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August 28, 2018

Arachu Vitta Sambar - (freshly ground coconut masala)

Sambar - through this Sambar with Idli or dosa and the ash smeared on forhead, this is how rest of India recognise South India.

The southern states are unique with it's cuisine and culture. Sambar definitely will not smell and taste the same in every home. Not even in it's home town Thanjavur. The ingredients and their quantity varies. Some add jaggery (only a little to get a tinge of sweet and some don't). Some use mix vegetables. Some use only one vegetable.... thus the sambar avatar goes on....




History of Sambar :-


Sambar originated in the Maratha's kitchen in Thanjavur says the historians based on the scripts available at Thanjavur Saraswathi Mahal Library.

Thanjavur was ruled by Chozhas, Pandiyas, Vijayanagar dynasty and then by Naikars. The Naikar killed the King of Thanjavur and captured it. The Son of the King, approached the Sultan of Bijapur for help to regain the Kingdom. Sultan of Bijapur, sent his force, which was commanded by "Venkoji" - a Maratha. Venkoji captured Thanjavur but he proclaimed himself as the king. History says, Venkoji is half brother of Chatrapati Shivaji. Marathi's make a dish called "Amti" which is a mix of Lentil and Kokum (a native souring agent, tastes sour like tamarind). In Thanjavur when kokum went out of stock, it was replaced by tamarind and in went various vegetables along with tuvar dal. There are various versions of sambar story. One story says that it was made by a cook in the Maratha's Fort when the store ran out of kokum hence the cook managed it with tamarind. Another version says that it was Shambaji (Chatrapati's Son) who made it when the royal chef was away. Yet another version says that this was served to Shambaji, he liked it very much, thus named after him. Whatever the story may be, this prepration has won millions of hearts around the world.

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There are two types of Sambar

1. Prepared with Sambar Powder
2. Prepared with freshly ground coconut masala

Sharing the "Arachu Vitta" version (i.e.) Freshly ground coconut masala based.

Vegetables that are used (you use any one or a mix of vegetables) :- Ashgourd, Pumpkin, Drum stick, Onion, Shallots, Tomato, Carrot, Beetroot, Ladies Finger, greens (yes greens!) etc..

Onion sambar itself is a separate variety. Which I will share in the coming posts....

Sambar Making video is here :-





Ingredients :-

  1. Tamarind - 1 lemon size
  2. Ashgourd cubes - 1 cup
  3. Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Jaggery (grated) 1 spoon
  6. Asafoetida powder - 1/4 tsp
  7. Curry Leaves - 1 sprig (for garnishing)
  8. Tuvar dal - 1/4 cup

For masala :-

  1. Channa dal - 1 tsp
  2. Dried Red Chillies - 2-3 nos.
  3. Coriander seeds - 1 spoon
  4. Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  5. Curry leaves - 7 nos.
  6. Grated coconut - 3 spoons
For tempering :-

  1. Oil - 1 tbsp
  2. Mustard Seeds - 1/4 tsp

Procedure :-

  • Cook Tamarind and Extract 3 cups of tamarind water.
  • In a vessel add the tamarind water, vegetable cubes, turmeric powder, salt, asafoetida, jaggery and bring to boil
  • Roast the items 1 to 5 and along with coconut grind it to a paste.
  • Cook Tuvar Dal, mash it lightly and keep it ready.
  • When the vegetable is cooked, add the dal to it. 
  • When it starts boiling, add the ground masala and let it cook till foam forms on top.
  • Now make the tempering and add it to the prepared sambar.
  • Put some curry leaves and leave it closed for sometime, so that the curry leaves flavour will get infused into the sambar nicely.
  • Aromatic Arachu Vitta Sambar is Ready!








August 14, 2018

Puttuku man sumandha kadhai

This is one of the divine play known as "Thiruvilayadal" by God Shiva with his devotees, where the God himself came in digsuise and carried sand to stop the flood in the River Vaigai.

In Madurai, one day God Shiva made it rain heavily and the banks of the River Vaigai was flooding. 

Image courtesy :  google search


So the people rushed to the Pandya King for help. The king said we need to raise the height of the bank. One person from each household should come forward so that we can do this quickly.

