Recipes Beyond Borders- sometimes Exotic, mostly Healthy, always Delicious

Ingredient: Coriander seeds

Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal – Easy Indian Lentil and Gourd curry

Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal – Easy Indian Lentil and Gourd curry

My first foray into Goan Cuisine, and it turned out so well! I found a large variety of vegetarian recipes to try out, and wanted to use ingredients specific to the Goan and Konkani cuisines. The Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal that I finally came up with, tick marked all the boxes I set for the post: Tasty, nutritious, easy, authentic and it incorporated the two ingredients I had been set for this month’s Goan Theme challenge from the FB group I belong to, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge. More about this group, later on.

First, a little about some of the ingredients I used to make the Goan Bitter Gourd Kokum Dal. The recipe I finally firmed up  after browsing the internet and the few cookbooks I could find, needed kokum as well as terphal, a species related to the Himalayan Sichuan Pepper (which seems to be variously known as teppal, tefla etc). I consulted my daughter Mridula as to what the ‘tefla’ in the recipe was (I thought it was a kind of fish!)  I could have tried sourcing the kokum and terphal in one of the many Mangalorean stores dotted around Bangalore, but then opted to buy them online from amazon as I was not sure I would be able to get the terphal spice elsewhere. The rest of the ingredients were ones I already had at home. Bitter gourd or karela is a favourite on my dining table. If you hesitate to take karela because of the bitterness, then do try it in this dish – the jaggery, the kokum and the spice all go to reduce the bitterness and in fact enhance the taste of the bitter gourd. And you know it is chock full of nutrition and health benefits, right?

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Pathiya Milagu Kuzhambu for the New Mom

Pathiya Milagu Kuzhambu for the New Mom

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.

Milagu Kuzhambu_PepperOnPiizza.com
Milagu Kuzhambu

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.

Paste for Milagu Kuzhambu
Paste for Milagu Kuzhambu

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

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Puliyodharai – Spiced Tamarind Rice made from Pulikachal

Puliyodharai – Spiced Tamarind Rice made from Pulikachal

This post is dedicated to H.U.G – Humane Universal Good Deed Network, who had undertaken to generate and distribute 200,000 meals for the needy and the underprivileged at Bangalore, during the Daan Utsav between 2nd and 8th October 2016. A menu had been fixed, with simple rice items which could be easily cooked even in large quantities in the micro kitchens being established, and by volunteers who were  to help in this endeavour. Follow H.U.G and the hashtag #HUGFeedWithLove, on Facebook to know more about the event. One of the items on the menu is a Puliyodharai or Tamarind Rice, and here is my recipe for preparation of the same.

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Homemade Rasam Powder

Homemade Rasam Powder

I’ve tried many varieties of store bought branded Rasam powders, and have finally realised that the best Rasam is from my Mom’s traditional Tamilian Iyer recipe for a Homemade Rasam Powder. I now make this about once a year, safely storing the bulk of the spice in an airtight container so that the aroma and flavour are intact. I keep a small quantity (about half a cup) in a tightly closed small jar in my regular spice shelf for ready use, since I make rasam once every week or two.

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Bharwan Parwal or Stuffed Parwal – Tasty Pointed Gourd Curry

Bharwan Parwal or Stuffed Parwal – Tasty Pointed Gourd Curry

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My Mom makes Stuffed Parwal with roasted and ground dhania and chilli, and it tastes amazing. I experimented with a more robust stuffing of onion, tomato, peanuts, sabut (whole) dhania, methi, jeera and kalonji seeds fried and ground to a paste. I can’t decide which is better, the fragrant aroma when the Stuffed Parwal is cooking in sesame oil, or the delicious taste!

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