Food R. Rajamurugan’s recipe book Nalla Soru revives old millet recipes and innovates new ones

His 80-year-old paati gave him the recipe for porivilangai urundai. Made with cereals, pulses, nuts and jaggery, this multi-grain laddoo is rich in fibre, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and packs energy. “It has all the ingredients that are prescribed in a modern day health mix. Our ancestors always consumed organic food which they cultivated in their fertilizer-free farms and stayed healthy,” says R. Rajamurugan. He has come out with a Tamil recipe book Nalla Soru that revives some of the tried and tested recipes made from thinai, varagu, saamai, kudiravaali, panivaragu, kambu, cholam and kaelvaragu from the millet family. He has innovated some of the recipes to suit modern day cooking. For example, kambu and raagi kali recipes that can be made in a pressure cooker. “The millets are cultivated on vaanam paartha bhoomi (rain fed farms) that don’t need any fertilizers. They are unpolished and rich in fibre,” he says and warns that the market is flooded with polished varieties. “Organic varagu is brown in colour, while thinai and panivaragu are yellow, saamai and kudiravaali are greyish. The polished ones are white in colour. Buy your organic food from the right place.”

Back to old times

A catering student, Rajamurugan has been researching millets for over nine years. He has a small organic farm at Tiruchengode where he grows organic cholam and groundnut. Besides farming, he visits schools and colleges regularly to create awareness on organic food. “I have incorporated traditional millet recipes which I learnt from our ancestors from villages in Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Palani, and Oddanchathiram.”

He says as the awareness on millets is picking up it was a good time to come up with a recipe book. There are over 90 recipes in it. They have been classified under kali, kanji, thinpandangal (snacks), sweets, sitrundi (tiffin items) and soru vagaigal (rice).

Thinai paruthi paal made from thinai rice, paruthi seeds, jaggery and sukku is a traditional preparation. So is kaelvaragu puttu. And, ottarai adai made with kelvaragu, onions and curry leaves (kaaram) and with jaggery (sweet). “Kambu dosai, saamai dosai, and kaelvaragu idli are new recipes. So is pongal, kozhukattai, kesari…,” says Rajamurugan. Among sweets, Rajamurugan experimented with kollu laddoo, kaelvaragu urundai, and kaelvaragu halwa. “We prepared kollu laddoo for over 100 people and everyone loved the taste. Our elders were happy with adirasam. They also made thinai and ellu maavu urundai with jaggery for the cold December months as it gives warmth to the body.” Rajamurugan recalls the traditional kali preparation. “They made kali from kaelvaragu, kambu, raagi, and cholam. A chatti was clamped with the help of a kaavakuchi (a y-shaped stick) and they mixed the kali with a wooden thuduppu. Now, we make it in a pressure cooker. Though the taste differs, health benefits remain the same.”

New additions include recipes on saamai murukku, thinai parappattai paniyaram, thinai pooranam kozhukattai, varagu vadai, varagu bonda and more. “Thinai suiyyam is a sweet. Our elders always used sukku and milagu in sweet preparations to ensure that it helped in digestion,” he mentions.

To get a copy of the book, call him at 098426-72439.