Navarathri | 9 Nights for the Goddess | Devotion, Dolls and Food

Navaratri – 9 nights dedicated to the Goddess

Millions of Hindus consider Navaratri the year’s central festival, the one they most deeply connect to. These nine days dedicated to Shakti, the Goddess, in her incarnations as Durga, Lakshmi and Saravati, provide an opportunity to seek blessings and commune with their own divinity. It is a time for sacred gatherings, austerities, selfless acts and intimate prayers. It also includes joyous worship, festivities, plays, feasting and dance—all venerating God as the loving Mother Spirit that gives life to everything.

Dishes for Navarathri

Like all Hindu festivals, food plays a large part. See below for the list. Or browse all of our dishes for Navarathri here.

Continue reading “Navarathri | 9 Nights for the Goddess | Devotion, Dolls and Food”

Indian Essentials: What is Tulasi (Tulsi)? | Indian Holy Basil

Tulsi is an amazing herb, indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. The word “tulsi” means “the incomparable plant“.  It is a bushy shrub that grows up to 2 metres in height. The plant has hairy stems with leaves that are oval and serrated of about 5cm in length – the colours ranging from light green to dark purple, depending on the variety. The plant has delicate lavender-coloured flowers, and its fruit consists of tiny rust-coloured nuts. There are two main varieties, the one with the green leaves is called Rama or Shri Tulsi and the one with the reddish leaves is called Krishna or Shyama tulsi.

Tulsi is a plant that has a whole raft of health benefits. Modern research has classified Tulsi as a herb that supports the body’s natural immune system while relieving the body’s negative reaction to stress. It has been used in traditional Ayurvedic herbal medicines for thousands of years to promote and maintain wellness.

It’s referred to in Ayurveda as a rejuvenative, rasayana or restorative herb. It is said that you should eat seven Tulsi leaves a day for good health. They balance kapha and calm vata. It is said to be effective against respiratory tract diseases, coughs and colds. It helps the body adapt to environmental, physical and emotional stressors, supports normal functions, and restores balance. It is a tonic for the heart and the immune system, it  clears the mind and is also said to break up pranic congestions in the aura. The plant itself has a purifying effect on the environment.

You might like to try Tulsi Rasam and Phanta Tea with Tulsi.  Tulasi can also be spelt as Tulsi or Thulasi, or called Holy Basil. Don’t get it confused with Thai or South East Asian Holy Basil, it is an Indian Holy Basil and quite different to the Thai herb. Our Tulsi recipes are here.

Continue reading “Indian Essentials: What is Tulasi (Tulsi)? | Indian Holy Basil”

Hindu Festival: Maha Sivaratri | A Night of Fasting

Shivaratri, or Mahashivratri, is one of the most auspicious occasions for members of the Hindu community. The day holds special significance for pious Hindus all over the world, especially devotees of Lord Shiva. Many of whom observe a strict day-long fast or Upvaas in honour of Lord Siva. The fast is broken only in the early morning of the next day, with the consumption of some traditional food items and drinks. Continue reading “Hindu Festival: Maha Sivaratri | A Night of Fasting”

Tulsi | Tulasi | Thulasi | Indian Holy Basil | An Essential Ingredient in Every Kitchen and Medicine Chest

Tulsi, a medicine chest in a sacred herb.

Tulsi is an amazing herb, indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. The word “tulsi” means “the incomparable plant“.  It is a bushy shrub that grows up to 2 metres in height. The plant has hairy stems with leaves that are oval and serrated of about 5cm in length – the colors ranging from light green to dark purple, depending on the variety. The plant has delicate lavender-colored flowers, and its fruit consists of tiny rust-colored nuts. There are two main varieties, the one with the green leaves is called Rama or Shri tulsi and the one with the reddish leaves is called Krishna or Shyama tulsi.

Tulasi can also be spelt as Tulsi or Thulasi, or called Holy Basil. Don’t get it confused with Thai or Sth East Asian Holy Basil, it is an Indian Holy Basil and quite different to the Thai herb.

Are you looking for Tulsi Recipes? You might like to try Tulsi Rasam, Tulsi, Mint and Cinnamon Chai, and Phanta Tea with Tulsi.

Browse all of our Tulasi recipes, and our Ayurveda notes.

Continue reading “Tulsi | Tulasi | Thulasi | Indian Holy Basil | An Essential Ingredient in Every Kitchen and Medicine Chest”

Diwali | Deepavali | The Hindu Festival of Lamps

If you rolled a bit of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July all into one, then catered the affair with mountains of sweets and savory snacks, you would have a taste of what it means to celebrate Diwali, India’s best-known festival. It is a day of Hindu solidarity, when all Hindus gather in love and trust. It is observed by lighting rows of oil lamps and exchanging greeting cards, clothing and other gifts. Family bonds are strengthened and forgiveness sought. For many, Diwali marks the beginning of the new year. Joyous festivities and parties abound.

