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 are sadly so many tragedies Tamils in Eelam have faced by the Sri-Lankan Government. However, some of them, like the Sencholai Massacre are very painful to remember.
Today marks the 11th anniversary of the Sencholai Illam Massacre. On August 14, 2006 the Sri-Lankan Air Force jets bombed Sencholai Illam, a children’s home for orphaned girls. 53 Tamil schools girls and three staff members were killed. Many others – 150, were injured. These were all young girls who deserved so much more, and whose lives were cut short by a senseless act.
This attack was carried out despite the orphanage having been designated s a humanitarian zone. The GPS coordinates of the orphanage were given to the Sri Lankan military via the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) and was protected as a “No Fire Zone.”
You can read more about it on Tamilguardian.
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.
- 200 grams Odiyal Maa (palmyra flour) and 2 cups cold water
- 5 + cups water
- ¼ cup sambar rice
- Handful - Jackfruit seeds
- 2 cups worth Murungai Illai (Drumstick leaves)
- 1 cup Snake beans
- A lime sized tamarind piece
- 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.
- 10-15 red dried chillies
- Half to 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 bulb garlic, peeled
- 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.
- Before you start cooking, it's best to have some prep done.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Prep your seafood - wash and clean the seafood and set it aside.
- In a large pot, add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Add salt to taste (I added 2 tablespoons) and a tablespoon of turmeric.
- Add the jackfruit seeds, rice, and snake beans. You want to add whatever takes longest to cook first.
- 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.
- Add the fish.
- 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.
- Simmer, adjust for salt and pepper. Add the remaining tamarind paste if needed (I usually do, but some people may want less).
- Add murungai illai leaves and remove from heat.
- Serve hot.
- You need a large wide and tall pot for this, a soup pot works best.
- Odiyal maa has alot of threads in it from the packets, be sure to sift out these threads before using it.
- 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.
- Eating this can get extra messy, so its a good idea to have lots of newspapers and napkins around to help.
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!
- 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.
The month of January has been officially declared as Tamil Heritage Month in Canada; at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of Government. January is an important month for Tamils around the world, as it is also when Thai Pongal, Tamil New Year, is celebrated. January has widely been the month of celebration and prosperity for Tamils. Today, through the GTA, many celebrations and events are hosted in honour of Tamil Heritage Month.
As Canadian-Tamils, and Tamils around the world, it is important for us to recognize the achievements we have made to society, and to understand our roots and how they have shaped us today. We have much to be proud of. From academics, to arts, to politics, we have made many contributions to the societies we live in.
In honour of Tamil Heritage Month, here are some facts about Tamils that you may or may not know. This list is not comprehensive, I just tried to include a few that came to the top of my mind. If there are other facts you know, please share them below!
• There are more 70 million + Tamils around the world. [Tamilnation]
• Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, is a Tamil man. [Google+]
• Email was invented by a Tamil man, V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai. [Vashiva]
• The Father of Library Science, was a Tamil man. He was mathematician and librarian, S.R. Ranganathan. [Britannica]
• Jallikattu is a part of Tamil culture and has been practised for thousands of years. It has been referenced in early Sangam works, including Kalithogai (a classic Tamil poetic work).
• Tamil cooking influences can be seen in other cuisines, and in the English language. For example,
• The English word Curry, is derived from the Tamil word, Kari.
• Maangai has become Mango
• Kanji became Conjee
• Milagu Thaneer (pepper water) became Mulligatawny (a now famous soup)
Language, Literature and Libraries
• Thirrukural, written by Thirruvalluvar in the first century B.C. has been one of the most widely read non-religious books. It has been translated into many different languages and addresses in 1330 couplets how an individual should conduct themselves in personal, family and society.
• There are 12 vowels, 18 consonants, 216 consonant vowels and one aaydham in the Tamil language for a total of 247 characters in Tamil.
• The Roja Muthiah Research Library (RMRL) in Chennai has some of the world’s most impressive private library collections of Tamil publications. When Muthiah passed away in 1992, the University of Chicago bought the entire collection and now conduct research on the materials. [University of Chicago Library]
The Jaffna Public Library in Tamil Eelam, contained more than 95,000 books and journals, including valuable historic manuscripts before it was burned down 1981 as an act of cultural genocide. [Tamil Guardian]
I’m a big fan of rasam, especially mutton rasam. This is one of my favourite dishes, and I’m very happy to share it with you here. My mom use to make mutton rasam and chicken rasam for us when we were sick as it is good for health. The many different spices help heal and nourish the body, especially during sickness or times when immunity is weak.
The key to this dish is to give it the time and care it requires. Give the ingredients the proper time they need to cook. It is a lengthly process, but I assure you the taste is worth it.
- Mutton pieces/bones - include many bones as this is what adds flavour
- Salt - to taste
- Turmeric powder
- Curry leaves
- Tomatos - 2 cubed in small pieces
- For dry roast -
- Cumin seeds - 1 tablespoon
- Fenugreek seeds - Quarter tablespoon
- Fennel seeds - Half a tablespoon
- Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon (you can adjust this depending on taste. If you are making it for kids, add less).
