When I started cooking, I always got the names of the spices mixed up between Tamil and English. They can all be very confusing! Here’s a small spread of spices to help you when you grocery shop. #eelamflavour#tamil #tamilspices #spices #trivia #foodblogger #foodie#mommyblogger
Herbal face masks have been widely used in Tamil culture to treat a variety of skin issues. This is a common one, made of rose water, sandalwood powder, turmeric and chickpea flour. This one helps with inflammation, acne and clearing up the skin. #eelamflavour #homeremedies #diymask#homemade #remedies #skincareroutine#skincare #herbalife #herbalremedies #rose#facials #facialmasks
Nellikai, also known as Indian Gooseberry or Amla has so many benefits. It’s an acquired taste, but one worth getting use to! #eelamflavour #homeremedies#superfruit #healthyfood #healthyeating#tamil #gogreen #foodblogger
There’s this little girl, she wrapped her little fingers around mine, and my world has forever changed. Earlier this year, I gave birth to the most precious baby girl. Pregnancy and motherhood has been one of the best, yet most challenging times of my life.
During my pregnancy, I was fortunate enough to have the help of so many wise elders who shared their wisdom with me. In an effort to dig a little deeper, I looked into some of the common beliefs shared with pregnant Tamil women in terms of foods to avoid. I hope you find this information as intriguing as I did.
Papaya: This is the number one food I was told to avoid during my pregnancy. Papaya is thought to be a fruit with a ‘hot’ property, and believed to possibly cause abortion. Looking into some research, I found that the avoidance of papaya could be two-fold. One, papaya in Tamil, papali, is made up of two words – pappa (meaning little child) and ali (meaning to destroy). Literally meaning to destroy a child, and thus avoided. It was also believed that consuming this fruit caused the onset of an overdue menstrual period, therefore linked to early miscarriage. Also, papain, the digestive enzyme in papaya has been used to soften and tenderize meat in some parts of the world, and the belief is that if it can be used to soften meat, it may soften the fetus and cause a miscarriage.
Pineapple: This was also a fruit that I was told to avoid. Pineapple is a fruit with a ‘hot’ property, and thus recommended as one to avoid. Furthermore, I was told eating lots of pineapple could cause bleeding. However, you would have to eat many whole pineapples for this to actually happen.
Sesame seeds: While this is also a food with a ‘hot’ property, it is also believed that sesame seeds embody fertility and can stimulate the ovaries unnecessarily.
Eggs: Eggs are thought to cause the baby to grow too much, making labour difficult and also believe to cause rashes for the baby. Before pregnancy I really enjoyed eating soft-boiled eggs, and as my family doctor also recommended only eating hard-boiled eggs, I found avoiding eggs a little harder to give up. Oddly, after avoiding it in pregnancy, I do not like eggs as much as I did before pregnancy.
Sweet potato: This was another one that I was told to avoid during pregnancy because it causes ‘vayvu’ or gas. The belief is that foods that cause gas cause restriction of the movement of the fetus.
Others: Other things to avoid in general were very spicy foods as they could cause indigestion and heart burn, day-old food as it could have bacteria if not stored properly and other hot inducing foods which were believed to have hot properties, thereby causing uterine contractions (garlic, onion, tea, etc.). Mutton was also limited during pregnancy.
Recommended foods: Foods that I was encouraged during pregnancy to eat were spinach, venthiyam (fenugreek seeds), nethili karuvadu (dry fish) for the iron content, kungumapoo (saffron milk), fresh fruits, rasam, and many others that I can’t remember now. In general, it is encouraged that woman eat what they like also, as being happy during pregnancy is important to the health of the mother and baby. My husband was amazing during my pregnancy in this regard, and traveled far and late at night during those really intense craving times!
What are some things you’ve heard to avoid in pregnancy?
Thanks everyone for all your kind words, support and patience with my blog. I hope to soon get more into a routine and start blogging more frequently. For everyone who has requested recipes for some of the photos I’ve posted, I will surely get to them slowly. Some days all I can manage is to take a snap of my food.
These cold winter days call for some warm milk with saffron threads. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. It has various healing properties, including helping to cleanse the blood and increase circulation. It also has sedative properties that help you relax, therefore, is consumed widely as a sleep aid. Saffron is also said to improve skin smoothness, blood pressure and memory. If you are looking for a goodnight’s sleep, make a glass of this milk, put on some warm socks, get a good book to read and head to bed. You will sleep very well.
