temple in a place where siddhars still live, near HAPP trichy. Swamy plans to build a bhogar style Murugan statue. This abhisheka teertha is what I want to savour having so many medicinal herbs’ essence. Swamy has a book on Muruganandham adikalar written by thiru Tamilanandham.

Swamy told about Muruganantham adikalar who was apparently EVR periyar’s friend, an atheist to start with. “Solayam…Saalaiyam pAraiyAm…,” he sang songs about educational institutions in Mandaiyur in 1947; Bharathidasan University, Anna University and now IIM trichy, made this prophesy true. Eldest son of an affluent family; due to divine play, developed leprosy and was quarantined in the forest outskirts. His mother fed him every day, while his wife watched. A passing siddhar assured the mother, as she lamented her son’s state. Upon her request, the siddhar went to see Muruganandham adikalar, who accepted siddhar’s thiruneer that day, despite being an atheist. Within days, one dramatic night, he came out of forest and in spite of leprosy eating his fingers, climbed temple’s steep walls and sat in deep mediation.

His mother was aghast the next day on finding her son missing while going to give him food. She searched the only two wells inside the village and didn’t find him there. She relaxed only after the pujari found him inside locked temples. Almost like Les Miserables scene of divine inspiration making man scale great heights amidst no ropes or no fingers to clasp the ropes. Muruganandham adikalar said, he just saw a green vine holding on to which he got inside the temple. And just to pacify onlookers who laughed at an atheist singing divine songs, he turn water into milk and performed many other miracles and spent his days singing praises of Lord Muruga.

This Singara vadivelan temple near HAPP is truly amazing with spinal cord affected folks walking again, apamrutyu jatak living full life, sick getting healed reviving as a medical miracle.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

अपमार्ग | நாயுருவி | Acyranthes aspera


Mom is standing in background locating karisalankanni, while i clicked.
Snap has not done justice to the dark pink prickly fruits, as if tiny insects are sitting in perfect symmetry

True nature of soul is bliss. Bliss exists at all levels, physical, ethereal, mental, discerning, absolute bliss.
Physical Level: C-sections are prevalent all over during delivery. Just imagine scarless painless delivery. My first yoga teacher told this would help in normal delivery when tied below knees of a pregnant woman during her labour period. It had to be immediately removed post delivery it seems.
Ethereal Level:

Mom said, as children, they would ask another kid to hold this and pull it out swiftly for fun. But this would cause such irritation and pain, that only village children can bear and forget and still play around together.

Medicinal Uses:
  • herb for digestion, burns fat, helps in downward peristalsis movement - ayurvedicdietsolutions 
  • enhances will power and controls the mind of user - Ashwini Kumar Sharma
  • breaks stones, used for urinary calculus, irritation in bladder and urethra - herbtime
  • helps in labour inducement during delivery, but should not be used before full term - 101herbs
  • 14 curing recipes with apamArg - astrogle

Mar 9th update
Hardly, 2 months passed, and the summer is already scorching, the greenery on the roadside has disappeared, its all turned yellow and dry. MAtham mumAri, when was that period ever??? 60s folks born in Chennai lament, how pleasant Chennai was then and how unbearably hot it is now. And tree plantations are now sponsored by real estate magnates from Australia and Belgium, selling Indian land to Indians as exorbitantly priced apartments, without any natural trees around. With India's population!!!

Apparently nayuruvi seeds when eaten will make hunger disappear for even 6 months. My teacher talks of a wood (i don't know what wood) that burn without smoke for 6 months. No wonder folks meditated with food/water for months together.

Nayuruvi, kuppaimeni, karuvepu ilai chutney

Kambu rava ghee roast, nayuruvi chutney, maanga moong dal sambhar, athi palam smoothie

Chutney Recipe:
  • Stir fry equal quantities of curry leaves, nayuruvi leaves and kuppai meni leaves in ghee. Took a fistful of each leaf
  • Add a little ground nut (optional) and sliced ginger with 1 big green chilli as per taste and fry along with leaves (liberal doses of ginger if morning) *
  • Let it cool
  • Add a quarter medium sized coconut, salt and grind till it reaches the consistency you like the best
  • Fry mustards, cumin seeds curry leaves in oil and add to this chutney
* Guiding principle is ginger in morning, dried ginger in afternoon and haritaki or kadukAi at night

VAta NArayan Kambu ghee roast
Pluck fresh vAta Narayan leaves and grind them to a smooth paste
this batter has kambu, rava, wheat flour with cumin seeds, pepper along with vAta nArayan paste