It’s Diwali! Have you thought about what you might make during this Auspicious time?

If you rolled a bit of Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July all into one, then catered the affair with mountains of sweets and savory snacks, you would have a taste of what it means to celebrate Diwali, India’s best-known festival. It is a day of Hindu solidarity, when all Hindus gather in love and trust. It is observed by lighting rows of oil lamps and exchanging greeting cards, clothing and other gifts. Family bonds are strengthened and forgiveness sought. For many, Diwali marks the beginning of the new year. Joyous festivities and parties abound. Continue reading “Diwali | Deepavali | The Hindu Festival of Lamps”

Pancha Kajjaya | Sweet and Crunchy Poha | Flattened Rice with Coconut, Banana and Honey

Sweet food is always a blessing, satisfying to the soul, spirit and body.

Sweet food is always a blessing, satisfying to the soul, spirit and body. It balances our more savoury foods, especially hot and/or sour foods. In moderation, and in a good mindful balance with other foods, sweet dishes are not the toxic enemy that many proclaim.

In our household we are not great sweet eaters, preferring unadorned fruits, nuts and cheeses. It is the occasional pastry with coffee, a piece of cake or biscuit when visiting friends, sometimes dessert if eating out. It is rare to make anything sweet at home (sometimes icecream in summer).

That attests to the wonderful nature of this dish. Made with a form of rolled rice, poha, it is light yet satisfying. Poha is easily obtainable from your Indian shop. There are several different thicknesses – Nylon (very thin and crisp), Paper, Thin, Medium, Thick and Dagdi (thick and chewy). There are also poha types made from red rice and brown rice. For this dish, it is important that you use a paper or thin poha.

This is a variation of the traditional Tuppaddabalehannu (banana, coconut, jaggery, honey, ghee), with poha added.

Are you looking for other Poha dishes? Try Sweet Surnoli Dosa, Poha Chaat, Poha with Onions (Kanda Poha), and Kolache Poha..

You might also like to try some of our rare sweet dishes – Besan Payasam, Blueberry Shrikhand, and Payasam Kheer.

Are you after more Banana recipes? You might also like to try Pomegranate and Banana Salad, Banana and Berry Lassi, or Banana Halwa from Kerala.

Browse all of our Poha recipes here, and our Banana recipes here. Explore all of our Dessert recipes. Our Indian recipes are here. Or be inspired by our Early Spring recipes. Continue reading “Pancha Kajjaya | Sweet and Crunchy Poha | Flattened Rice with Coconut, Banana and Honey”

Diet and Consciousness

It is wise to have a free mind, a clear, serene and relaxed attitude toward life before partaking of food. Ancient wisdom from India.

Searching through some old files this morning, I found this piece on diet and consciousness from my beloved Guru, Sivaya Subramunyaswami.

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Red Lentil (Masoor Dal) Sprouts Sundal | Stir Fried Sprouts with Spices and Coconut

A gorgeous salad or side dish of stir fried sprouted lentils

A gorgeous side dish of sprouted lentils today. Gorgeous AND delicious, South Indian sundals are dry lentil dishes with spices. They are a traditional food during the Navaratri Hindu Festival.

Similar recipes include Lentil Salad with Pomegranate Molasses, Urad Dal Sundal, Channa (Chickpea) Sundal, Sprouted Green Gram Sundal, and White Peas Sundal. Or you can make a sundal with Coconut, White Peas and Greeen Mango, equally as delicious.

We have many sundal recipes – you can explore them here. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

Continue reading “Red Lentil (Masoor Dal) Sprouts Sundal | Stir Fried Sprouts with Spices and Coconut”

Bengali Rice Kheer

This dish can be made at any time, and it is also a favourite sweet at Diwali.

This beautiful Indian dessert is a favourite dish made at Diwali, but it can be made at any time. It is quite wonderful, an Indian take on a rice pudding. One of the beautiful traditions of Diwali is the making and sharing of sweet things.

Similar recipes include Warm Rice Pudding with Star Anise Sauce, Pandan Rice Pudding with Lime Syrup, Sago Payasam, and Greek Rice Pudding.

You might like to browse our dessert recipes here, or our Indian recipes too. Find inspiration in our Mid-Spring recipes.

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Travel | The Folding Lotus

The lotus has deep symbolism in Eastern religions

The lotus is a special flower.

It is sacred to Buddhist and Hindus alike, used in the rites and rituals of both religions. The national flower of India, even Indians living abroad hold a place in their heart for this flower.

The lotus flower emerges from the depths of the mud and muck at the bottom of a pond or swamp. It slowly grows towards the water’s surface, continually moving towards the light. Once it comes to the surface of the water, the lotus begins to blossom and turns into a beautiful flower. Growing from the mud at the bottom of ponds and streams, the exquisite lotus flower rises above the water. Continue reading “Travel | The Folding Lotus”