Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Can there be anything more delicious and nostalgia-inducing than the magic of food flavoured with love? Here are some traditional and little-known recipes for you, straight from grandma's kitchen.

By Team ParentCircle  • 17 min read

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

When Iska Lupton, a creative director and her friend Anastasia Miari, a journalist, decided to start the Grand Dishes project, the idea was to preserve for posterity authentic recipes from their respective grandmothers. Today, their blog, which won the Guild of Food Writer's Award 2018, has grown into a bigger effort chronicling the bittersweet stories and cherished recipes of grandmas everywhere. 

Just like Iska and Anastasia, we too relish the unique taste of our grandmothers' cooking and would love to pass on their rare techniques and cooking styles to future generations. But in the chaos of microwaves, non-stick cookware and frozen veggies, traditional recipes from our grandmothers may well disappear. So, we at ParentCircle decided to compile a few recipes for the benefit of our readers, as part of our Nutrition Week special. 

Here are some flavourful recipes, spiced with joy and tempered with that special ingredient, love. We hope you and your children will truly enjoy making these dishes:       

1. Sprouted Millet Dosa/Idli with Ginger Chutney

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Nalina Ramalakshmi

Courtesy of grandmother: Sethamma

This healthy and traditional dosa recipe that uses a combination of sprouted millets, packs a tasty punch when served with tangy ginger chutney.  


For the batter  

  • 1 cup sprouted pearl millet (kambu/bajra/sajjalu)
  • 1 cup sprouted sorghum millet (jowar/cholam/jonna)
  • 1 cup idli rice or parboiled rice
  • 1 cup urad dal
  • 1 tsp methi seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

For the ginger chutney

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp chana dal
  • 1 piece ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic (optional)
  • ½ tsp methi seeds
  • 1 tsp jeera
  • 10–12 red chilli
  • ¼ cup curry leaves
  • ½ tsp asafoetida
  • 1/3 cup tamarind (seedless)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 250g jaggery
  • 1 tbsp salt


  1. Soak all the ingredients, except salt, for four hours.
  2. Grind to a smooth batter.
  3. Transfer to a larger container.
  4. Add salt to the batter and mix well.
  5. Let sit for eight hours to ferment.
  6. Use the batter to make idlis or dosas.
  7. Serve with ginger chutney or your favourite spicy chutney. 

To make the ginger chutney  

  1. Soak tamarind in 1/3 cup water for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add all remaining ingredients.
  3. Fry for two minutes over medium heat. Leave to cool.
  4. Grind to a powder using a mixer.
  5. Add the tamarind along with the water and grind to a paste.
  6. Slowly add the powdered jaggery and salt, and blend together to a smooth paste.
  7. Serve with sprouted millet dosa.

2. Gundruk Ko Soup

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Ashwin Dewan

Courtesy of grandmother: Sanchamaya Dewan

This vegetarian dish, made with a variety of dried and fermented vegetables, is a staple of the Nepali community. The vegetables are kept in a copper container called gagri for a week to ferment and put on the roof to dry.   


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 garlic pods
  • 3–4 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder 
  • Red chilli powder (1/2 tbsp)
  • Fermented vegetables


  1. Take a vessel, add oil and put it on a medium flame. 
  2. Once the oil is hot, lower the flame and add the onions and the tomatoes.
  3. Stir continuously till the onions turn transparent and the tomatoes start giving out their juice.
  4. Add the gundruk (fermented vegetables) and stir for a minute or two. 
  5. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder.
  6. Add 1 cup of water and leave to boil.
  7. Let the dish boil for 3–5 minutes.
  8. Serve hot. 

Note: Gundruk is ideally had with rice and potatoes on cold winter nights.

3. Patholi

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Namitha Rao, Divya Sreedharan

Courtesy of grandmother: Susheela Rao

These are traditional Mangalorean sweet rice dumplings, steamed in turmeric leaves. Patholi is an old Mangalorean or Coastal Karnataka dish cooked during this season. It is not specific to Ganesh Chaturthi, though.


For the batter

  • 1 cup rice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup beaten rice
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 10–12 turmeric leaves

For the coconut filling or choornu

  • 1/2 cup powdered or grated jaggery
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
  • A pinch of cardamom powder


  1. Soak the rice for few hours and then grind all the ingredients for the batter together. Your batter is ready.
  2. In a kadai, pour some ghee and then add jaggery, coconut and cardamom powder to make the choornu. 
  3. Wait till the jaggery melts and blends well with other ingredients.

To make the patholi

  1. Spread some batter thinly onto each turmeric leaf. 
  2. Now, add the coconut filling or choornu to each leaf. 
  3. Fold the leaves so it covers the coconut filling-rice mixture. 
  4. Steam the dumplings for about 15 minutes.
  5. The turmeric leaves impart a beautiful aroma and flavour to the rice dumplings.
  6. The coconut filling makes them utterly delicious! Cool the dumplings and peel off the turmeric leaves. 
  7. The patholis are ready. Enjoy!

