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Alandi Images Eggplants and Bitter gourds in poppyseed sauce.JPG

Feeling adventurous? To make this week's recipe you'll need a little field trip to your nearest Indian grocery store. Even more adventurous, you'll be making something completely different from anything you've tried before. It's worth it for a delicious recipe that is nutritious and balances blood sugar--and what's more, it's gravy!

You can use any kind of eggplant (aubergine), but the most delicious are the small, sperical ones sold in Indian grocery stores.

Indian Eggplants and Bitter Gourds in Poppy Seed Sauce

A recipe from Andhra Pradesh

Eggplants and bitter gourds in a rich poppy seed sauce. (The ground poppy seed is a thickening agent).

White poppy seeds are sold in Indian grocery stores.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. purple eggplants, (Small Indian variety is best) washed and sliced
  • 1 lb bitter gourds
  • 2-4 tbsp. sunflower oil (more if needed)
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tsp. mild chili powder
  • 2 tsp. coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. roasted fenugreek powder
  • ½ tsp. roasted cumin powder
  • ½ cup white poppy seeds, roasted and ground to a paste in spice grinder
  • 1" ball of tamarind--soaked in hot water & pulp extracted.
  • 1 tsp ground jaggery (optional)
  • 3 cups water for gravy (more if needed)
  • Salt to taste

The basic idea is to brown the bitter gourds and eggplants, roast and grind the poppy seeds, cook the poppy seed paste in spiced water until it forms a thick gravy surrounding the veggies. It's delicious!

  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add 1tsp, salt and a pinch or two of turmeric. Drop in the bitter gourds and let them boil for about 5 minutes.
  2. Plunge in cold water, then slice and remove seeds.
  3. Add 1-2 tbsp. of oil in a cooking vessel, add the bitter gourd and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the eggplant slices and roast them till brown on both sides. Just brown them, don't fully cook them at this point. Remove and keep aside.
  5. In the same vessel, add the remaining oil. Once hot, add mustard seeds and as they dance around, add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter. Add ginger garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 min.
  6. Add salt to taste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, roasted fenugreek powder and optional jaggery and combine well.
  7. Add 3 cups of water and cook for 3-4 minutes, until it comes to a boil. Add the roasted poppy seed paste and tamarind extract and cook on medium high for 3 minutes.
  8. Cover with lid and cook on medium low for 5 min, stirring to prevent sticking.
  9. Add the roasted bitter gourd and eggplant slices and cook on low to medium flame, stirring frequently, until the gravy thickens and the bitter gourd slices are thoroughly cooked. It could take up to 40 min to form a thick gravy. Ad more water as needed for a good gravy effect. Turn off heat and serve. Menu suggestion: serve with pongal.

Alandi Images Matar Usal.JPG

Matar Usal (Green Peas Bhaji)

Peas are in season in June, and if you're lucky enough to have fresh peas, this dish deserves them Just allow extra cooking time. But fresh or frozen, green peas contain some unique antioxidants including the cancer-preventative coumestrol as well as pisosaponins. This recipe pairs the health benefits of peas with those of Ayurvedic spices like ginger, turmeric and cilantro.

Matar Usal

serves: 4

A semi dry curry from the Maharashtrian cuisine.

Main ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic frozen green peas
  • 2 tsp goda masala or garam masala (goda masala is more authentic)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • Water as required
  • Salt to taste

For tempering:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • ½ tspmustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • two pinches hing

For ground paste:

  • 3 tbsp grated fresh coconut
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 3 tbsp water for blending

In a wok, heat sunflower oil, add mustard seeds, and cook until they pop. Immediately add turmeric and hing and stir. Then add the peas.

Cover and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes on a low flame, checking from time to time and adding water if it looks too dry.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine cilantro, ginger and cumin seeds with about 3 tbsp. water and blend to a smooth paste.

Add this paste to the simmered peas and cook a couple more minutes. Take care not to overcook the peas!

Add the masala powder, 1 tsp lemon juice and salt (to taste) and stir well.

Garnish with cilantro and some grated coconut.

Adapted from this website.

Alandi Images Saag Paneer 7.JPG

If you grow a garden or belong to a CSA, one thing you will have plenty of at the moment is greens. So why not turn some of those healthy greens into delicious Ayurvedic saag paneer-- far tastier, fresher and more nutritious than what you would get in an Indian restaurant? You can make this recipe if you're vegan too, by using cubed tofu instead of paneer.

This recipe is nicely versatile for a gardener as you can use whatever type of greens you have available. I used various types of mustard greens, some radish tops, Italian chicory and a little spinach--a total of two large colanders full of greens to make a meal for four. And I used raw goat milk from Frog Belly Farm to make the paneer. (See here how to make paneer.)

The paneer or tofu can be fried or simply put in the saag. Frying it is delicious but adds a lot of fat and calories and is not kapha-soothing; plain paneer is bland. In the end I found the perfect option--tandoori-style broiled marinated paneer, ideal for pitta and kapha.

People often add coconut milk, cream or cream cheese because they have a concern about the greens and curry sauce separating. I didn't have a significant issue with this recipe separating and chose to keep to a low-calorie, kapha-soothing recipe.

Scroll down for recipe.

Alandi Images Saag Paneer 1.JPG

Marinating the paneer

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One colander of assorted mustard greens....

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...and one of chicory

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Sauteeing the curry sauce

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Saag paneer is ready!

Ingredients

Paneer made from half-gallon milk; or 8oz firm tofu; cubed

2 Tbsp. yoghurt (or coconut yoghurt)

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

¾ tsp. salt

½ tsp. mild chilli powder

½ tsp. turmeric

Garden greens (mustard, spinach, chicory, etc.) -2 large colanders worth

2 Tbsp. sunflower oil or ghee

1" piece of fresh ginger, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1-3 tsp. chopped green chilli, depending on how spicy you like it

1tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tomato, diced

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. kasturi methi/dried fenugreek leaves, crushed (optional but delicious)

2 pinches nutmeg

Salt to taste

Cilantro to garnish

Combine the yoghurt, lemon juice, salt, chilli powder and ½ tsp. turmeric in a bowl and gently stir in the cubed paneer or tofu until it is coated. Let it marinade while you harvest your greens.

Carefully wash and inspect your greens and coarsely chop them. Now blanch them by plunging them into a pot of boiling salted water and boiling for 3 minutes. Remove and drain, reserving the water.

Heat some ghee or oil in a small sauté pan and add the ginger and garlic. After it has browned, add the tomato, ground coriander and turmeric and sauté until the tomatoes are soft.

Place this mixture and the blanched greens in a blender, adding a little of the reserved cooking water--just enough to blend it to a puree.

Turn on your broiler. Place the paneer or tofu cubes on a baking sheet and broil for a couple of minutes, then turn and broil for another couple of minutes. Remove from the oven.

In a large flat-bottomed pan, heat another tablespoon of oil or ghee and sizzle the cumin seeds until they darken a shade or two. Immediately add the blended greens, stepping back as it may splutter. Simmer for a few minutes and add the paneer, garam masala, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle on kasturi methi and cilantro. Let it rest for a few moments to combine flavours, stirring occasionally to prevent it separating.

Serve with basmati rice and flatbreads.

Enjoy!

Alandi Images Matar Pulao 2.JPG


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 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.

Alandi Images Matar Pulao 1.JPG

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

Alandi Images Bitter Gourds Stuffed with paneer 2.JPG

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.

Alandi Images Bitter Gourds Stuffed with Paneer 1.JPG

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.

Alandi Images Matar Paneer.JPG

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.

Alandi Images Paneer ingredients.JPG

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.

Alandi Images Making Paneer 1.JPG

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

Alandi Images Making Paneer 2.JPG

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

Alandi images Making Paneer 3 .JPG

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.

Alandi Images Making Paneer 4.JPGwhi

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).

Alandi Images Making Paneer 5.JPG

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.

Alandi Images Making Paneer 8.JPG

Gather the cheesecloth and squeeze out the whey.

Alandi Images Making Paneer 9.JPG

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

Alandi Images Making Paneer 10.JPG

Twist up the paneer in the cheesecloth.

Alandi Images Making Paneer 11.jpg

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.

Alandi Images Making Paneer 12.JPG

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.

Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake.JPG

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

Soma Horchata.jpg

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

Pongal with cashews.jpg

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)

Pongal Ingredients.JPG

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.

Kitcheri for Kidney Health-min.JPG

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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