Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lucky foods for the New Year

Almost all cultures have good luck foods. Some of the good luck ingredients that are a must in my family on New Year’s Day are rice, sugar, milk, black-eyed peas, and flowers of the neem leaf. Neem flowers taste quite bitter and I get them in dry form from India.

A side condiment that is a must on New Year’s Day is Pachadi, a combination of five different ingredients. Pachadi at my home is made of semi-ripe mango slices, roasted neem flowers, brown sugar or molasses, a bit of spice, and salt. The mangoes are cooked first along with a cup of water. A pinch of salt is added. Molasses is mixed in next for sweetness. This is boiled for a few minutes until the mix thickens a little. Then, about a tablespoon of neem flowers are roasted in clarified butter (ghee). One or two red hot chillies are added to the roast, the mix is poured in to the cooked mango pot. It should appear in consistency like a light batter. With a blend of five distinct tastes that is usually made only once a year, we all look forward to having it. The combination of these tastes symbolize the spicy, sweet, sour, bitter and salty nature of life in general.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What is your New Year Resolution?

I would love to hear from you about any health/food related resolutions you may have for this upcoming year. I honestly am not that lofty in my goals, except go to the gym and do yoga regularly. Also, I am looking forward to expanding my horizon in cooking, conducting ongoing workshops and classes at Soul Source, Center for Conscious Living.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Food for New Year’s Day symbolizing growth and fortune

I have mentioned in vidyaswamyskitchen about southern Indian vegetarian foods for every ocassion, mood, weather, you name it. So, let me elaborate on one such food for this New Year. It is the Indian version of rice pudding called kheer. In Tamil we say ‘Paal Payasam’. Find the recipe right here. The rice symbolizes growth and prosperity, the sugar in the milk symbolizes good luck and everything positive.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back to Quinoa

I decided to make Qunioa Pulav along with Raita for lunch today. I would like to suggest this as the recipe for this week.

With my children home, guests dropping in, gift shopping, grocery shopping, a little outing, movie watching, and a husband who likes hearty meals all the time, I decided the best way to deal with it all (along with all other routine things) is just make one nutritious dish with a little side for every meal. Check out the recipe here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas is the time for cookies

I believe in the right time for certain kinds of foods. And, I think for cookies the best time is Christmas. Last night after getting back from a Christmas Eve party, we just sat around talking well into the wee hours of the morning, had hot chocolate and a variety of cookies.

I really don’t have much to do with Christmas. I still have a Christmas tree every year and do the things that Christians do including egg nog, cookies, hot chocolate, gift exchange with my family, watching a movie….

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reserving calories

I do this right around the holidays – saving a few calories for the rainy days of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. It’s no fun watching what you eat on these days. In the name of guilt, I stay a little longer in the gym. I know what will be going into our mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and pies in particular. Nothing enters my mind when I am enjoying the food though. But, I can’t say anything motivates me to stay in the gym longer after Thanksgiving although that’s what would really matter for burning off those extra calories.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Finicky eaters

I have a family of finicky eaters. The taste and presentation of food have to be just right. I think it is probably due to a well-refined palette, but I think it is also because of too much Food TV network. On the one hand we are becoming very sophisticated, but on the other it is about taking perfection to another new level. Don’t know if that is good or not.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Home made yogurt and buttermilk

Find the new recipe addition for this week here. Plus recipe for natural, home made yogurt and buttermilk.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The best snack for a cold winter day

I just made some hot samosas. This is a perfect snack for a cold winter day. Here’s the recipe.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mushrooms for vegetarians

I am not particularly fond of mushrooms. But, they are good for you. Known to contain niacin, potassium and selenium. Selenium, one of the most important elements in warding off cancer. So, I have grown to like them in this recipe. They actally taste pretty good. Find it right here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Blues!

It is understandable and sad that some people get the blues because they don’t have anybody to celebrate holidays with. But, I know people who get stressed because they can’t afford to buy gifts for others. This is created stress. And, this according to me is nonsense stress. Gifts, I believe should never be a part of any holiday. Even birthdays. I think we should be at liberty to buy them if we have the money and feel like it. But we should never go about setting expectations and making it a tradition of some sort. Forced practices don’t fall into the category of traditions. They are the root cause of conflicts, misunderstanding within families and fodder for many more problems. Try one season of not buying any gifts because you just don’t feel like it. Maybe you even don’t have the money to buy them. You may have actually done yourself and others a big favor. A big favor to others because they don’t have to stress about repaying you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wine and Women’s health. Where are the links?

