My Indian Kitchen


By Jenna Yajjala

Cooking has always been a source of stress relief and a place I can go to make goodies to fill my loved one’s tummies! My husband is very particular and doesn’t like many foods. Being Indian doesn’t make things any easier. He doesn’t eat pork and most vegetables. He prefers dal and rice with curd. Pickles, chutney and Non-Veg Curries are his favorite, I try very hard to introduce as many new foods as I can. Sometimes I have to cook it a few times before he will try.

Due to limited ingredients I must also learn how to adapt myself to the new foods around me and come up with things my daughter will enjoy. This quest has been very successful and I am proud to have my own cuisine I call Indo-Ameri-Mex! Check out my recipes and you will see what I mean!

My family kitchen in the photos below shows the typical Indian kitchen set up. Most Indians use daily steel plates, bowls and glasses (I call them cups because they are not glass) Indians have a nice stock of large mixing bowls, pressure cookers, serving trays and water containers. They have special curd/yogurt containers and spoons used only for that purpose.


Water does not come constantly from a spout like in USA and most Western cultures. We get water for 1 hour three times a week. It fills up in our bore well and we keep the freshest water in the kitchen inside steel water containers. We filter all of our drinking water into bottles and put them in the fridge.

Rice is purchased in huge bulk. Like 5 bags weighing 50 kilos lasting us over a year in rice. All of our spices are stored in steel tins and jars. Pickles, red chili peppers, tamarind, sugar, jaggery, fry-ems, dried green chilies are all stored in the open pantry.


Daily most Indians drink tea. In my family we drink, what I call Indian coffee, in the morning and chai/tea at night. Please a note to my fellow Americans: DO NOT think chai is what we buy in tea bags in USA. IT IS NOT!!! Check out my blurb on chai a few years back when I stated the recipe, it’s quite simple. I will post again on this blog in my recipes. Any-whoo, we don’t have ovens in India unless you own a convection oven/grill/microwave. So, please remember I am limited on baking and certain recipes and must learn how to adapt to this new type of life.


Many ingredients I use I never used before I moved to India. I have included my gallery of vegetables and fruits that we use here often. It is common for us to have Rasam or Dal (pappu challu or pappu) we have many condiments like pickles (not cucumbers in vinegar, mango pickle-see my recipes) curries, veg and non-veg fries, breads like naan and the mostly used in my part of the country chapatis and rice. You can make cakes in pressure cookers (gotta become best mates with your pressure cookers in India) and we must make everything fresh and from scratch. There are no convenient foods here. They don’t use canned foods much and never find them unless online. Pasta and pasta sauces are available but not the best in flavor and high in bad carbs for me and my disease. So, what do we eat??!! Check out my photos and see my many choices! 😀


From Left to Right: Coriander/Cilantro; pumpkin; cabbage; fresh green peas/matter; okra/bendakaya; mirichi/ green chillies; green beans; small lemons/nimbukaya; tomatoes; white skin potatoes/aloo/dumpa; radish/diakon radish; beerakaya (loofa sponge before it drys out) also called ribbed gourd; green peppers/capsicum; mint. Next photo: Fresh cranberries Next photo: Guava from our farm not pink but creamy green.

We make all our own ghee,curd, red chilli powders, masalas, ginger garlic paste, pasteurized milk, snacks, sweets, breads, pickles, podas.


First Photo: Garlic-Ginger Paste Next Photo: Chicken pieces Photo 3 Indian Cutting Tool: used on the floor held down by your leg or foot, easy to use and very precise! 4th Photo: Blade on the cutting device.


First Photo: Example of how floor cutter works Second: Mixing Mango Pickle Third: Beginning curry base of onions tomatoes green chilli cloves cinnamon salt.


I am always caught off guard and would like to have the cleaners that I have grown used to in USA. Please note these are HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS not for Body. So, I have found a few recipes and modified them for India as some ingredients are not available like in USA. The next 4 posts are the recipes using both American and Indian alternative ingredients along with a description of uses, hazards and application procedures. These items are very inexpensive to make!

