Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Coconut for Pooja

Coconut for Pooja
Pooja Coconut

The festival season officially will begin tomorrow for us. Last year in moving hungama, I totally missed the pooja, but this year I have planned to celebrate all festivals.

For Varalakshmi vratham:

Shopping - done
House cleaning - done
Pooja mandir decoration - done

Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Varalakshmi Vratha Shubhakankshalu!
వరలక్ష్మి పూజ శుభాకాంక్షలు!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Coconut (Fresh) (Thursday August 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Turmeric (Haldi, Pasupu)

Food blogging has opened a new way for me to meeting interesting people who also share my passion and philosophy in cooking. Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice is one such person. She belongs to the spice world and has a great knowledge about our traditional and ancient spices and herbs. I truly believe that we all could benefit from her knowledge. Through her periodical articles on Mahanandi, Anjali will be sharing the benefits and uses of various spices and herbs.


Pasupu (Turmeric, Haldi)

Turmeric (Pasupu, Haldi)
Fresh and Dried Turmeric Root, Turmeric Powder and Fresh Turmeric Paste

Turmeric is probably the most revered spice in Ayurveda.

One cannot imagine a Hindu festival or wedding without this amazing wonder of nature. The western world has just started to understand turmeric whereas our ancestors knew it properties for centuries and incorporated it in our daily cuisine.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic properties and is considered a blood purifier. Curcumin, found in turmeric, is an anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidant is a substance that has the ability to stabilize or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals. An anti-oxidant may be a vitamin or mineral such as vitamin C or zinc. Free radicals are produced when cells convert oxygen to energy. A few free radicals are not dangerous, but too many can damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA. To get more information on free-radicals read this article. There’s a lot of research being done to see whether turmeric can be used to treat arthritis. Studies have also found that India, with its turmeric rich cuisine, has fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.

It’s interesting to see how Indian culture has incorporated turmeric in everyday life. In Andhra, women used to apply turmeric paste to their feet everyday (this custom is still going strong in some interior parts of Andhra). The reason behind this custom is that not many wore sandals/chappals in olden days and by applying turmeric paste they made sure that their feet were healthy. Now that’s smart.

Unfortunately, the turmeric powder that we buy in stores nowadays has some food color added to it. In my experience, pure turmeric has an orangish tinge to it. No wonder turmeric was confused for saffron in olden times and was also known as “Poor man’s saffron”.

Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea
Turmeric and Honey ~ for Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea

When it comes to turmeric in cooking, I add it to the tadka/popu but also sprinkle some after the vegetables are cooked. The most popular usage is warm milk with some turmeric and honey/sugar. My daughter sometimes complains of body ache after a long day of jumping and running (or after “sports day” in school which is invariably on the hottest day of the month). I give her a glass of warm milk with turmeric and it really helps. Milk with turmeric is also good for preventing and curing pimples. A mixture of honey and turmeric is a time tested remedy for sore throat. Gargling with warm water to which salt and turmeric is added, works well too.

Another interesting way to benefit from turmeric is to take it in the form of tea. Here is a simple recipe for Turmeric Tea: Boil water, add turmeric powder, grated ginger (or cardamom pods work well too), little sugar. Add some milk. Let it simmer for a few more seconds. Enjoy.

Turmeric is getting a lot of attention from researchers around the world. Hopefully this will generate more interest in Ayurveda too.

~ Guest Post by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photo Credit : Indira Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Herbs and Spices, Turmeric (Pasupu), Anjali Damerla (Thursday August 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Batani (Vatana) Sprouts ~ Green and Yellow

Green and Yellow Pea Sprouts
Green and Yellow Pea Sprouts ~ for This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Yellow peas split are marketed as yellow split peas. And, yellow split peas are neither toor dal nor chana dal.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Peas (Bataani), Sprouts (Molakalu), Peas (whole) (Sunday July 22, 2007 at 9:13 pm- permalink)
Comments (9)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Series of Sprouts ~ Masoor Dal

Masoor Dal ~ Whole

Masoor Dal: Outer Brown Skins Removed and Split

Masoor Dal Sprouts

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Masoor Dal (Red Lentils), Sprouts (Molakalu) (Sunday July 8, 2007 at 9:02 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Moong, Moth and Red Chori Bean Sprouts

Series of Sprouts ~ Tiranga Sprouts

Moong Beans, Moth Beans and Red Chori Beans ~ for This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Moong Beans - Green colored beans
Moth Beans - Brown colored beans. Available in Indian stores.
Red Chori Beans - Reddish-brown colored beans, smaller than adzuki (chori) and Rajma beans. Available in Indian stores (packet label - “Red or Desi Chori”).

Moong, moth and red chori - three beans, three different colors, but they are similar in size and almost in taste. Very fast and reliable sprouters, they produce delightful looking sprouts that taste mellow and crisply sweet. Consumed raw, curried or dal’ed, the sprouts of moong-moth-red chori combination make a perfect meal any time of the day.

Moong, Moth and Red Chori ~ After a Day of Soaking in Water

Soak moong, moth and red chori beans in water overnight.
Drain and gather them in a loosely woven cotton cloth.
Tie a knot and hang the cloth at a kitchen window or warm area in the house.
Keep the cloth moist by spraying water at regular intervals.
Because they are similar in size, the sprouts make an appearance at the same time, usually within a day.
When the sprouts grow to the size of beans, remove and enjoy raw or curried.

Moong, Moth and Red Chori Sprouts ~ To Start the Day off Mellow

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (whole), Red Beans (Chori), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sprouts (Molakalu), Moth (Desi Chori) (Sunday June 24, 2007 at 11:12 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Almonds and Apricot Kernels

Badam and Khubani:

Almonds and Apricot Kernels (Badam and Khubani)
Almonds and Apricot Kernels ~ for This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Apricot kernels are often called poor man’s badam (almonds) in Bharat. They look like miniature almonds and taste equally delicious. But unlike almonds, the shelf life of apricot kernels is short, they go rancid fast so it’s better to have a taste before buying. Sweet tasting version of this versatile nut is available in natural/health food stores here. Apricot kernels are great for snacking and cooking. Can be used whole, sliced, silvered or ground into a paste (to prepare burfi/halwa like sweet).

Apricot Kernels in High Valley of Hunza.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Dry Fruits, Nuts & Seeds, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Apricot Kernels (Sunday May 27, 2007 at 6:45 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sona Masuri Rice

Sona Masuri Rice ~ from Andhra Pradesh

Any food event that celebrates Andhra cuisine must include a topic on rice, I think. After all, Andhra Pradesh is the “Rice Bowl of India”.

Krishna, Godavari, Tungabhadra and Penna rivers criss-cross the state creating fertile lands and water source necessary for the rice cultivation. As a result, Andhra is not only blessed with rich rice culture but also dynamic diversity in grains. Several varieties of rice are grown in Andhra Pradesh and each type has a unique name. The varieties that my grandparents cultivate and my parents consume at home are “Krishna Hamsa, Krishna Veni, Masuri, Samba Masuri and Sona Masuri” . They belong to medium-slender group (medium refers to the length and slender refers to the thickness of grain). And they all are quality rice varieties priced at affordable rates and geared towards common consumption.

Among this bunch, Sona Masuri is considered the pride of Andhra Pradesh. Reed thin and richly nutty, Sona Masuri symbolizes Andhra people. Strong and impossible to turn to mush, this supreme quality rice is a soulful delight, particularly to those who like their rice with some integrity left when cooked. Thanks to the generous India’s export policies, for the last five years, we who live in America are also able to purchase Sona Masuri rice from local Indian grocery shops.

Cooking Sona Masuri is easy. Stove-top, pressure-cooker or rice cooker, they all work. I usually cook Sona Masuri in a pressure cooker. For one cup rice, three cups of water is the measurement I follow. Cook until tender and serve hot/warm or cold. Sona Masuri rice is best suited to prepare pulihora/chitrannam/pulao type preparations and also as an accompaniment to dal (pappu), sambar, rasam and yogurt. The classic combo is Sona Masuri rice, dal and ghee, mixed together and served with a papad, like shown below - popular and the most copied image from Mahanandi.

