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Chayote Curry

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Chayote, sechium edule, is a member of the curcubitacae family native to Mexico. But this vegetable has found its way into the homes and on to the thalis of South India as chowchow. There are many recipes to prepare chowchow in line with traditional South Indian cuisine. Studies show chayote to contain as many as eight anti-oxidant flavonoids. it shows antimicrobial activity against multi-resistant staph. and enterococci, as well as against gram negative food poisoning bacteria like e. coli, salmonella and shigella. It has anti-ulcer, laxative and diuretic properties. It is anticonvulsant (can prevent seizures), and hepatoprotective (protects the liver). It also protects the kidneys from toxic damage as well. Here's a chayote recipe we prepared recently.

Chayote Curry

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

• 3 chayotes, chopped (discard the seed from chayote)

• ¼ cauliflower broken into florets

• 1 carrot, cubed to bite sized pieces

• 1 Tb of fresh grated coconut

• 6 small green chilli

• 1/2 tsp salt

• 1/2 tsp turmeric

• 1 tsp oil

• 1 tsp cumin

• 1 tsp mustard seeds

• 4-6 curry leaves

Preparation:

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add curry leaves, cumin and then mustard seeds.

2. When they start to splutter add the chayote, cauliflower and carrot cubes. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Grind green chillies and coconut finely to paste.

4. When the vegetables are almost tender, stir in the green chilli and coconut paste, salt and turmeric. Mix thoroughly and cook for few more minutes, covered until the vegetables reach the tenderness you desire.

Carrot Raita

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Carrot raita is a tasty side dish that adds beta carotene to your meal and colour to your plate. Pair it with Daikon Sabji with Mustard Greens. The daikon will help you absorb the beta carotene.

Carrot Raita

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw carrots
  • 2 Tbs ghee
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch hing
  • 1 Tb cilantro, chopped
  • ½ small green chili, chopped fine
  • 1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ tsp salt

Preparation:

  1. Wash the carrots and grate medium fine.
  2. Stir the carrots into the yogurt and mix gently.
  3. Heat the ghee in a small saucepan and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing.
  4. Stir until the seeds pop, then add the chilli and cilantro.
  5. Remove from the heat.
  6. Mix the cooked spices and the salt into the yogurt/carrot mix.

Source: Usha & Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing (New Mexico, The Ayurvedic Press, 1994).

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Chef Scott Bears prepares daikon sabji

Daikon, known in Ayurveda as mulaka, is in season now. Radishes are sharp, hot, pungent and bitter but sweeten when cooked. They increase digestive fire and treat heart disorders and vitiated vata. Daikon treats cough, breathlessness, piles, and eye disorders and strengthens the liver and spleen. When sautéed in oil or ghee, daikon pacifies all three doshas. Daikon radish is also known as Nepali mulaka because it is grown in Nepal. This recipe is based on the village cuisine of Western Nepal. We often had similar dishes in Maharashtra, prepared from the smaller icicle radish.

Daikon supports digestion of beta carotene, hence this recipe is a good one, since it maximizes digestion of the beta carotene from the greens.

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Frying the spices and chilies

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Sauteeing the mustard greens

Daikon Sabji

Serves: 6

This is a great recipe for early Spring. If you can get the daikons with their greens, this is ideal. If not use Osaka purple mustard greens or the regular mustard greens as a substitute. This recipe cleanses the liver and palate. Pitta should use extra cilantro.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium daikons or one bunch of bunched daikons
  • Greens from the daikons or one bunch mustard greens (preferably Osaka purple)
  • 1Tb ghee or mustard oil
  • 1 Tb cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp brown or black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1" piece of ginger root, scraped and finely chopped
  • 1 jalopeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (omit for pitta)
  • 1 tsp organic turmeric powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs chopped cilantro (double for pitta)

Preparation:

  1. Slice the daikons and steam until fork tender. Wash and chop the greens.
  2. Heat the oil or ghee in a wok on medium high.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they turn grey and pop.
  4. Turn the heat to warm and add the cumin seeds, then the fenugreek seeds.
  5. Turn the heat off as son as the seeds are browned and then add the powdered spices.
  6. Let them cook for a few minutes in the hot oil, then add the ginger and jalapeño and turn the heat to medium.
  7. The moisture from the ginger will stop the spices burning.
  8. As soon as the ginger is lightly browned, sprinkle the greens with water and toss into the spices.
  9. Cover and let cook for five minutes or so, until the greens are tender.
  10. Now stir in the cooked daikons, salt and cilantro.
  11. Cook together for a few minutes, being careful not to overcook the greens.

Serve with Cleansing Kitcheri and carrot raita.

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Beet Raita Recipe

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Raitas, yoghurt salads, are a refreshing relish. The addition of raita can turn a one-pot dish into a satisfying meal or full meal into a feast. Beet raita is a particularly colourful choice, adding to the beauty as well as the nutrition of your meal. We based this delicious recipe on one in Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. However, our chef, Scott Bears, did not like the idea of serving raw beets, so decided to parboil the beets before grating them. For a simple meal, serve with cabbage kitcheri. For a festive dinner, serve with rice, Gujarati Tridoshic Dal, Eggplant Sabji with Bitter Melon and apple chutney. Enjoy!

