Archive for the ‘Food and remedies’ Category

A Better-Bitter recipe from a reader

Friday, July 1st, 2011

This is quite a special recipe story. Sonia, one of our readers sent me a recipe for cooking bittergourd. Nothing exciting about it, right? Nope. She sent it to me when she learned that I was expecting a baby and I had just started eating bittergourd, thanks to the Gestational diabetes scare. Thankfully, I did not get that GD. Those days I just had one trick of cooking BG, trying the recipe from here, but Sonia sent me more than one way of removing the bitterness from the gourd.

This incident happened last year, if I remember well, it was in July 2010. I was thinking on publishing her tips on cooking the gourd, but I was so tired due to pregnancy and then came the baby and the whole world vanished from my sight. All I could think of was little R. I guess it is about time I publish the recipe. Sorry for the delay Sonia. Do send me the special kofta recipe you were talking about, I promise I will publish it asap with pictures :)

Tips and Tricks on cooking bittergourd:

We have just given approximate measurements for ingredients assuming that the cooking is for 1 or 2 bitter gourds. Depending on the number of gourds you use, please adjust all other quantities accordingly.

Making Stir fry’s:

Chop bittergourd in to rings(half moon shape). Then marinade the rings with 1/4 cup of chopped onions, pinch of asafoedita, 2 tbsp of gram flour, salt and red chili powder to taste.

Remember not to add any water as onions will give out water needed to make a coating. Heat oil in a kadai, splutter mustard seeds(or the tadka you’d normally use) and stir fry the onions and gourd till crispy.

Serve this as accompaniment for rasams or sambhar or Mango Morekozhambu(kadhi).

For making Bajjis:

Slice the bitter gourd into thick rings. Add salt and leave aside for 10 minutes. Discard the water released by the bitter gourd as that will carry the bitterness. Pat them dry. Then add red chilli powder(to taste) , a pinch of asafoetida and mix well.

Dust the rings with with 2 tbsp of rice flour, keep aside for 5 minutes for the coating to stick and then deep fry in oil. This makes a good crunch munch accompaniment for rice or even as a snack with a hot cuppa chai!

For crispier karelas:

Instead of adding rice flour, soak 1 tbsp of plain uncooked rice for half an hour. Grind this rice, 1-2 whole red chillies, hing, one teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 tbsp of besan (optional) into a smooth paste. Dip the marinated karela into this and deep fry. Serve as accompaniment or as a snack.

So, are there any more ways of cooking bittergourd? Let me know and I will update this post.

NOTE: This is not included in the postpartum of lactation recipe series that I am writing for the past few days. In general bitter gourd is not included in the diet of lactating moms.

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Postpartum recipe series

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

No, I am not a know it all. Just that I wanted to share some of the recipes that are in use for postpartum which can heal the body and relieve the aches and pains of labor.

After giving birth to R, I was so hungry and N called the cafeteria for food. When we toured the hospital I had asked about vegetarian food and I was told, yes it was available. Little did I know that the vegetarian option was soy burger with fries, veggie pizza, pasta alfredo, tomato soup and broth. Ofcourse, I like all of them, but it was not appropriate for the situation. It was a funny and irritating scene- there I was fuming and ready to let it all out on N, and poor N who was with me since morning who also did not have any food, did not want to order any of that as he knew it is going to increase my anger. We had packed only food for N since I knew I will be given food at the hospital.(Lesson learnt: pack some extra food just in case as hospitals provide patient freezers and microwaves)

After a quick phone call to our neighbor, he brought some idlis to the hospital and boy, that tasted like nectar!

Basically postpartum recipes are easily digested food like idli or idiyappam, hot rice with moong dal and vegetables and lots and lots of ghee. The idea is to soothe the insides for mommy as well as to provide nourishing food to make up for all the energy loss. Such simple foods will also not cause a problem for the baby if the mom is nursing.

Though in India such postpartum recipes are prepared for 60 days after birth of the child, here I was told to start eating all vegetables(even cabbage and potatoes) so that the baby will get all the nutrition. I did a mix of both, traditional postpartum recipes for twice or thrice a week and normal food for the rest of the days.

The first on my list is Garlic kozhambu which is good for digestion.

Ingredients for Garlic-Pepper kuzhambu: (Makes about 200 ml)
List 1:
Whole black Peppercorns- 2 tsp
Toor dal- 2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Dried red chilies- 2
Curry leaves- a fistful (2/3 of a cup)
Peeled garlic cloves- 10 or 12
List 2:
Tamarind paste- 3/4 tsp (dissolve in 2 cups of water)
Salt to taste
Sesame oil(Gingerly oil)- 2 tsp
Ghee- 2 tsp


Fry all the ingredients in list 1 in sesame oil. Transfer to a blender, add salt and blend to a coarse powder. Add tamarind paste and then blend it to a smooth paste. Transfer to a sauce pan, add another glass of water, check for salt and tanginess(add more tamarind paste if you like). Simmer it till the water evaporates and you can see the kozhambu coming together like a thick paste. This takes about 10-15 minutes. Add the ghee and switch it off. The more ghee and oil it absorbs the tastier the kozhambu will be.

Instead of blending the garlic you can boil whole garlic pieces in the kozhambu after frying.

This can be stored in the freezer for upto three months also.

Serve the kozhambu with hot rice topped with ghee(must), poppadams and some sort of plain kootu(vegetables cooked with moong dal). It’s enough if you eat a handful of this rice with kozhambu, not like a plateful!

