Saturday, August 23, 2014


A delicious low-fat vegetable dish which can be adapted to include any left over vegetables you have!


2 cups chopped cauliflower
2 cups chopped tomatoes
½  cup beetroot
½  cup potato
½  cup green beans
½  cup carrot
½ cup onion
½ cup green bell pepper
½ inch piece fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon chilli powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
handful of chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons of oil
salt to taste
2 cups water


1.  Chop all the vegetables into evenly sized pieces.

2. To a hot pan add the oil and cumin seeds. Once the seeds start spluttering add the chopped onion and ginger and sauté until the onions are soft and lightly browned.

3. Next, add the powdered coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften. Then add all the remaining chopped vegetables and mix thoroughly.

5. Add two cups of water, cover and simmer for 10-15minutes until the vegetables are soft.

6. Finally, add the chopped coriander leaves and serve with a couple of chappatis.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baingan Bartha (North Indian roasted eggplant)

A spicy roasted eggplant dish that is delicious with chappatis!


2 large eggplants (brinjal)
2 red onions
6 medium sized tomatoes
1-2 green chillis
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece fresh ginger
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½  tablespoon coriander powder
½ tablespoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste
3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
a handful of coriander leaves


Rub the surface of the eggplants with a little oil and place on an open gas burner or in a hot oven.  

Keep turning the eggplants until the skin has charred evenly on all sides and the flesh is soft. Allow to cool, peel off the charred skin and chop the flesh finely.

Chopped flesh of the cooked eggplants

Make a paste using the ginger, garlic and chilli and finely chop the onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves. 

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a hot pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they start spluttering add the chopped onion and sauté until the onion is soft and has turned golden brown. Then add the ginger-garlic past and mix thoroughly, followed by the powdered cumin, coriander, turmeric, chilli. 

Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and mix vigorously. Allow the tomatoes to soften and then add the cooked eggplant.

Let the mixture cook for 5 minutes until all the vegetables are soft, then add the chopped coriander leaves. 

Serve with whole-wheat chappatis for a delicious and nutritious lunch!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rawa Masala Dosa!

A tasty and nutritious variation on the plain dosa!


4 medium sized potatoes
2 red onions
1 green chilli
1 inch piece fresh ginger
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
handful of coriander leaves
a few curry leaves
½ teaspoon asafoetida
¼ teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste
half a lemon

Optional extras :  Lightly toasted Urid dal and/or Cashew nuts


1.  Boil the potatoes until soft, then peel and mash roughly.

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop the onions, chilli and ginger.

3. Add a tablespoon or two of oil into a hot pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to splutter and pop add the chilli, ginger, onions and curry leaves and sauté for a few minutes then add the turmeric and asafoetida.

4.  Once the onions are soft add the mashed potatoes, salt and chopped coriander leaves and mix thoroughly. Add the juice of half a lemon or lime for extra flavour!

To make the dosa prepare the Rawa Dosa Mix.

Spread the dosa mix onto a hot pan in circles  
Turn the heat down a little and cook for a few minutes 
Flip so the other side is in contact with the pan 
Cook lightly on this side and flip back
Add a spoonful of the masala mix on to one side 
Fold the dosa over to seal the masala inside. Add a little ghee and toast the dosa on each side and it's ready to serve!

Serve with sambar, or any chutneys and vegetables of your choice!

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Weird Ritual

In our part of the country in India after a child is born in the family usually a small function called kappu function is held on the 7th or 9th day. [Kappu means small bangles in Tamil.]
In those days in most of the big households, babies would be born at home. After the delivery the mother and child have to remain inside the delivery room for ten days. All cannot enter that room. There will be an elderly woman, usually the mother of the girl or a widowed aunt who lived in the house, attending on the girl and the baby. Deliveries used to take place quite often in joint families as many relatives would live together.

Kappu function was a joyous occasion. Close relatives and people in the neighbourhood would be invited. The baby would be given a bath and a new shirt or a frock would be put on the baby. On these occasions an elderly lady would officiate over the function. She would instruct the mother of the baby as to what she should do. Inside the room the mother of the baby would obey her and she would apply kajal to the eyes of the baby and put a big black dot on the forehead. [This is to ward off evil eyes.] Small golden bangles and silver anklets would be bought for the baby for this occasion. 

Before putting these ornaments on the baby a weird ritual is performed. My aim in writing this article is to write about some of these weird, unpleasant, highly superstitious and blind customs that are prevalent in India.
This ritual is done like this. Just before starting the kappu function, a woman who has no issues is chosen. If there is a married young woman in the family who did not conceive even after a few years of married life she would be chosen for this ritual. It was the belief that she would conceive soon if she performed this ritual.

A small oval shaped grinding stone [In Tamil it is called ammi kuzhavi ] is given to her. She has to hold it like a baby. She is asked to apply oil to the stone and bathe it with soap and warm water. Then a towel is given to her to dry the “baby”. “Dry it well, otherwise it will catch cold”, this is the standard joke on these occasions. Then the girl has to apply powder and kajal to the stone. Then she is told to wrap the “baby” in a new cloth and feed milk to it. Then the function of putting golden bangles called kappu to the actual baby begins. There is lot of singing by ladies and then sweets special to the occasion are distributed to all.

