Goodness of Neem Flowers


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Neem flower pachchadiNeem flower pachchadi

The neem flower is a tiny ingredient with stupendous curative powers. From protecting your gut, relieving painful migraines to keeping skin ailments at bay, these flowers are replete with blood-purifying properties.

The neem tree ideally flowers during spring. The best way to harvest these flowers is by collecting them on a clean cloth or a mat from under the flowering tree. You can then rinse the flowers in a large sieve, sundry and store them in a dry air-tight container. Radha Prathi suggests a few recipes using this bitter condiment.

Neem Flower Rasam

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flowers; 1 tbsp of cumin seeds; 1 tbsp of tur dal; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 red chillies; 1 tbsp of tamarind extract; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 1 tsp of ghee; a sprig of curry leaves and salt to taste.

Method: Grind the cumin seeds, pepper, chillies, tur dal and curry leaves to a fine powder. Add tamarind extract, the powder, and salt to a litre of water and allow it to boil to half its quantity on a low flame. Add another half a litre of water and bring the contents to a boil. For the tempering, add ghee to a pan and toss in the mustard seeds before turning off the heat. Then add neem flowers to the pan and sauté them lightly. Add the tempering to the rasam along with some curry leaves. Serve the rasam hot as it is or with some hot rice and ghee.

Neem Flower Rice

Ingredients: A tbsp of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of pepper powder; 1 tbsp of ghee; 1 tbsp of lemon juice and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the asafoetida and the neem flowers before turning off the heat. Add pepper powder, lemon juice, and salt and allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes. Add the mixture to a tablespoon of freshly cooked rice. Serve immediately.

Neem Flower Podi

Ingredients: A small cup of neem flower; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp of turmeric powder; 1 tbsp of peppercorns; 2 sprigs of curry leaves; a tbsp of ghee and salt to taste.

Method: Heat the ghee in a pan and toss in the turmeric powder, asafoetida, peppercorns and curry leaves and turn off the heat. Add the neem flowers to the pan and sauté them. Grind all the roasted ingredients together with salt. Store the mixture in an airtight container. You can mix the powder with rice for a healthy meal.

Neem Flower Pachchadi

Ingredients: Two tbsps of neem flower; 2 tbsps of jaggery; 2 red chillies; ½ tsp of mustard seeds; 2 tbsps of tamarind juice; a pinch of asafoetida; 1 tbsp of oil and ½ tsp of salt.

Method: Grind the chillies, jaggery, salt, together and mix it with the tamarind paste. Heat a pan, add oil, toss in the mustard seeds and asafoetida and turn off the heat. Then add the neem flowers and saute them well. Add the previously prepared spice mixture. Stir well and the pachchadi is ready to be served.

Curious about Carom?


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Carom seeds

Carom seeds

The carom seeds, popularly known as ajwain, have been a part of Indian cuisine from times immemorial. Southeast Asian countries have consciously included these aromatic seeds in some of their common and exclusive dishes. The spice lends a tinge of heat and freshness to any dish to which it is added.

Since ajwain has its own distinct flavour, it is best not to combine it with other spices. It is particularly useful in curing digestive disorders. The spice has a magical way of lending diverse genres of flavours when employed differently.

If you are planning to use ajwain as a seasoning, then heat some ghee or any cooking oil of your choice and toss the spice when the fat is hot. When the spice inflates, turn off the heat and toss it into your dish. You can give your dosas, salads and buttermilk a twist by adding a dash of ajwain.

While baking some breads and buns or Indian snacks using besan flour as base, make sure that you add raw ajwain to the dough. If you don’t like biting into the spice unexpectedly, then consider adding a pinch of coarse or fine ajwain powder to the dough.

If you want an uniform and all encompassing flavour then make sure that you use a decoction of the spice. Toss a teaspoonful of the seeds into quarter litre of water and allow it to boil down to about 200 ml, add a pinch of table salt and crystal sugar to the decoction before taking it off the heat. Use this decoction while preparing dough for breads, chapatis or paranthas. This decoction can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator and administered a spoonful or two after every meal to overcome flatulence or indigestion.

