Commonly Used Spices in English and Tamil

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

Vegetarian Meal Idea

Main Dishes | October 12, 2017 | By

Happy Friday! Here’s a veggie lunch meal: rice, curry, eggplant curry, lentil curry, snake beans curry and curried pineapple.

Baby Food Ideas

Breakfast, Main Dishes | October 12, 2017 | By

Here are some pureed baby food ideas. What are some other ones you’ve made that you recommend? 

Jaffna Kool (Jaffna Seafood Soup)

I feel like long weekends and summer parties are meant for Jaffna Kool. Jaffna Kool use to be one of my favourite things to eat. Unfortunately, during my pregnancy last year, I developed an aversion to it and couldn’t eat it. I found that even after I gave birth, the smell made me nauseous. I however, have such fond family memories of eating it before then, that I wanted to love it again.  I’m happy to say that I tried and made a version that I can enjoy now. I realized what bothered me most about it was the smell of fish bones, and while my mom insists this is what adds the favour to it, I used just the fillets, which didn’t give it the fishy smell. I’m not sure if this is as authentic as using whole fish, but its my preferance and it works for me! I hope you enjoy it. 

Jaffna Kool (Jaffna Seafood Soup)
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For the Kool itself
  1. 200 grams 
Odiyal Maa (palmyra flour) and 2 cups cold water
  2. 5 + cups
  3. ¼ cup 
sambar rice
  4. Handful - Jackfruit seeds
  5. 2 cups worth Murungai Illai (Drumstick leaves)
  6. 1 cup Snake beans
  7. Salt
  8. Pepper
  9. Turmeric
  10. A lime sized tamarind piece
  11. The seafood you add is subjective to you, in this specific recipe I added a box of crabs, 12 gigantic grilling shrimp, 15-20 regular sized shrimps and 7 basa fillets. You can add whole light fish, which is what is authentically used.
For grinding
  1. 10-15 red dried chillies
  2. salt
  3. Half to 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  4. 1 tablespoon cumin
  5. 1 bulb garlic, peeled
  6. Tip: Grind everything except the garlic first, so it becomes a fine powder, then grind the garlic with it. Then you have a paste you can use. You can add some water to help it grind if you need to.
  1. Before you start cooking, it's best to have some prep done.
  2. Odiyal maa. This is the key to the recipe, it adds thickness to the soup. Odiyal maa has alot of threads in it from the packets, be sure to sift out these threads before using it. Once you have sifted it out, and have only powder remaining, add 2-3 cups of water to help it dissolve. Set aside for at least an hour before using. Do this first and then your other prep so that the timing will be enough.
  3. Take a tamarind piece from the solid tamarind blocks, a lime sized amount, and make a paste of it using 1 cup of water. Let it sit. You will later add this to the odiyal man mix, so let it sit out for now. I assume you can use less if you are using the paste, but I have never tried it with such.
  4. Prep your vegetables - cut the snake beans into 3-4 cm pieces, wash the jackfruit seeds and wash the murungai illai leaves. You can also add maravalli kilangu to this (cassava chunks) as it helps cut the spice. I didn't have any on hand, that's why I didn't use any.
  5. Prep your seafood - wash and clean the seafood and set it aside.
Now to make the soup
  1. In a large pot, add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add salt to taste (I added 2 tablespoons) and a tablespoon of turmeric.
  3. Add the jackfruit seeds, rice, and snake beans. You want to add whatever takes longest to cook first.
  4. Check to see if the rice has cooked, once the rice is cooked, add the seafood, minus the fish. Fish cooks very quickly, so you want to add it last so that it retains its structure. If you add it too soon, it will fall apart and you won't see it in your soup.
  5. Add the fish.
  6. Add the chili paste and half the tamarind paste to the odiyal maa bowl which has been sitting out for at least an hour. Ensure it all fuses together. Pour this mixture into your pot.
  7. Simmer, adjust for salt and pepper. Add the remaining tamarind paste if needed (I usually do, but some people may want less).
  8. Add murungai illai leaves and remove from heat.
  9. Serve hot.
  1. You need a large wide and tall pot for this, a soup pot works best.
  2. Odiyal maa has alot of threads in it from the packets, be sure to sift out these threads before using it.
  3. Grind the paste ingredients everything except the garlic first, so it becomes a fine powder, then grind the garlic with it. Then you have a paste you can use. You can add some water to help it grind if you need to.
  4. Eating this can get extra messy, so its a good idea to have lots of newspapers and napkins around to help.
Eelam Flavour - Tamil Recipes

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy (Tamil Beliefs)


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. 

Photo Credits: Radival_Oliveira

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.


My Mom’s Fish Curry

Main Dishes, Seafood | March 15, 2017 | By

My mom’s fish curry is the best. I’m not a big fan of fish, but I’ll eat this any day. The fish she usually uses is maangkani paarai. #eelamflavour #fishcurry#homemade #tamil #tamilfood #foodie#foodphotography #foodblogger #spices#spicyfood #curry #momscooking


Chicken Bites

Main Dishes, Meat | January 17, 2017 | By

If you’re looking to make a easy crowd-pleasing appetizer, or got invited to a pot-luck and need to make something, chicken bites are a good choice. They are quick, easy and seem to satisfy guests as dinner parties. In this I used organic chicken.


