October 2010 Archives

Dhokla: A gluten free snack, light meal or party food

We served the dhoklas with hari chutney and spiced buttermilk drink. Besan or gram flour, made from chana dal a relative of the chickpea, is available from Indian grocery stores and is a wonderful food, useful in celiac disease since it is gluten free, excellent for diabetes since it has a low glycemic index and superb for asthma because chana dal helps dry mucus from the lungs.


Besan Dhokla

Note: If you don't have an idly steamer, you can cook the dhoklas by pouring the batter into a greased baking pan and steaming it in a large pot. Then cut the dhokla into squares.

Ingredients to make 72 dhoklas

To use to make batter:

5 cups Besan flour
3 cup Yoghurt

A little sugar

Water as required to make a pancake-like batter

Salt to taste

To add next morning:
1Tbsp ginger paste

1.5 tsp. turmeric powder
1Tbsp Soda (bi-carb )
3 Lemons juiced
3 Tbsp Oil

For Tempering
Few Curry leaves
3tsp Mustard Seeds
3 tsp Oil
Cilantro leaves (chopped)

Grated fresh or powdered dry coconut


  • In a bowl add besan flour, yoghurt and water.
  • Mix well and make a smooth batter. The batter should be of thick consistency.
  • Add salt and set aside in a warm place overnight to ferment.

Next morning

  • Take the ginger paste and add to the batter. Also add turmeric powder and mix well.
  • Now if you have an idly steamer for 24 idlys, you will divide the batter into 3 parts and add the soda bicarb mixture to each batch right before you cook that batch. i.e . for each batch you will mix 1 tsp sodium bicarb, juice of one lemon and 1Tbsp oil
  • Grease the idly steamer with ghee and place just enough water in the bottom.

Get ready to make the first of three batches of dhokla (and same procedure for the other 2 batches)

  • In a small bowl take a tsp. of soda bi-carb 1tsp oil and lemon juice and mix well.
  • Add this to the batter and mix well.
  • Pour the batter into the greased idly pan and steam for 10-12 minutes or till done.
  • Repeat this procedure for each of the three batches of dhokla
  • Put all the 72 dhoklas in a large bowl
  • Heat little oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds and curry leaves and allow to splutter. Remove and pour it over dhoklas.
  • Garnish the besan dhokla with coriander and coconut powder
  • Serve with hari chutney.


Hari Chutney


1 bunch coriander (cilantro) chopped
3-4 green chilies
1 lemon juice
3 tsp sugar
A pinch of amchur
2-3 flakes of garlic
Salt To Taste
red chili powder to taste

Mix and blend all ingredients thoroughly in a mixie to make a paste.

Gujerati Khadi

This recipe finds mention in the Ayurvedic Text Bhavprakash.


2 Cups buttermilk
4tsp Besan
Ginger, chopped 1/2inch
2 Green chillies, chopped
Salt To Taste
Handful Coriander leaves
Oil 2 tsp
Pinch Turmeric powder
½ tsp Cinnamon powder


Cumin seeds ¼ tsp
Mustard seeds ¼ tsp
Few Curry leaves
Asafoetida 1 pinch

Preparation of gujarathi khadi:

· Beat the curd and add two cups of water. Add the besan, salt, turmeric powder and mix well.

Make a paste of ginger, chillies, cinnamon and corainder leaves.

· Boil the curd mixture on slow heat and stir continuously.

· Add the ground paste, and boil again.

· Heat oil in a pan, add all seasonings.

· Fry until they splutter.

· Pour this seasonings over guajarati kadhi.

· Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.


Ripe Plums on a plum tree

Ripe Plums on a plum tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We created this plum chutney for Vijaya Dasami, Divine Mother's victory celebration for overcoming the forces of darkness.

English: Durga puja at Burdwan

English: Durga puja at Burdwan (Photo credit: Wikipedia

5 lb plums
1 cup dark brown sugar
3" fresh ginger root
4 hot green or yellow chillies
1 tbsp ghee
2 pieces cinnamon stick
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup raisins

Chop plums, put in large heavy-bottomed pan, add a little water, bring to boil and simmer, stirring frequently. Once the plums are partly cooked, add the brown sugar and continue cooking to a jam-like consistency.

Meanwhile, finely chop ginger and chillies. Heat ghee in a small frying pan and add mustard seeds and fennel seeds. When the mustard seeds have popped, add ginger, chillies and cinnamon sticks and fry until the ginger is browned. Add raisins and cook gently until the raisins swell up.Tip this fried mix into the plums and add the allspice. Now fry the coconut flakes in the residual ghee until they turn golden and add them also.
Can be canned if desired. Serve hot.

