Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nayuruvi | Acyranthes aspera | apamArg


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

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.

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

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
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.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Pulicha Keerai | Pitwa | Gongura | Hibiscus sabdariffa | Sorrel/Roselle leaves

Pulicha keerai thokku
Medicinal benefits
storehouse of iron and calcium; cools the body; cleanses blood; helps to cure constipation - ayurvedichomeremedies
anti-hyperammonemic and antioxidant - nlm
Used against cough, dyspepsia, fever, hypertension, high cholesterol and for stimulating intestinal peristalsis - tropilab
for good skin - alwaysayurveda 

Reached home by Mayiladuthurai express well past 5 am on Christmas and neivedhyam of pongal had to be offered to God before sunrise. Quickly drew kolam, got ready, and offered pongal well past sunrise. Knew thursday was going to be packed, so tried hard to keep my eyes closed in the train most of the night.

Chithi-Chithappa went to Srirangam for special darshan with police escort, entering beyond the ropes near SriRanganAthar, finished darshan in 30 minutes and brought back a big garland of thiruthulAi.

From morning, it was virundhombal for chithi, chithappa. In spite of pleas, they went to temple without lunch and they came only past 2 pm, shopping for their grandkids, nephews, sister.

Dessert and Starter: Semiya jawarisi pAl pAyasam
Vegetable rice
Ghee dAl rice
Side dish: Okra poriyal, Channa sundal, KothavarangAi paruppu usili, Kuppaimeni keerai kootu, VAzhai thandu more kootu, vAzhaipoo vadai, appalam
For mixing: Sorakka sAmbhAr, lemon rasam, curd

Could not make chithi's favourite pulicha keerai and chithappa's favourite sunda vathal kozhambu.

With left over dough after pooris in the morning, it was ajwain roti with paneer mutter sabji for me, idlis with coconut chutney for the elders and empty stomach for mom and periyamma. Chithappa asked, if there was Blue Cross nearby, for a tiny puppy lay breathing its last. After we bid relatives goodbye at night, thinking how to arrange a feeding bottle for the puppy, realized it was already dead. On Wednesday night, a lively brown puppy, almost a twin of this dead puppy, kept so many toddlers in Carmelaram railway station amused with its cute antics and on Thursday, a similar one lay dead so close to home on the roadside. Just so much is life.

Just four people and from morning, four different drinks, coffee for mom, tea for periyamma, boost for my tiny nephew and jaggery milk with ellaichi for me. Made rasagullas and palkova since milk split the first time.
Used to fret earlier when milk got split on Fridays, now its delicious Rasagullas
Yummy Palkova after chenna was taken
Made some random dosa with kalyAna murungai leaves, drumstick leaves mixed in wheat flour batter that mom had kept for a while and normal dosa batter with ridge gourd thugayal and ground chutney.
Drumstick leaves, kalyAna murungai wheat, rice batter dosa

Could not have vadais properly yesterday with guests in batches, so made them again, so that i could savour some.

Chithi wanted pulicha keerai. But could not make it yesterday. So today, it was yummy pulicha keerai. I followed this recipe minus garlic cloves and ground nuts. It was absolutely tasty with roast and ground fenugreek, channa dal, corriander seeds and black gram dal and was so glad on how tasty each dish turned out today. Periyamma did the chopping.

Starter Rasagullas
Side dish: Sorakka moong dal kootu, payir poriyal, peerkangAi thugayal, gongura thokku, appalam, vAzhai poo vadai
Mixing: Sorakka sAmbhAr, milagu thippli rasam, Curd

Didn't know whether to be angry or glad with my 5 year old nephew. Spent 45 minutes searching for my data card after he leflt. Yesterday, i remarked, he is now 5 years old, he was born when guru was in meena and now guru is in kataka/simha retro back to kataka in a while. My brother remarked, he remembered that my nephew was 5 years old, because, he was two years old during my sisters wedding and now it has been 3 years after wedding. My tata photonplus with its blinking blue lights is his favourite. Within no time, the dongle is pulled out of system.

