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
- ½ tsp Fenugreek seeds - methi seeds / vendiyam
- 2 tsp channa dhal
- 2 tsp uradh dhal
- 2 tsp black pepper - whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp Coriander seeds
- ⅛ tsp asafoetida powder - hing (or two pinches)
- ½ tsp tamarind (seedless) - can be increased to small marble sized ball after 10 days from delivery
- 1 tablespoon minced curry leaves
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ tablespoon ghee
- ¼ tsp Mustard seeds
- a pinch Fenugreek seeds
- 2 curry leaves - minced
To make Milagu kuzhambu
- 1 tablespoon pepper paste
- 2 cups water
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ 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'.