Items needed in an Indo-American household for these tips:

  • (as I add to these items I will date and put in different color for those who need updates easier)  2-3 buckets, handle cups, basins, baggies, ziplock, aluminum foil, aluminum food containers disposable, toothbrushes, scrub brushes, spray bottles, containers with lids, glass jars-mason pref, rags & washcloths, sewing needles & large colorful variety of thread, buttons, tape measure for crafts and home use, newspaper
  • baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, apple vinegar, talc powder, plain white chalk, bleach, rubbing alcohol, ammonia, laundry detergent, bar soaps, rosewater, coarse sea salt, coarse sugar, fine salt and sugar, olive oil, grape seed oil, cotton seed oil, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, lavender essential oil, sandalwood essential oil, food coloring, lemon, almond oil, coconut oil, toothpaste white regular or salt, gel toothpaste, petroleum jelly, liquid paraffin, lanolin cream (udder cream or st ives hypoallergenic cream), apricot oil
  • Indian items (if not in India look at markets. I will do my best in posts to inform of websites or places to purchase items) Reethi (soapnuts), amla-Indian gooseberry, neem oil and leaves if possible, tea tree oil, turmeric powder, palm fruit, coconut water, jasmine essential oil, curry leafs


I never use Hydrogen Peroxide on cuts or wounds as it is known to eat good tissue as well as bad tissue (ask any triage nurse they use iodine to clean wounds or sterile H2O) So, what do we use Hydrogen Peroxide for? Its so cheap that we must find a use for this interesting chemical agent. Well, try using it to clean next time your around and about your home. Putting it in with your laundry is a cheap substitute for OxyClean, using it with baking soda will clean shower heads, faucets, cleaning kitchens, aluminum pans etc. Just try it on things and experiment!

Rashes/Eczema Problems with Baby Bottoms

I encounter many people that have children and I am frequently asked about skin care with infants to toddlers. Some people have problems with eczema to rashes. I have not had any problems with either and I believe its due to my diligence when changing Amelia’s diaper and the routines we have setup with cleaning her. Firstly, I would like to say that if your seeing a doctor for eczema or rashes and they are prescribing any kind of petroleum based products (liquid paraffin, lanolin, cream petroleum jelly) then understand that they are trying to PROTECT the skin from water, urine or feces. They are NOT trying to repair the skin with these formulations. One of the main cluprit with these problems is WATER because the water can cause bacterial, viral and fungal infections which make the problem stay and make it worse. Using baby wipes doesn’t always get the job done! It is a little known fact that when your child develops a rash that if it remains more than 72 hours then you will get a bacteria or a fungus mixed in with the problem. My suggestion is that you just do the right thing with baby bottoms. Always wash the baby bottom with water. If rash develops then use antibacterial soap. Don’t just sit around using wipes that could make the problem worse. Now, if the rash continues for more than 24 hours or you rarely have these issues you need to think about what your child has ingested. What goes in the body effects the body. Example: My daughter got a rash from anus to vulva and it was red, we never have rashes due to the washing routine. So, I used DESITIN immediately after washing her and drying her off COMPLETELY. The Desitin puts a barrier between the clean skin and the diaper so when she goes pee or pooh it doesnt get on the rash. Desitin doesn’t fix the rash necessarily, it just protects the rash from other factors. I had to think about what my daughter did that past day. I realized that she ate something new, taro root curry, and after looking it up online I found that it can cause many problems like this if not cooked properly. So, no more taro root. I just continued pampering my daughter’s bum with washing immediately after poop and not letting urine linger in diaper too long, keeping Desitin on her dry skin. NO POWDER, NO PARFUMES!! Use very simple ingredients on your little ones. Make sure nothing that is irritating like citrus, alcohol or dyes are in products. I suggest Himalaya Baby Care Products. In the USA you can find Himalaya but it is called Botanique in USA and I think that most of the products are safe for children as they have not introduced their baby line in USA. But check out some of my natural ways to get rid of pesky tough skin in my next post. I am not a fan of any Johnson’s products as they are too much for little baby skin EXCEPT for Johnson’s prickly heat powder that I mix with my Himalaya powder. I do like Baby Burt’s Bee’s and The Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocer always checks out their products and I suggest most of them ( )

Remember! A washed bum is a happy bum!


