November 2010 Archives

Making borscht at this time of year is a sacred act for me--one I do with great intention or kavannah. It's an opportunity to honour the beautiful beets in the garden and also to pay homage to my Jewish roots. The impending snowstorm inspired me to harvest beets while I could still see them!
Beets are a fantastic source of lutein and zeazanthin for the retina as well as an unique source of belatains. Carrots add additional beta carotene and red cabbage offers cancer-fighting anthocyanins. A food that is as delicious as healthy...yum!

Garden Beets 1.jpg

Recipe for Vegetarian Borscht

1bunch garden beets
2 garden carrots
1/4 of a red cabbage
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
8 cups vegetable stock (I used red cabbage, turnip, tomato and celery to get a good red and tasty stock)
I can red beans
2 tbsp red balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Sheep or goat Yoghurt
Chopped fresh dill


Grate the veggies in a food processor or chop into matchsticks. Bring stock to a boil. Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed pan, heat olive oil, fry garlic, then add most of the shredded vegetables and stir fry until soft. Reserve a small amount of red beet for later. Add the boiling stock and the beans to the pot and simmer for about 25 minutes. Towards the end, add the salt, pepper and vinegar and the reserved beets. Because they were not stir fried, the beets will add a deep red colour. Serve with yoghurt (less fat than sour cream) as well as the chopped dill, essential Ayurvedically to add a pittta-soothing touch to the recipe and to improve digestibility.

tat tvam asi

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Snowpack accumulation at 14,255 ft. on Longs P...

Image via Wikipedia

I just finished reading Pilgrimage to the Mother.  The house is quiet.  The kids are out with Derek.  I am alone to consider, to contemplate, and to integrate Ma's experience into my own.  The furnace purrs quietly, the house becomes warm.  It is snowing lightly in the Rocky Mountains, my home.

I consider the path Ma walked in India, the path of the renunciant which led her through cities, towns and villages, which led through forest, by riverside, Oceanside, and mountainside.   I consider the wide-eyed maiden, physician-nun seeking her guru, her mantra, and her name, and the mother, the crone, the wise-woman she is.

Ma, I consider the temple Brahmins and guards blocking your entrance as a foreigner and a woman.

I consider the sidelong glances of villagers who witness two wandering Anglos, "a couple of hippies."  I consider how their view changed while witnessing you and Sadananda float down the river after performing daily pranayama. I consider what it is to be an accomplished yogi, a Maharaj.

I consider a life of meditation, prayer, and spiritual pursuit. 

I have not walked the path of the 4 great dhamas in India, the four corners which uphold the mandala of the devotee pilgrim.  I have not been to the center, to Varanasi, ancient Kashi.  I have not received darshan of India's great saints, of the temples, or of her holy places.  I have not seen the Himalayas or felt the blast of her monsoon winds.

Yet, in my life I have been the simple childlike Maiden, the black-faced destroyer Kali, and find myself learning at the feet of Mother Durga.  I receive the abundance of food that is Annapurna's gift, and I know her through my hands as I cook for family and friends.

I can feel the icy cold waters of the Alakananda River on my skin, and smell the cold monsoon rains in my nose.  I can see the light of the linga column in my mind's eye, and of the fires of innumerable agni hotra fire pots.

I recall the darshan of the full moon above Arunachala, the hill of light.  I can feel the cool air on my skin as the sun rose over Tiruvanamalai. I can feel the waters of Ganga Ma cover my naked body.  I can hear the splash of the corpse enter the water near where I bathe outside of Kashi, and see the scum of the waters as I climb out of the Ganges.  Nevertheless, I climb out purified.

Varanasi is closely associated with the Ganges...

Image via Wikipedia

I am one with all pilgrims.  I am one with all seekers.  I am one with the saints.  I am one with Brahma.

My heart aches in sadness, I yearn to kneel at the feet of the Lord with fear and trembling, in awe and ecstasy, I sing with Joy the Song of Creation and feel the longing of mankind.

Tat tvam asi.  That thou art.  You are That. 

The Lord calls himself simply, "I AM THAT I AM."  And the Lord lives within me.  In my heart of hearts, I AM THAT.

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2 punnets organic cranberries ( 4 cups)
4 cups chopped apples
1 orange
1/4 tsp raisins
2 tbsp chopped pecans
2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp ghee or sunflower oil
6 cloves, ground
1 star anise, ground (optional but good)
2 pinches mace
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Water as needed

Put washed cranberries and washed chopped apples in heavy bottomed pan. Grate 1tsp of the orange peel and add. Now squeeze the orange and add the juice. Bring to boil and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and adding water as needed. Once it is simmering, add sugar and raisins.

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In a small frying pan, melt the ghee ,add cumin seeds and chilies and fry until they darken a shade. Now chopped ginger and cinnamon and fry until the ginger is browned.

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Add the fried spices to the chutney ,then the spice powders (clove, star anise, mace, cardamom.)

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When the chutney is almost cooked, add the chopped nuts.
If you want it to be prasadam (blessed food) offer to your favourite divine form, then check seasonings. Enjoy!

