Continuing the series of recipes that I started earlier this year when cooking tasty and nutritious food for my daughter after child birth, this is an easy and tasty Dal or lentil stew. As I have said in the post on Cooking for the New Mom on this blog, Tur dal (Towaram paruppu in Tamil) or pigeon pea lentils are to be avoided during the post partum period as they can be difficult to digest as well as can be gassy for the baby. This nourishing Masoor Dal for the New Mom, on the other hand is one of the best foods you can give the nursing mother. Masoor dal is easy to digest and is said to stimulate/ improve lactation, and is rich in iron and protein. …
Recipes for the New Mom, Pathiya Samayal
One more recipe in my series on Cooking for the New Mom. This one is a simple Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal or chutney, with ingredients suitable for a healthy balanced diet (pathiya samayal) during the 40 days immediately after delivery. In a traditional Tamil style Peerkangai Thogayal or Turai/ Ridge Gourd Peel chutney, red chillies and tuvar dhal would be added. However as both these are not advisable for a new mother, peppercorns and moong dhal (passi paruppu) are substituted. When properly made, the Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal is both tasty and nutritious.
Do check my post for Menu Ideas and for what goes into a Balanced Meal for the first 40 days after child birth, as well as Recipes for this diet in Cooking for the New Mom or Pathiya Samayal, my way. Cooking without adding onions, chillies, coconut etc and from only a small selection of vegetables considered healthy for this diet, is not easy, so I have tried to capture my experience in cooking for my daughters, in that post.
Check here for the recipe for a Peerkangai Thogayal or Thurai Chutney for a normal diet.
In this recipe for Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal, I have included a plant that is not commonly known in modern cooking though it was a traditional staple in many parts of India and has been known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. This is the Bone setter Plant or Pirandai (Tamil), also called the Adamant creeper or Devil’s Back Bone in English, and as Hadjot in Hindi, Mangaravalli in Kannada. From what I can see online, the Bone setter plant is nor generally seen in urban markets, but is found in vegetable shops as well as in kitchen gardens in rural Tamilnadu as well as in some places in Chennai and other cities. It should be available in other parts of the country too, as the plant is very sturdy and tenuous, does not require much maintenance.
I had known about the plant and its properties, specially its use since ancient times for healing fractures and injuries of the bone, much earlier and had forgotten all about it, until my cousin Srimathi (Seetha Anandam Vaidyam) gave me a cutting to plant at home at Hyderabad, saying it would be good to add to my daughter’s diet after her delivery. The simplest use of the plant is to snap off a piece of the tender stem and add it to the Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal that I am describing in this post. Do you see this cactusy looking plant to the right in the pic below? Thats the pirandai, curtsey Seetha, merrily growing in Mridula’s balcony at Hyderabad.
The Pirandai plant has numerous health benefits, however it is a medicinal plant and hence its consumption should be in moderation and should and with due information as to the effects of adding this plant to the diet.
The recipe below also explains how the stem is to be prepared for the thogayal. It is well worth the extra efforts to add the bone setter or pirandai stem to the recipe, because of its great medicinal benefits. I came across some a lot of information on this plant that you could check if interested, on the website called Wild Turmeric
Kitchen Hints for preparing Pirandai in Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal:
- Select only the new tender growth of stem. The stem grows at nodes, and the first two such digits are the most tender. The rest of the stem is more mature and can cause itchiness during handling. Sesame oil applied to the hands before plucking and while preparing it for the Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal, would help avoid any itching. I have not personally faced this problem but as several articles online mention this, it is best to take this precaution.
- If using some of the older and tougher parts of the stem, wash the stems and peel away the sharp edges from top down.
- Add curry leaves and turmeric to the stem slices while sautéing, as in the recipe below, to get the best out of the stem and to avoid any possible itching.
As the Perandai plant is not readily accessible in most places, the addition of the stem to this recipe is optional. The proportions of the remaining ingredients need not change if you are omitting the bonesetter from the recipe. As I could not lay hands on it in Bangalore, I have made the version in the pictures below, without the perandai stem.
Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal for the New Mom
To make Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal
- 1 cup Ridge gourd peel
- 1/4 cup Pirandai or Bone setter stem slices Select only the new young stem and not mature tough ones
- 1/4 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds methi / menthiyam
- 1 pinch Sesame seeds white til/ ellu seeds
- 1 teaspoon Black Peppercorn about 10 peppercorns
- 1/4 cup curry leaves
- 1/4 cup peanuts Raw
- 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida hing/ perungaiyam
- 1/4 cup moong dhal Pasi Paruppu
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- To taste salt
- 1 tablespoon Sesame oil / gingelly oil
To Temper the Pathiya Peerkangai Thogayal
- 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon Sesame oil / gingelly oil
- Wash the Peerkangai/ Turai/ Ridge gourd scrubbing itwell. Remove the peel- this is the main ingredient for the thogayal. Reserve the marrow/ flesh of the ridge gourd for other recipes. I do not add the marrow to the thogayal as it makes it too watery, as well as does not give the taste that the peel alone does. Slice the Peel roughly into about 1" pieces to make them convenient to handle.
- To prepare the Pirandai/ bone setter stem: apply sesame oil on your hands when you pluck the stem or otherwise handle the stem. Select young tender digits of stem from the first 2 nodes of the plant. Older stems are tough, fibrous and can cause itching/ irritation when handled or even when consumed. Slice the Bone setter stem (both peel and marrow) lengthwise and split each half into 1/2" pieces.
- Keep all the ingredients ready as in the above list.
- Heat oil in a pan, reduce the heat and add methi seeds (menthiyam) and til seeds (ellu) one after the other, sautéing for upto 5 seconds till they crackle. Add the pepper and hing, sauté. Add the peanuts, sauté for 30 seconds while the peanuts crack and burst.
- Add the moong dhal, sauté for 30 seconds, stir to ensure the dhal doesn't char or blacken. Using a slotted spatula, remove all the roasted ingredients to a dry bowl, gently pressing them to the side of the frying pan as you remove them, so that as much oil as possible is drained and retained in the pan.
- To the remaining oil (add 2 teaspoons of oil if it is not sufficient), add the sliced peel and the bone setter stem pieces. Add the curry leaves and the turmeric powder. if fresh, the curry leaves will crackle. Stir well, turning the peel over so that it is coated with the oil. Saute for 3 - 5 minutes on low flame till the bone setter turns pale in colour, and remove the pan from the stove.
- Once the roasted vegetables, lentils, peanuts and spices have cooled, grind them into a paste in the food processor, adding as little water as possible, 1- 2 teaspoons at a time. Grind till you get a chutney or pesto like consistency - a little coarse but with all the ingredients ground in.
- Add salt sparingly and run the processor again. Taste and add more salt if required. Transfer the peerkangai thogayal to a serving bowl
- Temper with mustard seeds and curry leaves in sesame oil, pour the tempering onto the thogayal.
- Serve as a side dish with rice, rasam and poriyal or by itself, mixed with hot rice and ghee.
This is an easy sautéed Brinjal Curry with Capsicum, quick to make, and for me, comfort food. Take it with roti or rice and dal or rasam, or morekuzhambu, or like I do, sandwich it between two slices of bread and a tasty cheese and grill it.
I make this Brinjal Curry with Capsicum about once a week, when I get the long purple Nasu’ Japanese brinjal supplied by First Agro Farms at Bangalore. They slice so beautifully and cook very fast. Knowing that I have sourced Safe food which is zero pesticide and non GMO gives that ‘feel good’ satisfaction!
Some interesting tidbits about the Brinjal (wikipedia promptly redirects it to Eggplant) from Wikipedia:
Eggplant is the common name in North America and Australia, but British English uses the French word aubergine. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal, melongene (Caribbean), and formerly melongena and mad-apple. In 13th century Italian traditional folklore, it was said that the eggplant can cause insanity.In 19th century Egypt, it was said that insanity was “more common and more violent” when the eggplant is in season in the summer. Its relationship with the nightshades let the earlier beliefs that it was poisonous. Wikipedia goes on to say that the flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine.