I know of one young woman who was usually asked to do this ritual often and she would weep whenever she was called for this purpose. She remained childless. After a few times she refused to attend these functions.

It is not as if these ladies are without pity. They have affection and sympathy for the girls but they are led by superstitions which they believed blindly. Even when it was found to be have no benefit whatsoever it was done. Even today this custom is prevalent in some households in Tamil 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Samiyar's Solution

A Samiyar [ a wandering monk] had come to the temple! People living around were excited.  They liked him, respected him. He did not talk much. He did not ask for money or any gifts. People thronged around him with their problems. Most of the times he would just look at them and keep silent , sometimes he would utter a word of advice. Every Friday morning  he would sit outside the temple and people would gather there to receive his blessings or advice.
One Friday Velusamy stood patiently in the queue to see the Samiyar. 
When his turn came he went forward and stood humbly before the Samiyar.
The Samiyar looked at him .
Velusamy said,
“Aiyah, Sami [master], Please accept me as your servant. I have been bad.  I want to lead a life of penance.  I want to serve you”
Samiyar looked at him . Velusamy started to cry. Tears flowed freely from his eyes.
“I have been bad, wicked. Sami. Please accept me. I will serve you. I will be your helper. I will wash your clothes, cook your food, serve you in all ways. Please take me!”
Still the Samiyar did not say a word but looked at him.
Velusamy then poured out his story. 
“Sami, You want to know what sins I have committed? I will tell you all.  I left my wife for another woman.”
 Velusamy paused.  Samiyar continued to look at him.
Velusamy  said, “I took away all my wife’s jewellery. I took away everything to please this other woman.  I abandoned my wife and child.”
Velusamy again paused. As the swami did not say anything he continued his narrative.
“That woman was a very wicked  woman,  Sami, a monster in a woman’s body!  For this worthless woman I had left my good loyal wife!  One day she left me for another man taking away all my money and the jewels. I have been wicked!  I want to do penance. I want to serve you and wash away my sins!”
Then the Samiyar opened his mouth.
“Did you ever try to find out what happened to your wife and child?”
“eh.. Sami,  I don’t dare to go. I have been very wicked. How can I face her?”
“Go, see her and come back in a week’s time. ”
But,  Swami, I do not know where she is! I took away everything and left her nothing. I am afraid to think of what became of her.  She might have taken to begging.  I do not even know where she is.”
“Go and search where you left her.”
Velu went to the small town where he had lived with his wife and child in a small rented house.  At first he could not find it. Then he realised  that the small house had been turned into a kind of eating house. It was a small thatched place . It was evening and  business was brisk. People were sitting and eating . 
Poor Chellam! What happened to her?
 Two men were serving the people  and a buxom woman was sitting at the counter receiving cash.
Velu stared and stared. “Was it…? No it can’t be! But… she looks like her but..!” He was thunder struck!
Velu realized it was his own wife  who was sitting at the counter.
“What do you want?” the man serving the customers was asking him.
Velu was ashamed of his worn out clothes and haggard appearance.
He went and sat in a corner table .
“Why did  you  come now?” His wife had come and was was standing before him.  Velu was startled. He stood up.
“Chellam, I am sorry.  I am really very sorry. Please forgive me. I just came to see how you are.”
“So she has left you! I heard about that. Do you know how I suffered? You cannot even imagine the hardships I endured! Now after six years you have come to see how I am . You probably thought we would be begging in the street” Velu gave a start. That was exactly what he had expected.
“No one will employ me as I had a small child. I started to sell idlis under a tree.”
“Chellam, I…”
“Don’t say anything.  From what I see of you, you have nothing. You can remain here if you want to. Hey, Mani give this Aiyah what palahaaram  [food] he wants and give him a bed to sleep. He can sleep in the srore room.” So saying his wife went inside.
The man brought hot idlis and pongal with all the side dishes and placed them before Velu. Velu was very hungry and finished the plate in no time and the server brought coffee. 
When Velu wanted to pay the man said “As you have come for the first time Madam said it was free. You need not pay.” The man took him to the store room, brought a mat, a pillow  and a bed sheet and gave it to Velusamy.
He lay down on the mat. “It is so nice here. I can eat my fill every day. How tasty everything was! I can see Chellam’s hand in all the dishes. Who can make chutney like this?  I can live here  comfortably, no need to work.  Chellam is a bit haughty  now  but ….”  Tired from the journey he fell asleep.
In her room inside of the little house Chellam lay on her bed and thought about the unexpected arrival of her husband.  “It is a good thing, she thought, “It will be better to have a man about the house. Little Priya also needs a father.  I will have someone to supervise things.  I have a feeling the boys are cheating me.  Set a thief to catch a thief! Also his being here would lend an air of dignity to me. Of course I will have to keep a tight rope on him”. She too slept.
Though she was feeling bitter about him, being a practical woman she decided to keep him with her.
Early morning Velusamy awoke suddenly in a sweat. He had a nightmare. He dreamt that he was standing amidst the chairs and tables  and  people, the customers and servants were jeering at him. “Look at the cheater! adulterer! He is a robber  who stole from his own wife!” In his dream he saw  his own wife and  daughter hurliing abuses at him.
Trembling all over Velusamy slowly got up. He rolled the bed neatly and kept it in a corner. Then he came out, kept a hundred rupee note on the counter under a paperweight and left the place quietly.