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Ayurveda has its own comfort foods--and what could be more comforting than matar pulau, fragrant basmati rice with warming, vata soothing spices and shiny green peas and cilantro! Coconut milk adds further protein as well as a touch of vata and pitta blancing flavour. Enjoy this delicious recipe with dal and sabji or as a simple supper in its own right.

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Spices for matar pulao

Matar Pulao

Serves 6 as a main dish

8 with dal and sabji

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice, soaked and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. ghee
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • ½ tsp. black peppercorns
  • 4 green cardamoms, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • Small piece mace
  • 1 green chilli, slit
  • 2 cups frozen green peas, defrosted
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. garam masala powder
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Method:

  • Heat ghee in heavy bottomed pan, add the bay, clove, cumin, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and mace and sauté for a minute or two until the cumin seeds sputter and darken a shade (take care not to burn).
  • Add green chilli and ginger, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala mix and cook for a minute.
  • Add rice gently and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring. Add water and coconut milk, salt, and cilantro and mix. Bring to boil; cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice grains stand on end.
  • Add the defrosted peas on top and cook 4-5 minutes more.
  • Take off heat, allow a few minutes for the fragile grains to firm up, then stir gently with a fork, taking care not to mash the rice.

Menu suggestion: pairs beautifully with Bitter Gourds Stuffed with Paneer!

Adapted from http://www.indiankhana.net/2015/01/masala-matar-pulao-masala-peas-pulao.html

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Bitter gourds, also known as bitter melon or karela, are an Ayurvedic super-food, renowned for blood sugar control, diabetes, weight loss, blood cleansing and skin health. But their bitter taste can be off-putting to some. Here is a delicious way to enjoy the benefits of bitter gourd together with some quality protein from paneer, a fresh Ayurvedic cheese. See here how to make paneer.

This recipe is designed for the small bitter gourds that can be purchased from Indian grocery stores. If you are using large bitter gourds from an Asian market, you will need fewer bitter gourds.

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Stuffed bitter gourds ready to pan-fry.

Ingredients

Serves 4-5

8 small bitter gourds

Pinch turmeric

½ tsp. salt

1 Yukon gold potato

1tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. peppercorns

1 tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. mild chilli powder

Paneer made from ½ gallon milk

Salt to taste

1 green chilli, chopped

Sunflower oil

6-8 curry leaves

A pinch hing

½ tsp. mustard seeds

Method

Boil the potato in salted water until fork tender.

Bring some water to boil in a pan, add pinch of turmeric and ½ tsp. salt and boil the bitter gourds for 5-6 minutes. Remove and rinse with cold water.

Slice the softened bitter gourds in half and remove the seeds.

In a skillet, dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns. Grind the roasted seeds in a spice grinder with the turmeric and mild chilli powder.

Mash the potato and the paneer together with a potato masher and stir in the spice mix, chopped chilli and salt to taste.

Fill each bitter gourd half with this mixture.

Heat some oil in a large skillet and drop in the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves, taking care not to burn the mustard seeds.

Add the stuffed bitter gourds and pan fry, basting often, until they are golden brown and the bitter gourds are soft.

Keep in warm oven until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Menu Suggestion: Pairs well with Matar Pulau: Ayurvedic Spiced Rice with Peas.

Adapted from this recipe.

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Matar Paneer with Toor Dal Kitcheri.

After Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula students enjoyed a delicious dish of Matar Paneer at lunch, they wanted to know how to make paneer, a fresh cheese used in Ayurvedic and Indian cuisine. Here are illustrated instructions: scroll down for the recipe.

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Here I have gathered: a special pan I keep only for cheese, the lemon juice, half gallon raw milk from Gopi Girls, an Alandi Alumnus venture.

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Bring the milk to a boil, stirring continuously to prevent it sticking and burning.

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When the milk comes to a full, foaming boil, take off heat and pour in the lemon juice.

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Stir very gently until the milk separates into white curds and yellow whey. Cover with a lid and let sit for ten minutes while the curds form and sink to the bottom.

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Place a clean, stainless steel pan under your stainless steel colander to catch the whey. Many paneer recipes call for using the whey in the gravy. And you can also add paneer whey to dal or kitcheri for added flavour and protein. Line your colander with a double layer of wetted cheesecloth. (I have found a piece of net curtain works better than actual cheesecloth because it is more finely woven).

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Carefully spoon the large curds into the cheesecloth. (If using goat milk, few or no large curds may form.)

Pour the whey and fine curds inth the cheesecloth.

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Gather the cheesecloth and squeeze out the whey.

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The strained whey should be a clear, pale yellow. Store in frig in screw top glass jar.

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Twist up the paneer in the cheesecloth.

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Press with something heavy--I like a glass gallon jug full of water, I press the paneer in the colander with a pan underneath and keep it snug in place with dish towels. Strain for several hours or overnight.

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Fresh paneer is ready! Store in frig until you use it.

Paneer

Ingredients and equipment

To make 10 oz paneer:

Heavy bottomed stainless steel pan

Cheesecloth

Colander

Half gallon cow or goat milk, preferably unhomogenized.