Plum Chutney.jpg

Chickpea Risotto

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Risotto 4.jpg

This chickpea risotto was created for a meeting of environmental activists. The main menu for the dinner meeting was lasagna and I thought it would be good to have an allergy-free alternative. The combination of chickpeas and rice makes a complete protein, so this recipe is a meal in a dish. A grreen salad would be a good accompaniment. I used basmati rice because it was what I had, but the stickiness is better with arborio rice.

2 cups arborio rice

4 carrots

2 summer squash or zucchini

3 roma tomatoes

1 can chickpeas

2 tbsp olive oil

4-6 cups vegetable broth

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp salt

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup grated sheep pecorino

4 sprigs basil

2 pinches nutmeg

Slice carrots and squashes, chop tomatoes, finely chop garlic.


In a large heavy- bottomed pan, heat olive oil, fry garlic. Now add the vegetables and stir fry.
When the vegetables begin to soften add the rice and fry for a few minutes.

Risotto 2.jpg

Now add the chickpeas and enough boiling stock to cover. Simmer, stirring frequently and adding more stock as needed.

Risotto 3.jpg

Towards the end, chop and add the basil as well as the nutmeg, salt, pepper and sheep cheese.

It is ready when the rice is soft and a bit sticky.

Risotto 4.jpg

Ganesh's Dhal

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Ganesh's Green Dhal

 This is the cookbook name of the dhal we shared last Sunday. Having offered to cook some dhal and noticed the 20-25 minutes boiling time for the green split dhal on the receipe, I was confident I could finish this meal in no time, and so I started cooking around 9 pm on Saturday night. This late start later proved to be a bit of a problem.

This is the receipe for the dhal I made:

2 cups green split dhal                               

2 sliced tomatoes

2 cups chard

3 Tbs ghee

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp corriander powder

4 garlic

2 Tbs ginger (grated)

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

1 Tbs lemon juice

3-4 Tbs cilantro (chopped)

4-5 cups of water


I started by soaking the green split dhal for two hours. The receipe said one hour, but I decided to soak for two, just to be sure it will then cook in 30 minutes. I then put the dhal in the pressure cooker, with water, and boiled it there for an hour, having just received advice to leave it on the stove for an hour from an "expert" in indian cuisine, my partner. Meanwhile, I sauteed the garlic in the ghee, then added the mustard seeds which I let pop before adding the grated ginger. Having sauteed all these ingredients, I mixed the powder spices together with a bit of water in a small bowl and added them to the pan. I then added the sliced tomatoes and the chard and cooked them for about five minutes, mixing them well together. I then opened the pressure cooker, got the dhal out and mixed it with the other ingredients in the pan (it was a fairly large pan). I was convinced the dhal was thoroughly cooked, having boiled it for an hour in a pressure cooker. My partner also tasted and confirmed. However, just as I was about to finish cooking, I tasted the final result, and discovered the dhal was crunchy! So I had to continue cooking the dhal with the spices in it for another 2 hours! By now it was 12 at night, and I was too tired to even check the final result. I turned off the fire and went to bed, praying that the food was edible. I thought I had made a horrible mistake, and that boiling the dhal with the spices for two hours had ruined the flavor and quality of the food. However, the following day, everybody enjoyed the dhal (I added the chopped cilantro and lemon juice just before serving), and Alakananda Ma told me that while boiling for a long time with the spices is not ideal, it's not such a terrible mistake. She also told me that the dhal took longer to cook compared to the time indicated in the cookbook, because the boiling point for water in Boulder is higher than that at a lower altitude. She said she leaves the dhal on the stove for 2,3 hours sometimes, after having it in the pressure cooker for one hour, so long cooking time of this dhal is the norm at this altitude.

I also made some basmati rice on Sunday, to go with the dhal and learned some very useful tips from Ma. She said the rice can be covered once the water starts boiling and left on the stove on minimum heat for as long as two hours. The longer the better, she said, and when the rice on the bottom has acquired a golden color, you know it's perfectly cooked. She also said you can tell if the rice is cooked, by whether the grains stand on end or not. Oh, and another useful tip: don't disturb the rice while it's cooking by stirring it with a spoon, that will make the water evaporate and then there won't be enough left for cooking the rice properly.

Ganesh's dhal in the pot...


...and on the plate.


