nisha manoj

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I attended the Theyyam maholsavam festival this year at my home town ...Chandera Maniyat in Kasargod district organised by the Mundavallapil Tharavaad.

Theyyam is an ancient art of worshiping the gods in certain parts of Kerala, India. Very few families are continuing with this practice of worshiping the family deity.The art involves a few dedicated people dressing like a god / goddess and dancing. though i donot know about its history and details of the rituals, i appreciate the dedication of the performers as they follow strict rules and regulations.

Few pictures of the Festival for the benefit of viewers is as follows:

Plants Homegrown

I have developed a great hobby ..well worth it - Gardening in pots especially veggies..they taste so much better when grown at home. Google is a great place for knowledge when it comes to DIYs - Do It Yourself.

My technique of growing shallots is slightly weird ..i guess. I kept the market-bought-shallots in a polythene bag and then in the refrigerator. I a weeks time all of them developed tiny roots. i separated the buds/bulbs and planted an inch deep in a pot. They seem happy.Shallots definitely taste much better than onions.Carrots also can be grown in a similar manner. When you see roots develop just cut the top portion and plant.

Mint - a herb that never grew after many futile attempts is flourishing.I bought a bunch from my regular sabziwala/vegetable vendor and used all the leaves for various recipes. The naked stems showed signs of small tiny roots at the nodes.Just plant the nodes into the soil and voila life.

I have Aloe Vera, the wonder plant with kids in a pot. The gel can be removed by slicing the leaf lengthwise and scooping with a spoon or scraping with a knife.From my personal experience i feel if this gel is mixed with a little coconut oil it helps relieve us from insect bites, dry hair and scalp, chapped lips and cracked feet.

My curry leaf plant - all the way from Kasargod and Pallakad.The saplings are from both the places and all are doing fine in my old broken plastic discarded dustbin.

Not to forget my date plant that is about 3 yrs old now growing in my little plastic cup just behind the curry plant pot. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tapioca - my mum's style

Tapioca has always been one of my favourite food item. Every time i make this dish it brings back all memories from my childhood when i had the luxury to eat out of my mom's hand.

This root known as Kappa in Southern India is also called the Tapioca / Cassava root.

It is a starch and is known as a poor man's diet in Kerala.So lets see how i made this simple dish.

1. First wash remove the brown skin and then the white thicker skin on the root, cut into irregular cubes and soak overnight

2. Next day drain the water, clean again and pressure cook [1 whistle] with very little water and salt. You may steam cook if the root is tender.

3. The ingredients needed for the tempering are mustard seeds, cut garlic, red chillies, turmeric and grated coconut.

4. Heat little coconut oil add all the ingredients except grated coconut for the tempering. Keep stirring till all mustard seeds splutter and the garlic is lightly roasted. Add the cooked tapioca root and mix well. Later turn the stove off and add the grated coconut.

Hope you enjoy this dish.

Microwaveable Semolina cake

The microwave Oven is not the best equipment to be used to get good cakes ..the convection oven is best. But nothing beats a microwave if we need to get something edible at a snap of our fingers. so i took the challenge to bake cakes in the Microwave.

The outcome has been disastrous ..from biscuit hard to burnt cakes to cakes that cooked better only on one side and those that were very dry.I slowly learnt through the hard way, obviously, that microwaves are not meant to bake and that it dries the food so fast that the food doesn't get time to rise as in case of a cake.

So i started trying all stunts such as reducing the time, keeping the batter as watery as possible and even adding more butter etc.
The best cake, though not as good as an oven baked, turned out to be the one that had the batter a little watery, less buttery, and baked for not more than 5 mins.Keeping a glass of water along with the cake tin kept the air a bit humid, slowing the drying process.

The semolina cake that i microwaved is eggless and has half the flour content replaced by semolina soaked in orange juice. The ingredients used are:
Whole wheat flour-1 cup
Semolina - 1 cup
Orange juice - 1 cup
Butter- 1/3 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Curd - 2 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup

Soak semolina in orange juice. In a bowl add milk, sugar and butter.Warm the mix to melt the sugar and cool the mix. Add baking soda to the curd and keep aside. To the sugar mix add wheat flour - a spoon a a time. Next add the semolina and mix well.Add more milk if need be.