Mango dal and rice mudda in a sabudana papad
Sona Masuri Rice Mixed with Mango dal&ghee. Shaped to a Round & placed on a Deep Fried Sago Papad.
~ My Contribution to RCI~Andhra Cuisine, Hosted by Lovely Latha of Masala Magic

Sona Masuri Rice is avialable at local Indian grocery shops here in US.
The Five Pillars of Rice Wisdom

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), The Essentials, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sona Masuri Rice (Thursday May 24, 2007 at 6:07 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Lemon Grass (Bhustrina, Sera)

Fresh Lemon Grass : Peeled and Sliced to Thin Rings
~ For this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Cooling, Fragrant Vetiver Root Water for Summer Time
~ from Revathi’s En Ulagam

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sera (Lemon Grass) (Sunday May 6, 2007 at 10:15 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Going Green with Neem Leaves (Vepa Aaku)

Homemade Neem-Clove Tooth Powder

Dried Neem Leaves ~ For This Week’s Indian Kitchen

We worship the neem tree! For us Bharatiya, the neem tree is a sacred tree, standing along the magnificient Maamidi (Mango) and the bodhi vruksham-Peepal (Raavi). The beautiful evergreen neem tree with its numerous medicinal benefits is a precious gift from Mother Earth. Every part of the tree is utilized in some way in India. In home-based medicines and in religious ceremonies, neem plays an essential role, the protector against disease and evil eye. In the kitchen, delicate neem flowers and tender neem leaves are used in preparing the broth-like healing potions. The bark, branches and dried leaves of the neem tree are used to prepare medicinal powders in our homes.

Since olden times, dental health is one of the well-known beneficial effects of neem. I have always desired to go back to the way my grandparents used to brush their teeth with homemade powders. Dried neem, tulasi leaves, cloves, little bit of rock salt and rice bran are ground together and stored in jars, to use as tooth-powder. Rice husk ash was also added to this mixture. Dental care routine in the days of yore went as follows - about half a teaspoon of the powder is placed in the palm of one’s hand and a small pencil-sized neem twig serves as the toothbrush. We had to dip the edge of the twig in this powder and brush the teeth. The taste of the toothpowder combined with neem twig packed quite a kick, which was sort of overwhelming to my young palate at that time. But we didn’t have a choice, because the commercial white toothpaste was considered poison in those days in villages. And people like my grandparents, who were well-versed in Western culture, consciously avoided using “foren” sounding, tasting chemical-laden white toothpaste. They had sparkling, healthy teeth and warm smiles.

I wanted to resuscitate that old tradition from memories. I purchased neem powder and tulasi powder from Indian stores. Ground few cloves to fine powder. I put together a fantastic-smelling tooth powder. Here is the result.

Homemade Neem-Clove Tooth Powder


4 tablespoons - neem powder
2 tablespoons - cloves powder
1 tablespoon - tulasi powder
¼ teaspoon - rock salt
1 tablespoon - rice bran or of bran of any grain - (added to provide friction to dislodge the food particles while brushing.)

Take all of the above in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and have a taste. Adjust cloves, salt and bran to your liking. Mix and store in a clean jar.
To use - place about half teaspoon of powder in the palm of your hand. Moisten tooth brush and dip the bristles in powder and apply to the teeth. Do like you normally brush. No foam while brushing and no artificial sweetener like after-taste. This homemade tooth powder provides a refreshing clean feel and an enticing potent after-taste that mature palates prefer.

We all know that mothers love children who take proper dental care. What’s better way to celebrate mother earth on Earth day than remembering the old wisdom and bringing those sparkling memories back? This recipe is my way of celebrating the ancient wisdom and the inspiration for it - the Mother Earth.

All about Neem Tree
Neem: India’s Miraculous Healing Plant (book)
Sacred trees of India

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Neem (Vepa) (Sunday April 22, 2007 at 7:19 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Thotakura (Amaranth, Red Spinach)

Thotakura (Amaranth, Red Spinach)
Thotakura (Amaranth, Red Spinach) Leaf ~ for this week’s Indian Kicthen

Traditional way to select and store wheat grains for the whole year
- from Pune, India by Pooja of My Creative Ideas.


