Saturday, September 16, 2006

Peas - Pattaani - Mattar

Peas lose their sweetness and delicate flavor as they mature. Those of the best quality are young, fresh, tender and sweet. Quality is indicated by the color and condition of the pod, which should be bright green, somewhat velvety to the touch and fresh in appearance. Some varieties have large puffy pods that stand out away from the peas so that they never appear to be well filled even though the peas are well developed. The pods should be well to fairly well filled and the peas well developed. Pods of immature peas are usually flat, dark green in color and may have a wilted appearance.

Pods that are swollen, of poor color, or more or less flecked with grayish specks may be in an advanced stage of maturity and the peas may be tough and of poor flavor. A yellowish appearance indicates age or damage. Peas with such appearance are poor in flavor or too tough for satisfactory table use. Watersoaked pods should be avoided as well as those that show evidence of mildew.

Delicious indian recipes from Peas.

Cauliflower Peas Korma

Peas Pulao

Mixed Vegetable Curry

Thenga Manga Pattani Sundal

Mattar Guchi

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Peanuts - Nilakadalai - Moongphali

Peanuts, dating back to around 800 B.C., have been found in archaeological sites. It is believed they played an important role in the diet of the Aztecs and other Native Indians in South America and Mexico. The Portuguese took peanuts from Brazil to Africa, where the crop became an important staple almost immediately. Peanuts became extremely popular in the U.S. in the 19 th Century. It was George Washington Carver, who not only suggested that farmers plant peanuts to replace their cotton fields that were destroyed by the boll weevil in the latter half of the 19 th Century, but he also invented more than 300 uses for this legume. At the end of the 19th century, a physician practicing in St. Louis, Missouri, created a ground up paste made from peanuts and prescribed this nutritious high protein, low carbohydrate food to his patients-which today we know as peanut butter. While he probably did not invent peanut butter since peanut paste had been used by many cultures for centuries, in the U.S. it quickly caught on and became, and still remains, a very popular food. In fact, Americans consume more than 600 million pounds of peanuts and about 700 million pounds of peanut butter every year. The United States is the third-largest peanut producing country in the world behind India and China.


Peanuts are high in protein and contain 40-50% oil. The oil is used in cooking, as salad oil, in margarines and the residue is fed to animals. Whole peanuts can be eaten raw or roasted or made into peanut butter (look out for brands which do not contain hydrogenated oils, which are highly saturated). As they are usually inexpensive, they can be mixed with other kinds of nuts to bring down the cost, while still maintaining flavour and good nutrition. 100g peanuts contain 24.3g protein, 2mg iron and 3mg zinc.

Recipes made from Peanuts

Peanut Curry
Peanut Cold Rasam
Kadalai Urandai

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Coconut - Nariyal - Thengaai

Fruit of the coco palm (Cocos nucifera), a tree widely distributed through tropical regions. The seed is peculiarly adapted to dispersal by water because the large pod holding the nut is buoyant and impervious to moisture. The trees therefore establish themselves naturally on small islands and low shores bordering the tropical seas. The tree grows to a height of 60—100 ft (18—30 m), with a smooth cylindrical stem marked by the ringlike scars of former leaves. It bears at the top a crown of frondlike leaves and yellow or white blossoms.

The number of nuts varies; a well-cared-for tree may yield 75 to 200 or more annually. The mature fruit as it comes from the tree is encased in a thick, brown fibrous husk. The nut itself has a hard woody shell, with three round scars at one end; the embryo lies against the largest scar and emerges through it as a developing plant. Through this easily punctured spot the "milk" of the young coconut may be drained.

Coconut Recipes

Coconut Rice
Red Coconut Chutney
Coconut Burfi
Mango Coconut Pulihora
Thengai Chutney

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Green Chillies

Chilli Facts - also called Chili, chile, chilly, chily, Mirchi, chile pepper, Aji, Paprika

General Facts

When landed in South America, Columbus discovered chilli and mistook it for pepper, naming it "Chile Pepper."

Chilli was used from 7000 BC in Mexico and was cultivated from 3500 BC.

There are nearly 400 Varieties of chilli.

There is great confusion in the spelling of the chilli. In USA, it is called chile or chile pepper; in UK, it is known as chilli or chili; and in India, it is known as chilli, or mirchi (Hindi), marchu (Gujarati), and molzhukai (Tamil).

Fishes could not feel pungency of the chilli because they do not have pain receptors.

Chillies belong to same family as tomatoes and potatoes.

India is largest producer of chilli.

Chilli Pungency

The pungency of the chilli is due to capsaicin present in the membrane placenta.

To store and make the chilli powder more pungent, mix it well with oil.

The hottest chilli 'Naga Jolokia' in the world is found in Tezpur, India. It is 855,000 in Scoville Scale.

The chilli's pungency is measured by Scoville scale which was named after Wilbur Scoville. With invention of computers, the pungency of chilli can be measured by HPLC.

