Saturday, February 7, 2015

Manjal Milagu Paal,Manjal Inji Pisiral & Other Manjal Remedies - Turmeric Milk, Turmeric Pickle & Other Turmeric Remedies


The baby is sleepless with a severe nose block and cold. I run to my kitchen cupboard !
My daughter is coughing incessantly and her throat is dry. I run to my kitchen cupboard !
My sister suffers because  her sinuses are  congested. I run to my kitchen cupboard !
 I get a dull and persistent head ache as I have a head cold. I run to my kitchen cupboard !
Some one said that God created the solution first , and then the problem ! This must be very true. Because I know that the 'SOLUTION' for all the above stated maladies that lies in my kitchen cupboard had been created and had been in use since time immemorial, much before pollution became the world's foremost problem, much much before the deluge of allergies and other infections  started pouring in. 
The  'SOLUTION' ! It is the simple but most  effective Indian spice which is in every day use in all Indian homes! The Wonder Spice  Turmeric, is a 'any time  ready at hand' spice.It has wonderful  anti inflammatory, anti bacterial and antibiotic properties.
Turmeric can be used fresh, dried and in powdered form. 
Dried whole turmeric is always stored in Indian homes and is used in Poojas and religious rituals. They are given with vermilion, betel leaves, coconut and flowers as a symbol of auspiciousness to all the ladies on special occasions.

Traditionally dry turmeric is stored in the medicine chest of new born babies. When the baby is rendered sleepless due to  cold and stuffy nose a piece of dry turmeric comes in very handy. 
 It is dipped in milk ( mother's milk is recommended for new born babies ) and rubbed on the stone to get a thick turmeric paste . 

The turmeric paste is then collected in a clean spoon  and is  held on the flame of a candle or an oil lamp.When the paste starts to bubble it is removed from the flame. 

The warm paste ( NOT SCALDING HOT )  is applied on both the temples, on the forehead,  and on either sides of the bridge of the nose of the baby as shown in the picture. This is called as Manjal Patthu.

Grannys said that this treatment assured  good sleep for the babies since "the (neer ) mucous would be absorbed by the patthu".
Turmeric used with black pepper and palm jaggery is a great relief for hoarse coughs and it soothes the itching throat. This milk called as Manjal Milagu Paal, is relished for its delicious taste as well. A glass of this milk before going to bed  assures one of undisturbed sleep. Home ground turmeric powder or any good brand of turmeric powder is ideal for the purpose.

 Heat 2 cups of milk in a saucepan.
 When it starts to boil add 1/4 tsp of freshly crushed pepper, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and switch off flame immediately.


Add powdered palm jaggery to taste and savour the Manjal Milagu Paal while hot.

Palm jaggery (Panam Vellam) and palm candy (Panam Kalkandu) have medicinal properties and are very effective in alleviating cold and cough. 
A piece of Palm candy can be used like a throat lozenge  for throat irritation.

When the sinuses are infected and congested the fumes of a dry turmeric ( Kombu Manjal/ Virali Manjal - the long variety ) proves beneficial. A long  piece of dry turmeric is held on the flame of a candle with the help of a pair of tongs. 

When the turmeric gets ignited it starts fuming. Inhaling the turmeric fumes eases out the congestion and it clears the nasal passage enabling one to breathe easily.

My doctor always recommends steam inhalation with turmeric powder as a quick relief for a blocked nasal passage and a dull and heavy ache in the head. A trough of water is brought to a rolling boil. A teaspoon of turmeric powder is added to it. Then the steam is inhaled until it lasts.

When my children suffered chickenpox my kindly doctor advised me to administer a ground mixture  of turmeric and neem leaves which was rolled into marble size balls / pills. These 'pills' were administered two to three times a day and it helped in soothing the inflammation inside the body.

Coming to the culinary uses good old Turmeric can be termed the king of the Indian spice box. It is a great preservative and hence is an indispensable ingredient in all pickles. 

Turmeric is used in  powdered form in all pickles. But here is an exciting way to make a pickle using Fresh Turmeric during the season. This pickle is good for digestion and it also heals the stomach.

Mango ginger ( a ginger with mango flavour ) is usually used in this pickle. But normal ginger also tastes good.


Fresh turmeric ( peeled and chopped) - 1/2 cup
Fresh ginger ( peeled and chopped ) - 1/2 cup
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Juice of one lime
Sesame oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Green chillies ( Optional ) - 2 ( Finely chopped ) 

Mix together  the chopped turmeric, ginger , salt and lime juice in a bowl.
Heat oil , splutter mustard seeds ( add green chillies if needed ) and add the seasoning to the pickle.

Enjoy the flavoursome and crunchy Inji Manjal Pisiral with your meal.

Turmeric is also a wonderful beauty aid. An application of Turmeric paste before bath destroys bacteria and keeps the skin clean and glowing. A turmeric face pack gives a soft and golden glow to the face. A variety of Turmeric called Kasturi Manjal is used in preparing a herbal bath powder.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

'Dunk In' Sambar - A Thin And Spicy South Indian Vegetable Gravy


A Sambar  thick with lentils and vegetables is a nutritious accompaniment for rice. But to relish Tiffins like Idlies, Dosaes and Vadais a thinner yet delicious version of Sambar is always preferable.  Savouring the dishes dunked in a flavoursome and piping hot Sambar is a joy unparalleled ! I remember my friend's daughter virtually 'drinking' four cups of Sambar with one Dosae at a restaurant which was famous for its delicious Dosae  and Sambar !
Here is how I make the 'Dunk in' Sambar !


Bengal gram dal - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds -  1 tbsp
Black gram dal   - 1 tsp
Red chillies         - 4
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Fresh coconut -1 tbsp ( grated or chopped)
Rice flour -  1 tsp
Onion ( Chopped ) - 1/2 cup
Red,ripe and juicy tomatoes - 3 
Tamarind - A small marble size lump
Salt - 1 1/2 tsps
Jaggery -  a small piece
Sesame oil - 2 tsps
Mustard seeds -1 pinch
Curry leaves - a few
Chopped coriander leaves - to garnish
Any vegetable of your choice like carrots, pumpkin, french beans, peas, eggplant
or a mixture of all vegetables to make the Sambar more nutritious.
1. Heat half a spoon of oil and add cinnamon.
2. When it is fried add the Bengal gram dal, black gram dal, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chilies. Roast till the dals turn slightly golden in colour.
3. Add asafoetida followed by fresh coconut pieces or gratings. Roast till you get a very pleasant aroma.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and cover and cook till they are tender.

5. Add the tamarind, switch off flame and allow to cool.
6. Cook the vegetables of your choice separately and keep aside.
7. Blend all the roasted ingredients together into a smooth paste adding rice flour and salt.
8. Heat the remaining oil and add mustard seeds.
9. When the mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves followed by chopped onion and cook till the onion turns pink in colour.
10. Add all the cooked vegetables and the ground paste along with 6 cups of water.
11. Stir in the jaggery and allow to simmer for five minutes .

12. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Now  dunk your Idly, Dosai or Vadai pieces in the 'Dunk In' Sambar and enjoy !