Jeera Kashaayam – Traditional, Magical Cure

Kashaayams are medicinal drinks that are simple to make and sensational in providing relief to minor ailments without any side effects. All that it requires is a few simple ingredients available in the kitchen. At times extra ingredients will have to be procured. But these are available in plenty in the local ‘Naattu Marundhu Kadai’ [ strores selling herbs ]

Anything from a common cold to nausea to indigestion can be cured easily by these kashaayams. These recipes are passed down in each family from one generation to another, to cure common ailments and avoid visiting the doctor unless when required.Since no sweet or additives are generally added there is a misconception that Kashaayams are always bitter and difficult to consume.

Jeera

Cumin or Jeera or jeeragam is said to be excellent for digestion and helps to flush out toxins in the body.

It is rich in iron and highly beneficial for pregnant and lactating mothers. It offers an ideal cure for morning sickness.

Jeera’s antiseptic properties helps in combatting cold and fever.

Jeera bolied in water is called Jeera water and when consumed not only refreshes the body but also helps you retain excellent skin tone since it is rich in Vitamin – E.

A mix of Jeera & and Ginger powder can cure sore throat.

A ripened banana + a teaspoon of jeera + followed by a cup of jeera water is said to help people suffering from insomnia.

Ingredients:

Jeera – 2 tsps

Water – 2 cups

Jaggery or palm sugar [ optional] – as per taste

Ginger powder [ optional] – as per taste

Method:

In a kadai dry roast jeera in medium flame. It should not get blackened. So take care to see that it is evenly roasted. A nice aroma and spluttering of the jeera are indicative of this. Add water to this and let it boil for a few minutes till the liquid reduces to half a cup.

Strain and consume it when it is lukewarm.

Tips:
For those who don’t find this palatable add a little bit of jaggery or panangkalkandu or any other sweetening agent while you boil the water.
On a daily basis you can boil water with a little bit of jeera and drink this in lieu of ordinary water. This has tremendous health benefits.

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Tips to Tackle Tight Spots

Simple ingredients in your kitchen that can be used to make life easy.

Having ants all over your kitchen? Keep the peel of cucumbers wherever you see them. Ants do not like them and will disappear.

To get clean and clear ice boil the water before freezing.

To make your mirrors shine clean them with spirit or wipe them clean with tea decoction.

Sat on a chewing gum by mistake and stuck with it? Keep the fabric inside the freezer for a few minutes and pull it out.

Soaking white clothes in a bucket of hot water with a some lime slices for about half an hour will help in making them sparkling white.

Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the last rinse to make hair shiny.

Chew gum while chopping onions to avoid tears.

While cooking cabbage the smell that emanates puts off a lot of people. Drop a piece of bread into the pan and the smell will disappear.

Sprinkle black pepper in places frequented by rats and you will see the last of them.

To remove ink stains rub the affected part with a generous dose of toothpaste and let it dry fully. Then wash thoroughly.

To peal the skin off sweet potatoes in a jiffy soak in cold water after boiling.

Eeya Sombu Rasam

One of the famous dishes in Tamil Brahmin’s home of yesteryears was the ‘Eeya Sombu Rasam’. Sombu means vessel and Eeyam is a metal coating. So it is essentially a cooking vessel with a special metal coating.

I say yesteryears because the practice of making rasam in an Eeya Sombu is no longer prevalent in most households, thanks to the biased approach of questioning anything ancient that has no proper explanation available! Sad indeed! Because this is one dish that is so tasty that it is to be devoured to be believed.

Perhaps this is one of the few dishes where the vessel used in cooking lends its name to the dish. There is nothing special about the making of this rasam – ingredient or method wise. In fact any type of rasam can be made in an Eeya Sombu. It is the metal components of the vessel itself that enhances the taste and attributes a unique flavor to this dish.

‘Eeyam Poosardhu’ in tamil or ‘ Application of Eeyam – a metal Coating’ when literally translated was a well known process in olden days when copper vessels used to be coated with Eeyam. This was done by street vendors who made a living out of this, who used to call out loudly as they passed from one street to another. With the advent of stainless steel vessels and modern cooking applications this tribe slowly disappeared. Every household used to be in possession of at least a couple of Eeya Sombu which was passed down to the next generation almost like a heirloom. And every brahmin household would have a story or two about a Sombu that disappeared after it was left forgotten on the stove and landed up as a molten coating on the burner. Yes….this vessel was notorious for its low melting point and hence was at the receiving end of absent minded homemakers.