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Tomato Lauki Sabji

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English: it is Calabash/ Bottle Gourd. its nam...

English: it is Calabash/ Bottle Gourd. its name sorakaya in telugu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomato Lauki Sabji

Last week I went shopping for the first time to our Lafayette local indian shop. I was planning to cook rice, sabji, dhal, and a tomato chutney. So among other things I bought some tomatoes. I also bought a lauki or bottle gourd by mistake. The dhal receipe had actually called for bitter gourds, so I went back to the shop and got the bitter gourd. Due to time constraints I was not able to make the tomato chutney so was left with more than a pound of tomatoes. And a louki.

I am going away for a week, and this morning I realised I had to consume the tomatoes and the louki urgently, as they wouldn't survive until I get back.

Chopped them up and then decided to look up the qualities (taste and energetics) of tomatoes, before I decide on the spices. I looked them up in Swami Sadashiva Tirtha's book "The Ayurvedic Encyclopedia". Swami Tirtha says that they increase all doshas when raw, and only Pitta when cooked. The red variety, which I had bought, is sour, astringent, hot and pungent for the stomach and heating for the intestines. He also says that when the tomatoes are cooked with mustard, cumin and tumeric, they become Tridoshic.

So I immediately roasted some mustard and cumin seeds in ghee and added the tomatoes. I then added the tumeric. It then occured to me to look up the qualities of mustard and cumin seeds. Turns out they both increase Pitta too. Tumeric in excess also increases Pitta. So I'm not quite sure how these spices can turn the Pitta aggravating tomatoes into Tridoshic. He also says that tomato's action is refrigerant. This surprised me considering that their energy is hot.

Anyway...decided this called for a talk with Ma the following day and proceeded to add the tumeric and then the louki. I then decided on some black cardamom and some fennel seeds, one of the few cooling spices I could find both in the Ayurvedic Encyclopedia book and in my cupboard.

Right at the end I added some curry leaves from the indian shop. Left them to cook for about 2 minutes. I had read that as long as one leaves the curry leaves on the stalk, they can be safely preserved in the freezer and it is true. They had been in the freezer for three days but had lost none of their flavour.

I finished the dish by adding some salt and pepper. I served it with rice, organic canned beans to which I had added some kelp, and kefir. It was delicious, even more so, because I had created this receipe myself. I was also very happy I could make something delicious without using any garlic or onion.


Here is the receipe:


7 medium size tomatoes cu in small pieces

1 louki cut in medium size pieces

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon tumeric

2 cloves black cardamom

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

5-6 curry leaves addded right at the end

1 tablespoon ghee

salt and pepper to taste




P.S. Louki is very cooling, so this in itself is enough to balance the heating quality of the tomatoes.



English: The flower of the nasturtium plant, T...

English: The flower of the nasturtium plant, Tropaeolum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One way to preserve the bounty of summer is in the form of gourmet vinegars. Nasturtium vinegar is one of our favourites.

One small bowl nasturtiums
One bottle white wine vinegar

Gather fresh, vibrant nasturtiums and rinse well, removing any insects.
Place nasturtiums in clean quart jar and add the wine vinegar. Keep the vinegar bottle for later use.
Let the nasturtiums sit in the vinegar for a few days until it becomes bright red.

Strain well and pour back into the vinegar bottle.

Cold-Cure Dal

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This is a recipe for a chilly day, when you feel shivery, spaced out, as if you might be getting a chill or a head cold.Louki is a smooth green gourd that is demulcent and rejuvenative. Its astringent and slightly bitter taste benefits pitta and kapha. The spices in this recipe have been specifically chosen to kindle agni, burn toxins, promote sweating, strengthen the lungs and sinuses and drive out cold and damp. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

1 cup red lentils

4-6 cups water

One bottle gourd (lauki) peeled and cubed (you can also use overgrown zucchini)

1" piece peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp ghee

2 royal black cardamoms, lightly crushed open

1" piece cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1 tsp garam masala

1-2 tsp cumin seeds

Half teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 pinch hing

1 tsp jaggery or muscovado sugar

1-2 whole dried red chillies

1 handful chopped cilantro

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

6 curry leaves

Wash the lentils carefully. In a large pan, boil together the lentils, tomatoes, ginger root, turmeric, half the ghee, cardamom, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. When the lentils begin to break up, add the louki. Alternatively, for a quick recipe, pressure-cook the dal with the above ingredients and meanwhile, steam the louki.

In a wok or frying pan, heat the rest of the ghee. Turn the burner to warm and add the cumin seeds, then the fenugreek seeds. When they have browned, add the sweetener and chillies, and then the hing and curry leaves. Immediately add to the cooked lentil-louki mix. It will sizzle as you add it. Cook for ten minutes more to let the flavours mingle. At the last minute, drop in the cilantro and add salt to taste. Serve over basmati rice.

Cold cure dal.jpg

Cold cure dal with Green Tomato Chutney and Pumpkin Sabzi with Peanuts and Coconut .


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