Beet Raita

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

· 1 cup parboiled beets, peeled and grated

· 2 Tbs ghee

· ½ tsp black mustard seeds

· ½ tsp cumin seeds

· 1 pinch hing

· 1 Tb cilantro, chopped

· ½ small green chili OR 1 lrg pinch cayenne

· 5 curry leaves, fresh or dried

· 1 cup plain yogurt

· ¼ tsp salt

Preparation:

  1. Add the beets to the yogurt and stir gently.
  2. Heat the ghee on medium heat in saucepan.
  3. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing. Stir until the seeds pop.
  4. Add the cilantro, curry leaves, and chilli or cayenne.
  5. Mix well, take off the stove.
  6. Cool a little and add to the yogurt and beets. Mix well.

Modified from: Usha & Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing (New Mexico, The Ayurvedic Press, 1994).





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Cabbage Kitcheri

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Last week we took a look at cabbage as a great winter vegetable and offered a recipe for Cabbage and Chickpea soup. Here's what we did with the other half of the cabbage--a variant of our Cleansing Kitcheri recipe! It was easy to make and quite delicious.

Cabbage Kitcheri

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

1/4 cabbage, shredded

1 tomato, chopped

1 tbsp ghee (or sunflower oil for vegans)

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

See here how to make ghee for this recipe.

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 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.

Serve as a one-pot meal with some ghee, yoghurt and pickle or with a sabji such as eggplant sabji with bitter melon, or Turnip Sabji.

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It's that time of year. After months of eating out of our garden, or eating our stored garden vegetables, we're finally reduced to buying vegetables! Cabbage is an inexpensive winter vegetable that doesn't have to be shipped from Peru. It is a winter source of vitamins C and A, needed to fight respiratory infections. It also contains cancer preventative glucosinolates and has cholesterol-lowering benefits as well. The tomato, garlic and herbs help make this recipe acceptable for Vata. My resident Vata loves it!

Adapted from: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2011/04/cabbage-chickpea-soup-basil.html

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Ingredients:

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • generous grating black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in your soup pot. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wok until it is hot but not smoking. Toss in the minced garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Now add the carrots and cabbage and stir fry until glistening. Add this to the broth in the soup pot. Add all the other ingredients except the pepper and basil. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the veggies are soft. Add the black pepper and basil and cook a couple more minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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This is a warming and comforting soup for fall and winter, making the best of the carrot crop. In flu season you need plenty of beta-carotene to help fight off respiratory tract infections, so carrots are an excellent choice. According to Ayurveda, Ginger, saffron, allspice, black pepper and nutmeg help make the soup more warming, more digestible and more anti-viral as well as tastier!

For stir frying, I prefer olive oil, coconut oil or ghee. There is some concern about whether olive oil is safe for stir frying. Olive is is mainly monounsaturated rather than polyunsaturated, which makes it more heat stable than other vegetable oils. And the taste is great too! See more here and here.
Some recipe books mention peeling the carrots. I never peel them, in fact I rarely peel vegetables as usually the most nutrients are in or just under the peels. So I just scrub the garden carrots.

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Multicoloured garden carrots and chopped ginger ready to stir-fry.

Carrot Ginger Soup
Serves 4-5

Ingredients
2 pinches saffron
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5" fresh ginger, chopped
1.5 lb carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 qt vegetable broth or water
2 pinches nutmeg
2 pinches allspice
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Yoghurt for garnishing

Boil a little water and pour over the saffron. Allow it to soak. Heat olive oil (or your cooking medium of choice) in a heavy bottomed pan. When it is hot but not burning, add the garlic and ginger and cook until lightly browned. Now add the carrots and celery. While the veggies are stir frying, bring vegetable stock or water to a boil. Pour the water over the lightly stir-fried vegetables. Cover and cook until soft. Now blend until smooth using a food processor, blender or immersion blender. Add the soaked saffron and saffron water, spices, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and let it sit a few minutes for the flavours to mingle before serving. Serve hot, with a dollop of yoghurt in the centre of each bowl.
Catering note: Most people will eat two cups of soup if it's a main item (such as soup and bread or soup and salad as the meal). Three standard ladles equal two cups.

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Pumpkin Soup

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I made this delicious soup for Christmas Eve supper with our guests--Joy, Hakim and Jojo. It was well appreciated by all. Jojo is a picky eater. But she liked the soup so much that she fed herself--using a soup spoon for the first time! The original recipe suggests using two sugar pumpkins, but you can use whatever you have. In fact you could use butternut squash instead of pumpkin. I used the medium pumpkin pictured below.


