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

Tag: post partum

Nourishing Masoor Dal for the New Mom – with Beans

Nourishing Masoor Dal for the New Mom – with Beans

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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.  (more…)

Easy Vegetable Koottu -Veggies & Lentil Stew for the New Mom

Easy Vegetable Koottu -Veggies & Lentil Stew for the New Mom

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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.

Cooking for the New
Cooking for the New Mom

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.

Snake Gourd Koottu
Snake Gourd 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)

Khichidi for the New Mom:


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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

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:

Easy Nutritious Khichidi for the New Mom

Easy Nutritious Khichidi for the New Mom

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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.

Cooking for the New Mom – Pathiya Samayal My Way!

Cooking for the New Mom – Pathiya Samayal My Way!

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This series on Cooking for the New Mom focusses on ‘postpartum’ food 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.

More recipes are in the process of being added to the blog. I started this post when my daughter Mridula’s  second baby  arrived in Jan this year. Once she was back home from the hospital, everything at home was keyed to nurturing the New Mom and the Baby.
Natasha, now the Big Sister (and all of 3 3/4 years old) was as usual involved in everything that was happening. Given a chance, she would look after Baby all by herself, but for the time being was allowing her Mom to do so.
Nanni’s role was now to ensure the right diet and that tasty nutritious food, just right for the New Mom was on the table at the right time and at the right temperature. Luckily I love cooking and this was for me a golden opportunity to set out recipes for what is almost a new cuisine. The first 40 days are important to set the new mom on the path to health, and I  began planning each day’s menu very carefully.

This is the 3rd time I was taking care of one of my daughters, post delivery – the first was nearly 5 years ago when I went to Connecticut for Lakshmi’s delivery. Baby Tamma decided to come very early and Nanni was still in India when the call came that the grandchild had arrived, safely. I flew out the next day, grabbing whatever Indian condiments and mixes I could manage to organize in so short a time.
Having experienced the benefits of a strict South Indian post delivery diet myself, I was keen to ensure that I would do the same for my daughters. Of course with changing times and tastes, the diet has also to be adjusted, though I have broadly stayed within the traditional framework for such food.
The challenge in cooking for the new Mom, at Connecticut, was getting the vegetables that form part of the South Indian diet for a new Mom. The local’India’ store came to my rescue, until I realised that all I need is a diet type and not precisely the same vegetables that we use in India.
A year later when Natasha was born, I was in Mumbai to take care of Mridula. Slightly more seasoned now, I was able to turn out tasty food suitable for the Indian post delivery diet. Of course I added my own learnings with Western oriented recipes, to vary the diet so that it was not boring, and fresh flavours hit the palate and made the food interesting.
This time I was at Hyderabad where it was easy to source the vegetables I need. There was a store right next door and I walked across every day at mid morning to pick up the veggies and fruits for the next day. Online shopping is also easy and deliveries are quick. Cooking for the New Mom has been easier this time.

The link below is to a vendor to whom is affiliated. If you click and purchase through the link, I will earn a small commission. I only promote brands and products that I trust and use.

The food I have planned has variety, and each is by itself easy to make. I will prepare and grind some spice mixes which I can use readily, instead of having to fry and grind them for each recipe.

New Mom

Why do you need a special diet for a New Mom?
Some Basics and What Foods should not be taken after childbirth for the first 40 days
1. While cooking for the New mom, it is important to keep in mind that just as the mother and child should be kept protected from chill breezes, cold water etc, it is important to give food that warms the body rather than cools it down.
2. Food for the New Mom should be soothing to the tissues – no chilli (whether fresh chilli, dry chilli or chilli powder) or spices such as clove, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, etc. And no ‘garam masala’ or curry powder.
3. Anything acidic is not good for the body at this stage – so no citrus fruits (lemon, orange etc), nothing sour or acidic like tamarind, sour curds or anything fermented. (idli dough seems an exception to this rule, I am not sure why, as the dough is fermented before use).

Tomato is generally avoided as it is acidic, though I started adding a little tamarind or red ripe tomato once in a while, after the 4th day from delivery. It didn’t do any harm, and after 10 days I began to add tomato to dal, rasam, khichidi etc so that Mridula could get some of the benefits of the ripe red tomatoes.
4. Protecting the Baby from Colic or other tummy disorders is very important, so in turn the food for the breastfeeding mother should be easily digestible. Rajma, thowar dhal (pigeon lentils) are therefore out. Chickpeas only when cooked and pureed into hummus or other similar consistency.
5. Salads and anything uncooked are not right when cooking for the New Mom. Starchy vegetables such as potato, or cruciferous vegetables that can cause gas (which can easily give the Baby gas too), such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli are to not to be included in the diet. Parsley is not advised.

At the end of a month (30 days after birth), I introduced potatoes, sparingly. I made the usual vegetable kootu, adding boiled potatoes to the dhal instead of the green vegetables I generally used.

Cauliflower, finely chopped, was added to koottu or sautéed and served with chappaties in the 3rd week. It did not seem to go well with the baby, so we gave it up for a while. 

Cooking for the New Mom: Recipes posted on the Blog till date- click the link on the names below:

  1. Pathiya Milagu Kuzhambu – Traditional Tamil Pepper Gravy:  
Milagu Kuzhambu recipe
Milagu Kuzhambu recipe











2. Nutritious Khichidi for the New Mom

Khichidi for the new mom
Khichidi for the new mom

  3. Savoury Semiya Uppuma

Semiya Uppuma for the new mom
Semiya Uppuma

4. Easy Vegetable Kootu

Snake Gourd Koottu
Snake Gourd Koottu

5. Pathiya Peerkangai Thogaiyal with Pirandai Bone setter

Pathiya Peerkangai
Pathiya Peerkangai Thogaiyal

6. Western foods that I found safe to give Mridula from the 3rd week, were home made Pizza and Wheat based Pasta, with homemade delicious tomato sauce.

Home made Pizza (with home made Pizza dough) Recipe

Homemade Thin Crust
Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

Easy Sauce for Pasta/ Pizza

Easy Tomato Basil Pasta
Easy Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce

Nourishing Masoor Dal with Broad Beans

Masoor dal for the New mom
Masoor dal for the New Mom

What are the permitted ingredients while cooking for the New Mom? This is what I have practiced for Mridula: