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. …
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.