In Tamil medicine, it is advised that pregnant women consume this to help blood circulation, control blood pressure and helping with mood swings. There are old wives tale saying this will increase the fairness of the baby, but that is completely false; saffron doesn’t play a role in the fairness of the baby, and neither should the fairness of the baby be of concern. You should also not consume this in excess during pregnancy because it can bring on uterine contractions. You should always consult a doctor before consuming anything new, especially during pregnancy and if you have other health concerns.
You can also add some lump sugar, crushed almonds and turmeric powder to this. Almond helps make this drink sweet. Make sure you brush your teeth an hour or so after so that you don’t go to sleep with yellow teeth!
- Milk - 1 cup
- Saffron threads - a pinch
- Turmeric powder (optional) - a pinch
- Almonds, crushed (2 tablespoons)
- Lump or rock sugar - to taste
- Warm milk on the stove, just until you know it will boil over.
- Add a pinch of saffron threads and stir.
- You can also alternatively add lump rock sugar, a pinch of turmeric powder and some crushed almonds if you like.
- Let it cool slightly to a temperature you are comfortable with and enjoy!
Drinking barley is highly beneficial and has been used in a variety of cultures for many, many years. Ayurvedic medicine also recommends the use of barley water to treat a variety of ailments.
Aids in controlling diabetes
Flushes out toxins
Cools the body (especially in the summers)
Aids in managing and treating urinary tract infections
Helps smoothen skin
You can drink this either warm or cold, but I highly recommend drinking it cold. I find that if you drink it warm with nothing added, it literally tastes like nothing. I find that if you just make some of this, add some salt and lemon juice to it and drink it throughout the day, its easy to incorporate into your everyday routine. Plus, you can save the barley and use it in soups or spice it up and eat it for breakfast as you would oatmeal. (Alternatively, you can just eat it with curry).
- You'll need about 2-3 cups of water for every half cup of barley you use.
- Boil the barley until it is fully cooked through in water.
- If you are drinking it warm, strain the water from the barley and drink this once a day.
- If you are drinking it cold, let it cool down, add some salt to taste and a squeeze of lemon and drink at room temperature once a day.
One of the questions I am asked most frequently is where I got the name for my blog from. Eelam Flavour is a blog I started about my cooking adventures of dishes inspired by the flavours of Tamileelam, the homeland of Eelam Tamils. Many Tamils, like myself, do not identify as Sri-Lankan, and identify as Eelam Tamils. Food is a huge part of identity, and preserving knowledge about food helps to preserve this. The map below outlines the boundaries of Tamileelam, made of commonly used Tamil spices.
In starting my blog, I was most interested in sharing and preserving some of the wisdom from Tamil cooking. I did research to help collect this information, and also relied on the experience and wisdom of older relatives. Like, for instance serving food on vaalai ilia (banana leaf) not only enhanced the food flavours, but the leaves were served to cows afterwards so it would not go to waste.
The uses of different spices and herbs are quite well-known to grandmas and mothers, some of this information has been recorded and preserved through epigraphs chiseled in walls of our ancient temples. In these epigraphs, we’ve learned that our ancient cooking specifies the size of kitchen to be used, the size of the stoves to be used, the direction the stove should face, and highly recommends that the cook should not be angry or hold a grudge with someone while cooking. Cleanliness habits have also been talked about (ie. tying up long hair). Our ancestors treated cooking as an art form, one that required much care, love, passion, respect and mastery.
However, younger generations do not always know why certain things are added to certain dishes, and that is what I mostly want to be able to share through this blog. Not necessarily the recipes themselves, but the benefits behind all the ingredients and methods used in Tamil cooking. If there are any topics you would like me to talk about specifically, please send me a message and I’d be happy to look into it.
Thank-you all for your support with my blog so far. 🙂
Warming up with some warm ulutham kali. This is very high in protein and fiber, low in fat, and said to be highly nutritious by Tamil grandmas. 🙂 I’ll post the recipe this week. #eelamflavour #eelam #tamil#tamilcooking #tamilfood #healthyeating#chefsofinstagram #foodphotography #foodpics#foodie #instagood #instafood #yummy #protein
When I was younger I would be embarrassed of the smell of spices if people were coming over. Little did I understand the magic that spices hold. The exotic aromas that are released when you dry roast spices, the way spices can transform food and the realization that colonizers all over the world fought for these spices. Be proud of your culture and take pride in it. #eelamflavour #eelam #tamil #spices#spicy #food #instagood #instafood#chefsofinstagram #kitchen #cooking #homemade#culture