To get rid of burning feeling, it is advisable to take fat or greasy content like milk, curd, sugar, or ice cream. Drinking water will not relieve the burning of your mouth because capsaicin is insoluble in water.

Medicinal Value

capsaicin is used for treatment for many diseases like arthritis.

When chilli is eaten, it makes the brain to release endorphins, a natural painkiller present in the body. The endorphin lowers blood pressure and helps to fight against cancer.

Chilli contains lots of vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C

Sore throat, varicose ulcers, and laryngitis can be cured by using antibacterial chilli. Man made capsaicin called "Guafenesein" is used in cough syrups.

Chilli helps cure many diseases like blood pleasure, insomnia, hay fever, flu

Green Chillies Recipes

Dahi Mirchi or Mor Molagai

Milagi Bajji

Mirchi Ka Salan

Friday, September 08, 2006

Spinach - Keerai - Palak

Spinach is a leafy vegetable having broad deep green leaves. It is rated high in leafy vegetables, full of nutrition. This vegetable is a cool season annual crop which matures quickly. Spinach is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly folate (folic acid), vitamin K, magnesium, and manganese; it also contains more protein than most vegetables.

Spinach can have either flat or slightly crinkled leaves. It is often available as baby spinach, which is especially useful for salads. Spinach can be purchased fresh, frozen, or canned. Fresh spinach is sold in bunches or already washed and sealed in plastic bags. A number of other greens that are similar to spinach are often sold in specialty stores. These include New Zealand spinach, which comes from a different plant family.

Origin and Distribution
It was originated in Arabia. It was cultivated 2000 years ago in Persia and from there it spread to Spain (its name derived from a Spanish word). It is cultivated in India on a large scale.

Properties of spinach
Diuretic, demulcent, soothing, refrigerant, mild laxative, antianaemic, ophthalmic, anti-inflammatory.

Food Value of spinach
The chemical constituents of spinach are essential amino acids, iron, vitamin A and folic acid. It is one or the cheapest vegetables which supplies the same amount of protein as one gets from the same quantity of meat, fish, eggs and chicken.

Spinach analysis gives the following composition:

Moisture 92.1 %
Protein 2.0 %
Fibre 0.6 %
Carbohydrate 2.9 %
Phosphorus 20 mg
Fat 0.7 %
Calcium 75 mg
Vitamin C 30 mg
Iron 11 mg

Medicinal Uses & benefits
Spinach leaves are diuretic and mild laxative.
Spinach juice cleans the digestive tract by removing the collected waste product. It nourishes the intestines and tones up their movements. It is, therefore, an excellent food remedy for constipation.
Spinach is a source of high grade iron & contributes in the formation of blood. So, it is very useful in anemia.
Spinach is a good source of calcium and other alkaline elements essential to keep tissues clean and retain blood alkalinity. So, it is an antacid too.
Spinach also takes care of our eyes as it contains vitamin A in good amount. Therefore, it helps in controlling night blindness and other eye problems.
Spinach juice provides strength to the gums and helps in preventing and curing dental cavities. Chewing raw spinach leaves cures pyorrhoea. A mixture of carrot and spinach juice taken early in the morning cures bleeding and ulcerated gums.
Spinach is a rich source of folic acid and useful during pregnancy and lactation. Regular use- of spinach during pregnancy helps prevent deficiency of folic acid, lack of which may cause abortion, shortness of breath, loss of weight and diarrhea. It also increases production of milk during lactation.
Spinach juice, when taken with coconut water twice a day, works as a diuretic due to the combined action of both nitrates and potassium. It is useful in cystitis, nephritis and scanty urination caused due to dehydration.
Spinach leaves plus two teaspoonfuls fenugreek seeds containing a pinch of ammonium chloride and honey when infused, prove to be an effective expectorant tonic for bronchitis, asthma and dry cough. Doses are 30 ml, three times daily.

Note: As it contains oxalic acid which is insoluble in stomach and intestine fluid, it is harmful in gravels, gout and liver disease. Therefore, it should not be used by those suffering from these diseases.

Recipes made using Spinach.

Palak Dal
Keerai Kootu
Keerai Masial
Palak Paneer
Palak Rice

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Banana - Vazhakai

To ripen green bananas, put them into a plastic bag, seal it and place the bag in a warm place like on top of your refrigerator. This will cause the bananas to heat up which speeds the ripening process. You can also put other green fruit like peaches and pears into the bag with a ripe banana, and they will ripen faster as well!

You can freeze bananas! Just peel and store in plastic bags up to 6 months.

Thaw and drain frozen extra-ripe bananas and use in baked goods... or slice frozen into blender drinks. Have for breakfast, snack, refreshment or as a frosty ice cream-like dessert without all the extra fat or calories.

