Orange Pulav

A very different and tasty rice preparation that is quick to make and attractive to serve

Ingredients:

Basmathi Rice – 2 cups
Orange Juice [ freshly squeezed ] – 2 cups
Onions – 2 big thinly sliced
Green Chillies – 5 or 6
Peas – 1/4 cup
Ghee – 4 tlbs
Cashewnuts – About 15 whole ones
Cardamom – 1
Cinnamon – 1 piece
Cloves – 2
Water 1 1/2 cups
Salt to taste
Kissmiss – 20 [ optional]

Method:

Wash the rice and add the orange juice + water and soak for about an hour.
Add the cinnamon + cloves + cardamom + peas + salt to the soaked rice and pressure cook till cooked.Since the rice has already soaked for a while take care not to over cook.
In a pan add a little ghee and fry the cashews & Kissmiss and set aside.
Add the rest of the ghee and fry the thinly sliced onions along with the green chillies slit into two. When the onions turn golden brown add this to the rice and mix well. Garnish with the fried cashew & kissmiss.

Tips:
Tinned orange juice may not work well since it will be sweetened.So better to use fresh juice
Since the rice may not be too spicy you can serve it with a curry that is spicy
For a very beautiful presentation you can place a few Orange Slices on the finished rice

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Thengai [ Coconut] Thogayal

Ingredients:

Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Red Chillies – 2 [depending on spice levels]
Salt – To taste
Tamarind – A small piece
Urad Dal – 1 1/2 tablespoons
Mustard – 1/2 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp

Method:

Heat oil in a pan. Add urad dal + red chillies and fry well till the urad dal turns golden brown. Drain & keep aside.Allow to cool.
In the left over oil add mustard and switch off the stove when it splutters.
Add grated coconut , salt, tamarind, salt along with the fried dal and chillies and grind to a smooth paste in a mixer, adding little water. The consistency should be semi – solid.
Add mustard as seasoning.
Thengai Thogayal can be mixed with plain rice or had as a side dish too.

Tips

Coconut is the main ingredient of this thogayal. Hence the tamarind or chilly flavors should not be over powering.
A little bit of the fried urad dal [ about 1/2 tsp] can be retained and used along with the mustard as seasoning.
A pinch of asafoetida may also be added while grinding to give that extra flavor.

Paruppu Thogayal

‘Thogayal’ in Tamil is equivalent to chutney, but in a more solid form and can be likened to a ‘spread’ that is so flavorful when eaten as is or when mixed with something or when had as a side dish. Down South thogayal is generally consumed mixed with plain rice and is one of the easiest dish to make, especially when you have unexpected guests landing up for lunch or dinner at short notice. There are enormous varieties of thogayals and its preparations offers tremendous scope for experimenting.

Given below is the recipe for Paruppu Thogayal – an all time favorite of most – which is considered a delicacy especially when mixed with piping hot rice accompanied by spicy ‘Vetha Kozhambu’. Paruppu in Tamil refers to ‘Dal’ and in this case – Toor Dal.It is an extremely simple yet tasty dish to make.

Paruppu Thogayal

Ingredients:
Toor Dal – 1 cup
Red Chillies – 2
Grated Coconut – 1/4th cup
Salt to taste.
Oil – 1 tlbs

Method:
In a pan heat enough oil and roast the Toor dal along with the chillies till the dal turns a lovely golden brown.
Allow to cool.
Add grated coconut & salt and grind the roasted Toor dal mix to a fine paste adding little bit of water to bring it to a semi solid form.
The thogayal is now ready to be served. It can be mixed with rice or as an accompaniment to dosai & adai.

Tips:

The flavor of the dish depends entirely on how the dal is roasted. Ensure it is roasted to a nice golden brown color.

The dominant flavor here should be of the dal . Hence all other ingredients including coconut & chillies should be mild.

The Benefits of Proper Nutrition for Cancer Patients – Guest Post by Jillian Mckee

Eating a nutritious diet is important to maintain overall health and energy levels. Nutrition is the process by which the body takes in vitamins, minerals, nutrients and calories. Calories provide the fuel that the body requires for movement, and the vitamins, minerals and nutrients are used for cellular repair and new tissue growth. Because breast, prostate and mesothelioma cancer make it hard for many people to eat, it is essential for these patients to consume the right foods. Some cancer treatments affect the way that the body absorbs nutrients. This is especially true for cancer patients who have a tumor in their stomach or esophagus. Fats, protein and carbohydrates are the three main types of food to focus on.

Carbohydrates
The body uses carbohydrates to get its energy. In a healthy diet, the body also needs to take in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and an appropriate amount of calories. Some foods offer lots of calories, but they have little nutritional value. This is true of most sweets and simple carbohydrates. Antioxidants are often found along with most carbohydrates. Antioxidants are common in fruits and vegetables, and are essential in preventing cell damage that is caused by reactions with oxygen. Although antioxidants are thought to help prevent cancer, many doctors recommend against taking such supplements during cancer treatment.

