Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Water Spinach Dry Subzi (Vayal Cheera Thoran)

When you visit a new place, visiting the local vegetable market is such a delightful way
of getting to know locally grown vegetables and greens. You discover and learn so many
new things. One such really exciting discovery is the semi-aquatic perennial Water
Spinach or the Swamp Cabbage called Kalmi saag (Hindi) and Vayal cheera (Malayalam).
Like most other greens, there are numerous health benefits of consuming this spinach. It is rich in antioxidants and strengthens the immune system. It is also excellent to relieve issues of constipation and even reduce menstrual pain! Water spinach is a rich source of calcium, iron, amino acids, and vitamins B. The plant, its leaves and flowers look very similar to that of sweet potato. They belong to the same genus of plants. The stems are hollow. You can use the leaves and tender parts of the stem for this dish.

Water spinach leaves (cleaned and chopped) – 3 cups tightly packed
Onion – 1 small
Garlic – 1 clove
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Green chilies – 2
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Grated coconut – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves: 2

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
When they splutter, add the split green chilies.
Add finely chopped onion and garlic. Saute until they turn pink.
Add chopped water spinach leaves and turmeric powder. Mix well and close with a lid.
Cook in slow fire for about 5 mins stirring occasionally. The leaves will shrink and
become soft and darker in color.
Turn off the fire. Add salt and grated coconut. Mix well.

Bachelor-friendly, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Raw Papaya Stir Fry (Thoran)

Back home we mostly cook backyard vegetables like mango, jackfruit, raw banana, banana flower and stem, amaranth leaves, drumstick, colocasia, drumstick leaves, etc. Papaya is also commonly found and used often in the kitchen. Papaya thoran (Kerala style dry subzi) is delicious and easy to make and a great side dish to serve along with rice.

Raw Papaya – 1 medium sized
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Split urad dal – 1 tsp
Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Garlic – 2 cloves (optional)
Green chilies – 2 – 3
Curry leaves – a few
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 2-3 cups

Wash, peel raw papaya, and grate into thin 1-inch long pieces. Keep aside.
Heat an iron skillet and add coconut oil and mustard seeds.
When mustard seeds begin to splutter, add urad dal, chopped green chilies, garlic, and curry leaves. Saute until urad dal and garlic turns golden.
Add grated papaya and turmeric powder. Mix well and close with a lid. Keep the heat on minimum. Slow cooking is ideal and retains nutrients. Do not add any water. Cook for about 7-10 mins, stirring every 1-2 mins and then closing the skillet with a lid.
When the papaya becomes soft and cooked, add salt, jeera, and grated coconut. Mix well and turn off the fire.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan

Punarnava – The Neglected Medicinal ‘Weed’

Not so long ago, when our backyards were not manicured, we had an abundance of greens such as Punarnava, Poovamkurunnila, Thiruthaali, Manithakkaali, karuka, thumba, the list goes on. They grew like weeds but were very useful and handy for first aid. When you notice signs of mouth ulcer, just walk across, pluck a few manithakkaali leaves and chew them with noticeable relief very soon. Olden days in villages, people survived only on these wild greens and vegetables from the backyard. Apart from raw mangoes at various stages, jackfruit, different types of gourds, yams, brinjal, ladies finger, and various greens were used in everyday cooking. These were tastier and more nutritious than the vegetables in the market. Visiting the vegetable vendor was rare during those days. Like the Malayalam proverb goes, “muttathe mullakku manamilla,” which can be loosely translated to we fail to appreciate what is available to us easily and in plenty. But, now when we battle a multitude of health issues that we fail to even identify, we rediscover old habits that helped us stay healthy. Not only are these healthy but tasty as well.


One of the most common uncultivated greens that grows wild all over the country is the common creeping weed Punarnava / Hogweed / Thazhuthama. It has tiny pink flowers. In Ayurveda, Punarnava is known for its anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and analgesic properties. All plant parts, such as the flowers, leaves, stem, and the roots are beneficial and have specific medicinal uses. The plant leaves are nearly round in shape but can vary in size from one plant to another. Punarnava, as the name denotes, has the tendency to rejuvenate. It can be grown easily by stem cutting.

Punarnava leaves (cut into very small pieces) – 3 cups tightly packed
Green chillies – 3
Shallots / onion (chopped) – 1/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Oil 2 tablespoons
Coconut – 1/2 cup grated
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 1-1/2 cups

Pluck the Punarnava leaves and remove the hard stems. Wash and clean the leaves thoroughly. Drain the water from the leaves and chop finely.
Heat coconut oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.
Add chopped onions and stir for a minute then add the turmeric powder, slit green chilies, and chopped Punarnava leaves.
Stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes in low fire, occasionally opening the lid to stir, until the green leaves just start to wilt. The leaves, when they get cooked, reduces to half or one-third.
When the leaves turn dark green, add salt, and stir.
Add grated coconut and stir well. Serve with rice or roti.

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Kerala Recipes, Side Dishes, South Indian, Vegan

Idichakka Thoran(Tender Jackfruit dry subzi)

A tasty side dish. It’s a summer specialty!

idichakka thoran


Tender jackfruit, diced – 250 gms
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Salt to taste
Water – 1 cup

For seasoning:
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Split green chilies – 3
Curry leaves – 2 stalks
Urad dal – ½ tsp

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 5 mins
Serves 4

Place the diced jackfruit in a pan with a pinch of turmeric. Add a cup of water and cook until tender. Add salt to taste. You can cook this in a pressure cooker also but ensure that the jackfruit pieces do not get mashed. Drain the water out and let it cool. Lightly pound the jackfruit pieces and shred them coarsely.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and urad dal. When they splutter, add the split green chillies and curry leaves. Add the coarsely shred jackfruit pieces and stir. Cook for 2-3 mins. Add grated coconut and its ready to serve.

List of Accompaniments:
Tastes great with rice.

Idichakka or tender jackfruit is found normally only in the summer season. Cleaning it can be a tricky affair. You need to get the right kind of tender jackfruit and remove the poky outer portion and the sticky middle portion. Make sure you oil your hands before getting to do this or it can get sticky.

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