Ajwain mooli parantha, gongura chutney, paneer mutter, payir with rasa gullas
Wanted to take rest on sunday, but as mom started plucking plantain flowers stigma, in addition to manathakAli keerai, in addition to sorakka and knool kol. Decided post 11 am, that marginal efforts for serving guests is insignificant compared to cooking multiple items only for mom. So invited 60+ old swAmy and swAmy amma. Spent nearly 3.5 hours, and i was still making vAzhai poo vadai when they were in and puran poli was still on tava. They left around 5 pm. Exhausted, sleepy and to top it all, could not eat anything beyond poli, wheat jaggery scoops, saltless curd rice, sweet pongal; for sundays are no salt days for me.
Plantain flowers | VAzhai poo, which set the ball rolling

Starters and desserts:
Moong dal pAyasam laced in ghee with coconut and milk and ground ellaichi
Puran poli with moong dal, coconut, jaggery filling
Sweet pongal
Scoops of Wheat fried in ghee with jaggery

Kootu Poriyal:
VAzhai poo black gram vadai
Cauliflower masala fry
Sorakka Moong dal kootu
Kothavaranga paruppu usili
Podalanga channa dal poriyal
ManathakkAli Keerai kootu
Carrot slices
Pulicha keerai thokku
Fresh Mango pickle (not in snap, kept for curd)

Nool kol sambhar
Karamani kAra puli kozhambu  (not in snap)
Pepper long pepper rasam (not in snap)
Fresh creamy Curd (not in snap)

Served in a hurry, for didn't want to keep the guests waiting. However made mom wait for a moment,  to click. Mom got the not so good looking ubattu and guests got the neat ones.

Puran poli | Ubattu with moong dal in wheat base
There goes christmas holidays, tied to kitchen!!! All three nights paneer mutter masala with mooli or methi or plain ajwain paranthas. Emptied 900 gms of ghee in 4 days. 15 days feasting, 15 days fasting. Two sets of dress for waxing and waning phase of moon. Back to pigeonholed matchbox in Bangalore tonight.

VAzhai poo vadai recipe
Soak half a cup black gram for 45 minutes
Remove the stigma of plantain flowers (medium sized) and chop towards the end
Grind blackgram to coarse thick paste, adding curry leaves, pepper
Mix chopped plantain flowers
Make balls with the above mix, flatten, put a hole and fry in oil

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Adukku malli on PG terrace

Agreed, with my moodiness, its mostly a case of mind willing, but not moving an inch physically. Only on Thursdays and special yoga days, i wake up early in the morning, rest of the days, i sleep without an alarm. It would be hot close to 10 am, when i would water the pots after bathing. And everyone says roots will suffer when watered in noon sun.

In fact, the first time, when i went for long holidays, April 18 uthiram roomie had forgotten to water the plants and was aghast to see pale yellow dried leaves and dried yellow stem when i came back. Thankfully, another moola roommate who had a garden at home, gave me hope on watering it, in spite of everything being yellow and dry. This was months earlier.
Yesterday was chandrashtama for me on ekadashi. When i climbed up to water the plants close to 9 am, was jumping with glee inside, for the flowers had bloomed. Typically one two would bloom, first time 8 had bloomed together and i was so so so very happy.

The fragrance of adukumalli can't  be explained in words. Overwhelming it is.

Fence is greener on the other side. While i long to go to kollimalai stay on hill top, next to scenic Jog falls, next to ocean, folks there want to come to metros and earn quick bucks. In crowded new bangalore, such pots of greenery on terrace top are the only solace. How fulfilling it would be the farmer to see his lush green paddy field. terrace farming in kolli hills is breathtaking. Only after planting few saplings, realized, what a back breaking work it is, but nothing can beat the sweet rewards of lush greenery.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saaranai Keerai| Trianthema portulacastrum | Bishkhapra or punarnava

Saaranai Keerai, mom plucked in hot noon sun, hence leaves are like this

Warning!!! don't ever eat this keerai, without boiling it in tamarind juice or cooking properly, for it has something like pirandai, could be oxalic acid, making throat feel something. The itchiness of throat is not like that of pirandai, it is mild, very much bearable.

Saaranai Keerai
Lunch today:
Mom started and ended lunch with vellam kolukattai
Kootu Poriyal: Carrot Slices, saaranai keerai kootu, velai poosanikai kootu, vendika poriyal.
Kolambus: Periyamma had got murungaka from native place, so murungakka sambhar, thippili lemon rasam, mor kolambu, curd.

Didn't touch curd or mor kolambu, for its no curd fast till September 5th. Folks drink buttermilk, however have been keeping away from buttermilk also.