Mango Moong dal SAmbhar
One or two mangoes fall down every now and then, when mangoes are there, who needs tomatoes or tamarind for tangines. The fallen side is damaged, or birds or squirrels would have pecked it, we chop that off, and use the rest.
  • Add moong dAl, shredded mango, chilli-corriander-turmeric-salt and pressure cook
  • Heat ghee, splutter, mustards, cumin seeds, curry leaves with asafoetid and add pressure cooked dal
  • Garnish with finely chopped corriander leaves
PanchAng stated payovrat sometime last month, and ever since that i have been experimenting with milk shakes - with fresh rose leaves (results in violet milk shake), yummy Avaram poo milk shake and today it was athipalam smoothie, with jaggery and ellaichi.

Nilavembu | Andrographis paniculata | Bhu neem / KAlmegh | Kirayat


If we have bitterness competition between nilavembu and Adhuthoda, don't know which will win. Praying should never have to drink this decoction for brain fever, snake bites and the like. Just as mom was pointing to me, we were rather surprised to see a lady in scooty, carrying so much of nilavembu, the whole plant. My college days, Srirangam nAdi jyoshiyar's name was KAlamegham, a very stout dark, rohini, with bulging eyes. He was the final deciding authority on everything then, including can i reciprocate fellow classmate's love. If he said, no, then cut-cut once for all. Interesting to know that he has the name of such a bitter herb.

List of common names - wiki

Medicinal Uses:
  • to cure viral fever, dengue, brain fever - bimbima
  • appetizer, liver stimulant, vermicidal - herbalcureindia
  • for treating acidity, indigestion, wind, gastritis, peptic ulcers, colitis including ulcerative colitis, heartburn, and diarrhoea. It is best to combine it with aromatic spices like coriander, fennel, cardamom or black cumin to prevent aggravation of Vata from the bitter taste - positivehealth

Pournami avial

Starting 2006, a Dec 18, got me addicted to thiruvanamalai girivalam on pournamis, so much so that, i would dread onsite opportunities. My dear Baroda friend fasts the whole full moon day and visits temple travelling 3-4 hours one way. Now, most full moon nights, i lay awake on the PG terrace tracing the path of the moon on the sky along with stars. PanchAng said, sarvashAk nivedhan. Hence avial. Not all, at least some veggies.

My Hyderabad friend offers a minimum of 60 vegetables to shAkambari devi. Out of 100, after removing prohibited vegetables, at least 75 or so remain, he says. Interesting customs.

Shop quoted 20 Rs for one tiny mango, so mom didn't buy it. There were couple of mangoes hanging up on the terrace even in dhanur mAs. So asked mom to  pluck the smaller one.

Yellow pumpkin, mochai kottai, chow chow, mango, senai kilangu, vAzhai kAi; Payir, Kothavaranga, beans, carrot, avarakkai

Aviyal - Moon is the master of all herbs, everything unto him
Sunday hence - Wheat Milk jaggery ellaichi pudding, Aviyal soup, SAmbhar, Curd
Recipe for Wheat Pudding
Stir fry normal wheat flour (1-2 spoons for two people) in lots of ghee
Slowly add milk, stirring constantly, so that lumps are not formed
When wheat is cooked, add jaggery, ellaichi towards end and mix well
Add fried badam, cashew or raisins

Recipe for Avial
Chop your choice of vegetables
Boil them in turmeric, salt water
Grind a quarter coconut, 1 table spoon cumin seed to a smooth paste
Heat coconut oil in kadai, splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves
Add the boiled vegetables, mix well with coconut paste and take off the flame

With the water left after boiling vegetables, add lots of freshly ground pepper and drink as soup.

The joy of simple things - kept gazing at the roses and jyoti and finally clicked. Wonder what is there in mango leaves! After months after instruction, at last plucked one leaf for RAghavendra swAmy

Mom would sweep, while, i would wrap the kolam, just as milk cooker starts whistling
Wonder how that period would have been, when women actually drew rice flour kolams for ants and smaller creatures! Life has changed after guruji. Dhanur mAs is a refreshing month. Nothing can rejuvenate better than pre-dawn magic. No matter when you go to sleep, get up early, offer pongal to God before sunrise. Only early morning temple visits in PG; at home, cleaning, kolams, neivdhyam, everything before sunrise. His path is difficult, am just trying with all my lacunae. Trust some day, am there. Amazing! this whole movement of sun and sky above! There is freedom in absolute surrender and obedience. When colleagues, question, how many rules, i now i realize, it is just being in tune. Wasting a full moon ardra, so back to work.