Kaipakya Theeyal

Kaipakya Theeyal My dog Lucy
First, a huge thank you from me and a super-special “woof!” from Lucy to all of you thoughtful folks who left messages and sent emails wishing her well. These have been incredibly difficult days for Desi and me and reading through your words, your tips and your advise helped more than I can ever say.I don’t have good news to share, but it’s not bad news either. Lucy met with a specialist Thursday who confirmed that there’s a pretty nasty tumor in her rear right leg. We’ve scheduled the amputation for this coming Thursday.It was a hard decision to make but three vets have so far assured us that Lucy will be 100 percent pain-free after the leg is gone. We can see that it would help: the pain is growing almost by the day, despite the painkilling drugs she’s been on.

The surgeon we consulted with showed us pictures of a dog with an amputated leg about the same size and weight as Lucy, and looking at those really helped us make up our mind. “People usually say after the surgery that you’ve given us our puppy back,” she said, pointing out that for dogs, unlike us humans, there is no stigma associated with losing a leg because they don’t think about how they will appear to others.

I’ve also been looking up dogs with amputated limbs on the internet and they all look happy and healthy. Last year, on our road trip, we met a three-legged dog, Miracle, on the beach in Charleston and she looked completely blissful as she took a soak with her family.

After the amputation will come the chemotherapy. While waiting at the vet’s office we met another dog parent with an adorable 14-year-old cocker spaniel who, his father said, has been on chemo for the last two years. He also hasn’t had any remarkable side-effects.

I feel encouraged already.

I wanted to address here quickly one discordant message I received last week among the dozens of supportive ones. The writer– who did not disclose his/her name– asked me to spend a couple of happy days with Lucy and then euthanize her. There was something wrong, this person wrote, with fetishizing about a dog as if it were a human child.

My immediate instinct and action was to send the message down the deleted drain, where it deserved to go, but on second thoughts I thought I would respond to this person right here. What was truly shocking to me is that he/she said they had had pets of their own. But then I reminded myself that pet parents do exist who think exactly like this: Freddie, our beloved 17-year-old rescue, was dumped in the shelter by the family he had lived with for 12 years because he was diagnosed with a moderately serious heart ailment.

It’s true that animals are not the same as human kids– they are perhaps better because humans are incapable of unconditional love and loyalty of the kind animals give you. Lucy, in her almost eight years with us, has give us her whole heart and all her devotion. She is no less to us than a human child would be. Even now, despite the pain, I can see the fire to live in her eyes. When Desi picks up the leash to walk Opie or Freddie, she hobbles to the door, eager to go too, although she’s restricted from most exercise. We know she’d love to walk again with us, as she used to just two weeks ago, and we are not about to turn our backs on her, especially when the vets assure us that she can be happy for many more months to come. When the time comes to let go of her, she — and we– will know it, and we’ll take that step. But not before we’ve given her a fighting chance.
Blogging has not been on my mind much, as I am sure you’ll understand. But since both cooking and chatting with you does make me feel better, I have decided I am going to keep at it as much as possible.

Today’s post is an easy one for me because the recipe comes from another blog. I made this theeyal early last week. A sumptuous but everyday dish from the beautiful state of Kerala in south India, theeyal is a dish I’d eaten as a child at my Malayali friends’ homes, and was reawakened to again recently when a reader, Sujala, asked for a recipe. Since my childhood friend Sangita, who writes the blog Foodskaypes, is a Malayali who has learned some wonderful and traditional recipes from her mom, I sent her to Sangita who immediately obliged.

The star of this theeyal is bitter gourd, or karela or pavakkai or kaipakya. This healthful veggie is immensely popular in the Indian kitchen both for its flavor as well as its body-healing properties. Its deep bitterness makes it appear formidable to new cooks and those not used to it, but a kiss of just-right ingredients can turn this warty, deep-green toad into a prince.
And that’s exactly what happens in a theeyal. The mellowness of the coconut, the tongue-tickling sweet-sourness of the tamarind, the bitterness of the gourd, and the pungent heat of the spices all come together in some sort of kitchen alchemy to make a dish that will make you want to pick up your plate and lick it off!

