Wholesome meals with millet magic

CHENNAI: Cooking is my way of showing love,” says a beaming Hema Ramesh. “There hasn’t been a single day when I haven’t cooked because I was sick or was angry with someone.” This mother of two has always prioritised her family’s well-being before anything else and providing her daughters with good food has always been on the top of her priority list.

Hema’s fonts of inspiration are her mother-in-law and her sister. While she has learned all about cooking from her mother-in-law, Hema looks up to her sister for advice. “I have eight siblings. Till the age of 21, I didn’t have the need to learn cooking. My mother and sisters-in-law took care of the kitchen,” she says.
Good food guidance

The first time she entered a kitchen and tried her hands at cooking was after her marriage. The first dish she cooked was sambar, and that, she says, didn’t taste good. “Though my in-laws and my husband didn’t say anything, I knew it was bad. I wanted to improve my cooking skills because while growing up, I was always used to eating good food,” she says. With guidance from her mother-in-law, Hema mastered the art of cooking in no time and now she can cook a variety of south and north Indian dishes. She also tries a variety of contemporary and Italian dishes.

Anjana Ramesh, Hema’s daughter, chips in to tell us that the podi dosas prepared by her mother are her lunchbox favourite. “My mother has a unique way of making podi dosas. She dunks the dosa in home-made podi. By the time I eat it for lunch, the consistency is just the way I like it,” she says.

Of podis and batter

Hema makes a separate batter for idlis and dosas, and she makes them at home. “I have never bought batter from shops. It is something we follow in the family. The ratio of rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds matter for a perfect batter. I also make atta, sambar powder and rasam powder at home,” she says.Hema adopted a healthy way of living five years ago. The family of four uses just a litre of oil every month. They are now at a point in life that they don’t want to use oil in any of their dishes, even if necessary.Apart from this, Hema can make any dish using millets. Some of her most sought after dishes are millet adai, millet sambar rice, millet pulao, millet upma, millet pongal and millet pidikozhukattai.

Making healthy tasty

Hema’s cooking usually depends on the mood of the house; her garlic rasam and paneer sabzi are her go-to dishes, when someone is famished. She is also known for her sakkarai pongal and ven pongal. “My friends are always awestruck by the way I cook and often ask me the secret behind my cooking really fast,” says Hema.Coming from a family of good cooks, making healthy and tasty food was always imbibed in her, and she wishes to take this legacy forward.


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