You can add more garlic to make it garlic kozhambu or more curry leaves to make it curry leaf kozhambu also.


Well not really warning, but suggestions:

This is only for postpartum do not eat it when you are pregnant.

You have to have it with hot rice topped with ghee otherwise there is no purpose of having the food.
Since this kozhmabu already has garlic and pepper, do not serve this with any sort of greens(spinach for example)
And of course, do not eat it with potato curry :)

Since this is a real healing food, I am sending this Garlic-Pepper kozhambu as an entry for Siri’s Healing food event, hosted this month by Sara.

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Home Remedies: Remedy for Headaches

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Headaches and it’s medicines can give more headaches than relief. Everyone has headaches at least once a week. Given the lifestyle and hectic work schedule, the most common reason for headache is tension. As soon as one gets a headache, the immediate remedy we think of is drinking coffee. But that can create more ache than curing it. Head aches are signals telling the brain that it needs more air, but drinking cups and cups of coffee will only restrict the air movement than providing some, hence the time taken for relief is longer. Some people have a habit of taking of taking pain relievers with coffee or tea! Water will be the best option than any of these drinks.

Instead of taking pain relievers and still watching TV or cooking or working, take atleast 10 minutes off the schedule when you get a headache. Wash your face, freshen up and sit in a place that has good air circulation for a few minutes.

This remedy for tension headaches is by my Mom. When I was in Uni, I had a hectic schedule,classes and events to organize and as you all know, she does not believe in swallowing pills like toffees.

The remedy:

When you read this, I am sure you will laugh before believing it. In India, during summers if someone is walking around like a boiling pressure cooker waiting to let off steam of anger on someone, we tell them to apply some lemon on the head to cool off 😉

Yes, Lemon. If you think you have a tension headache, and you are at home, take a lemon and cut 2-3 thin round slices. Apply the slices on the forehead and on the sides(temple points). Make sure that the juices does not go into the eyes. Repeat twice of thrice till you can feel the juice of lemon as a layer on the forehead. Sit in a quite place for 10 minutes. You can feel relief faster than a pain reliever.

Who can use: Adults
Dosage: Once or twice over a 10 minute period.

This simple remedy for headache goes straight to the Home Remedies Event I am hosting, an event started by A2Zvegetariancuisine

DO share any simple remedies you know by sending you entries to

You are new to the Home remedies event and wondering where to start? Here are a few ideas:

Beauty: Dry skin, Oily Skin, dandruff, tips for hair growth, and dark circles around the eyes.
Stomach: Digestive Issues, Heartburn.
Common Issues: Cold, Sinus, Headaches.
Pregnancy: Any remedies for nursing mother’s or pregnant women or similar subjects.

You can also check out some of my simple home remedies I have posted:

Remedy for Sinus
Home made Bengay for Bodyaches

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Home Made Bengay/Moov for Body Aches (Karpoora Thailam)

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Whenever we get a knee pain or sprains we tend to apply some creams(analgesic) like bengay to provide warmth and relieve the pain. But would you believe the ingredients are so simple and you can even make it at home? My mom never trusted any of these chemicals and she believed that since it is applied on the skin, our system can absorb it. The more you apply to relieve the pain, the more you are adding chemicals to the system.

Instead of using these pain relievers she would make a instant home made analgesic(a rub) to apply and she would massage with it. When I was in University studying Chemistry, I could understand the principle behind it. The ingredients are the same, some oil as a base and camphor. The base oil my mom uses is Sesame oil, called a Nallenai in Tamil, which literally translates to Good oil!!

I learnt this from my mom and now a days N too has stopped using all these rubs and he asks me to make this instead of buying some unknown chemicals.

Home made analgesic:

Ingredients: (serves for 4 applications)

Sesame oil- 1/4 cup
Camphor-6 capsules
An old, beaten up pan


There are a couple of things you should remember before starting to make this rub. Both oil and camphor can catch fire, so do not play with heating. Be careful and do not leave it at any stage unnoticed.

Heat a pan without adding anything to it, till you can see slight fumes coming out of the pan. Reduce the flame, pour the oil and heat it for a minute.

Remove the oil pan from fire.. This is very important as hot oil and camphor can give fumes or fire.

Powder the camphor. Sprinkle the camphor powder into the oil. You can see some sizzle, but it is OK. Let it cool for 3-4 minutes.

Oil is ready!

You can cool it and store in a container. If it cools, the oil will get creamy like a store bought rub. You can either use the cream or the oil. If you need to massage with the oil, wait till you can handle the heat of the oil (till it is warm and not hot).

Apply the lukewarm oil either on the back or hands or leg,depending on the area of swelling, sprain or pain and start massaging lightly. Do not rub heavily as the oil will warm up on its own once it comes to contact with the skin due to massage. The person receiving the oil massage can feel the warmth too. If a hot shower is taken after the oil massage, the relief will be instant.

This is something I make often (as N travels a lot and comes back with aches all over) and it is simple and works every time. You don’t have to worry about side effects as you know what ingredients are there.

How to use: Either as oil or cream
Used for: Body aches due to strain or sprain
Who can use: Adults and kids(reduce the dosage and just apply in minimum quantities)

This Home made bengay goes straight to the Home Remedies Event I am hosting, an event started by A2Zvegetariancuisine

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