Sauté green-tipped bananas until brown in just enough margarine or cooking spray to coat. Serve as a side dish or "starch" with chicken, pork or even fish.

As the green color of bananas turns to yellow, the starch in the fruit turns to sugar.

Alexander the Great discovered bananas in his conquest of India in 327 B.C.

Bananas don't grow on trees, as is commonly believed. They grow on compacted, water-filled leaf stalks that grow up to 25 feet high. They are the world's largest herb.

Round Vazhakai Curry

Vazhakai Podimas

Lady's finder - Okra - Vendakkai - Bindhi

It's scientific name is "Abelmoschus esculentus" and also "Hibiscus esculentus". In various parts of the world, it is known as Okra, Ochro, Okoro, Quimgombo, Quingumbo, Ladies Fingers, Gombo, Kopi Arab, Kacang Bendi, Bhindi (S. Asia), Bendi (Malaysia), Bamia, Bamya or Bamieh (middle east) or Gumbo (Southern USA). Apparently Gumbo is Swahili for okra. In Portugal and Angola, okra is known as Quiabo (plural: Quiabos), and in Cuba, as "quimbombo". In Japan it is known as okura. In Tamil it is known as Vendakkai.

Okra is found in it's wild state on the alluvial banks of the Nile and the Egyptians were the first to cultivate it in the basin of the Nile (12'th century BC). It was propagated then through North Africa to the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and India. It arrived then in the Americas at Brazil (1658), Dutch Guinea and at New Orleans before extending in the United States and going up to Philadelphia in 1781.

How to freeze Okra

Start with freshly picked okra. Wash, cut the stems off, being careful not to cut into seed chamber, otherwise the seeds may spill out. Blanch by putting into rapidly boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove and cool immediately by placing under cool running water. Pat dry, optionally make a cut lengthwise, pack in plastic bags, seal tightly and place in the freezer. Should keep well upto a year

Recipes made from Okra ...

Vendakkai (Okra) Kuzhambu
Lady's finger in curd based gravy
Bindhi Bhajii
Okra Curry

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chick Pea - Bengal Gram - Channa

The chickpea, chick pea, garbanzo bean, ceci bean, bengal gram, chana or channa (Cicer arietinum) is an edible legume (British "pulse") of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae.

The plant is 20 to 50 cm high and has small feathery leaves on both sides of the stem. One seedpod contains two or three peas. The flowers are white- or reddish-blue. Chickpeas need a subtropical or tropical climate and more than 400 mm annual rain. They can be grown in a temperate climate, but yields will be much lower.

Desi vs. kabuli chickpeas
There are two types of chickpea:

Desi - "with small, dark seeds and a rough coat (prevailing in the Indian subcontinent, Ethiopia, Mexico, Iran)"
Kabuli- "with light-coloured, larger seeds and a smoother coat (mainly grown in S Europe, N Africa, Afghanistan, introduced to India only in the 18th cent., Chile)."[[1]]
The Desi form is also known as Bengal gram or chana. The Kabuli form is the kind grown e.g. in the Mediterranean today. The desi-type closely resembles those seeds found on archaeological sites and the wild ancestor, so it is probably the earlier form. Desi-type chickpeas are said to have a very low glycemic index[2] making it good for many people with blood sugar problems.

Delicious Recipes using chick peas

Kadalai Kuzhambu
Chick pea Curry
Chick Peas Vada
Fuity Channa Salad

Friday, September 01, 2006

Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the oldest spice crops. It is consumed throughout the world more than any other spice, as black, white, and green peppercorns. India is a major exporter and there is long established tradition of commercial cultivation by smallholders.

Varieties and types

There are more than 100 cultivars of black pepper in India with names such as 'Balamcotta', 'Kalluvalli' and 'Cheria Kaniakadan'. They are distinguished from each other in leaf shape and size and flowering and fruiting characteristics.

The same species is used to produce black, white and green peppercorns. It is also used to produce pepper oil and oleoresin. The oil is obtained by steam distillation of the fruits and the oleoresin by solvent extraction. They give a much stronger flavour than the spice and are mainly used in convenience foods.

In Ayurvedic medicine black pepper has been used to aid digestion, improve the appetite, treat coughs, colds, breathing and heart problems, colic, diabetes, anaemia and piles. Stomach ailments such as dyspepsia, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea are all treated with black pepper, which may be mixed with other substances such as castor oil, cow's urine or ghee.

Black pepper remedies

Black pepper has been prepared in the form of pills as a remedy for cholera and syphilis, sometimes combined with other substances. It has also been used in tooth powder for toothache and an infusion of black pepper has been described as a remedy for sore throat and hoarseness. Alternatively black pepper could be chewed to reduce throat inflammation.

Few delicious recipes you can make out of Black Pepper ...

Milagu-paruppu Rasam

Milagu Kuzhambu

Cauliflower pepper fry

Pepper Chicken

Milagu Vadai