Swami Paramananda grew the rutabaga at 10,500 feet in the Rocky Mountains and brought it to the ashram to share.He started it indoors for about eight weeks and then transplanted it to a raised bed protected by deer mesh. The rutabaga weighed 3.7 lb


Here is the recipe I created for the rutabaga. The following quantities fed fifteen and can be scaled back for a smaller group. Fifteen of us enjoyed the one rutabaga!


Rutabaga, Potato and Kale Sabji

3 lb Rutabaga

2 lb red potatoes

1 bunch garden kale or turnip greens

3 roma tomatoes

2" fresh ginger

1 hot green chili

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 pinch hing

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Handful Cilantro, chopped


Cut potatoes and rutabaga into half-inch cubes.


Chop kale. Finely chop ginger and chilies.


Heat oil in cast iron wok on medium high and drop in mustard seeds. When seeds turn grey and pop, immediately turn down heat, add cumin seeds and then hing and salt. Now add the ginger and chilies, and fry until they brown. Add the ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala and amchor. Turn heat up, add the tomatoes and cook until they soften. Add rutabaga and potatoes and stir until they are thoroughly coated with the spices. Now add the kale and half a cup of water, put on lid and allow to sauté.


Stir from time to time, adding more water if needed to prevent sticking. This sabji should be moist but not watery, so only add enough water to allow it to sautee but not enough to create a watery sauce as this is a dry sabji. Keep cooking until potatoes and rutabaga are tender. Add the cilantro and serve. Goes well accompanied with raita.


We served it with stuffed bitter gourd, rice, tomato chutney, coconut chutney, peach chutney and cucumber raita.


Swami enjoyed the fruits of his labour!


green tomato goodness

Image by garlandcannon via Flickr

As the first frost rolls around, gardeners are left with hastily-harvested green tomatoes. So what now? After growng these tomatoes with love and care, what will be their fate?

Vine Ripened Green Tomatoes
Yes, you can vine ripen your green tomatoes by picking the entire plant. Stretch a string across the room where you want to ripen the tomatoes and hang the plants upside down on the string. This will give you a supply of vine ripened tomatoes well past your frost date.

Picked and Ripened Green Tomatoes
In case you already picked your green tomatoes, or don't have room to string them up, green tomatoes can be ripened in a brown paper bag ,a gunny sack, a bowl covered with a dish towel, or for large quantities, a bucket covered with a towel. At the outset, sort through your green tomatoes, setting aside any blemished ones for immediate use (see recipes below) and ripening the unblemished ones. Check the tomatoes several times a week to remove any that might be rotting.

Partially ripe tomatoes
Partially ripe tomatoes can be ripened by the above methods or by placing in a sunny windowsill.

Using Green Tomatoes as a Vegetable
Green tomatoes are a tasty addition to stir fries and soups and can be substituted for other tomatoes in many recipes. Just remember that they take longer to cook than ripe tomatoes.

Green Tomato Chutney
4 lb green tomatoes
2 sweet red, yellow or orange bell peppers
2 hot green chillies
2" piece of fresh ginger
1 cup raisins
1 Tbsp brown mustard seeds
2 cups soft brown sugar or Sucanat
Zest of one lemon, grated
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tsp ghee or sunflower oil
1/2 cup water

Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and inspect them, cutting out any blemishes. Dice the tomatoes and bell peppers.  Chop the green chillies and ginger finely. Select a large pan with a heavy bottom. Heat the ghee or oil and add the mustard seeds.As soon as the mustard seeds turn grey and pop, add the cinnamon sticks, green chillies and ginger and stir until the ginger and chillies brown. Immediately add the other ingredients and bring to a boil while stirring. Turn heat to medium high and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking on the bottom. Continue until it has a thick, jam-like consistency.
The chutney can be served fresh and hot or canned in glass canning jars. Canned chutney should be served hot, since chutneys will be much more tasty that way.



Today's spontaneous recipe creation from whatever was at hand...Potato, Squash and Chard Sabji. A delicious vegetarian dish for a main meal! These quantities exactly served five people. Enjoy the recipe and happy cooking!

Potato Squash and Chard Sabji Recipe
5 red potatoes
2 delicata squashes
1 bunch rainbow chard
1 handful cilantro,
2" fresh ginger, chopped finely
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 tbs ghee
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
Water, about half a cup

Parboil the potatoes and then cube them. (DO NOT peel, most of the nutrients are in or near the skin). Cube delicata squash. Chop chard. In cast iron wok or tawa heat the ghee, turn up to medium high. Add mustard seeds. As soon as they turn grey and pop, turn heat down to low and add the fennel and then the cumin. When they darken slightly, add the ginger. When ginger has browned, add the turmeric, garam masala and ground coriander and stir in for a minute. Now add the tomatoes and turn the heat up to medium. When the tomatoes have softened, add the potatoes, squash and chard and stir carefully until the vegetables are coated with the spices. Next add the salt and about half a cup of water, put on lid and simmer, stirring every few minues and adding more water if needed to prevent sticking. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about twenty minutes. Chop the cilantro finely and add at the end, right before serving. Serve with rice, dal and chutney or pickle.