Image courtesy :  google search


There lived an old lady named "Vandhi" and she made & sold Puttu (Steamed rice cakes) for her living. Delicious were the Puttu made by her.



Always she kept a portion of the Puttu as an offering to Lord Shiva before she starts her sale. Hearing the king's order, she was upset as she was weak and old to help them. She prayed to God Shiva and lamented that she is of no help to her country.



God was moved by these words from her sincere heart and he came down to help her in the disguise of a young boy. The God who was invisibly accepting her Puttu offering is now making his presence to taste her delicious Puttu!



He offered his help to her on a condition that she has to feed him unlimited puttu till his heart's content. Condition was agreed by Vandi Paati and she served him hot delicious puttu before he left for work.



When we over eat, we tend to feel sleepy. There is a saying in Tamizh "Unda Mayakam Thondanukum Undu".  So the god in disguise after his tummy was full, lied down and slept.  Seeing him not working, the people complained to the supervisor, thus this reached the King's ears. 


The King rushed to the place and saw the lad Sleeping. Angry king, took a cane and beat the sleeping lad. The pain was felt by everyone present there including the King. This unusual experience made them realise that it is not a man but a God.

This divine play is still remembered and celebrated in Madurai. In the month of "Aavani" (Shravan /  (Chinga masam in malayalam) on the day of Moolam Star, this event is celebrated in Shiva Temple in Madurai as an event. Puttu is distributed as Prashad to all the devotees.

Those who want to try this recipe will find it here

These were the stories told to children and I was lucky that I was from that generation that I could here a lot of such historical divine plays and more.

Shambo Mahadeva!

August 9, 2018

Pulingari | Pulinkari | Uppadam


Today I am sharing a super recipe from our kitchen treasure..  "Pulungari" - a tamarind based curry to be had with white rice. A tangy & spicy curry with a tinge of sweetness from jaggery.''


There are many traditional recipes that are fading away from our kitchens, as they are cooked less frequently.  

This Pulungari is a dish from Palakkad and uses vegetables viz., Ladies Finger, Ashgourd, Pumpkin.



Two methods of making pulungari. One is with coconut and the other without. Hence without coconut, you follow the same recipe except that the dry roasted masalas are powdered finely, dissolved in water and then added slowly while stirring to avoid lumps formation.

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Ingredients :-

  1. Ladies Finger - sliced into little big pieces - 1/2 cup
  2. Tamarind - Gooseberry size (little more than what you take for sambar)
  3. Turmeric Powder - a pinch (less than 1/4 tsp)
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
  6. Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
  7. Jaggery - 1 tbsp (or as preferred)
For dry roasting 
  1. Raw rice - 3 spoons
  2. Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  3. Dried Red Chillies - 2 Nos. (or as preferred)
Tempering :-

Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 8 nos.




Procedure :-

  • Boil the tamarind till it becomes soft. Extract water from it.
  • Heat a wok and roast the ingredients given for dry roasting.
  • Let the roasted ingredients cool down to room temperature. Grind them along with coconut and little water to a fine paste.
  • In a wok, add oil when it is hot, add mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the chopped ladies finger (Bhindi / Vendaikai) and fry it till the stickiness goes.
  • Add the tamarind water, Turmeric powder, salt and jaggery. Mix well and let it come to boil,
  • Add the ground masala (wet / dry) while stirring to avoid forming lumps. (Rice paste tend to form lumps quickly if not stirred. so you can switch off the stove, add the masala, give it a mix and then again switch on the gas.). Cook on medium flame.
  • Boil till it thickens and foam forms on top. 
Lipsmacking Pulungari is ready to be served with white rice!

Art of eating :- On the hot rice, pour a tsp of clarified butter (Ghee) and then add the pulungari and mix. Enjoy eating!




August 2, 2018

Aadi 18-aam Peruku - Celebrating water flow in the river Cauvery!

Aadi Peruku is a festival celebrated in the state of Tamizh Nadu on 18th day of the tamizh month Aadi (Sanskrit : Ashada) and Peruku means 'rising water flow' in the Cauvery river. Hence it is also known as "Aadi Pathinettam Peruku". Pathinettam in tamizh means 18th day.