Now what exactly is an Eeya Sombu about which so much is spoken about? And what makes the rasam so divine and delicious? This is a raging controversy that has still not been put to rest. The alarm raised by one set of believers that Eeya Sombu was essentially made out of Lead and hence would lead to Led Poisoning raised all hell and made many to discontinue cooking in it. That however is not true.
Eeya Sombu is actually made of an alloy of tin and other metals and NOT Lead as is wont to be believed by a few. Lead is referred to as Kaareeyam and Tin as Velleeyam. Eeya Sombu is made of the latter. This is amply evident by the fact that our older generations had consumed this rasam for several years and remained healthy for long. Had it been a case of Led Poisoning this certainly would not have been possible.So if anything it is only said to provide health benefits, when consumed in the right quantity, that help the neuro responses of the human brain.

Of course one has to guard against spurious manufacturers and buy it from authentic places. Because an Eeya Sombu that weighs approximately 500gms costs close to Rs.1300/- . Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu is said to be famous for these Sombus. For those who have had Eeya Sombu Rasam any other would never be palatable. Even in weddings caterers are known to drop a small Eeya Sombu into the rasam [ since it is not practically possible to get such a huge Sombu ] after it is prepared to lend that extra flavor. If some of you are still in doubt about using a sombu, you can prepare the rasam and then transfer it on to an Eeya Sombu and then serve.

Remember…..
While using Eeya Sombu one has to ensure that there is enough liquid in the vessel.
Always cook in low flame.
Never move too far away from the kitchen when the rasam is being made. For if you do, you may neither find the rasam nor the sombu.

Potato Bhaaji

This potato bhaaji is extremely flavorful yet quick to make. Makes an ideal side dish for Pooris.The amount of seasoning you add will depend on the quantity of potatoes needed and the spice levels that you require.

Method:
Boil and cube potatoes .
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan and temper with mustard seeds , asafoetida , dried red chillies , curry leaves ,turmeric powder .
Add the potato cubes and keep turning over to coat all cubes with the seasoning.
Add some ginger paste , a touch of red chilli powder and salt to taste.
Serve warm, garnished with freshly grated coconut and finely chopped fresh coriander.

By: Mrs. Shubha Nafrey; http://facebook.com/shubha.nafrey

Mambhaza Pulissery

When mangoes are in season they are not spared and are eaten in many forms. Some varieties of mango although sweet are more sour to be consumed directly. These can be used in preparations like Pulissery which is a keralite’s version of the better known Mor Kozhambu. The aroma that arises while preparing this dish is so yummy that your salivary glands tend to over work. The dish has a sweet – sour taste that is amazing and goes well when mixed with plain rice.

Ingredients:

Fully ripe mangoes – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies – 2 or 3 [ depends on the spice levels]
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp [optional]
Curd – 1 1/2 cups
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Salt – to taste

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil – 1 Tblsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Red Chillies – 2
Fenugreek seeds – a few
Curry Leaves – a few

Method:
Peel the shin and cut mangoes into chunks.
If the mangoes are over ripe squeeze the pulp out of the skin too.
Add water in a pan and boil the mango pieces along with turmeric powder.
Grind together grated coconut, green chillies, cumin and coriander seeds to a fine paste.
When the mangoes are tender add the ground paste and let it boil for a few minutes.
Churn the curd into thick buttermilk.
Lower the flame and add the buttermilk along with required salt .
Do not let the mixture boil because it will separate. Just let it absorb a bit of heat and switch off the stove immediately.
Heat the oil and add mustard seeds. When it splutters add the red chillies [ split into two] along with fenugreek seeds & curry leaves and switch off the stove.
Pour over the prepared pulissery.

Tips:
Over ripe mangoes can also be used to prepare pulissery.
Ensure that you squeeze all the juice and pulp out since the sweet juice will only add to the taste.
While seasoning take care to add very little of fenugreek because too much of it will make the dish bitter.
Adding coconut oil for seasoning gives an added flavour to the dish

TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART – I

1.Add salt to water while cooking greens [Keerai] to help retain the color.

2.A few drops of lime added to rice while cooking helps in making it look brighter and White.

4.Having problems in cooking Tur Dal? At times we will find certain varieties of Tur dal requiring longer time to cook and we would discover this only after a couple of days of trial by which time it will be too late to return the dal to the store. Add a small piece of coconut to the dal and cook to see the difference.

5.Add a piece of ginger while cooking cabbage or cauliflower to avoid the strong aroma that it emanates normally.

6.While mixing dough for Pooris add sugar to get puffed Pooris that stay crisp for a while.

7.Adding a few pepper corns to oil will help in keeping it fresh for a longer duration.

8.Soaking / immersing Cauliflower in salt water half an hour before cooking [after removing the leaves and stem] will help in getting rid of small germs or worms.

9.Wash onions after peeling the skin off to avoid eye irritation and watering.

10.Idli or Dosa batter will not go sour if you add a few dry chillies to it.

Tips by Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com