Great news about ‘Cooking at Home with Pedatha’:

The book has won the Gourmand Award for Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World ~ 2006.

Congratulations Pedatha, Pratibha and Jigyasa!


Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Thotakura (Amaranth) (Sunday April 15, 2007 at 4:36 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Beaming Beauties ~ Boiled Groundnuts

Boiled Groundnuts (Udakapettina Verusanagalu)
Boiled Peanuts Snack on a Rainy Spring Day

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Peanuts, Indian Ingredients (Saturday April 14, 2007 at 6:18 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Taati Munjalu (Toddy Palm Seeds)

 Taati Munjalu (Toddy Palm Seeds)

Taati Munjalu (Toddy Palm Seeds) ~ For this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Popular summer fruit of India (Andhra), the toddy palm seeds (Taati munjalu) are a delicate halwa/jelly like fresh fruits prized for their sweet, tender flesh and refreshing sugary water inside. They appear in the market in early summer and the season is usually short.

Taati munjalu (toddy palm seeds) are treasured similar way like tender coconuts for us. They are divine fruits!

Taati Munjalu (Toddy Palm Seeds) - Whole and Sliced to Quarters

Purchased at Viet Wah, Seattle

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Fruits, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Sunday April 8, 2007 at 8:18 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Roasted Upma Rava

Roasted Upma Rava from India for this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Different from broken wheat, suji and semolina, - in method of preparation, in size and taste, roasted upma rava is a special wheat product from India specifically used to prepare a flavorful Upma breakfast.

Roasted Upma Rava and Broken Wheat in the background

Samba Upma Rava at Daily Musings
Special note:
Is this your photo? - Find more details at Yahoo-Parade.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Indian Ingredients (Sunday March 25, 2007 at 9:51 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Punjabi Wadi (Dried Spicy Lentil Rounds)

Punjabi Wadi
Punjabi Wadi : Whole and Broken Pieces ~ For this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Dals (Lentils & Legumes) (Sunday March 4, 2007 at 2:49 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Ginger~Garlic~Coriander Paste : For Jihva (Allam Vellulli Kottimera Mudda)

Root vegetables, as if happy to be unearthed, usually mingle well with other vegetables by being subtly sweet. But when it comes to Gingerroot-the rhizome, it’s quite another story.

Like an unruly tiny tot, ginger is full of attitude. Potent, pungent and incomparable, it is nothing like other rhizomes or root vegetables. To put it gingerly, ginger is never needed in pounds, just a small quantity is enough to liven up an otherwise ordinary culinary experience. And Indian cuisine, one of the mother cuisines in the world, pairs ginger with garlic and coriander. The pungency of ginger is controlled and counteracted with more pungent flavors. What a way to civilize the taste of ginger! A perfect pairing appreciated by mature palates.

Ginger, garlic and coriander, together ground into a smooth paste is something that I often use in my daily cooking. Almost all traditional tomato and coconut based curries (pulusu, subjis) need at least a teaspoon of ginger-garlic-coriander paste. So depending on the market price of these three ingredients or my time constraints, I prepare this paste in quantities large (which would last for at least two weeks) or small (just enough for that day’s meal).

Here is my recipe for ginger-garlic-coriander paste, and an entry to “Jihva for Ginger” event. Hosted from Scotland by lovely Rosie of “What’s the recipe today, Jim?”.

Ginger-Garlic-Coriander Paste ~ for “Jihva : Ginger” event.


Ginger root - peeled, sliced to small pieces - Half cup
Garlic - peeled and sliced to small pieces - Quarter cup
Fresh coriander (cilantro) -finely chopped - 1 cup
Salt - quarter teaspoon

Take them all in a blender/food processor or in a mortar. Grind them to smooth consistency without adding water. Remove to a clean glass jar, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator. (Remains fresh from one week up to a month.) Whenever needed, take the required amount with a clean spoon.

To Jihva participants:
Rosie is in the process of moving and requesting “Jihva-Ginger” entries as early as possible.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Kottimera(Cilantro), Ginger & Sonti, Jihva For Ingredients (Monday January 29, 2007 at 2:33 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

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