Monsoon of the season brings more water in the river Cauvery thus making it overflow, bringing fertile agricultural opportunities along with it. This festival is celebrated as a thanks giving to mother nature (monsoon) as rivers as a water source is the lifeline of farmers. This tradition shows how our ancestors lived close to the nature, respecting, conserving and worshipping Nature and also offer thanks giving.

The "Dakshinayana Punya kalam" (The night of devas) starts when Sun starts travelling towards southern direction and the first month is Aadi. This is the month when farmers sow seeds in their fields. There is a saying in tamizh "Aadi Pattam Thedi vidhai". Thus the Farmers eagerly look forward to this season, hence they come to the river bank for pooja and celebration of this season on this auspicious day.

Image courtesy : Google search

Life's priority changed and farming got restricted to villages, corporates opened up careers in the city, people moved. Thus the City dwellers who don't want to give up that tradition, celebrate it at home  in their own way... at home, near river banks, near lake, near pond and on the beaches.

There are many Triveni Sangam in our country Bharath. In Tamil Nadu, the triveni sangam in Erode is important and is a confluence of 3 rivers, the Cauvery, Bhavani and Amudha. Of these three, the river Amudha is invisible and is said to flow underground and join the other two rivers from below. This triveni sangam is called as "Kooduthurai"(in tamizh), where the famous Sangameshwarar temple is located. Special poojas are conducted in the temple on 18th day of this month.

Rivers are celebrated as female deities - like a mother. So the word "Amman" is attached to the river goddess thus Gangai Amman, Cauvery Amman etc... This shows how our ancestors followed the sanathana dharma and gave a lady an important status in the society..  elevating her to a motherly position with so much respect.

This year Aadi Peruku falls on 03rd August 2018. Hence I decided to write a brief post on this festival.

Every community and family has a way to celebrate it as per their edler's advice. I am sharing few common and simple things which can be followed in the busy life schedule.

If you are going to do a pooja, do it at the 'auspicious hour' [Nalla Neram] mentioned in the Panchang / calendar for the day.

Place a small pot filled with water and place a flower on it. Place Haldi and Kumkum (manjal kungumam).




5 types of Variety rices are prepared to be offered as Neivedhyam along with Milk Kheer [Pal Payasam].

  1. Lemon Rice
  2. Coconut Rice
  3. Tamarind Rice
  4. Curd Rice
  5. Jaggery Rice
Sloka :- you can chant the special slokas that you know on rivers and your regular slokas. 

Om Gange cha Jamune Chaiva Godavari Saraswathi 
Narmada Sindhu Cauvery Jale asmin sannidhi kuru

Thank the god that land should be blessed with sufficient rains, make the land fertile, help farmers raise healthy crops without loss and may the land and the people prosper.

Let us come close to mother nature and celebrate it in simple way atleast at our home. If you cannot make variety rices, just offer Fruits and flowers to the God.

Sharing with you two songs that comes to my mind when I think of river Cauvery. If you know tamizh, you can enjoy the lyrics which especially for the first song.. I will try to translate it at leisure by editing this post.





The following song is about "Adi peruku" festival...



Another sweet film song in tamizh based on carnatic raga : Hamashwani...  Maestro Ilayaraja has scored it nicely.



May the rain god bless us with good rains so that rivers, land and people prosper!

🌺🙏🌺 Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu 🌺🙏🌺





August 1, 2018

Rahu Kala Pooja

Jai Ma Ambe!

Any obstacles or suffering that we go through the life is due to our karma of previous birth. Navagrahas just perform their duty. They are very sweet enough to bless us provided we sincerely pray to them and to the supreme god that they prayed to.  Through the sincere prayers we can request to minimise or remove those obstacles from our life's journey and make it more pleasant.

Today thought of sharing the pooja that I do at Rahu Kala at home. May it benefit those who would like to do it at their place. Those who go through Rahu Dasha and those who just want to pray to Goddess on her special day can do this and get benefitted.


Rahu Bhagawan


Rahu and Ketu are Chaya Grahas. There is no particular day that is devoted for them unlike the other planets viz Surya (Sunday), Moon (Monday), Mangal (Tuesday), Budh (Wednesday), Guru (Thursday), Shukra (Friday), Shani (Saturday). Hence everyday 1.5 hours is ruled by Rahu Bhagwan hence known as Rahu Kaal (Rahu Kalam). 