I have tested a new formula for whiter nails and it really does work! I also have tested using hydrogen peroxide daily as a whitening mouth wash 2X a day along with my regular brushing. Dentists have also found that regularly using diluted hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash greatly reduces gingivitis and kills more bacteria than anything else.

Formula for White Nails
with a toothbrush scrub following paste onto your nails and leave for 10 minutes and wash off:
4 TBS Baking soda to 1 1/2 TBS of Hydrogen Peroxide
Make a paste fresh every time.

Tooth Mouthwash:
4 Tbs of Hydrogen peroxide and 1 TBS of Water
Leave on for 10 minutes and wash with plain water after.

Warning: This is for people who have no problems with their enamel. Those people who have depleted enamel and/or fluorosis should know that whitening your teeth takes enamel away. So does scrubbing with abrasives like pure baking soda. USING an electric vibrating toothbrush like a SoniCare can also remove your enamel and make thin. SO BEWARE!!!

Salt Scrub For Rough Skin:

I love this recipe! It has been used by me for years instead of these expensive scrubs with synthetic oils and scents!)

In a container with a lid combine the following ingredients and keep for up to one month (if it lasts that long, hehe!)
Note: Salt is a natural antimicrobial substance. Salt removes bacteria, viruses and fungi like no other! Baking soda is a salt that’s why its a great face scrub and removes blackheads!

Please think about purchasing DEAD SEA SALT as it has wonderful properties and great mineral content. A site to purchase in USA is OR

I also recommend Himalayan Salt ( OR for your skin and soaks as well as Dead Sea. In India you can inquire through IndiaMart for different types of salt including Himalayan (

There are so many benefits to using sea salts on your skin, I will only name a few.
– Acne: dissolve a tablespoon of sea salt into 2 liters of warm water and splash onto face once a day.
-Psoriasis, dandruff, athlete’s foot, crotch rot, bed sores or any skin disorder by keeping swelling down and the fungus and bacteria that cause most skin conditions.
– When using a scrub it removes all dead skin while adding essential minerals. Dead Sea Salt has 21 essential minerals the skin needs.
– Himalayan Salt has many minerals as well and is very useful for arthritis, neuropathy, tired feet and muscles.
– Epsom’s Salt is also a wonderful cure all for the same problems as it is a salt too. It has less mineral content than Dead Sea Salt & Himalayan but does the same job with aches and pains, acne, and antimicrobial properties.
– Use the salts in a very diluted stearil water by boiling and dissolving salt into the boiling water to heal wounds and keeping the bacteria away. This method is more suggested than using hydrogen peroxide (which is terrible for cuts and injuries as it eats good and bad tissue at the same time) in conjunction with using Iodine.

WARNINGS: Remember all salts keep bacteria away except Halophiles (bacteria that lives in highly salty waters 10X greater than in the ocean ie. Dead Sea) Halophiles are not dangerous to us on the level we use them at with skin BUT DO NOT INGEST THEM!!! DO NOT DRINK THEM!!! They will kill you!!! If you want a salt mouthwash use baking soda with hydrogen peroxide as mentioned above OR you can use edible sea salt in water but dont ingest it. Dont apply any salt without adding it to water, oil or something else. It can burn or sting your skin. Keep all salts away from the eyes.

1/2 cup of Coarse Dead Sea Salt or regular Coarse Cooking Sea Salt
1 cup of 1/4 Coconut Oil, 1/4 Cup Olive Oil, 1/4 Cup Almond Oil, 1/4 cup of Jojoba Oil. Yes, you can use substitutes like Grapeseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable oil, etc… But I have chosen ones that make your skin SING!!
1/3 cup of Fine Dead Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt or Epsom’s Salt
1 lemon with seeds and rind.
Cut lemon and squeeze the juice out of both halves seeds and all. Add the salts an mix together. Let sit for 10 minutes before adding the oil. Take rind and cut into pieces and soak them in the solution for up to 4 days and remove.
To use: scrub feet, elbows, buttocks, thighs, hands, elbows or any other area with rough skin. Wash off with warm water.
Tips: you can use finer grains for more sensitive skin. I dont use essential oils or scents other than lemon as irritation can develop. Lemon is a natural moisturizer so I prefer using that.