     Tasting thippili gives an effect, which has to be seen on my colleague's face to understand. Lemon thippili rasam, with a bit of ghee, was too good. Thippili makes tongue feel so clean and fresh. Saaranai keerai and kurinja keerai were introduced by the same aunty.

     Mom knew what was saaranai keerai, but this was the first time, both of us were eating it. So i asked mom, how do you know it is indeed saaranai, she said, she knew. It grows spreading on the ground.

    Quite a lot of research has been done on what is actually punarnava - is it Boehavia diffusa or Trianthema portulacastrum? Mahesh et al state that saaranai is an adulterant to Mukkurttaikodi i.e. punarnava, possibly possessing same properties.

Medical benefits:
decoction of roots to treat asthama and constipation - ethnobiomed, biomedicalcentral, globaljournal
analgesic, stomachic, laxative, treatment of blood disease, anemia, inflammation, and night blindness - phcogrev

The plant is alexiteric, analgesic, stomachic, laxative, alterative; cures “Kapha,” bronchitis, heart diseases of the blood, anemia, inflammations, “Vata,” piles and ascites. The plant has been used in the indigenous system of medicine for the obstruction of the liver asthma, amenorrhea, dropsy, edema, ascites, and beri-beri. A decoction of the herb is used as a vermifuge and is useful in rheumatism; it is also an antidote to alcoholic person.

     Won't ever forget how it made my throat feel, goes to the pirandai class on special processing.

     Was reading out tamizh names listed in ethnobiomed, and when i was reading aloud vasambu (Acorus calamus); mom said, don't take its name; almost like Harry Potter's Voldemort. Her reasoning was, it you say its name, its medicinal properties will be ineffective. If anyone goes to a medical shop, they will ask, give me peru solladha marundhu, instead of asking for vasambu. If vasambu is taken in excess, it will result in stammering it seems.

       Reminds me of varali, one raga that teacher is not supposed to directly teach student, for it results in enmity between teacher and disciple. Funny!!! vasambu, varali, both starting with va.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kalyana Murungai | Erythrina variegata | Paribhadra

With its tiny thorns, with marching red ants, no wonder it is also called mullu murungai

Sundal pulikolambu, with kalyana murungai kootu and parangi kootu

 Had the same question like my brother, what has kalyana murungai पारिभद्र got to do with drumstick leaves. Poles apart. It is quite different. It gets a little chewy after cooking, hence a minute in mixie makes this more smooth.

Health Benefits
Slimming - Mangathayuru etal
analgesic, antioxidant - Suryavanshi
menstrual cramps - homeremedies, ayurvedic home remedies
diabetes - drsagay
to increase breast milk - herbalking
for earaches - chennai ayurveda
for eyes, digestive disturbances - ayushveda
insomnia, anorexia - ayush doctors

kalyana murungai ghee dosa aka Mullu murungai dosa

Kalyana Murungai Dosa with Peerkankai chutney
All time favourite is ridgegourd chutney. Mildly sauteed ridgegourd in oil, added lots of ginger, coconut with roasted channa dal. The innate mild sweetness of peerkangai chutney is something, that makes me gorge it. Mixed both kalayana murungai and a little bit of curry leaves to dosa batter.

Kalyana Murungai with wheat, kambu, ragi, sollam flour
Kalyana Murungai parantha with okra potato fry
Saturday: Kalyana murungai parantha with cauliflower fry
Sunday: Kalyana murungai poori, channa masala, wheat milk pudding with elaichi, cashew raisins
Recipe for kalyana Murungai Dosa:
  • Take normal dosa batter. For folks who want to keep away from blackgram for religious reasons, you can use moong dal with rice to make batter. I prefer batter without salt
  • Grind the leaves in mixie
  • Mix it batter and mix well and make it with crisp with a liberal dose of cows ghee
Ridge Gourd Chutney

  • Roast 2-3 spoonfuls of moong dal/channa dal
  • Mildly saute one medium sized ridgegourd chopped, an inch of ginger, and one green chilli in oil/ghee for 2-3 minutes
  • Set aside to cool off to room temperature (i can't stand more than one chilli, while mom needs two)
  • Cut/scrape half a coconut and grind it all together in mixie with salt as per taste
  • Frying mustard seeds with curry leaves in oil and adding tadka to ground chutney at the end is optional
Folks spice it up with tamarind, i would not add it. End of the day your tongue is the king, eat in whatever way, the food appeals to you. Don't stick to any one recipe, your taste buds will guide you.