The below has been written by my wife Saraswathy:
To all those of you who have been patiently reading my posts all these days and asking questions and leaving your kind comments, Thanks so very much. This way I get feedback on how many are reading, what your doubts are, and if there are any suggestions I could offer to help.
Some of you have wondered if only red chillies need to be avoided. No, All chillies, however mild they may be, even completely non-spicy, they are all to be avoided.
We may wonder, if it is non-spicy it should be ok. But do you all know that there are sooo many vegetables that are totally non-spicy that have to be completely avoided. Like drumstick, bottle gourd, etc…
So please avoid chillies of all kinds.
Shri Arivu Azhagan avl., thanks so much for your comment. I can understand your position. It is so difficult to change anybody. Only Our Periyavas can do that. Also, even though I am here now, I have also done all these same mistakes. Ignorance and Westernised conditioning. What to do. We are all work in progress, so everyone of us will certainly change sooner or later. Don’t worry. Maybe you could share Mahaperiyava experiences of devotees articles with your folks. As bhakthi comes, change will also surely come. And mainly keep praying to Them for change.
To all of you, even if you are not able to bring any changes immediately, keep praying to Our Periyavas to change things. They will certainly help. Being aware of where we need to go is the very first step to change. So Do Please keep reading all the articles. You just may be able to do atleast some of them.
“Kanchi Mahaperiyava says in Deivathin Kural Voice of God:
“Among those who are not Brahmins, it is the Saivas who are mostly vegetarian. It is not only exclusion of meat. They will not include in their vegetarian food, things that are not helpful for the purification of the mind. They are said to have rejected three ‘Kaayams’.
Kaaya means the body. Here, it does not refer to the three like the physical, subtle etc., but to the three materials used in cooking which have their names ending in Kaayam – Venkaayam (onion/pyaaz/ullikayam), ullikayam (garlic lashun Vellullikayam) and Perunkaayam (Asafoetida hing).
Even though these do not belong to the meat category, because these also cause the same raajasa and thaamasa gunas, the Saivas exclude them from their food. Since Kaayam also means flesh, meat…….”
This is probably why we never use onion and garlic on all auspicious, and special days. A lot of people shun these completely and never eat them at all.
I split my life into two parts, before knowing Periyava (pre-2004) and after knowing Periyava, (post-2004). In 2006/7, my husband read the whole series, all seven volumes of Deivathin Kural, ‘Voice of God’, from start to end. It made him understand so many things. Of course, it’s not possible to remember every single info. in it, there is just sooo much. But some information stuck in the mind.
Despite liking onion and garlic a lot, in dishes like Poori Masala, Punjabi dishes etc., one day, my husband said, “Why not quit onion and garlic! Mahaperiyava has said so much about their ills. Swamigal says not only do they cause a lot of dosham, the eaters of onion and garlic cannot enunciate mantras clearly”.
He still misses them. And yet he stays away from them.
These were the first things we quit after knowing Mahaperiyava. And this is how I got started us on the journey of adhering to Mahaperiyava’s words regarding food.
The effect of giving up these two forbidden items could be seen in us. Did it not start us on this journey of quitting so many things that Mahaperiyava has categorically warned us against.
What most people do not know about is that perunkaayam hing Asafoetida is also forbidden.
Smt. Prema Krishnamurthy mami, w/o Brahmashri Mullaivasal Krishnamurthy Shastrigal Mama said, “My mother has never ever used Perunkayan/asafetida in her cooking, and never have I. It is totally nishiddham, forbidden according to our Dharma Shastram.”
Smt.Uma Vedanarayanan’s (aka Uma Narayanan) parents did Shiva Pooja in the traditional way, and due to this, adhered very very strictly to aachaaram. She says that her mother never used Perunkaayam/Hing for everyday cooking and avoided it a lot.
An acquaintance who happened to be Kutchi Muslim, once asked me long back if we use hing. I said, “Yes, of course”. She replied, “We Kutchi Muslims have never used it since God know’s when.” They had obviuosly been Hindus, a few centuries back, and had this sampradaya and are still continuing this tradition, even though they have changed religions. So there are other cultures in India who consider Perunkaayam as very bad. I have noticed from the very traditional north indian vegetarian recipes on the internet that a lot of them did not have Asafetida.
Avoiding this was very difficult initially. Everything seemed to smell different.
I started finding workarounds for perunkaayam hing and it somehow worked. On the
Sumangali Prarthana and Shraaddham days, how did they cook without it. Similarly, it can be done on other days too.
To give flavour to food, use the oils that are traditionally used for that dish, and not canola or saffola or sunflower oil. Use curry leaves in tempering and also mix in a bit of fresh curry leaves just as you are switching off the stove. This gives the food a very nice flavour. Vadais, ulundu poornam (urad dhal poornam pooran for kozhakattai steamed dumplings) and such items are heavenly when made with freshly crushed black pepper and curry leaves and sesame /gingelly oil tempering .
When it is so forbidden according to our shastras, how can we use these items that Mahaperiyava has expressly mentioned as highly Rajasic and as Meat, Flesh… in the food we make, and do Neivedhyam?
If Mahaperiyava has said that onion, garlic and hing are flesh, then please see them as just that. That way it will be easy to give them up. Initially the food may seem different. But after cooking like this every day, not only do we get used to that new flavours and will not miss it. In fact, not having had asafetida for so long, I cannot stand the stink, or should I say the Stench of it. A tip to quit asafetida is to look at it as flesh only. You could start with avoiding it once a week. And as we get used to these new flavours, we could slowly increase the days without these items.
If we add such items to our Neivedhyam, will that be acceptable to our Gods? Will it not cause great dosham and anaacharam to us?