4. Maati Dali Aru Posola 

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Monali Bordoloi

Courtesy of grandmother: Niroda Devi

This is a traditional Assamese dish that is highly nutritious and has the goodness of split black urad dal and banana stem.  


  • 200g split black urad dal
  • 1 banana stem, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ inch ginger, grated
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 5–6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3–4 cardamom pods
  • 2–3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil/any vegetable oil
  •  1 or 2 dried red chillies

Note: You can add 5–6 jackfruit seeds to the dish if available.


1. Wash and boil the black split urad dal with the finely chopped banana stem in 3 cups of water with one tsp of salt.

2. Pressure cook for three whistles.

3. Now, put a kadai on medium flame and add mustard oil. 

4. When the oil is hot, add bay leaves, dried red chillies, cardamom, cloves and fry for one minute.

5. Add chopped onions, crushed garlic and grated ginger, cook for a few more minutes, till the onions are done. 

6. Add turmeric powder to this mix, so you get a lovely brownish-golden colour.

7. To this, add the pressure-cooked dal and mix well.

8. Add cumin powder.

9. If you want the dal to be of thicker consistency, do not add more water. Check the salt and, if needed, add a pinch more.

10. Let the dal cook for five more minutes and then it is done. 

Note: If you have sun-dried and peeled jackfruit seeds at home, you can add it at step 1 and boil along with the split dal and banana stem. It will make this dish even more exquisite.

5. Man Chatti Kadaintha Arai Keerai

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj aka Saramma

Courtesy of grandmother: Rathinam Rajamani

A traditional dish from Tamil Nadu made with fresh, green leafy vegetables and cooked in a clay pot. 


For the kadayal

  • 1 bunch arai keerai, cleaned, washed and chopped
  • 12 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 2 tsp tamarind pulp
  • 2 tsp oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt, to taste

For the tempering 

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 3 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp urad dal
  • A few sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera), crushed between the palms
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 dried red chillis
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
  • Asafoetida powder, a pinch
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Place a man chatti (clay pot) on the stove, add oil and heat it.
  2. Next, add the chopped shallots and sauté until they turn translucent.
  3. Add garlic and green chillies and continue to sauté.
  4. Once the shallots turn golden brown, add the arai keerai and mix it in.
  5. Add water to the mixture, sprinkle the salt and mix well.
  6. Cover the man chatti with a lid and cook the keerai for 5 minutes.
  7. Then add the tamarind pulp to the keerai and cook for a minute.
  8. Once cooked, remove the man chatti from the flame and allow the keerai to cool.
  9. Then mash it well with a mathu (wooden hand blender).
  10. Place a shallow clay vessel on the stove, add oil and heat it.
  11. Add mustard, urad dal, cumin, pepper, dried red chillies, asafoetida powder and curry leaves and temper.
  12. Once mustard splutters add the shallots and sauté well.
  13. Finally, add cumin powder and salt, and remove the vessel from the stove.
  14. Add the tempered spices and shallot mixture to the mashed arai keerai and mix well. 
  15. Voila! Your Man Chatti Kadaintha Arai Keerai is ready. Serve with a dollop of ghee. It’s delicious mixed with steaming hot rice.

Note: Though other varieties of leafy greens such as siru keerai, mulai keerai or pasalai keerai (spinach) can be used for this recipe, arai keerai works best. If you don’t have a man chatti, you can use your regular kadai or pan. Likewise, if you don’t have a mathu, you can use a mixer. However, my grandma would swear by the man chatti and the mathu. And, yes, the dish tastes far better using her options!

6. Murungai Keerai Podi

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Banumathy

Courtesy of grandmother: Gajalakshmi

This nutritious recipe from Tamil Nadu increases appetite and removes toxins from the body. 


  • 2 cups of murungai keerai (drumstick leaves)  
  • 12–15 red chillies
  • 2 tbsp chana dal 
  • 2 tbsp urad dal
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 tbsp salt

Note: 200ml cup used. 


1. Wash and remove drumstick leaves from the stems. Dry overnight by spreading on a newspaper or a towel.

2. Dry roast all the other ingredients one by one. Chana dal and urad dal should turn golden. Cumin seeds should give out a nice aroma.

3. Dry roast the drumstick leaves slightly, without burning them.

4. Grind all the roasted ingredients along with the roasted murungai keerai.

5. Murunga keerai podi is ready.

6. Serve with ghee or gingelly oil for idli, dosa or rice.

7. Akki roti

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Viren Rajesh

Courtesy of grandmother: Maitreyi Surendra


  • 2 cups rice flour 
  • 2–3 cups water 
  • Salt
  • Oil


  • Iron roti tawa
  • Plastic sheets
  • Chappati press (optional)


  1. Boil the water with a pinch of salt.
  2. When the water starts to boil, add rice flour slowly and mix for half a minute.
  3. On medium heat, let the flour cook for 2–3 minutes and turn off the flame. 
  4. Mix the flour well and keep it in a closed vessel for about 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the flour onto a plate and knead well to make a fine dough.
  6. Take a small portion of the dough, a size of a small lime, and flatten it on a plastic sheet or banana leaf.
  7. Pat the dough to form a flat roti, or use a chappati press to make the work easier.
  8. Heat the iron tawa well and cook the rice roti on it.
  9. Slightly roast the roti until the sides are golden brown, flip over and cook the other side.