The Etymology of the Brinjal is interesting. According to Wikipedia, the word “eggplant” was first recorded in 1767, and was originally applied to white varieties; some 18th-century European cultivars were small, round, yellow or white, resembling goose or hen’s eggs. The other names, even mad-apple, all ultimately derive from a Dravidian word with reflexes in modern Malayalam vaṟutina and Tamil vaṟutuṇai, transmitted through Sanskrit vātigama, Prakrit vāiṃaṇa, Persian bādingān, and Arabic bāḏinjān. The Anglo-Indian name “brinjal” or brinjaul comes from the Portuguese bringella, bringiela, or beringela, whereas the name baingan or baigan, also sometimes used in English in South Asia as well as in Trinidad, appears to be re-borrowed from the Sanskrit or Persian name.”…” In the western Mediterranean, the Arabic (al)-bāḏinjān was borrowed as Spanish alberengena and berenjena, Catalan albergínia, and Portuguese beringela, whence the modern French aubergine (and the earlier albergine, albergaine, albergame, belingèle), the source of the British English aubergine. In the eastern Mediterranean, bāḏinjān was borrowed into Byzantine Greek as melanzana, influenced by Greek μελανο- ‘black’. This came into Italian as melongiana and melanzana, and into Medieval Latin as melongena. The Latin name was later used by Tournefort as a genus name, then by Linnaeus as a species name. These forms came into English, though melongene has become obsolete, as have the French merangène, melongène/melanjan. In Italian, melanzana was interpreted as mela insana ‘crazy apple’, then translated into English as mad apple.”
Wikipedia continues,”The fruit is widely used in cooking. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated from the wild nightshade species, the thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum” …”Botanically classified as a berry, the fruit contains numerous small, soft seeds that, though edible, taste bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids like the related tobacco.”
Related to the tomato – I can understand, but related to the potato and the tobacco plant? That’s surprising! Some further reading showed me that the brinjal actually contains nicotine, however in negligible quantities of 0.01mg/100g.
The culinary uses of the brinjal are varied depending on the region, though it is an ingredient in many cuisines: Stewed as in the French ratatouille, deep fried in parmigiana di melanzane in Italy, or in mousaka in Greece, the Middle East and South Asia and karmyarik in Turkey. A delicious dish when dipped in batter and deep fried and served with a tahini and tamarind sauce. Wikipedia says that in Iranian cuisine, it is blended with whey as kashk e bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghassemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yogurt (optionally topped with a tomato and garlic sauce), such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması (meaning fried aubergines), or without yogurt, as in patlıcan şakşuka. Perhaps the best-known Turkish eggplant dishes are imam bayıldı (vegetarian) and karnıyarık (with minced meat). Roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Arab baba ghanoush and the similar Greek melitzanosalata. A mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices is called zacuscă in Romania , and ajvar or pinjur in the Balkans.
A Spanish dish called escalivada in Catalonia calls for strips of roasted aubergine, sweet pepper, onion and tomato. In Andalusia, eggplant is mostly cooked thinly sliced, deep fried in olive oil and served hot with honey (“Berenjenas a la Cordobesa”). In the La Mancha region of central Spain (Don Quixote land!) a small eggplant is pickled in vinegar, paprika, olive oil and red peppers. The result is berenjena de Almagro, Ciudad Real. A Levantine specialty is Makdous, another pickling of eggplants, stuffed with red peppers and walnuts in olive oil. Eggplant can be hollowed out and stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings, and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example, it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make nigvziani badrijani.
The brinjal is used in Indian cuisine in a variety of ways – cooked in sambar, a tamarind lentil stew in the South; in dalma in Odisha, in chutney or pickles. It is truly delicious when roasted, skinned mashed and cooked with onion and tomatoes into baigan bharta or a gojju, similar to the salata de vinete in Romania and begun pora in Bangladesh, Odisha and West Bengal in India, where the pulp of the vegetable is mixed with raw chopped shallot, green chilies, salt, fresh coriander and mustard oil. Sometimes fried tomatoes and deep-fried potatoes are also added, creating a dish called begun bhorta. In a dish called bharli vangi, brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala (spices), and then cooked in oil. Or stuffed with spices and deep fried. Or just, made into a delicious Brinjal Curry with Capsicum as in the recipe below.
Kitchen Tips in Using the Eggplant:
When you slice the brinjal or eggplant and leave it untended for a shortwhile, the flesh begins to brown. This is caused by the oxidation of polyphenols, such as the phenolic compound in the brinjal, viz, chlorogenic acid. When slicing brinjal for Brinjal Curry with Capsicum, I sprinkle salt and turmeric powder immediately on the slices. The salt draws out some of the bitterness inherent in the eggplant while the turmeric not only marinates the slices but prevents them from turning black. I also also use a stainless steel knife to slice the eggplant, as I have read that stainless steel does not react with the phytochemicals in the fruit which may otherwise turn black.
I use Olive oil for making Brinjal Curry with Capsicum and sometimes Sunflower oil, rather than any oil with a strong personality which may overpower the taste of the brinjal.
