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Showing posts with label IYER RECIPES. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IYER RECIPES. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


Raw Banana is widely used in Kerala Cuisine. Every part of the banana is packed with nutrition and health benefits. This humble plant, with its flower, stem, fruit and leaf, can be consumed in different ways for overall wellness.
I think no one can cook the Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi (Mezhukkupuratti) like my Grandmother Kaveri, we used to fondly call her “Amma”. Her recipe had the authentic Parawoor (Kerala) touch; that only one of her daughter’s could manage to get close too. Sadly, both are no more. But thankfully, since I was interested in cooking and watched them make this simple recipe very closely, I can share it with all my viewers today.
Amma (My grand mom) moved from Parawoor post marriage in her teens or early 20’s to Bombay (Now Mumbai, but I will refer to as Bombay here) and as most Tamil-Brahmins, Palakkad Iyers (referred henceforth as Tam brams) settled in Matunga. Matunga has a special place in the lives of the Tam brams as it was the land of opportunities and people came to make their fortune here and Bombay being Bombay; full of industrious people, it made available everything that the migrants needed. The coffee powders, the vegetables that would be popular etc. Those days, the vegetable vendors would bring the vegetables straight from the farms in double cane baskets loaded on either side of a pole balanced on their shoulders. They would walk through the lanes and by lanes and market their vegetables by shouting out. Amma used to patronize a vendor as she felt his vegetables were fresh and economical. This guy used to come from Vasai (He was fondly addressed as “Vashaiwalla” by Amma). The guy a Maharashtrian used to speak Hindi in a slang and understood some Tamil words and our enterprising star, Amma who picked up Hindi but with her south Indian slang would bargain with him while buying and also place requests, “Agli baar aaya toh Vazhakkai laana, dhoda jyaada laana, accha kaccha hona mangta, payam nahi laana”
It meant, get more raw bananas next time, it must be nice and green and raw don’t bring it when it has started to ripen.
And the industrious “Vashaiwalla” would say, “It’s very hot and by the time he brings it in the sun, it starts to ripen…ha ha ha.

I’m surely going to cover Amma and her experiences in Bombay in another post of mine.

As a child, we have been in awe of our Grand mom's intelligence and quick wittedness and burst into laughter listening to her hindi at the same time. But no matter what her don't give up attitude is what is the strongest memory we have of her.

The reason Amma’s cooking tasted so good was because the whole process was quality centric. Amma would choose the green, hard and long bananas to the Mondangai’s that would be used in her home town, she said the Bananas in Bombay were delicate and cooked faster and had more taste provided the Vashaiwalla got it as soon as he plucked them and delivered it fresh.

The Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi cooked by the Kerala Iyers (Brahmin style) is very simple. It does not need any other ingredients as used in the regular Kerala Vazhakkai Mezhukkupuratti which has onion, garlic, curry leaves, coconut etc.

But there is one ingredient that cannot be missed and that is “Coconut Oil”.

Some recipes are simple, yet not all can do justice in making it; I wonder why?

There’s so much emotion attached to this simple recipe that every time I wanted to share it, I would get emotional and wouldn’t be able to proceed.
Raw bananas are very nutritious and you must try this simple recipe. Add lots of love too. 

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Raw bananas - 3-4
Virgin Coconut Oil – 3 - 4 tbsps
Mustard seeds - ½ tsp
White lentil split (Urad Dal) - ½ tsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Red chilly powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida (Hing) – ¼ tsp
Dry red chillies – 2, broken in half
Salt as per taste 

Wash the bananas, de-stem and cut the end as well. Peel the banana and cut in square chunks. Once diced, put in the water otherwise it will get discoloured. Keep aside.
In an Iron Wok/Pan, Add the coconut oil, once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, Urad dal and red chillies, when the mustard seeds start to splutter. Add the diced raw bananas. Add turmeric, Asafetida, salt and red chilly powder. Mix well. Add a 4-5 tablespoons of water.
Cover and cook in a low flame, stirring occasionally, until done.
The important thing is the banana has to get cooked well but not become mushy, then add a tablespoon of hot coconut oil and let the raw banana cook until its gets crisp on one side and soft inside.
Serve the vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi hot with hot rice, a dollop of ghee, some hot dal (Paruppu) and rasam.


· Use coconut oil only for the authentic taste

· Apply coconut oil before you start peeling and chopping raw banana as it tends to leave a stain on your hands.


· Vazhakkai Mezhukkupuratti can be made by adding onion, garlic, curry leaves & grated coconut as well to the existing recipe.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Sambar Powder is one of the staple Masala powders in my kitchen.
Every recipe has a story and this one is very interesting.
When I got married and moved to Singapore Amma made me a big ziplock bag full of Sambar powder. She was worried, her little baby is going to manage cooking in a country so far away. Not that I was a baby, but my mother never allowed me to cook or near the gas as she was afraid I would get burnt. I had a very protective mother or should I say overprotective🤔.
To cut the long story short, the sambar powder didn't last long as the whiff of the aroma of the Sambar made waves in the foreign land. People started visiting often requesting me to make my famous Sambar, But alas, when the sambar powder got over, I had to buy a packet from the store.
I Chose a good brand, changed brands but the taste was gone, the aroma was gone.
That made me think 🤔.
Everything was the same, the process, major of the ingredients, the only thing that changed was the sambar powder and I got desperate for Amma's Sambar powder.
I had to make it now if I needed the rave reviews that I had gotten famous for.
It was a matter of honor.
A quick call and the recipe was jotted down in my blue diary....
Sharing my Amma's secret Sambar Powder recipe, Also known as Iyer veetu Sambar powder (This is a typical Brahmin Iyer household recipe, every house has its variations).

Whole coriander seeds - 1 cup
Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal ) - 1/4 glass
Raw Rice - 11/2  tablespoons
Fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds) - 11/2 tablespoons
Cumin seeds (Jeera)- 11/2 tablespoon
Black Peppercorns - 11/2 tablespoon
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 12 -15 (Preferably Kashmiri chilly) /Red chilly powder
2 teaspoons ground turmeric

I use organic dals, Sort the ingredients, check for stones if any. And you are ready.
In a wok, First dry roast the red chillies, saute for 2-3 minutes till you see the chillies starting to get plump.
Some people avoid this step but this is a must according to me, as only then will the chillies not have the pachha vaadai(Raw smell).
You can also avoid roasting red chillies and use the readymade chilly powder as per your family spice level. But I prefer to roast the red chillies for a fresher aroma.
Some people add a spoon of oil to roast the chillies, but I don't As I usually make batches that last me for about 3 months.
Dry roast the red chillies and keep aside.
In the same wok, dry roast all the other ingredients until you get an aroma of the roasted spices.
Once cool down, First, grind the dry red chillies, then the rest of the ingredients, add the turmeric powder while grinding. Blend into a fine powder.
Store in an airtight container and use as required.
I keep Sambar powder that I need for daily cooking in Glass Bottles
Since we live in Singapore which has a humid climate and I make big batches, I store the Sambar powder in Ziplock bags and freeze them.
Enjoy this simple Sambar powder Recipe and make loads of sambar and enjoy!!!


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