Note: Akki roti is best served with coconut chutney or any gravy.

8. Kumro or pumpkin seeds kofta curry

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Ajoy Chakravarty, Gargi Chakravarty

Courtesy of grandmother: Parul Rani Devi

This is a special, traditional recipe from Bengal, which is full of rustic flavours, rich in taste, and awesome for health. 


  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2–3 potatoes, boiled and peeled
  • Ginger and chilli paste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds 
  • 1 ts coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomato puree 
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder 
  • A dollop of ghee
  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger
  • 2 green chillies
  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds  
  • Oil for cooking


  1. Source at least two cups of pumpkin seeds and sun dry the same for a few days. This makes the process of removing the cover of the seeds easy. You can simply use your fingers to scrape out the skin. Once the skin is removed, store the seeds in a container.
  2. Prepare fresh ginger and green chilli paste. Cut the potatoes into small chunks.
  3. Fry the potato pieces, sprinkle salt while frying and keep it aside.
  4. Use a blender to grind the pumpkin seeds into a thick, smooth paste (using little water as required); add salt to taste.
  5. Add cashew nut and poppy seeds in a blender jar and blend into thick smooth paste (using little water as required).
  6. Heat cooking oil in a pan or kadai. 
  7. Make small dumplings or balls with the pumpkin seeds paste and fry them. Your koftas or pakoras are now ready. Keep them aside.
  8. In a non-stick pan, heat a little oil, about 1–2 teaspoon. Once oil is hot, add cumin seeds and saute for a minute.
  9. Add fresh tomato puree and mix well.
  10. Add the cashew nuts and poppy seeds paste, and mix well.
  11. Add turmeric, coriander and cumin powder, and salt to taste. Mix well.
  12. Add a cup water, fried potato chunks, cook in low flame, and let the mixture come to a boil, cover and simmer for four minutes. 
  13. Add a little water if you feel the need; you may add a pinch of sugar to balance the taste.
  14. Now, that the gravy is thick and the potatoes nicely cooked, gently add the fried koftas. Mix slowly to ensure the koftas don't fall apart. Now, switch off the flame.
  15. Add little ghee and garam masala powder to the gravy and turn off the heat. 
  16. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve hot!

9. Shorshe Narkel Deem (eggs in mustard–coconut gravy) 

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Jaya Chakravarty, Gargi Chakravarty

Courtesy of grandmother: Nirmala Chakraborty

A typical non-vegetarian preparation from Bengal that is not just simple to cook but yummy to the core. Let your taste buds celebrate with this delicious grandma recipe.


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp mustard paste
  • 4 tbsp coconut and green chilli paste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 1/2 tbsp mustard oil


  1. Mix the mustard paste, coconut and green chilli paste together in a bowl, and add 1 1/2 tablespoon raw mustard oil to it. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Heat one tablespoon mustard oil in a non-stick pan.
  3. Make 4–5 slits on the boiled eggs with a knife. Smear little salt and turmeric, and fry for just half-a-minute, to add texture to the egg.
  4. Now, add the mustard-coconut-green chilli paste and turmeric powder.
  5. Add 1 1/2 cup of water to this and mix well.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. Cover the cooking pan and cook till the gravy thickens. Keep checking in between.
  8. Remove the cover of the pan and sprinkle fresh chopped coriander leaves.
  9. Garnish using 2–3 green chilies.
  10. Serve hot with steamed rice or parantha or roti.

10. Arep Pundi

Healthy Grandma's Recipes

Contributed by: Saakshath Vijay

Courtesy of grandmother: Shailaja Charan 

This is a spicy, traditional Mangalorean dish, which is rarely prepared these days. Made with rice and a variety of spices, it is a meal in itself. 


For the pundi (rice dumplings)

  • 500g rice   
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil 

For the arep (thick gravy)

  • 12 red chillis 
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds 
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) 
  • 1/2 tsp methi seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 gloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • A lemon-sized ball tamarind
  • Salt to taste
  • Half a coconut, grated


For the pundi: 

  1. Soak the rice for eight hours. Then grind with a little water to make a stiff batter. 
  2. Put a kadai on a medium flame and pour some oil. 
  3. Add the batter and cook for a few minutes till it is nice and thick. 
  4. Make oval-shaped balls from this mixture and steam for about 10 minutes.
  5. Once cooked, cut them into bite-sized pieces.       

For the arep:

  1.  Separately roast the chillies, coriander seeds, cumin and methi seeds. 
  2. In a grinder, blend the roasted spices with the garlic, onion, tamarind, turmeric and coconut to a smooth paste. 
  3. In a pan, boil the gravy and add salt to taste.
  4. Add the dumplings to the gravy and simmer for about five minutes. 
  5. The tasty arep pundi is ready to serve.  

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