Nutrition and Health:
The brinjal or baingan is often thought of as ‘bae -gun’ or without any good aspects, ie nutritional benefits. This is a misconception, as a quick search online can show.
The taste of the brinjal curry and the nutrition, is enhanced by adding slices of tomato and capsicum or different coloured peppers. Fresh green peas taste good in the brinjal curry with capsicum too. The trick to tasty fried brinjal curry is to really sauté it well, stirring frequently, on a low flame.
It is low in calories and fats and carbohydrates and has good soluble fibre content. It does not have much of dietary fibre though. It has been used to control cholesterol. It has been used along with other vegetables to control diabetes and hypertension.
The Brinjal or eggplant has Vitamin C and some levels of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins – which are obtained only from external sources and used by the body cells for the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates – such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3). The brinjal also contains minerals such as manganese (moderate levels), copper, iron and potassium (low levels).
Cancer and other disease fighting properties:
The colour of purple skin varieties is due to the anthocyanin nasunin, and anti-oxidants that have potential health effects against cancer, ageing, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
On then to my simple and delicious Brinjal Curry with Capsicum, tomato and fresh peas!
Continuing the series of Pathiya Samayal Recipes or Recipes for the New Mom, Vegetable Koottu – easy to make, nutritious and very tasty – at least thats what Mridula says, and she should know – I’ve been making a vegetable koottu as part of lunch, several times a week during the Post Partum diet. The traditional koottu generally has coconut paste added to it, however for the Pathiya Samayal or food for the New mother, I don’t add coconut. And of course no chillies – in a regular koottu, fresh chilli would be ground along with the coconut, and a red chilli or two added to the tempering or tadka. Pepper is a good substitute for chilli in cooking for the new Mom.
Check my post for Menu Ideas and for what goes into a Balanced Meal for the first 40 days after child birth: Cooking for the New Mom Cooking without adding onions, chillies, coconut etc and from only a small selection of vegetables considered healthy for this diet, is not easy, so I have tried to capture my experience in cooking for my daughters, in that post.
The vegetable koottu is a South Indian dish, though I don’t know why it is not a Pan Indian one. Perhaps it is because it does not have garam masala and chilli powder s as an ingredient. Or perhaps it is a South Indian derivative of the ubiquitous Dal with vegetables added to the dal. Wikipedia says “Kootu (Tamil:கூட்டு) is a Tamil word means “add” i.e. vegetable added with lentils which form the dish, made of vegetable and lentils and are semi-solid in consistency, i.e., less aqueous than sambhar, but more so than dry curries.
The caregiver for the new mother is usually rushed for time in the mornings. As for me, I would go to bed only after planning the lunch menu for the next day. The maalish lady would come at 10 and the baby would demand my attention during the time her mother had the maalish and bath. It was ‘Me time’ for me and my granddaughter for an hour and a half, and I revelled in it. Lunch had to be ready therefore before 10 – a rasam, dal or kuzhambu, a vegetable koottu or a thogayal (vegetable chutney), a sautéed curry or poriyal.
I would wash rice and keep the cooker ready so that I could set the rice to cook 10 minutes before Mridula came for lunch. I like to serve food hot, so I would heat the rasam or kuzhambu just before serving, and fry the manathangali (manathakkali) or black nightshade berries in ghee. Here is a link to an interesting article I came across, on the health benefits of this ‘wonder berry’.
The vegetable koottu is an integral part of this menu as it is nutritious, adds the protein and vitamin component to the lunch, and tastes so good with either rasam or a kuzhambu/ sambar. The list of ingredients may seem long, but each little condiment or spice adds to the health of the new mother and helps give her a balanced meal or pathiya samayal. The Koottu may be served with chappaties instead of rice.
Vegetable Koottu – Selecting the Ingredients
When making Vegetable koottu, choose vegetables that are soft and quick to cook – snake gourd (podalankai), saag (arai keerai), pumpkin (either red or white) etc. Mridula’s favourite is the drumstick (murungakkai) koottu.
The best dal/ lentils for the new mom, during the 42 days after child birth is the moong dal or pasi paruppu as it is easy to digest and does not cause gas the way thowar or arahar dal would, and adds the protein component to the diet. In fact I observed that even after 42 days when the baby would be better used to mother’s milk, a small quantity of thowar dal in the rasam or sambar would often cause gas for the baby. Red/ Pink masoor dal (Mysore paruppu) may be substituted for the moong dal occasionally, to vary the taste, after the first 2 weeks after child birth.