Rahu Kalam - 1.5 hours of duration per day. This varies with each day is allocated for Rahu
Yama Gantam - 1.5 hours of duration per day. This varies with each day is allocated for Ketu.

No auspicious work is done during Rahu Kal and Yama Gantam. If some important thing couldn't be postponed or cancelled, then the Vedic astrologers generally advise to start the work before the rahu kal or yama gantam starts on that particular day.

Why to pray to Ma Durga! :-


Jai Ma Durge!


We should pray to Goddess Durga during rahu Kal as she is the protector from all evils. Amongst the Navagrahas, Rahu is more devoted to Ma Durga.  The divine mother's grace cannot be described in words. Her blessings are abundant and like a mother, she comes to protect us from all evils.  Durga stands for the unified symbol of all divine forces; Strength, Morality, Power, Protector. 

Friday and Tuesday are considered auspicious for Devi Pooja. Hence, It is good to offer prayers to her on those days especially during the Rahu Kal that falls on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

Tuesday (3.00 pm to 4.30 pm) 
Friday (10.30 am to 12.00 pm)
Sunday (4.30 pm to 6.00 pm)

So, those who work, if they cannot afford time on any other day, can offer prayers to her in the Rahu Kal on Sunday.

Briefly about the Pooja :-

For any prayer or pooja, if we do Sharanagathi (total surrender at the lotus feet of god / goddess), our sincere prayers will be answered. This I am telling from my personal experience. Having that connect with the god, Trusting him, feeling his presence and enjoying that bliss is an Experience which cannot be described by words. It is a Bhakti Bhav. All our saints did that and tried to shows us also the same path. To help you initially, you can try to remember the goddess picture, slowly convert that into a physical presence and then feel the divine grace... picturising the lotus feet and surrending all our worries, happiness.... this is how we can train our mind to establish that connect with the supreme power!

Whatever we hear, good or bad, just chant the nama viz., 'Om Namo Narayananaya' / Om Namashivaya / Jai Ma Ambe / Jai Ma Durge etc.... and offer that experience at the lotus feet. This calms down our mind... will try to write a detailed post on this later.


We will be lighting a lemon diya as lemon is considered to be powerful in warding off the evil or negative effects. In South India, we can see Durga Ma ladden with lemon garlands and ladies going to the temple and lighting these diyas in the sannidhi of goddess Durga. We can absolutely do this lighting of lemon lamp at home as well if there is no nearby temple with Durga Sannidhi. There is nothing wrong in it. Lemon is considered to be effective in warding off the negative / evil effects around us. It is sacred to do it at home as well. I am writing this as I have personally experienced and still experiencing her divine presence, blessings and that abundant divine grace of her.  

Oil :-   Different oil has their own goodness. They purify the air. Brings in lot of psoitive vibes. Lighting the lamp is considered sacred and auspicious. Sesame oil is the most commonly used oil for lighting lamps. Apart from this, Cow's Ghee, Castor oil, Neem Oil, Mahua Oil are also used for lighting lamps. But for this pooja, We will use only cow's ghee or sesame oil. I prefer using cow's ghee for the regular oil diya and sesame oil for the lemon diya. The effect of ghee diya lasts longer in the air.

Then we will be lighting the lemon diya, offer red flowers (if available) to the regular diya and the lemon diya. 


Prayer Slokas :- then we Offer prayers. We always start any pooja by chanting ganesh mantra. It will take time to get used to chanting all the slokas during Rahu Kal. So Initially you can recite the first 09 slokas from the list below during Rahu Kal and the remaining (those who know tamizh) can be chanted during morning or the evening hours. THe intention is to spend that time praying to Ma Durga.