All you need to go with the theeyal, as Sangita says, is some boiled rice and some poppadums.

Visit Sangita’s blog for the recipe which I pretty much stuck to, except that I changed the order the ingredients slightly. I added the turmeric and chilli powder to the bitter gourd so they would get lightly toasted in the oil, before adding the water.

This theeyal goes to Nupur’s CopyCat edition of Blog Bites. Thanks, Nupur and Sangita!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    I’ll confess that bitter gourd is the one and only vegetable that I still don’t have the confidence to make, but that looks just too good!

    Thanks for the entry :)

    Oh, have you heard of the two-legged dog named Faith, who brings hope to so many humans facing amputation? Do a web search and you’ll find pics and videos of this cute and remarkable dog.

  2. says

    i hope dear lucy feels better and recovers soon…sending her and you guys who are her family positive energy to guide you through this time….i love what you wrote..that animals dont worry about how they appear to us, that’s something we can learn…and the fire in their eyes….hugs!! and take care

  3. says

    Thanks for the update about Lucy! It sounds like she’s getting what she needs.

    I’m sorry that someone made that comment and upset you like that. It sounds like she’s guilty of black-and-white thinking regarding animals. It’s true that animals don’t have a sense of their own mortality. When our beloved 10-year-old cat Storm contracted lymphoma a couple of years ago, we decided not to do any radical treatments, because even if they had been successful, he would have been with us for only a few months. He was paralyzed with fear of strangers, and the small amount of extra time we had with him would not have made up for the endless vet visits to him. That doesn’t mean his life was worth less! We made the decision that we thought was best for him, not for us. Only you and your husband know what’s best for Lucy. That was thoughtless and arrogant of a stranger to tell you what you should decide.

    I’m glad to see you’re still cooking and blogging about it, too. We have to eat! There’s no reason to resort to unhealthy food during a stressful situation.

  4. says

    Thanks Vaishali, I’m so relieved to hear about Lucy and that she will be in less pain after the operation. Again, sending you good vibes and strength.
    Also glad you enjoyed the theeyal!

  5. says

    Love is love is love. All who give us love, animal or human, give us a precious gift, and one that should never be minimized. Take care of Lucy, as I know you will, as she has taken care of you … and I hope the person who sent you the email will receive the gift of love so that they may understand its beauty and strength, regardless whether it comes from one with two legs, four legs, or three legs!!

  6. says

    Dear Vaishy, sending you all good thoughts I know you’ll convey to Lucy – this cannot be easy, to see her in pain.

    I cannot find bitter gourd where I’m living but will keep my eyes open, just in case! You know, reading your post, it occurs to me that I would really love to know more about a less exotic ingredient – rice. You mention boiled rice, and I make my rice in an open pot, bringing it to a quick boil (often, after sauteing in a touch of oil with mustard seeds or a cardamom pod, before adding water). Others ensure their pot is sealed tightly, while some swear by oven baking. Are there best methods you use for different sorts of rice?

  7. says

    Hey, do not worry. Lucy will be fine after the surgery,so what if she has three legs? In a few weeks, she would excel walking and running with those. She is lucky to have nice people around her.

    Loved the click of theeyal and of course the recipe too. Keep blogging!!!!!

  8. says

    Hugs to both you and Lucy dear Vaish.
    And don’t let insensitive people get you down with discouraging comments. The very fact the person did not leave a name shows 2 things – one, the person knows you or vice versa and two, s/he already knows it is wrong advice.
    Would s/he feel the same if it were their child?
    You take care. And both of you will be in my prayers always. Looking forward to a smiling Lucy snap soon. :-)

  9. says

    I’ve known several three legged dogs, they all do SO well! Dogs adapt to things like that so quickly and easily, they are so much better at living life than humans, they just roll with the changes. Hearing that the pain will be gone is wonderful, that makes it all worth it!