Amazing Curry Leaves


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Know your ingredient

The number of tales and proverbs revolving around the humble curry leaf can make an interesting volume. No cook worth his or her salt can ever claim to have completed cooking unless the spicy delicacies are garnished or seasoned with a spray of curry leaves.

The unique flavour and colour of the leaf which seemed to deliver the nourishment, taste and aesthetic appeal of gourmet were certainly not missed by our ancestors.

The leaves were incorporated into the daily menu as the quintessential seasoning and sometimes as the main ingredient in chutneys and exclusive kozhambus. The fact that the curry leaves have traveled halfway across the world for more or less similar uses gives little room for speculation about its necessity to make dishes exclusive.

A good cook will optimize the use of these leaves by judging their freshness. The young sprays of a lighter green taste best when added to salads or garnished freshly on food and in buttermilk. The
mature leaves have the ability to release their essence entirely when boiled along, fried, ground or used when seasoning is the first step of the chosen recipe.

Drying or dried leaves can be allowed to dry completely in the shade and powdered and can be tossed into curries, gravies, sambar and rasam among other such foods when you run out of fresh leaves or happen to live in places that cannot grow this herb.

Home Remedies For Menstrual Blues


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The monthly cycle can be a cumbersome affair to many menstruating women of all age groups. While seeking medical help seems to be the most apparent option, niggling problems can be effectively ironed out by taking a leaf out of natural home remedies used by our grandmothers and their grandmothers. It will surprise us to know that they managed to find hands on solutions to most hassles sourcing readily available ingredients off their larders. Here are a few tips that were largely used by them rather successfully without any side effects. It will be a good idea to know them just in case we want to ease ourselves or our kind as and when we need them.

Women who have painful periods can overcome cramps forever if they consume a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in curd with a pinch of salt for forty five days  continuously on an empty stomach.

Consuming the plantain flower can do a world of good to the female of the human species. The flower contains the much needed home remedy for most problems related to the menstrual tribulations of women. These florets when cooked with dhal supplement the protein requirement quite adequately. There are certain ground rules for using the plantain flower as they can be a very sticky and tiresome process. For those of you, who are not familiar with the plantain flower, please note that each petal of the flower conceals more than a dozen florets. The first few petals which are a deep crimson could be discarded and only the florets are to be used in the given method. Once the petals appear to be cream in colour, the flower can be cut up as you would use any other vegetable.

If you happen to experience intermittent cramps or a dull continuous ache in the underbelly region rub a few drops castor oil in the area, the pain will subside. Repeat the process before your daily bath during the period to avoid more bouts of pain.

It is normal to have slightly bloated tummy before the period, if the condition continues post period add a little salt to a teaspoon of coconut oil and rub it on to your belly before your daily bath and leave it for ten minutes before washing it off.

Weakness, dizziness and low blood pressure syndromes during the period can be wiped away with a glass of pomegranate juice with a dash of lime in it.

Inability to eat on time or loss of appetite during the periods is usually a temporary phase. Consuming a couple of bananas and a glass of milk will supplement a nutritious meal and help us overcome acidity.

A full body oil massage followed by a hot water bath post the cycle can rejuvenate the body and mind by making it moisturized and supple.

Places of worship, Indian festivals, fasts and functions normally do not encourage the active participation of menstruating women for religious reasons. At such times ladies might like to advance or put off the cycle by a couple of days. Though one can use over the counter medication for the purpose, relying on natural home remedies will prove to be the best for one can be assured of zero side effects.

If you want to advance your period for some reason by four to five days start taking a spoonful of fried sesame seeds (til) along with a pinch of jaggery, til chikkis will also do the trick after the fifteenth day of the previous cycle.

If you are due for your period in a day or two and you are impatient to finish it off without it being an impediment to your schedule, two servings of papaya or pineapple will do the trick.

There may be times when you would want to defer the period by a couple of days. If there is time to plan it in advance, ensure that you have an oil bath at least three times a week. Refrain from the aforementioned foods which stimulate the menstrual cycle.