Venthiyam (fenugreek) are small yellow seeds that are used widely in Tamil cooking and home remedies. It is used to treat a variety of ailments including dandruff, menstrual cramps, blood sugar and anemia. It has also been used to treat cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases. Here are some ways to get the best out of fenugreek:
Dandruff Hair Mask
If you have dandruff, venthiyam is really effective at getting rid of it. It can be a bit messy, but totally worth it. To make a hair mask, simply blend dry-roasted fenugreek seeds into a powder, mix with milk and apply it on your scalp and hair for 30 minutes and wash off with regular shampoo. Do this a few times, and then once every week to keep dandruff at bay. This will also help your hair looking glossy. Venthiyam is also said to help prevent premature greying of hair.
Controlling Blood Sugar
One of the most cited used for venthiyam is for controlling blood sugar. This is great for people who are diabetic, or pre-diabetic to help control their sugar. Many scientific studies have tested fenugreek, and had found it to be effective in controlling blood sugar for patients with mild type 2 diabetes. The best way to to do this is to soak 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds in half cup of water overnight and drink this (seeds too!) in the morning, first thing. Do this for a few months and will notice a change. Consult your doctor, especially if you are taking other medication to lower your blood sugar.
Venthiyam is effective is soothing skin inflammations, especially acne and pimples. Dry roast the seeds, grind it into a paste, add some turmeric and milk and apply this to your face for half an hour and then wash it off.
Venthiyam in Curry
A simple way to ensure you include venthiyam in your diet is to add it to curry. It is bitter, so you don’t want to add too much, but adding some seeds to curry can help you reap some of the benefits. I find that venthiyam tastes great especially in fish curry and crab curry.
Dry-roasting the seeds lightly before using it will help release the benefits and aroma of the spice.
This is perfect to get you drinking more water. We all aim to drink more water, but sometimes, we need to add some colour to make it exciting. This is a wonderful drink that helps to cleanse your system and add energy.
Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients and how they can benefit you:
LEMON Lemons are filled with good news – from being antibacterial, having antioxidant properties to being full of Vitamin C. Lemons are good for treating stomach trouble, indigestion and bloating. Drinking lemon water can help stimulate the body and keep things moving in your body.
MINT Mint helps to cool the body and is used in Tamil cooking, more so in sambals and chutneys, and to treat headaches. (Puthina is Tamil) Mint is regarded for its antibacterial and pain relieving properties. Mint is also used to treat headaches, colds and flatulence. If you grew up in a Tamil household, you probably ate puthina chutney with dosai or idly sometime.
GINGER Make sure you add the ginger grated, more of it will infuse that way. Ginger is very good for digestive health and helps to relieve nausea, flatulence, stomach cramps and indigestion. It is also widely used to treat pain, specifically arthritic pain or swelling.
- Mint Leaves - half a cup
- Cucumber - 1
- Lemon - 1
- Ginger - thick piece, length of your thumb (grated)
- Cut up cucumber and lemon into slices.
- Grate ginger.
- Remove mint leaves from stem.
- Mix everything into a jug of warm water. Let it infuse for a few hours then drink it throughout the day. I usually boil water in a kettle and let it cool down a little then add it to the jug.
Chicken wings are always great to make when watching a game or show with friends. Instead of ordering wings, why not try and make these spicy wings? They use less oil than store-bought wings and you can adjust the spiciness to your taste.
- Chicken Wings or Drumsticks - 10
- Flour - 1/3 cup
- Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
- Paprika - 1 tablespoon (or more if you like)
- Roasted Red Chilli Powder - 1 tablespoon
- Black peppercorns - ground, 1 tablespoon
- Salt - to taste
- Lemon - 2 tablespoons of juice, some to garnish
- Parsley, chopped to garnish
- Butter or oil for baking
- Clean wings, pat them dry with paper towels and place them in a dry plastic bag.
- Add flour, turmeric, paprika, black peppercorns, red chilli powder, salt t the bag and shake to mix the spices.
- Butter or slightly oil a baking tray and put the wings on the tray and bake for half an hour.
- Flip the wings and bake for another 10 minutes, then broil on low for another 5 minutes.
- Make sure you watch the oven to make sure you aren't overcooking the wings.
- Make sure you broil the chicken wings in the end, this will make the wings nice and crispy.
- You can serve the wings with some lemon squeezed over them with hot sauce, ranch or any dipping sauce of your choice.
- If this is too spicy for you, reduce the heat elements, or serve with a dairy based dip that will bring down the hear.
I wish you all a Happy Thai Pongal! Pongal is a Tamil harvest festival where thanks are given to nature, the Sun and farm cattle for providing grain and harvest. This year, it is celebrated on January 15. Farmers also harvest their new crops for the year this day, including rice, sugar cane and turmeric. Farmers also honour the cattle the next day, for Maatu Pongal, where they give their cows a bath and adorn it. Pongal is not a religious festival, it is a cultural festival, therefore, Tamils of all faith participate in the celebrations.
The etymology of Thai Pongal can be traced to the meaning of its root words “pong” and “thai,” which mean “to boil” and “January” in Tamil. Thai Pongal marks the first day of a new year, and a new month of the Tamil calendar.
A special dish of Pongal is made to celebrate (what is a festival celebration without food, right!) Pongal is made with a pot of rice, milk and jaggery. You let this dish boil until it boils over the pot, in belief that doing so will result in a bountiful year. Other dishes are prepared in addition, including vadai, aval and kadalai.
If you grew up in a Tamil household, you probably heard the phrase “Thai piranthaal, vali pirakum;” many believe that with the onset of a New Year, better pathways and beginnings will follow. Traditionally, as the Tamil society has largely been an agrarian society, many weddings were held in January, as families were able to bear the expenses of a wedding. Nowadays, with migration, this has changed, and weddings are held throughout the year.
Here’s a recipe for Pongal. I hope you celebrate by giving thanks and making a dish of Pongal and other tasty treats!
- You can adjust the quantities if you are making more.
- Rice - 1/2 cup
- Jaggery - 1/2 cup (or more if you like your pongal to be sweeter)
- Pasi paruppu (Moong dal) - 2-3 tablespoons
- Nei (Ghee) - 2 tablespoons
- Cardamon - 3-4 made into a powder or use cardamon powder
- Cashews and raisins - 1-3 tablespoons
- Saffron - to garnish
- Salt - to cook rice
- Milk - 1/4 cup
- In a pan or pressure cooker, roast the pasi parrupu until it begins to brown.
- Add 2 1/2 cups of water, washed rice and let it cook until it becomes soft.
- In a separate pan, melt the jaggery into a liquid. Melt it on low heat so not to burn it.
- Mash the rice, which should be soft.
- Strain the jaggery liquid and add it to the mashed rice.
- Add the cardamon powder and milk and let it cook for another 5 minutes. (Check the pot to make sure it does not burn, you don't want burnt pongal!)
- In a separate pan, fry the raisins and cashews in ghee.
- Remove from pan when it is golden brown and add this to the pongal and mix. Leave some aside to garnish the top.
- Garnish with saffron, cashews and raisins.
- The colour of your jaggery will determine the colour of your pongal. The more and darker jaggery you use, the darker your pongal will be.
- You can adjust the water and milk quantities if you need to get a soft pongal and prevent burning as everyones stove cooks slightly different depending on the pot you are using.
- You can add grated coconut also for flavour.