¼ cup lemon juice

Method

Bring the milk to a boil, stirring continuously to prevent it sticking and burning.

When the milk comes to a full, foaming boil, take off heat and pour in the lemon juice.

Stir very gently until the milk separates into white curds and yellow whey. Cover with a lid and let sit for ten minutes while the curds form and sink to the bottom.

Meanwhile, place a clean, stainless steel pan under your stainless steel colander to catch the whey. Many paneer recipes call for using the whey in the gravy. And you can also add paneer whey to dal or kitcheri for added flavour and protein. Line your colander with a double layer of wetted cheesecloth. (I have found a piece of net curtain works better than actual cheesecloth because it is more finely woven.)

Carefully spoon the large curds into the cheesecloth. (If using goat milk, few or no large curds may form.)

Pour the whey and fine curds inth the cheesecloth. (If using goat milk. it might be mostly fine curds).

Gather the cheesecloth and squeeze out the whey.

The strained whey should be a clear, pale yellow. Store in frig in screw top glass jar.

Twist up the paneer in the cheesecloth.

Press with something heavy--I like a glass gallon jug full of water, I press the paneer in the colander with a pan underneath and keep it snug in place with dish towels. Strain for several hours or overnight.

Fresh paneer is ready! Store in frig until you use it.

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Last week we had a special celebration in honour of Jodi, our administrator for the last two years, who is moving on to the next stage in her life journey. For the occasion, Chef Scott Bears prepeared this delicious vegan flourless chocolate cake--but you don't have to be a chef or make it as it's quite easy. The recipe comes from http://showmetheyummy.com/vegan-flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe/.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup organic cocoa powder e.g. Rapunzel
  • ½ cup sucanat, packed
  • 1 15 oz can organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate e.g. Sunspire
  • 1 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1 punnet raspberries

Equipment: 8" circle pan

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375' F.

Prepare 8" circle pan with parchment paper (cut out a circle of parchment paper and lay it on the bottom of the pan). Grease the pan, including the sides, with coconut oil.

Place cocoa powder, brown sugar, pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Melt the baking chocolate and coconut oil together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until completely melted.

Pour the melted chocolate in the the cocoa powder pumpkin mixture.

Whisk well until fully combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for about 60 minutes at 375' F

Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing, or remove from pan after it firmed up overnight, or ideally use springform pan.

Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight to firm up.

Next day, decorate with raspberries and serve.

Enjoy!

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Chef Scott Bears

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Here's a delicious Ayurvedic nervine tonic recipe from Savitri, a student at Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula who hails from Mexico. After learning about soma, the Vedic nervine beverage, Savitri was reminded of Horchata, a traditional Mexican drink, and created a special recipe that fuses Ayurvedic wisdom with Mexican tradition. This recipe is rich in tyrosine, B vitamins, copper, magnesium and zinc to support brain function.

Ingredients for Soma Horchata

1 cup of basmati rice

6 cups of water

1 can of organic coconut milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/8 tsp. cardamon

2 stick cinnamon

10 pecans

10 soaked almonds

Jaggery to taste.

Method

Soak the rice, jaggery and cinnamon in the 6 cups of water overnight

Next morning, blend the mixture and strain.

Put the liquid mix in the blender one more time and add cardamom, almonds, pecans, coconut milk, and vanilla.

Stir well and serve at room temperature with a pinch of cinnamon.

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Savitri in the Alandi Ashram healing garden

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Pongal, a savory rice and dal porridge, is the South Indian equivalent of kitchari. This is a preeminent Aurvedic healing food, ideal for digestive health and colon health. Pongal comes with a South Indian flair, featuring seasonings that grow locally-- black pepper, coconut and cashews. Enjoy pongal as a variation on the theme of kitchari! (Scroll down for recipe)

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Pongal Ingedients


Savory Pongal (Khara Pongal)

Serves 4 as a main dish
6 with sabji

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 cup mung dal, washed and drained
  • 1 cup rice, washed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • 2 tbsp. dry coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup cashew pieces for garnish Salt to taste
  • 3 to 3.5 cups water

Method
In a pressure cooker, heat 2 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil. Fry the cashews in the oil until they turn golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now add mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the hot oil or ghee. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add green chili and fry for a few seconds.
Add the mung dal and fry for a minute.
Add water, rice, coconut, and turmeric powder.
Close the cooker and pressure-cook the pongal for about 35 minutes.
After the cooker comes off pressure, add the salt, ground black pepper, and chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve cashew pieces on side as garnish.

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Kitchari for kidney health with okra sabji.

Last week we discussed some of the Ayurvedic benefits of burdock root as a spring food. Burdock is also important for kidney and bladder health, being a mild diuretic, beneficial in cystitis and kidney stones. This recipe, which we adapted from The Ayurvedic Cookbook, by my friend Amadea Morningstar, combines the kidney toning benefits of aduki beans with the diuretic effect of burdock root for a great spring recipe.

Serves 5-6

1 burdock root

½ cup dry aduki beans, soaked overnight.