The process is similar for making the vegetable koottu, irrespective of the vegetable used. Boil the lentils and the sliced vegetables with a little salt, asafoetida (hing) and turmeric, add freshly ground peppercorns, mash lightly and temper / tadka with ghee, mustard, fenugreek, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
Links to Other recipes in this series of Cooking for the New Mom:
Pathiya Milagu Kuzhambu (Pepper Sambar) https://www.pepperonpizza.com/pathiya-milagu-kuzhambu-new-mom-recipe
Khichidi for the New Mom: https://www.pepperonpizza.com/easy-khichidi-for-the-new-mom
Easy Vegetable Koottu for the New Mom
For the Vegetable Koottu
- 1 cup sliced vegetables Diced small for fast cooking
- 1 tablespoon moong dhal pasi paruppu, skinless split green gram lentils
- 1 cup water
- A few curry leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- a pinch asafoetida powder hing, perungayam
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- a pinch salt and to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon ghee
- 1/4 teaspoon Mustard seeds rai, kadugu
- a few Fenugreek seeds methi, menthiyam
- a pinch split black lentils urad dal, ullutham paruppu
- 1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds jeera
- a few curry leaves
To Make Vegetable Koottu for the New Mom
- Preparation: Wash the selected vegetable, dice evenly into small (about a cm square) slices. The more uniform the slices, the better they will cook. Slice the drumsticks, if using into equal length - about 4-5 cms long. The Peel needs to be removed from pumpkin, if using, while the other vegetables such as gourds or drumsticks do not need to be peeled. Wash the moong dal, check for any stones or grit and remove them.
- Place a small cooking utensil on the stove, add a cup of water and begin heating it. Add the dal, sliced vegetables, turmeric, hing (asafoetida) and a pinch of salt. Shred a few curry leaves (one or two) and add.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the flame and cook the vegetables and dal on a low flame. Stir frequently as they may catch at the bottom of the vessel and burn or char.
- After about 10- 12 minutes, the dal and vegetables would have cooked, the vegetables generally cooking faster than the dal. Drumsticks may take a little longer than the dal. If the water is used up before the dal and veggies are cooked, top up with a little water, about a tablespoon at a time. Using a whisk or a buttermilk churner (mathu), mash the dhal so that it blends with the cooked vegetables.
- Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Stir and remove from the stove so that the koottu does not continue to cook on the heat of the stove even when turned off.
To Temper the Vegetable Kootu
- Heat ghee, turn the stove to low flame, add mustard seeds and let them burst. Add fenugreek seeds, sauté for 3-4 seconds till they burst, add urad dal (split black lentils), sauté for 3-4 seconds till they just begin to change colour. Add cumin seeds, sauté and add curry leaves.
- Pour the tempering on the vegetable koottu. Warm the koottu before serving along with chappaties or rice to the new mother.
Cooking for my daughter after the birth of my little granddaughter, has taxed my culinary ingenuity to the core. The cooking is not the problem, each dish I make is easy and takes very little time, as I use vegetables and lentils which cook fast. The condiments I can use are limited too so the recipes are straightforward. The challenge is to make nutritious food that will perk up the appetite, and at the same time not contain chillies or anything hot, spices, coconut, onion or any vegetables that can form gas affecting the mother and the baby, and anything difficult to digest. And of course vary the tastes and flavours so that it is not repetitive. Add to this the fact that my daughter does not like milk or curd, and you will see why this milagu kuzhambu is such a life saver.
The milagu kuzhambu that I have described here, is from the traditional recipes for making the kuzhambu, tweaked to suit the pathiya samayal or balanced diet given to new mothers after delivery. milagu kuzhambu or pepper sambar (if I can call it sambar when there are no lentils, tamarind extract or sambar powder) is basically a paste of sautéed pepper and curry leaves as well as fenugreek seeds, cooked in water and tempered with mustard seeds in ghee (clarified butter). Taken with rice, it is high on flavour and taste.
Every ingredient in this milagu kuzhambu contributes to the new mothers well being. Pepper, turmeric, curry leaves, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and ghee – the whole forming a nutrition power house just right at this stage. The milagu kuzhambu I made two days after the delivery did not have tamarind, but after that I added a small piece of tamarind while grinding the paste for the milagu kuzhambu.