We also chopped fresh cilantro and mixed with coconut powder for a pitta-soothing condiment. Cilantro helps chelate heavy metals.


Late Sunday afternoon, October 17th, Ma asks repeatedly, "Where are the little girls?  We're ready to dress them."  Catherine and I sit on the front porch weaving together flower crowns of cream and pink roses and carnation buds.  The scent of roses fill the cool autumn air.

Four families from Evergreen, CO and our visitors from Nelson, BC are on their way with their children to celebrate with me Vijayadashami, a culmination of Navaratri - the nine nights of the Divine Mother.  As the little girls arrive, their happy chatter fills the air.

We head to the back room, and are blessed to have a friend, native-born of India, help us swath their little bodies in yards of fabric, dressing them in traditional saris.

We are not Indian.  We are western, American and Canadian, Norwegian and British, Danish, French, German, Russian. But we seek to honor the Divine, honor the Light, as the darkness of winter closes in.

Our little boys, waists tied in brightly colored sashes, raise their substantial swords crafted lovingly by Shaw, and follow Sadananda out under the apple tree, whose shadows grow long in the late afternoon light.  Sadananda-ji sounds the conch and the whole neighborhood seems to vibrate.  I am sure it can be heard miles away. 

The little boys follow, swords in sashes, leading the procession of girls, in saris of blue, saffron, red.  

They sit, and Ma begins to tell the story of the incarnation of Durga, who forms out of the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, riding a lion to victory over the buffalo demon. 

The little boys, standing guard over the Divine Mother, peek out from behind her throne.  Our eldest protector wields his sword heroically.

The little girls sit at her feet, in awe as the story unfolds.  One of our little goddesses raises her eyebrows in disbelief.


Ma dances fiercely as Kali, eradicating the million incarnations of the buffalo demon, relishing in their destruction.  Shiva teases her by staying a little longer in Samadhi than anticipated.

Finally, peace, as Kali is satiated, one foot resting on Lord Shiva.  And the bell rings, and the ghee lamp burns, and blessings flow.


Flower petals float down, and we receive the blessing of a thousand lifetimes.


The evening continues with a hearty feast of radish dal and rice, sweet potato and greens sabji, beet raita, plum and spicy mango chutneys.  Everyone exclaims at the quantity of food.  We eat to fullness as the children play in the back yard, little boys offering a steady flow of apples picked from the trees of the ashram to their mothers.

What an experience for this group of westerners.  What a blessing.  What a joy.

In reverence, I bow to you, that you may continue to cultivate the light from a night of vijayadashami throughout the long dark winter months.



Garden Vegetable Soup

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Here is a delicious garden vegetable soup for the time of year. Enjoy this soup using veggies from your garden, CSA or farmer's market. Thanks to garden, gardeners and Devas!
(Scroll down for recipe).

Seasonal vegetables are harvested


The vegetables are washed...

...and chopped. We cut the root veggies on the diagonal...

and lightly sauteed them in Olive oil.


Once the lentils were soft, we added the veggies, salt and pepper to the pot and simmered until the vegetables were tender.


Right before serving, we added fresh basil, rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme , simmered for a few more minutes and then served in bowls.

Garden Vegetable Soup Recipe
(Quantities vary according to size and availability of vegetables)
To serve 4:
2-3 carrots
1-2 beets
1-2 turnips
The greens from the beets and turnips, chopped
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash (crookneck or straightneck)
1 cup dry red lentils
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1-2 bay leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 handful chopped fresh herbs (e.g. basil, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme)
4 cups water or vegetable broth
For the soup base, simmer together the lentils, chopped tomato and greens in water or vegetable broth.
Slice the vegetables and lightly stir-fry in olive oil.
Once the lentils are tender, add the vegetables, salt and pepper to the soup pot and simmer until the veggies are tender.
Add the chopped fresh herbs and simmer for a few more minutes to combine flavours.
Serve with bread or cornbread, accompanied with salad, cheese or hummus.


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This page is an archive of entries from October 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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