It looks so stylish to see women holding a goblet of red wine. They appear to me as having a lot of fun. It just adds to the ambience of a party or any kind of gathering. So, I got introduced to wine, red wine. I like to ask my husband to pour me some especially if we are having an Italian dinner. Now, an Indian soaked in southern Indian cooking preparing Italian dinners? Oh, don’t laugh. They taste pretty good especially if you are offering sauces made from scratch with the best tomatoes, cheeses, olive oil. Frankly, anyone can do a bang up job.

Getting back to red wine…I enjoyed having it now and then. Until, I read that wine can increase estrogen levels and cause bad mensturations. For a while I pictured having the perfect slim figure of a French belle. But, I just said forget it and switched to Margarita and Apple Martinis. Actually I am enjoying them more.

A glass of red wine a day is still recommended for women and I have read the good effects of it as well. It’s just that I don’t believe it is going to do me that much of good. Well, so much for the slim figure!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Buttermilk or Milk?

Just this past week I was at the vegetable market in Newtown Square buying my usual dose of fruits and veggies. I also go here to pick up buttermilk. I had six quarts in my cart. i.e. for 2 weeks. A college student standing right behind asked me in an amusing tone what it is that I do with all that buttermilk, said was just curious and didn’t want to offend me.

No, I was not offended at all. I told her that I drink buttermilk and use it instead of milk. Buttermilk agrees better with me, there is more nutrition and lesser calories in buttermilk. The one thing that I do not particularly care for about buttermilk in the stores here is that they add a bit of salt to it. And, the consistency is too thick. So, I add a good bit of water, dilute it and then drink it. I mostly like to make it at home with 1% milk and it turns out great. Also tastes better than the store bought ones. Sometimes I lose the culture to continue making it especially when I am out of town. Stores promote probiotic in yogurt. What is buttermilk? Exactly the same. There is good bacteria in buttermilk that promotes digestion and gives us the following: vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, B12. Buttermilk just feels more refreshing and healthy to me. Maybe this is in my mind but that’s how I feel when I drink buttermilk. Look for tips on how to make good buttermillk naturally in my list of recipes for next week right here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fruit of the Gods

I read an aticle in which it said the perfect fruit (fruit of the Gods) is Pomegranate. I never knew the value of this magical fruit until a few years ago.

There is a vegetable market nearby my home that carries pure Pomegranate juice priced just around $3.75 or so. I have seen all other places capitalize on this wonder fruit juice and the same quantity sold for at least 3 to 4 times the price. Now, that makes me angry. Going beyond reason. True making profits is business but this is outrageous. Talk about daylight robbery!

People are so into health that they pay anything to get these antioxidants in a bottle. Gosh only if I knew the value of this growing up. We had a humongous Pomegranate tree in our backyard and most of the time, we let the squirrels take care of the fruit when it became over ripe. Well, too late.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The magic of Ginger

It’s hard to describe it’s taste; eaten raw or otherwise it stands out in everything yet never unpleasant. In vegetarian cooking, especially Indian it takes its place in appetizers, soups, entr’ees, desserts, side dishes, even chai (tea). I have found it to counter any unhealthy stuff that may get into our foods such as excessive grease and fat. Candied ginger by the way is incredible. Here are the health benefits I have found through use of ginger.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Two days after Thanksgiving

This is one of my favorite holidays. Not just because of food, but also people and conversations. We had 20 guests at our home, mostly extended family who had not seen each other in a long time.

Had a spread of both Indian and American. Have not been able to get to the gym and am afraid of approaching my weight scale. I wonder if there are ideas out there on how to lose weight without lowering intake. There has to be something. I’ll keep looking.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vegetarianize your Thanksgiving leftovers

An easy way to add a little kick to the Thanksgiving left overs would be to add some spice that will enhance them with flavor. Where would you find those spices and flavors? In Try this one that might do the trick.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving week

Don’t you think effort is the same whether it is dinner for 25 or dinner for 2? I have been planning now for a week or more, as to where my family ( extended ) should sleep, what I should serve them for 3 meals over 3 to 4 days including snacks, what to feed the late night hungry people, make those 16 trips in all to the airport plus train stations, etc. etc. I am loving it though. As they say anticipation is the greater part of pleasure. I will blog on how it all turned out in the end.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vegetarian Diet. It’s catching on big time.

Outside of my regular job, through my involvement in clubs and community work I have formed a large group of friends and acquaintances from every walk of life and ethnicity. We rarely discuss food habits but since the launch of my Web site on vegetarian diet and healthy eating, I am discovering that a majority of them are vegetarians.