The flavour of the pepper comes through strongly in the milagu Kuzhambu, though the potency and freshness of the pepper used would determine the strength of the flavour.
I enjoy making recipes like this one which follow traditional practices that contribute to the health and well being of the new mother, and at the same time are both easy to make, quick to prepare, and oh so delicious!
As the milagu kuzhambu is for the new mother, the ingredients do not include red chillies, tamarind extract, chilli powder or towar dhal (pigeon pea lentils). Garlic may be added to the paste if desired. Or as this is given frequently during the 40 days after delivery, you could vary the recipe by adding garlic or not. Initially I sautéed the ingredients for the paste with ghee, and then after a few days switched over to sesame (gingelly oil) and continued to temper the mustard seeds in ghee.
Sesame oil suits these traditional Tamil recipes the best. However if you don’t have or don’t use sesame oil, use sunflower oil instead.
Check my post on ‘Cooking for the New Mom’ for Diet Plan/Menu for the period immediately after Delivery, and for recipes to various items in the menus. Post partum food can be very tasty and need not be bland!
Link to the Post: https://www.pepperonpizza.com/cooking-new-mom
Pathiya Milagu Kuzhambu for the New Mom
To make pepper paste
- 1 tsp Sesame oil or gingelly oil For the first 3 days after delivery, use ghee
- 1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds methi seeds / vendiyam
- 2 tsp channa dhal
- 2 tsp uradh dhal
- 2 tsp black pepper whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp Coriander seeds
- 1/8 tsp asafoetida powder hing (or two pinches)
- 1/2 tsp tamarind (seedless) can be increased to small marble sized ball after 10 days from delivery
- 1 tablespoon minced curry leaves
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 tablespoon ghee
- 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
- a pinch Fenugreek seeds
- 2 curry leaves minced
To make Milagu kuzhambu
- 1 tablespoon pepper paste
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
To make the Pepper paste
- Heat the sesame oil (or ghee) in a small frying pan. Add the fenugreek seeds so they sputter.
- Add the channa dhal and uradh dhal, sauté for 10 seconds
- Add black pepper and then coriander seeds, sauté for 10 seconds
- Add hing powder and then the tamarind
- Add the curry leaves, sauté for 5 seconds. If the curry leaves are fresh, they will sputter.
- Take the pan off the stove, transfer the contents to a bowl or to the mixie/food processor bowl immediately so that they do not continue to cook. Add a pinch of salt and allow to cool.
- When cool, grind in the mixie with a little water added gradually (max 1 tablespoon). The paste should be like a chutney and without much water, just enough for it to grind.
- Transfer the pepper paste to a bowl and keep aside.
To make the Milagu Kuzhambu
- Heat a pan or kadai and add the ghee ( see ingredients list for 'To Temper'
- When the ghee has melted, add mustard seeds and let them sputter
- Add fenugreek seeds, let them burst. Add the curry leaves. If the curry leaves are fresh, they will sputter.
- Add one tablespoon of the ground pepper paste. Stir with a ladle so the paste mixes with the ghee and condiments. Sauté for 10 seconds
- Add turmeric powder, sauté for 5 seconds or till the raw smell of the turmeric dissipates.
- Add water and mix the paste well so that there are no lumps. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the stove heat and simmer the kuzhambu for 5 minutes.
- Stir the kuzhambu and let it boil till the kuzhambu is thick and reduced to about half its volume -not as thick as a chutney or paste, but a little fluid.
- Add salt, stir well. You could add the salt after you add water, but you need to keep in mind that the volume of kuzhambu will be reduced as above.
- Take the pan off the stove, and transfer the milagu kuzhambu to a serving bowl.
- Serve hot with rice and ghee, along with a combination of items from the menus I have listed in the post 'Cooking for the New Mom'.
The challenge in cooking for the New Mom (specially the Indian Mom with a taste for spices and chillies) is making food that is not only appropriately healthy and nutritious, helps in lactation and /or in healing the exhausted body, but is delicious and tempts the appetite too.
Its surprising however how much flavour a little ghee and fresh ground pepper can add to even unlikely vegetables such as the various gourds, never a favourite in my family in the best of times.
The first 40 days following delivery being critical to the wellbeing of the new mom, the food has to be appetising and well balanced to give the overall health benefits and to lead the body back to good health.