Just before baking add the curd mix and microwave at high temperature for 5 mins. Check if a toothpick comes out clean to check if done. One has to keep in mind that the cake may not have a nice crust on top and keeps cooking once removed too. So keep it aside to cool before cutting.

Cut and enjoy this tea-time snack.

Horsegram Idlis

My healthy breakfast - horsegram idlis with sambhar ..

Since the time I heard of the benefits of horsegram i have been trying to google on how to make various dish using horsegram or known as Kudith dal in Southern India. It is one dal that is recommended for kidney stone patients who are advised to drink water in which the dal powder is boiled.

It has benefits such as:
1. keeps body warm during winter
2. aids in reducing excess body weight
3. used in treating kidney stones
4. treats peptic ulcer
5. ayurveda uses it in treatments of rheumatism, worms, piles and even menstrual problems in women

The one recipe i knew was to boil, mash and make a simple curry with onion and tomatoes. However i finally made idlis with the dal.

The batter is the usual idli batter which you can find on google very easily. The batter was fermented overnight and the horsegram [1/2 cup for 2 cups of rice used to make idli batter] was soaked in another container.In the morning the dal was drained and ground to a fine paste and added to the idli batter.

The batter was steamed in an idli stand and yummy idlis were the outcome.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tips to prevent kidney stones

Kidney stones re-occur even after being removed [surgically or naturally]. So the best way to avoid going through a painful passing of the stone is to prevent its formation on a regular basis. Few tips that I would like to mention should be incorporated into your daily life especially if you have already had an episode of kidney stones.

- never forget to drink water to stay hydrated
- have barley water throughout 1 day every week
- have tulsi / neem tea [1 cup water boiled with 5-6 tulsi or neem leaves] in the evening. You may dry roast ripe neem leaves in an iron container and store the ash in a glass bottle 1/4th spoon of which can be consumed with 1 teaspoon of honey. Donot consume anything for an hour after this.
- be very careful in case of urine infection which may be due to expelling of small size stones –during such periods have a glass of water with a teaspoon of Cital [medicine available in the pharmacy]
- Keep your weight under control
- Walk or run or just jog at a spot if health permits
- Do not be in the sun to prevent dehydration which doesn’t allow the stones to be flushed out by the kidneys
- Reduce salt
- Have adequate Calcium and Vitamin D levels
- Speak to your doctor regarding stone forming foods that maybe avoided

There are few more tips that I found on the net which may be tried as it does not have any side effects.
- if the kidneys are feeling painful an iron foil may be worn as a ring around the middle finger of the right hand
press for 2 mins and release the area 1 inch above the centre of both the palms before meals.

Dry, dull and damaged HAIR – crowning glory and its care

I have faced and still face a lot of hair problems. This has led me to try a many home remedies on my dry dull damaged hair. I have listed out a few of them which I have immensely benefited from.

Hair Mask – mix the following and apply on scalp and hair for an hour before washing off with a herbal shampoo mentioned below
1. mix coconut milk, Vitamin E capsule
2. yogurt/curd, egg
3. avocado, coconut oil
4. curd, ghee and triphala

Leave in conditioner – apply for soft hair after washing
1. aloe vera gel
2. tea tree oil and thyme oil
3. almond oil, rosemary oil, glycerin, water

Sweaty and hot head
1. camphor, coconut oil

1. hot oil treatment with neem boiled in coconut or almond oil
2. methi seeds, almond oil, bottle gourd juice, Indian gooseberry paste – only rinse and donot shampoo
3. reduce salt, spice and sour foods
4. eat 1 tsp white sesame seeds everyday
5. apply little hot sesame oil with pinch of turmeric on scalp after bath

After shampoo rinse
1. onion peels soaked in hot water, cooled and sieved
2. water drained after cooking rice

Home made Shampoos
1. soak amla, shikakai and reeta nuts overnight , heat the water, cool and use
2. make powder of amla, shikakai, black gram dal, methi seeds and hibiscus leaves and store in a bottle. When needed soak overnight and use as shampoo
3. hibiscus leaves paste mixed in water and sieved

Few more tips to avoid dry and damaged hair:
- Avoid washing hair more than 3 times a week
- Oil hair 3 times a week
- Condition hair after every bath
- Handle wet hair with care
- Have good organic food
- Try to stay happy in all situations to reduce stress