Fiber
Fiber is derived from plant carbohydrates and cannot be digested. There are two main types of fiber. Soluble fiber is found in foods such as oat bran and lowers the body’s cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran and improves bowel function.

Fats
Fats are essential in the diet since the body uses the substance to make hormones. In addition, fats are rich in energy. Several types of fat are found in most diets, but experts recommend sticking to poly and monounsaturated fats. These are ordinarily found in plants, seeds and fish. Animal fats are generally saturated fats, and they are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Because fats are high in calories, increased consumption is often linked to obesity. Obese adults are at a higher risk for developing a number of different types of cancer so fats should be consumed sparingly.

Protein
Protein is the building block of muscle tissue. Because the body catabolizes muscle tissue in the event of a protein deficiency, it is imperative for cancer patients to ensure adequate consumption of this dietary element. Protein is common in a number of plant foods. Beans, dried peas and lentils are great sources of protein and help the body recover after cancer treatments.

Eating right is essential for overall health, and most experts recommend that cancer patients pay close attention to their diet. Because cancer treatments are hard on the body, many patients feel lethargic. Eating right enhances natural energy levels and is a great way to feel better. Eating a healthy diet may also improve the survival rates of cancer patients. Because many victims suffer from eating disorders and lack of appetite, it is even more important for cancer patients to eat the right foods.

TENDER COCONUT WATER – NATURAL NECTAR

Anything that is natural is far superior to something that is man made. Tender Coconut water is nature’s gift to us. It is pure, infection free, nutritious and a wonderful coolant in reducing body temperature and fighting heat related ailments.The health benefits it offers are amazing since it is rich in vitamins and minerals.

On the health front tender coconut water is good for :
Keeping the body cool
Getting rid of intestinal worms
Keeping urinary infections at bay
Refreshing tonic for the aged [ under doctor’s advice]
Electrolyte content aids in quick absorption of drugs by the body
Treatment of Cholera & Diarrhea
Helps pregnant women in finding relief from constipation and heart burn
Excellent for the skin – for intake as well as external application.
Helps malnourished children regain health.
Recommended by doctors for feeding infants to cure them of intestinal disturbances.

On the culinary front tender coconut water can be :

Best had in its original form.
Can be mixed with other fruit drinks like pineapple & orange
Can be had topped with scoops of ice cream.
The pulp of the tender coconut can be used in various recipes like puddings, salads, rice preparations, sauces & sweet dishes.

AKSHAYA TRITIYA – An auspicious day lost to commercial activity

Today Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated all over India. Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day in the Hindu and Jain calendar, has assumed importance of unimaginable proportions in recent times for all the wrong reasons. Akshaya in Sanskrit means that which is ‘ endless’ or ‘ does not recede’ It falls on the ” third Tithi (Lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the pan-Indian month of Vaishakha”. Jains consider it very important as the day of offering of food to Jain Monks who live a selfless life as ascetics, keeping nothing for themselves, not even cooking their food and consume it only when offered by others.

For the Hindus this day has a lot of religious connotations attached to it:

Said to be the birthday of Sage Parashurama, the 6th avatar of Lord Vishnu.
It is said that Lord Ganesha began writing the Mahabharata dictated by Sage Veda Vyas on this day.
It is said that the Treta Yuga began on this day.
River Ganges, considered to be the holiest of all the rivers, is said to have descended down to the earth on this day.
Goddess Annapoorna is said to have been born on this day.
Dharma Raja’s son Yudhistra is said to have received the Akshaya Patra on this auspicious day.
Kuchela is said to have visited Lord Krishna with just a handful of ‘ Aval’ on Akshaya Tritiya day.
It was on Akshaya Tritiya day that Lord Krishna saved Draupadi’s honor by granting unending yards of fabric.
Adi Sankara is believed to have recited the Kanaka Dhara Stotra on this auspicious day to bless a poor couple who had offered him the lone gooseberry that they had when he went to seek Bikshai. At the end of the recital it is said that the poor couple were showered with golden gooseberries.

In earlier times this day was generally observed by fasting , offering poojas and giving away food and other offerings to the needy. Since it falls during the hot summer months it is considered very auspicious to offer curd rice or buttermilk to give relief to people from the harsh heat.Anything started on this day was said to prosper and grow. Many farmers still have the habit of beginning to plough the fields on this day, praying for a good harvest.

However in recent times this concept of growth and infinite theory has been used as a marketing gimmick by merchants to sell their wares and gullible people have been made to believe that any purchase done on this day is likely to multiply. Gold and silver jewelers ably supported by half baked astrologers have brain washed people into believing that buying gold on this day will ensure prosperity. Thus what was celebrated as an auspicious day of ‘doing good ‘ has now turned into one of commercial value and activity.

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.