This is the first of the set of easy recipes I am writing from the food I actually make for my daughter now that she has delivered her second baby, a few days ago. I will be making Khichidi for the New mom, most days for dinner, using of course different vegetables and some changes in flavours to keep it interesting at each meal.
My post on cooking for the new mom, elsewhere on this blog, gives an outline of the diet and a broad list of what foods are good or not to be served post delivery. These are of course, from my experience and based on traditions that I have learnt from my Tamil Brahmin background, interspersed with North Indian food and with Western food to suit the tastes of my daughters. The recipes are largely Indian, but you will shortly find recipes for hummus of chickpeas, and home made pita bread on the menu for one of these 40 days post delivery.
This recipe of Khichidi for the New mom is however very Indian and traditional. It is nutritious and if made without adding chillies or spices, is just right for her. The addition of garlic, mustard and cumin seeds, pepper and plenty of ghee (clarified butter) to well cooked rice and easily digestible moong dhal lentils makes for a balanced meal or pathiya samayal as it is called in Tamil.
As I have been making khichidi for my daughter almost every evening for dinner, I have been adding different suitable vegetables each evening. Carrots (peeled and diced small), methi (fenugreek leaves)- washed, drained and minced, spinach leaves, or a plain gourd such as snake gourd or chow chow (marrow gourd) would be best. I have added a little tomato occasionally, after the 4th day from delivery.
The important thing in this recipe is to add plenty of water so that the khichidi is quite fluid, be liberal with the ghee and flavour with powdered pepper and cumin. Serve with roasted or microwaved pappad.
Khichidi -Rice and Lentils cooked for the New Mom
For the Khichidi
- 3/4 cup raw rice
- 2 tbsps tbsps moong dhal green gram lentils
- 1/2 tsp rai mustard seeds
- 1 stalk curry leaves
- 1 cm Ginger piece
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp tomato diced See introduction above
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp jeera cumin seeds
- 2 tsps peppercorns fresh ground
- salt to taste
- 4 cups water
For the Garnish:
- 1 tbsp ghee
- a few a few Cashew nuts
- coriander leaves
- Clean and wash the rice and dhal. Soak together in water just enough to cover them, and set aside till required. Drain before use.
- Mince ginger, garlic and curry leaves and the coriander leaves (to be used for the garnish) and set aside. Dice the tomatoes.
- Wash and peel (if required) and dice the vegetable of the day, into small pieces. Carrots, methi (fenugreek leaves), spinach leaves, or a plain gourd such as snake gourd or chow chow (marrow gourd) would be best.
- Powder the peppercorns and cumin seeds together ( I pound them in a small iron mortar)
- Heat a pan or the pressure cooker, and add the ghee (I sauté everything right in the cooker itself and then add the rice and dhal).
- Add rai (mustard seeds) and let them sputter. Add the curry leaves (they will crackle and sputter, if fresh) and then the ginger and the garlic. Sauté for 5 seconds.
- Meanwhile, drain the rice and dhal mixture.
- Add the tomato and then the turmeric. Stir and sauté for 10 seconds.
- Add the sliced vegetables. Stir. Add the powdered pepper and cumin. Stir.
- If sautéing in a pan, set the pressure cooker on the stove, warm it and transfer the sautéed items into it.
- Add the drained rice and dhal, stir the mixture. Add salt and crushed peppercorns.
- Pour 4 to 5 times the volume of water as the total volume of rice and dhal. This is your secret ingredient!
- Close the cooker and let it cook for 4 whistles.
- Don't open the cooker till its ready to be opened, as the cooking process will continue.
- Meanwhile, break the cashew into pieces, and fry in ghee for a few seconds till the colour begins to darken. Drain and remove quickly from the pan before the cashew begins to burn and set aside.
- Keep the ghee you used for frying the cashew, ready for use.
- Once the cooker is opened, stir the khichidi briskly, transfer to a serving dish and pour the hot ghee over it. Add the fried cashew and garnish with the minced coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with roasted or microwaved pappad.
This series on Cooking for the New Mom focusses on ‘postpartum’ food, pathiya samayal in Tamil, or food for new moms after childbirth.
This post describes the broad diet plan and the Menu for cooking for the new mom, each day after delivery, with links to some recipes. The recipes follow traditional Indian practices for food after delivery, generally on the Ayurvedic principles. Whether you are North Indian or South Indian or living outside India, you will find the recipes easy to follow and prepare. Don’t be surprised to find homemade pastas and pizzas in the menu, they help in varying the diet without doing any harm.