6 cups water

2 Tbsp. ghee

1 tsp. cumin seeds

¼ tsp. fennel seeds

1 tsp turmeric

2 bay leaves

1/8 tsp. hing

A sprig of curry leaves

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

2 carrots or 1lb winter squash

1cup basmati rice, washed thoroughly

¾ tsp. salt

Additional water as needed

1 handful chopped cilantro.

Wash, peel and slice burdock root. Drain aduki beans. Put adukis, 6 cups water & burdock in pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the vegetables (1/4" pieces for carrots or 1" pieces for squash).

Heat ghee in medium skillet, add cumin and fennel seeds. Add the turmeric, bay leaves, hing, curry leaves and cinnamon. Sauté for a minute, then add the rice and chopped vegetables, Sauté an additional minute or two until the rice darkens a shade.

When the beans are soft, open the pressure cooker and pour in the sautéed rice and vegetable mixture. Add an extra two cups of water as necessary. Cover but don't seal the pressure cooker and allow the mixture to simmer (not at pressure) for another 30 minutes (longer for a larger quantity). Add salt, sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with yoghurt.

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Janani gets ready to enjoy kitcheri with burdock and squash.

This week some of the first year Gurukula students are doing their gradual reintroduction of food after their home panchakarma assignment. We created this recipe to support them--and they pronounced the recipe delicious!

Burdock root is important as both a food and herb. It has the bitter and astringent tastes recommended for the spring season, but it also has some sweetness because of its content of probiotic inulin. It is a good blood purifier and liver tonic and is also used in our pharmacy because of its anticancer and lymph cleansing actions.

Kitchari with burdock and squash

Serves 4 as a one-pot dish or 6-8 with sabji

Ingredients

1 cup split yellow mung dal (available from Indian and Asian markets)

1 cup basmati rice

1 burdock root, chopped

1 lb winter squash, cubed

1 tbsp ghee

1 inch piece of fresh ginger

1 tsp turmeric or 2" fresh turmeric

1 tsp each of powdered fennel, cumin and coriander

6 cups water

1-2 tsp garam masala

Wash mung dal and rice thoroughly. Heat the ghee or oil, add the spices and cook for a minute, taking care not to burn the spices.

Add rice, dal, vegetables and water, then bring to boil. Turn down to simmer for 45 minutes or until mung dal is very soft in pot on stove.

After cooking, add salt to taste. If you live at altitude, cook the mung beans for 45 minutes while soaking the rice, then add the rice and cook for 45 minutes more; or make the kitcheri in a pressure cooker.

For an extra touch of deliciousness, serve with Ginger, Turmeric, Cumin Flavoured Ghee.

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Green pea and asparagus soup, beet maror, karpas and of course, Hafez!

This year, instead of making Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup for the Passover Seder, I decided to make Green Pea and Asparagus soup instead. This green, springtime soup is a bit of an Alandi Passover tradition--but it would be great for Easter or any springtime gathering. It's an amazingly delicious soup that takes little time to make and yet leaves your guests delighted.

I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, Mediterranean Vegetarian Cooking by Colin Spencer.

Green Pea and Asparagus Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus

1 lb. organic frozen peas, defrosted

2 Tbsp. olive oil

8 cups vegetable broth

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

Break off the tough white part of the asparagus stalks and save for future vegetable broth. Cut off the asparagus tips and reserve. Chop the green, tender asparagus stalks in 2" pieces.

Heat olive oil in pan and cook the asparagus and green peas for a few minutes. Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 15 minutes.

Blend in a blender or with an immersion blender. Reheat.

Stir fry the asparagus tips in olive oil for a few minutes and add to the soup. Add the salt, pepper and parsley and cook a few more minutes to combine the flavours.

Enjoy!

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Alandi Ashram Seder table with seder plate by Dale Rose and our home-made haggadot we wrote.

Black-eye Pea Bhaji

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This nourishing soup can be served alongside a rice dish such as yellow rice, or eaten accompanied by a flatbread like chepati or puri. Black-eye peas are good for nursing mothers and provide a great source of protein and fibre.

Black-eye Pea Bhaji

Serves 4-6

I cup black-eye peas, soaked overnight

4 cups water (approx.)

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1 small handful cilantro, chopped

1.5" piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 heaping Tbsp. shredded coconut/coconut flakes

½ cup water for blending

2 Tbsp. sunflower oil

1 tsp. black mustard seeds

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 pinch hing

5 curry leaves

¼ tsp. ajwan

¼ tsp turmeric

1 tsp. garam masala

¼ tsp. salt

Drain black-eye peas. Pressure cook in approximately 4 cups water until soft, about an hour.

Put garlic, cilantro, ginger, coconut and ½ cup water in blender and blend until liquefied. Set aside.

In saucepan, heat oil, add mustard seeds, cumin, hing, curry leaves. When seeds pop, stir in blended coconut mixture. Add ajwan, turmeric, masala and salt. Cook for 1 minute to lightly brown.

Pour in the black-eye peas and their cooking water and mix well.

Rinse out the blender with clean water to add the extra to the soup.

Bring to a boil, if it's more liquid than you want, simmer uncovered to reduce, if it's too thick you can thin it.

Adapted from Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing by Usha And Vasant Lad

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