Without any doubt we can say that people, especially women, of all folks, are concerned very much about protecting their beauty. Branded cosmetics have already replaced the ancient beauty aids which were mainly natural ingredients. Most of the cosmetic companies claim that their products are made from pure organic natural ingredients. Hence no other testimonies are needed for the present relevance of the beauty secrets of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, who lived centuries ago. In our busy world of hectic work, we might be ready to skip a meal, but are not willing for a compromise regarding beauty caring. Truly most of us depend on easily available ready to use cosmetics. Like people from any other part of the world, the beauty concepts of the people of Kerala have also changed a lot. But remember that the beauty tips followed by our grandmas years ago, with easily available ingredients in our kitchens, were equally effective .
The Choonda Pana ( Caryota urens)
The identity of a Kerala girl is marked by her curly, dark and long hair. Very often compared by poets and writers, with that of the hanging bunch of flowers of a particular type of palm tree the Choonda Pana ( Botanical name: Caryota urens ) that grows well in tropical areas. In Kerala, the land of coconut trees, the secret behind such a hair growth is believed to be nothing, but different herbal combinations of coconut oil. One of the most widely used combinations, is the oil prepared by mixing the juice of shallots, a cooking ingredient easily available in every kitchen. Curry leaves, Hibiscus flowers, Aloe vera etc. are some of the other herbal ingredients, when combined with coconut oil make wonders for hair growth.
Being medium complexioned, the women of Kerala are more concerned about skin care, and to a certain extent, still adhere to some of Grandma’s secrets, though a large number of beauty products are available in markets. One of the widely used ingredients for skin care is the Wild Turmeric, ( botanical name: Curcuma aromatica ) a tuber in the turmeric family, which is not used for culinary purposes. Well dried and powdered tuber of the plant mixed with fresh milk cream, makes an ideal face pack, and a positive result is guaranteed for retaining colour and texture of the skin. For different skin types, milk cream can be replaced by honey, yoghurt, skimmed milk etc. for better results.
Those who aspire a healthy hair and glowing skin, should not forget that a balanced diet, enriched with veggies and proteins, is equally important as any kind of external caring.
I will try to share with you, the recipe for Aviyal, a very delicious and nutritious dish which is purely vegetarian and an unavoidable dish for Sadya, the Kerala feast.
Preparation and cooking time: One hour
- Cucumber, raw banana, elephant foot yam, snake gourd, ash gourd, brinjal, long beans, drumsticks and carrot cut into two inch pieces – 50 gms each.
- ( peeled jack fruit seeds, spinach stem etc can also be added if available.)
- Green chilly – five
- Onion. – one (small)
- Raw mango – five pieces
- Coconut. – one half (grated)
- Cumin seeds – ¼ tea spoon (powdered)
- Turmeric powder- ¼ tea spoon
- Curry leaves – two stalks
- Coconut oil – two tablespoons
- Salt. – to taste
How to prepare:
Peel, wash and cut all the vegetables, add split green chillies, chopped onion turmeric powder, salt and put in a pan adding one cup of water. Keep it on a high flame, and add the mango pieces when it begins to boil. Lower the flame and keep for a few minutes. Grind coarsely the coconut adding cumin seeds powder and mix with the vegetables in the pan, keep on the flame for a few more minutes till all the vegetables become soft but not crushed. Put curry leaves and add coconut oil, keep out of the flame and the delicious Aviyal is ready. You can have it with boiled rice or chappathi. If raw mango is not available, a little quantity of curd or tamarind paste can be used for a moderate sour taste.
(You can add all the other vegetables when the yam is half cooked, as certain types of yam need more cooking time.)
There is a fantastic story behind the origin of this delicious dish, that I will share with you later.
Try this delicious recipe.