Henceforth, let us please change the way Neivedhyam is prepared. Let Us make neivedhyam without these items, so that our Gods can accept it.
We should be eating like this everyday, but at the barest minimum, atleast on Festival days we can Avoid use of Chilli, Tamarind and Perunkaayam hing Asafetida, isn’t it?!
SAMBAR, PULUSU RECIPE ( for 1 1/2 to 2 litre Sambar)
Sambar Powder Ingredients :
- Dhania seeds – 1Tsp. (Coriander seeds)
- Black Pepper – 2 tsp. or as per spice requirement
- Fenugreek (Venthayam) seeds – 1 Tsp.
- Whole Black Chana (Chick Peas, Bengal Gram, Kothukkadalai) – 3/4 tsp.
- Whole Moong ( Mung bean, Payaru) – 3/4 tsp.
- Cumin (Jeera ) – 1/2 tsp.
Sambar Ingredients –
- Vegetables, and atleast a couple of Avaraikkai ( for flavour)
- Sesame/Gingelly Oil (Nallennai)
- Dhania seeds – 1 tsp. for roasting in oil
- Mustard – 2 tsp.
- Fenugreek seeds – 2 tsp.
- Curry leaves – I use atleast 10 medium sized sprigs
- Whole Moong bean instead of Tuvar dhal cooked soft.
- Salt to taste,
- Lime juice or Amla or Dried mango flakes to taste
- Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp.
Procedure for making Sambar:
1. Grind the sambar powder ingredients to powder.
2. If using the stone pestle, first powder Chana, then add moong and powder it. Then methi, (venthayam) and then 1 tsp. Dhania seeds, next cumin, and lastly Black Pepper seeds. As you add each ingredient, powder it well, before you add the next one. This order makes it easier to powder.
2. In a pan, dry roast the sambar powder until there is a roasted fragrance. Powder gets burnt easily, so please take care.
3. Heat a little sesame oil in pan and add the remaining 1 tsp. dhania seeds and roast until golden brown. Remove and powder.
4. Heat a bit of sesame oil and add mustard, when it sputters, add methi seeds and when that turns golden brown add curry leaves. When we crush the curry leaves and then chop them, the leaves are more fragrant. If using vendakai, Okra or such vegetables that need sauteing you can do that now.
5. In a pan, heat water and bring to boil. Then add the sambar powder, vegetables, half of the tempering (Thalippu) , some fresh curry leaves and salt and boil for about 20 min. If using Amla, Nellikkai or dried mango flakes, you can put them in the pot now.
6. Mash the moong bean until soft and homogenous. Add to the boiling sambar as is or add some water and extract the soft dhal and add it. The moong peels can be used in whatever curry is being made. Then you can thicken the sambar with some rice flour and water.
7. Remove from flame, add turmeric powder, the remaining tempering (Thalippu, Popu in telugu) and some fresh curry leaves and Lime juice of using that for sourness.
8. Rest it for about 15 min. so that the flavours can to talk to each other. After that, it is ready.
Adding flavourful vegetables like Avaraikkai (chikkudukaya, broad beans) helps initially, until you get used to the new sambar. So even if it is a sambar of some other veggie, use atleast a couple of Avarakkais. Curry leaves to help immensely with the flavour. There may be a bit of lime flavour immediately after adding it, but it goes away after a while.
Most of the flavours for Sambar come from Dhania and Fenugreek. So don’t worry, after a few trials and tweaking the powder recipe to your liking, you will be fine. I have given quantity in teaspoons. So you can experiment with the combination to suit your taste.
Black Pepper is very versatile. It gives different flavours when handled differently. When coarsely ground, the flavour is different from when it is powdered fine. And the in-between texture has a different flavour. Also it’s flavour changes with the oil we use. Roasting in coconut oil gives it a different flavour from roasting in sesame/gingelly oil, vs. roasting in ghee. Also using mixed oils give different flavours to food. i.e adding just a tiny bit of ghee to til oil when tempering has a different flavour from using just til oil or just ghee. You could experiment a bit to find what suits you.
Sambar and Vathalkuzhambu are unavoidable in our cuisine. But other than that, you could replace chilli with black pepper in a lot of traditional recipes probably from Meenakshi Ammal’s cookbook etc, that you have not made earlier, and introduce these new dishes to your family. Her book has so many recipes that we never do everyday, and some we would never even have heard about. Just change her dishes to remove the chillis, tamarind and asafetida. If these are the only 3 ingredients, then just make a tempering (thalippu) of sesame oil, mustard and curry leaves.
Add tempering to upma at the end, instead of cooking the rava etc. in the tempering. Make tempering in the pan, remove and keep aside. Then roast the rava in the pan and cook it with water. You could try crushing in very big particles, some black pepper and adding it at the beginning itself, when cooking the rava. Once it is fully cooked, remove the pepper. The spiciness might seep in and yet no pepper is visible, because you have removed it. Now add the tempering and switch off the stove and close it and rest for a few minutes. Adding the thalippu, tempering at the end makes it so much more flavourful.
I use the same powder given above, for Vathalkuzhambu, (Pulusu without Dhal). But I roast the powder in til oil until it bubbles well, but doesn’t change colour/burn. It will stick to the pan, so just pour some water and heat pour into the vessel in which you are making it.
You can increase the roasted dhania a bit more if you feel that the flavour needs to be stronger.
Thanks so much to my husband’s aunt, Smt Meena Sankaran for this most important tip regarding roasting the dhania seeds in a bit of sesame/gingelly til oil and then crushing and adding it. It is the reason why my sambar started smelling like sambar again despite having no chillis, no tamarind and no asafetida.
A beautiful day to Everyone.
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