- Dry red chillies - 2 -3 (you can adjust this depending on taste. If you are making it for kids, add less).
- Curry leaves - 5
- Garlic - 4 cloves
- Shallots - 10
- For grinding with mortar and pestle -
- Peppercorns - half a tablespoon
- Garlic - 4 cloves
- Shallots - 6-7
- In a pan, dry roast everything in the dry roast ingredients except the ginger, garlic and shallots. Move everything to a plate to cool. Dry roast the ginger, garlic and shallots alone, and transfer to the plate. Do not add any oil. Toss the ingredients to prevent burning. If you burn the dry ingredients, the taste will be drastically different, so do this on low heat, just warming the spices enough to release their aromas.
- Take everything you dry roasted and blend it together using a blender - you may add water to help it blend.
- In a pot, add two cups of water, one tablespoon of turmeric powder and one tablespoon of salt. Add the mutton pieces and let it boil on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add a quarter of the ground paste you made, mix it and let it boil for another half an hour.
- In half an hour, add half the remaining paste and adjust the water. I usually add a cup of water at this time.
- Once the mutton pieces are fully cooked through, add the remaining paste and the tomatoes. Using a mortar and pestle, crush garlic and shallots and add this to the pot. Also add an additional 7-8 large curry leaves. This will add immense flavour and aroma.
- Let it boil for another 10-25 minutes depending on your pot size and whether your meat has cooked through on medium-low heat.
- Remove from heat, adjust for salt and add more crushed peppercorns if needed. The crushed peppercorns really enhance the aroma.
- Serve in a bowl warm, enjoy!
- No need to add any oil to this dish to cook it. There is enough fat in the mutton, and you will see this being released as you cook it.
- The key to this dish is to give it the time and care it requires. Give the ingredients the proper time they need to cook. It is a lengthly process, but I assure you the taste is worth it.
We all want to save money – especially when it comes to food. Here are some tricks and tips to help you save some money.
Do you have any other tips and tricks you use? If you do, please share!
Store Curry Leaves in Yogurt Containers
When I use to leave my curry leaves in the bag from the store in the fridge, they would wilt within 2 days. Now, when I get a bag of curry leaves, I de-leaf the leaves and put them in an airtight yogurt container with a paper towel on top of them. This has helped keep my curry leaves for 2 weeks.
Ginger Garlic Paste
Ginger and garlic is something that is used in many Tamil curries. But the effort of making them can be time consuming. If you prepare a batch of this, put it in an air-tight sealed container and leave it in your fridge for the next few days, or put it in some oil and arrange them on an ice cube tray and keep it in your freezer. You can just pop an “ice cube with ginger, garlic and oil” to your pan when you need.
Buy Fish from Tamil stores and Shrimp from Chinese Stores
Fish is cheaper in Tamil stores, and you will get the many variants that taste good for fish curry. Shrimp, a staple in Chinese cooking is cheaper at Chinese stores. Staples are usually cheaper at the stores they are native to, so do some research and find out what’s cheaper where. This is also true for fruits and other produce – exotic fruits are MUCH cheaper at Chinese stores than other big grocery chain supermarkets.
Buy an Onion Saver
Almost all Tamil recipes call for onions. Sometimes though, you use half an onion and you wonder what to do with the rest. If you keep an onion in the fridge without it being in an onion saver, it actually makes the other food in your fridge go bad. An onion saver on the other hand, saves the onion and prevents your other food from spoiling. You can get them for pretty cheap at any store that sells kitchen products.
We make sambhar at our house on Fridays. This is the best way to make a tasty dish while using up all the veggies in the fridge that need to be used up soon. If you have veggies that you use half of throughout the week, just add them to sambhar. Any veggies taste fine in sambhar, especially eggplant, squash, carrots, etc. I’ll try to post a recipe for this sometime this week. Another option is to freeze veggies you are not using – butternut squash, carrots and cauliflower all stay pretty well in the freezer.
Buy Meat from Butcher Shops in Bulk
Meat and fish are cheaper to buy whole than to buy as parts. When buying meat, buy whole – instead of buying chicken drumsticks, buy the whole chicken, instead of buying fish fillets, buy a whole fish and ask the stores to descale and cut it in pieces for you. The price per pound is cheaper on the whole than the part when you buy it already cleaned. But, when you buy a whole chicken, many butcher shops will de-skin and cut the chicken into small cubes ready for curry for free.
Freeze Meat into Portions
When you buy in bulk, the key to making is simple for you to cook and not waste your food (especially if it is just for you or your spouse) is to clean your meat and fish, separate it into smaller freezer bags and store it in the freezer, in ready to cook style. This means that the only thing you will have to do when you are ready to cook is to let it thaw and rinse it. Saves lots of time on weeknights!
Happy money saving 🙂
The word ‘curry’ was derived from the Tamil word ‘kari’. The word curry is an Anglicized form, and is first believed to be used by the Portuguese in the 1500s. #didyouknow #foodforthought #tamilfacts #funfacts #dyk #food#spices #cooking