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You will need

  1. White rangoli powder / wet rice batter to make a small rangoli
  2. A "Aasan" / " Palagai" - a wooden platform to keep the Lamp
  3. Lemon (ripen) - 1 No.
  4. Cotton wicks - 2 nos.
  5. Sesame oil - 1/2 cup
  6. Flowers (specially red color)
  7. Dhoop / Agarbati 
  8. Match box to light the lamp
  9. A Brass or copper plate to place the lemon diya
  10. Slokas (giving below what I recite) :- The intention is to spend that rahu kala, praying to Durga Ma. You can google for these mantras. 
  • Ganesh Gayatri and Ganesh Mantra ( that you know) - (Sanskrit)
  • Durga Dyana Mantram (Sanskrit)
  • Durga Gayatri (Sanskrit)
  • Durga Pancharatnam (Sanskrit)
  • Durga Saptasloki (Sanskrit)
  • Mahishasura Mardini Stotram (Sanskrit)
  • Durga Kavacham (Sanskrit)
  • Sri NavaMangali Stotram (Sanskrit)
  • Sri Durga Abhaduttarashtakam (Sanskrit)
  • Lalitha Sahasranamam (Sanskrit)
  • Mangala Chandika Stotra (Sanskrit) (to be recited on Tuesday - continuous for 9 tuesdays) and you can continue it without count as well.
  • Slokas from Devi Bhagavatham (Sanskrit)
  • Devi Paadam (Tamizh)
  • Sri Rahu Kala Durga Ashtakam (Tamizh)
  • Sri Dukkha Nivarana Ashtagam (Tamizh)
  • Thiruvilakku Slokam
  • Charana Slokam (Given at the end)
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Pooja Vidhi :-

  • Draw a rangoli where you will be lighting the lamp and doing pooja.
  • Place the Aasan / Palagai / Manai over the Rangoli.
  • Light the regular oil lamp (that you light everyday) before the Rahu Kal Starts. You can use sesame oil or ghee for this lamp. You can either place this on a separate "Aasan" / Wooden platform (palagai in tamizh) after putting a small rangoli on the floor where we will be doing pooja (Facing east or west).  You can even place Goddess Durgas's photo on this "Aasan" if you have. then the diya on the side and the lemon diya in the middle. Do Namaskara.


  • Take one whole ripe Lemon, Cut into half and strain the juice (You can do this before Rahu Kal and keep it ready). Those who don't want to discard the juice, can offer it in juice form later on to goddess).
  • The empty lid should be turned inside out and this is used as a diya. (Please refer the photo given below). Place it on a brass plate.
  • Put a cotton wick
  • Apply saffron (Kum Kum) on the lemon next to both sides of the wick.
  • Pour in sesame oil or ghee

  • The lemon diya should be lit only after the Rahu Kal starts. Do a Namaskara.

  • Red color flowers are more auspicious for this pooje viz., Hibiscus (Chembaruthi), Red Rose, Red color Kasi Thumbai (Red Balsam), etc If you are not able to get red color flower, you can use any other flower that is used for pooja. If no flower is available, just offer your sincere prayers as flower on her lotus feet. 
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Take a flower or some petals and chant the ganesh mantra and then offer it at the base of the lamp.

"Om Gam Ganapathaye Nama :"

Then.....

Om Gajaananam Bhoota Ganaadi Sevitam
Kapittha Jambuu phalasaara bhakshitam
Umaasutam Shoka Vinaasha kaaranam
Namaami Vighneshwara paada pankajam

Take a flower or some petals and chant the Durga Dyana mantra and then offer it at the base of the lamp.

TAM AGNI VARNAM TAPASA JWALANTIM.VAIROCHANIM KARMA PHALESHU JUSHTAM.
DURGAM DEVIM SHARANAM AHAM PRAPADYE.SUTARASI TARASE NAMAH..


.meaning-I seek that Durga as my refuge,the goddess who is of the colour of flame,who blazes forth with her power,who is the consort of the self-luminous Lord,and who is worshipped by devotees for obtaining the fruits of actions,this obeisance be to you,O excellent boat for taking one taking one across to salvation.

likewise do recite the slokas and then offer the flower.

After chanting all the slokas, Do a namaskara. 

When we chant sanskrit slokas, there is a possibility that we may pronounce it wrongly due to printing error etc...  So do a Devi Kshama Prarthana (Please google for it).



Sarva Mangala Maangalye Shive Sarvaartha Saadhikhe
Sharanye Tryambake Devi Naarayanee Namostute

Aayur Dehi, Dhanam Dehi, 
Vidhyam Dehi, Maheswari. 
Samastha Mahilam Dehi, 
Dehimey Parameshwari

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Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu!🌺🙏🌺

Jai Ma Durge! 🌺🙏🌺



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