Health tips and several new recipes

The recipe list and heathy diets pages have something new almost everyday. Check them out! Add your comments to my blogs as well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why diet when you can easily do without

I just read in the New York Times that there is a cookie diet to help you shed away the pounds very easily. My thought here is why go through any diet at all. Just keep calories within what is allowed for a person (2000 calories? May be a little less for a petite frame.) This way one can eat anything, just less of them. Some minimal exercise along with a normal diet should help I think. For liquids just stick with water. These tips might just do the trick. Another suggesion - move to being a vegetarian and stick to the calorie count. Try some recipes that are here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Black pepper/peppercorn

There are so many foods that we all add black pepper to. Eggs, soup, casseroles, side dishes, you name it. Besides adding flavor and a little zing, it has incredible health benefits. A sprinkle may not really make much of a difference but actual crushed black pepper can do a whole lot of good to your health. I have mentioned the use of black pepper in Rasam, one of the recipes below. You may check out the health benefits here as well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NYC. Never a dull moment and the food…

Just this past week I spent 3 days in New York. Every time I go there I discover something new in food, fashion and fun. We had lunch at ‘Lombardi’s’ the famous Italian restaurant known for their pizza. Honestly, I have not tasted pizza that good anywhere else in this country. The place was overflowing with people at 3:00 P.M. in the afternoon. I also had lunch at the Indian restaurant called ‘The Bombay Palace’. It was off the charts. Two places I recommend you to visit when in NYC next.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Curry? What does it mean?

Curry is a generic term that was coined by the British for any Indian dish that had spices in them. However, there is no spice or combination of spices called curry. Each dish has its own unique name, and the term curry is used only in south India for a dry vegetable side dish.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just healthy home cooking

I would like to reiterate that what I am sharing via are healthy home cooked recipes. Not what you may find in restaurants, so there are no additives of any kind. Just as pure as they come. Hence the taste will be more wholesome and easy on your palette.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Vegetarians of course rely a lot on lentils. In Indian cooking there are several types of lentils. I will explain all about lentils in the ‘Lentil’ specific page, but in the meantime the lentils such as urad dhal used in idli is something you will find in an indian grocery store. If you cannot get to a store but need this item, please contact me

The perfect soup to bring your appetite back

You are going to love this. We call it rasam, you may call it soup. It is light; and a warm cup is also perfect especially if you have a cold or an itchy throat. So, here is a soothing soup for a good appetite or an itchy throat.

Recipe: Take about 2 cups of water. Add 2 tsps. of salt, add one large diced tomato. Add a Tbsp of tamarind paste. You will find this in a regular grocery store in the ethnic foods section. Now add a Tbsp. of crushed black pepper with a half tsp. of cumin seeds. You may also add a clove or two of crushed garlic. Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat and add a cup of water. Turn off heat once it starts to simmer again. You may garnish it with a 1 tsp. of butter and spurted mustard seeds in it. Sprinkle a Tbsp. of curry leaves. Let the magic happen!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mint, a multipurpose herb

I use mint in my Indian variation of pulav or biryani. Since it is pretty potent in aroma and taste, just a few leaves would do to enhance the flavor without overwhelming the tase of the dish. I also make mint chutney that go well with the Indian appetizers such as samosa, cutlets or vada.

As a young girl I remember picking a few mint leaves whenever they were at home and chewing them as is. They are good for stomach issues. Of course, nowadays they feature in different ways – toothpaste, gum, mint oil used in aromatherapy and, mouth rinse to name a few. Indian restaurants use them in meat dishes such as mint chicken.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Web site is live. Please check out I have received some comments which you will find on the site very soon. Look for new recipes, utensils, herbs & spices, and cooking techniques.

Plans for

I will be introducing some spices, herbs, utensils and asian vegetables on my Web site. You will not only find new recipes but also new kitchen related items. At this point, please contact me directly at if you need any of the items you come across on my site. In future online shopping will be introduced.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

People often talk about garlic but not onions

Onions are as good as garlic for culinary and health purposes. I can start with the aroma. It makes any food appealing. It tastes great too. However, onion breath is hard to overcome. Not sure if there is anyway to get around that.

Health benefits – It is high in flavonoids, a rich anti-oxidant, is also known to put a check on high triglycerides. These were all things I learned from my mother. I don’t know where she got it from! Probably my grandmother. They always introduced these goodies into our everyday vegetarian cooking. Nobody can come close to their tasty cooking.

The vegetarian cooking Web site will be launched end of this week. Please standby.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just when I finished my tip on use of turmeric

Turmeric has long been used in our Indian cooking. I added some health benefit tips and have some recipes on my Web site on how much to use in vegetable dishes. I just came across this article on Very interesting. You may want to glance through this link