Chicken Bites
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  1. Ingredients
  2. Chicken pieces, breast pieces are the best as they cook throughout- 10
  3. Flour - 1/3 cup
  4. Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
  5. Paprika - 1 tablespoon (or more if you like)
  6. Roasted Red Chilli Powder - 1 tablespoon
  7. Black peppercorns - ground, 1 tablespoon
  8. Salt - to taste
  9. Lemon - 2 tablespoons of juice, some to garnish
  10. Parsley, chopped to garnish
  11. Butter or oil for baking
  12. Red onion - for garnish
  13. Yogurt - for garnish/heat control
  14. Shredded cheese (optional)
  1. Clean chicken pieces, pat them dry with paper towels and place them in a dry plastic bag.
  2. Add flour, turmeric, paprika, black peppercorns, red chilli powder, and salt to the bag and shake to mix the spices.
  3. Butter or slightly oil a baking tray and put the wings on the tray and bake for half an hour.
  4. Flip the pieces and bake for another 10 minutes, then broil on low for another 5 minutes. If you have no bone pieces and only chicken breast meat, you can reduce your cooking time by 3-4 minutes (but this can vary on the size of pieces). Just ensure your chicken is cooked throughout.
  5. Make sure you watch the oven to make sure you aren't overcooking the chicken.
  6. Once you are ready to serve, chop some red onion and add it as a garnish. This will taste good with the chicken too. You can also drizzle some yogurt over this and enjoy. (Or hot sauce if you like things spicy)
  7. If you like, you can also add some cheese near the end to melt on the chicken, this actually tastes pretty good, but it is optional.
  1. Make sure you broil the chicken pieces in the end, this will make the wings nice and crispy.
  2. You can serve this with some lemon squeezed over them with hot sauce, ranch or any dipping sauce of your choice.
  3. If this is too spicy for you, reduce the heat elements, or serve with a dairy based dip that will bring down the hear.
Eelam Flavour - Tamil Recipes

Wishing you a Happy Thai Pongal and Tamil New Year!


I wish you all a Happy Thai Pongal and Tamil New Year! 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 14th.

Traditionally, 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!

Sakkarai Pongal
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  1. You can adjust the quantities if you are making more.
  2. Rice - 1/2 cup
  3. Jaggery - 1/2 cup (or more if you like your pongal to be sweeter)
  4. Pasi paruppu (Moong dal) - 2-3 tablespoons
  5. Nei (Ghee) - 2 tablespoons
  6. Cardamon - 3-4 made into a powder or use cardamon powder
  7. Cashews and raisins - 1-3 tablespoons
  8. Saffron - to garnish
  9. Salt - to cook rice
  10. Milk - 1/4 cup
  1. In a pan or pressure cooker, roast the pasi parrupu until it begins to brown.
  2. Add 2 1/2 cups of water, washed rice and let it cook until it becomes soft.
  3. In a separate pan, melt the jaggery into a liquid. Melt it on low heat so not to burn it.
  4. Mash the rice, which should be soft.
  5. Strain the jaggery liquid and add it to the mashed rice.
  6. 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!)
  7. In a separate pan, fry the raisins and cashews in ghee.
  8. Remove from pan when it is golden brown and add this to the pongal and mix. Leave some aside to garnish the top.
  9. Garnish with saffron, cashews and raisins.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. You can add grated coconut also for flavour.
Eelam Flavour - Tamil Recipes

Paal Sothi

Idiyappam (string hoppers) and sothi are one of those matches made in food heaven. My mom visited and brought me some idiyappam and fish curry. But since I had lots of the idiyappam left, I decided to make a paal sothi to go with it. My mother-in-law tells me that back home, many people eat idiyappam and sothi for breakfast. She said breakfast is always an important meal as it starts your day, so she use to always make idiyappam or puttu in the mornings.

Paal sothi is very simple and quick to make, but has such a comforting flavour. It reminds me of warmth, especially on those cold winter nights when you want to wrap yourself in a blanket. There are very few spices in this recipes, yet, despite that this is full of flavour. You can adapt this to any way you like. I added kari milagai (santa fe peppers) to this, because I had some lying around, but that is not necessary.


Paal Sothi
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  1. Fenugreek seeds - ¾ tablespoon
  2. Turmeric powder - ½ tablespoon
  3. Salt – to taste
  4. Shallots – 4-5
  5. 1 tomato – chopped
  6. 3 tablespoons coconut milk powder
  7. ½ cup milk
  8. 3-4 green chillies slit lengthwise
  9. Curry leaves – 5-6
  10. Water – 2 cups
  1. Heat oil in a pan and fry the fenugreek seeds and cut shallots.
  2. Add the chillies, curry leaves and fry for a minute longer, but stir to prevent burning.
  3. Add the chopped tomato, turmeric powder and 2 cups of water and let everything boil. I also added the santa fe peppers at this time. Once the tomato has been cooked halfway, add the salt and coconut milk powder.
  4. Add the milk at last, adjust for salt. Do not let the milk boil. It will cook in the residual heat.
  5. Serve warm with rice, puttu or idiyappam.
Eelam Flavour - Tamil Recipes

Crab Curry/ Nandu Kulambu

Main Dishes, Meat, Seafood | September 15, 2016 | By

Crab curry is probably my favourite thing to eat. I reserve this dish for weekends, when you can sit back, relax and enjoy eating this meal. I made this crab curry last weekend. The aromas in this dish are just heavenly – when you make the spice mix and grind it, the curry leaves emit this beautiful aroma that makes hungry immediately!

This pairs well with rice, veggie curries and a side sald of chopped tomatoes and cucumber mixed with yogurt.