Pirandai – The adamant creeper



 Pirandai,  a creeper plant,  might still be growing somewhere in your backyard. The stem of this plant is used to make many delicious food items like chutneys and papad/vadam (made in Palghat, my home town) .

The Sanskrit name(connecting bones) and the shape of this plant gives us an idea of the primary use of this plant. It is used in traditional medicine system like Ayurveda, Siddha  to treat bone related issues like fractures, sprain, osteoarthritis etc.

 Some of the many reasons why you should include this in your food are:

  • Enhances calcium absorption – essential for those with weak bones, osteoporosis, low bone density.

  • Heals your Gut– Eases digestive issues for those who have acidity, bloating, constipation, peptic ulcers, and piles

  • Improves insulin sensitivity – must have for those who have thyroid issues , Diabetes and Fatty liver.

  • Strengthens uterus– must-food for those have PCOS, irregular periods, Painful periods and PMS

  • Improves skin texture – Reduces wrinkles and stretch marks as it is a good source of collagen.

 Its nutritive value and health benefits can be enhanced by roasting it’s stem in ghee or sesame oil.

It  can be tagged  as ‘local & organic’, ‘garden fresh’, ‘easy-care’ and ‘pocket friendly’ as It is cheap to buy, grows easily without the use of chemicals and doesn’t need too much space.

Let’s not fall into the trap of thinking ‘only expensive things are healthy’.  Start eating this even before Western world recognizes or markets this as a superfood.

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Little Millet – The poor man’s superfood

Millets are gaining popularity around the world. Many countries in the west have started promoting millets as ancient grains with a huge price tag. They are also turning out to be the solutions to all our environmental problems. How many millets do we have native to our cuisine and how many do we use often?

 Chama(samai/samalu/kutki/saame) – the little millet, was eaten by our grand-parents and previous generations during the ekadasi and other fasting days though rice was our staple diet. This basically ensured there was a change in diet at-least twice a month so that there was no micronutrient deficiency.

It is called the “Little Millet”, however the nutritious value of Chama is very high. It has all the essential amino acids(protein), iron, B vitamins especially B9 Folate(Folic acid), Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium.

Chama, with its dense nutrient profile, is highly  beneficial for everyone especially those who are diabetic or planning to start a family, pregnant, lactating. It is very filling but easily digestible for people of all ages and aids in weight loss. The high fibre and potassium content is good for those who have high cholesterol and blood pressure. The easy digestibility and fibre content is helpful for those suffering from constipation, bloating , acidity or other digestive issues. It is also a pre biotic feeds the probiotic bacteria in your intestine. The high Zinc and Magnesium content boosts our immunity ,  energy , under active thyroid and insulin.

This millet, being native to our cuisine, is very versatile and can be cooked in several ways that will appeal to our taste buds like upma, kanji/porridge, dosa, payasam, pongal etc.

Chama is a drought resistant crop and does not need much irrigation. Traditionally cultivated as the second crop after rice, it enhances soil fertility, can survive in dry or semi-arid regions with little rainfall and soil fertility  . It is not just highly sustainable as  it doesn’t affect the environment with high amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, but also ensures biodiversity.

In India grains like oats that are not indigenous to our cuisine has taken the place of these highly nutritious and affordable millets. Let’s not forgo our native ancient super grains for the foreign ones that are expensive and highly marketed. Chama is not just great for your health, but also for your pocket and environment.

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Have you heard of this millet or eaten it before? Share with us your experience.


The Quintessential Tadka

How do you increase the antioxidants in your food? How do you increase the flavor, fragrance and taste of your food? How do you increase the therapeutic value of your food? The answer to all these questions is the same: ‘Tempering the spices’

Tadka a.k.a thaalippu/thalimpu/oggarane in different languages is the tempering of spices in heated oil. This can be done either at the start or at the end of cooking. I have always loved the sizzling sound of my mom’s tadka while making rasam and sambar, not to mention the aroma that fills the house. The smell and sound also indicates that the food is now ready to be served, which increases the enzyme activity in mouth

 Is this relevant in an era of cutting edge modern nutrition science? Our ancestors knew, several thousand years ago, that when added to hot oil/ghee, spices release  their essential oil and flavonoids.  Additionally, the oils are an easy medium to extract and carry these. It increases the flavor and the therapeutic value of the food. Spices like cumin, fennel, turmeric, ginger, asafetida etc increase the digestive power and immunity, whereas the herbs like cilantro, dry fenugreek leaves(methi), curry leaf etc increase the nutrient and antioxidant value. The properties of each and every spice used in our cuisines cannot be detailed in a single post. This explains why traders crossed oceans, several centuries ago, to buy these spices.

The tempering with oil and spices, also reduces the GI (Glycemic index is the rate at which glucose is released into blood) of the food, which will aid in fat loss and increase our immunity.  This is a main reason, why you shouldn’t eat plain boiled vegetables/salads and other bland food for the sake of weight loss.

Care should be taken to not burn the spices as it will spoil not just the taste but also the therapeutic value. The oils used for the tempering plays a big role. Some of the oils that are new to our cuisine, such as olive oil, should not be heated to such high temperatures. Using oils that were traditionally used in our native cuisine (example coconut, sesame, peanut, mustard oil) are the best oils for this purpose.

Spice up your food and your Life.

Do you love the smell of tadka?

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