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Pumpkin Soup Recipe
Adapted from http://minimalistbaker.com/simple-pumpkin-soup/

Ingredients
  • 1 medium pumpkin or 2 sugar pumpkins (3 cups pumpkin puree)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 pinches nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dry ginger
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Cow, goat or vegan yogurt as desired (for garnish)

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400' F
  2. Place pumpkin/s on baking sheet in oven and bake until soft.
  3. Cut in half and remove seeds.
  4. To a large saucepan over medium heat add 1 Tbsp olive oil, shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly browned and translucent. Turn down heat if cooking too quickly.
  5. Add remaining ingredients, including the pumpkin, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Transfer soup mixture to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Pour mixture back into pot.
  7. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes and taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve with a garnish of yoghurt.



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If you try this recipe, let us know. Take a picture and tag it @alandiayurveda on twitter. Let's build community around sharing Alandi's recipes!

I wanted to share with you a glorious cooking experiment for my birthday---pumpkin and goat cheese low carb lasagna. It was a bit sloppy in consistency but was pronounced delicious and 'best lasagna ever' by the guests. A double batch of this was a time-consuming project and I spent some happy hours listening to New Dimensions Radio and cooking while snow fell outside.
This recipe is based on one in Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Pasta. I substituted zucchini strips for the pasta. Part of why it was such a project (and I have a blister to show for it) was that I cut six zucchinis into strips using my favourite peeler. I didn't have a mandoline or slicer! Compare mandolines and slicers here.

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I used a mix of different varieties of pumpkin and golden squash for a delicious taste.


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Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Low Carb Lasagna
Serves 6
(A double batch made enough for a 18"x 9" dish and fed 16 people, with side salads and appetizers as well.)
3 medium zucchinis (courgettes)
Salt to taste
3.5 lb pumpkin, peeled and cubed into half inch cubes
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
8 oz goat cheese log, sliced in thin rounds
1 batch vegan bechamel (see below)

Method
Heat oven to 400' F (200'C)
Select a baking tin or glass casserole dish 8" x12" and at least 2.5" deep. Grease with olive oil or ghee.
Slice zucchinis into one eighth inch slices using mandoline, slicer etc. Place in colander and sprinkle with about half a tsp of salt.Toss to coat evenly. Put a bowl under the colander. Water will be drawn out of the zucchini. Toss them again in about 15 minutes. Let them drain for at least an hour, more is better. Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkin and the bechamel.
Heat olive oil in a large pan or wok. When it is hot but not smoking, add the garlic and pumpkin. Mix to coat with the oil and cook slowly for about 20 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
Pat the zucchini strips dry with paper towel.
Now start assembling your lasagna dish! First cover the base with zucchini strips, add a third of the bechamel and half the pumpkin. Put another layer of zucchini strips. Then put half the goat cheese, the rest of the pumpkin (remove pumpkin with slotted spoon) and some bechamel. Put the rest of the zucchini strips on top. Now layer on the rest of the goat cheese and bechamel.
Bake for at least 40 minutes.

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Vegan Bechamel
2.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup tapioca flour (or other flour)
1 bay leaf
A few stalks flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste

Mix the flour in a little of the almond milk. Put the rest of the milk in a pan with the bay leaf and parsley and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling almond milk over the flour mixture, stirring well. Now tip the whole mixture back into the pan. Cook on moderate heat, stirring vigorously, until thickened. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.



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Here is a delicious and nutritious winter weekend breakfast, brunch, or light supper. You can make this recipe with semolina, cream of wheat, or suji from your Indian grocery store--depending upon your shopping convenience. You can also make it with cream of rice (brown rice farina) if you want it gluten free!

Scroll down for recipe.

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Prepare the veggies (we used multicoloured small garden carrots)

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Roast the semolina

Uppama

Adapted from http://www.indianfoodforever.com/indian-breakfast/upma.html

Ingredients:

1 cup semolina

2 Tbsp ghee or sunflower oil

1 inch ginger, chopped
1-2 green chilies slit sideways (optional, depending how spicy you want it)
1 carrot, chopped

1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup organic frozen peas
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal (optional, gives a good South Indian taste)
1 tsp chana dal (optional, gives a good South Indian taste)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
chili powder to taste (optional)
A few curry leaves (optional, available at Indian grocery stores)

Lemon juice to taste

¼ cup fried cashew nuts (optional)

Cilantro, finely chopped

Method

· Heat 1T ghee or oil and fry semolina on a moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it is light brown in colour. Set aside.

· Now heat 2 T ghee or oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and allow them to splatter.

· Add the dals and optional curry leaves to it and fry till they turn red. (Omit this step if you don't have these ingredients)

· Add ginger and green chilies. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.

· Add all the vegetables, turmeric, chili powder and salt to taste.

· Now add 3 cups of water and cover the pan and allow it simmer on low heat until the vegetables are done. Add the fried semolina to it stirring constantly till it thickens.

· Take off from the heat and add lemon juice if desired.

· Serve hot garnished with optional cashews and coriander.

Eat on its own or serve with coconut chutney or chana dal chutney. I didn't have fresh coconut handy so I very quickly and easily made chana chutney with some dried coconut powder.

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