    And your dish looks AMAZING! What a delicious recipe.

  10. says

    Hi Vaishali!

    That is indeed great news about your BEAUTIFUL companion animal. Shes LOVELY by the way. A little over a year ago, I lost one of my best buds – a beautiful girl I called Pettha. I dunno if you know any Thulu, but Pettha means cow in Thulu. I called her this coz she was almost as huge as one! :0) She was the one of the best things that had ever happened to me, apart from my 4 kittie-poos, and more recently my now 3 month old son.

    Pettha was a stray, and I sorta gave her a roof in my tiny one BHK in Blre, on the 3rd floor. Unfortunately, when I got married, I was not allowed to bring her to my husbands home with me. A few weeks later, I got a call from the neighbors (with whom I had entrusted her), who told me that she’d fallen from the third floor of the building. And that was not the worst of it. They said when she fell, her body hit an electric cable, and so apart from the fall she suffered electrocution. What really took the cake, was the fact that they mentioned this whole episode had happened 6 days before they called! My heart stopped, and through desperate sobs, I asked them WHY they had not called me as soon as it happened. This is what they had to say “You just got married recently. So we didn’t want to trouble you with this”!! I called my husband immediately, and we both rushed there immediately, desperately trying to get an ambulance while we were on the way.

    My heart broke when I saw my poor child unmoving on the wet ground (it had also been raining). We carried her to a dry spot, and I called out to her a few times. The neighbors told me that she hadn’t drank anything for SIX whole days. And, when I called out to her, she actually moved her eyes to look at me. And she even drank a little water I fed her with my fingers. The poor child had maggots in the wounds she had suffered from the fall and the electrocution.

    I PRAYED SOOO HARD that she should be ok and live. Regretfully, she passed away after 7 more days of suffering in one of the CUPA hospitals. And this was mainly due to the awful doctors at CUPA. I told them I would do anything to ensured her survival. They took advantage of this, and took huge donations. They didnt even clean her cage!! My husband and I would go there everyday and remove the maggots from her wounds, and clean her up, and try to feed her something.

    I write this to you with a terribly heavy heart, and a tear SOAKED face, primarily to vent (God knows I need to every now and then), and to let you know that you are an awesome person to give your little girl a fighting chance. They’re lives are indeed more precious than the human kind for the same reasons you mention in the post.

    I will pray real hard for Lucy… I am sure she still has several more years to keep you company. :0)

    Stay strong.

  11. says


    I am happy to know update about Lucy, although with good and bad sides. I wish I has wisdom to tell you correct thing to make you and Lucy feel instantly better, but I am clueless, all I can say is, hang in there. Lucy will still be in our prayer.

  12. Rossitza says

    Dear Vaishali,

    Only once did I say thank you for the wonderful recipes you are sharing with us and wish I did it more.Now that I have a job that takes up all my time and energy, I have not had time to make your delicious food and thus I had not seen that Lucy, had gotten sick.

    Thank you for being such a wonderfully compassionate person and for caring for your Lucy as you would care for a human child. Never mind what people say–animals are as deserving of our love and affection.I hope that her surgery will go well and that she will recover quickly to be her lovely and loving self.

    With all good wishes,


  13. Marty says

    Vaishali – I don’t know how old this post is, but I want to let you know a 3-legged dog will do wonderful!

    I rescued a 3-legged cat and he ran faster than my 4-legged cats – he was a Tuxedo and polydactyl, Smitty Kitty. He went to a loving home with 2 corgi’s and 2 other cats, and 4 horses and is having the time of his life!

    My husband raised Airedales when he was young and had one that lost it’s leg in a trap, and she found her way home, and lived for 10+ years going everywhere with him, jumping in out of his truck.

    I saw a poster at my vet’s office last week of a local rescuer/dog musher (small time!) who had a posted a picture of her “dog team” of 3-dogs, one missing a rear left leg!

    It’s amazing how they heal – so I hope Lucy is doing wonderful. It may take her a little time to adjust, but she will do great.


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