Salt Continued…….

Soak for body, hands & feet:
for one bath tub full (depending on size) use up to 4 cups of salt and make sure you dissolve it first. I heat up a liter of water and add the salts to it when very hot stirring vigorously…then I add the water to my bath water. Again all I would add to the water would be half a lemon squeezed into the water and the rind left in the water.

If I need to energize my legs arms and feet I will pick up some fresh mint leaves at the store. I would suggest only getting organic as pesticides can give you a rash etc. I would either put 10 or so leaves in with the lemon in my bath water. I also would add blended mint leaves to a small portion of my scrub to make it fresh and very invigorating. The cooling effect is nice BUT some people are very sensitive to the oils in mints so BEWARE!! The final suggestion I have for a nice nighttime bath that will make you want to just slide into bed is adding 4 bags of chamomile tea to your bath water. You can do this with salts as well and you can add chamomile to your salt scrubs too. I prefer DRY vs fresh as dried is more potent. I would do the same method of putting hot water with the tea bags and make the tea and add to water. I would also take 2 tea bags squeeze them out and put them on my eyes while I am soaking.

All of these things and all of the things I dont suggest I always try first. Thats why I suggest not making anything too complicated. Stay away from dyed salts, scented salts, and anything that is irritating to your skin.

Newly tested face scrubs and face applications:

1. Turmeric Paste: Indians use turmeric for everything. I warn light colored skins to use when not planning on going anywhere or seeing anyone for a day. Use for oily, pimple ridden skin. Take turmeric and distilled water and make a paste like toothpaste and apply like a mask to your skin. Yes your skin will be yellow and glow like gold. Do not scrub it off. Just wash face a few times and let the rest wear off through washing. Turmeric kills acne causing bacteria and your pimples will disappear after a few weeks. Only use once or twice a month or if you can once a week.
Turmeric does not stain clothing. Just use some spot cleaner and it will go.

2. Freshly Mashed banana and ground banana skin. Wash banana skin with distilled water. Grind banana skin in a blender adding just enough distilled water that it grinds well. Mix the two ingredients together and apply overnight to your face. Wash off in morning. This moisturizes and brings back vitality to your skin. Nourishing and vitamin packed!

I have tested both of these recipes now for 3 months and love them! My skin is very rejuvenated and in conjunction with salt treatments (see other posts) to my face my acne is a dwindling problem!

I am always caught off guard and would like to have the cleaners that I have grown used to in USA. Please note these are HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS not for Body. So, I have found a few recipes and modified them for India as some ingredients are not available like in USA. The next 4 posts are the recipes using both American and Indian alternative ingredients along with a description of uses, hazards and application procedures. These items are very inexpensive to make!


4 thoughts on “My Indian Kitchen

  1. Really enjoyed your account of the Indian Kitchen. Saw our daily, regular items and activities through new eyes. I must say you have adjusted very well to the Indian lifestyle. Wising you all the very best. Would love to keep in touch with you.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I truly enjoy living here in South India learning new ways of life! I am only lucky to have a wonderful Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law along with all of my Husband’s family supporting me in learning Indian ways to teach my daughter. I believe that my daughter is more well rounded and enjoys the simple pleasures in life because of our choice to remain traditional. I enjoy your blog as well as I am a 20+ year crocheter. I sell crochet and yarn to pay for expenses helping others learn crochet in India. I have a special program, Sustainable Crochet, to help people who cannot afford my Crochet Lessons and provide them with free instruction, tools, and yarn in Andhra Pradesh.

  2. Pingback: Whats wrong with : Our kitchens? | Homes, not houses

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