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Bitter gourds are a remarkably healthy food, good for blood sugar, diabetes and weight loss. They are also good blood purifiers and helpful for psoriasis and other skin rashes. There are two varieties, a darker green, wartier and more bitter variety sold in Indian grocery stores and a paler green and smoother variety, pictured above, sold in Asian markets. Due to their bitterness, they have the reputation of being an acquired taste. This delicious recipe will help you acquire the taste!

Besan is a flour made from chana dal and is available in Indian grocery stores. Chickpea flour would be a substitute.

Thank you to chef Ish Baker for taking the photos and creating this super-easy way to make Bitter Gourds Stuffed with Besan! The photos will help you get the recipe right the first time. Scroll down for the recipe.


Slitting the bitter gourds


Taking out the seeds.


Stuffing and baking


Turning after 30 minutes

Bitter Gourd Stuffed with Besan


  • 4 bitter gourds, size about 6 inch long. If longer, cut into 6 inch pieces. (Also known as bitter melon or karela)
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1" ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 Tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp amchur (Mango powder) or lime/lemon juice, 2 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch hing


  • Wash bitter gourds thoroughly with water. If they are of longer variety, cut them into pieces of 6 inch size.
  • Lightly steam the bitter gourds to make it easier to slit, scoop and stuff them. Take out of steamer and cool until you can handle them.
  • DO NOT cut the bitter gourds in half BUT just SLIT them open lengthwise so seeds can be removed & stuffing added. Remove the seeds.
  • Heat a frying pan and add 2 tsp oil. When the oil becomes hot, add cumin seeds and hing. When the seeds becomes dark, add, green chili, ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add all the spices and besan. Stir well and cook until the mixture turns light brown, about 5-7 minutes. Mix half the cilantro
  • Fill the above mixture in each bitter gourd and close it back up.
  • Brush the bitter gourds with oil. Place in an oven dish and bake at 375 'F until soft (about an hour), turning them after 30 minutes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro.

Serve with rice & dal or simply with chapatti.


Since I'm planning to host Frances Hollander, one of our Living Witnesses of the World War II era, for the amazing occasion of Shabbat and the first Seder of Passover, I knew I couldn't get away without matzo ball soup! So here is a recipe for a nice vegetable soup made special--and Jewish--with matzo balls. If you're not vegan you could use a standard matzo ball recipe. And if you're gluten free, you're in luck, as there is a GF variation of the vegan matzo balls recipe!

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

Serves: 8 to 10

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks, white and palest green parts only,
    halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 celery root,peeled and finely diced
  • 3 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 3 medium celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 medium turnip, diced
  • 1 medium rutabaga, diced
  • 8 ounces white or brown mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
  • 8 cups home made vegetable broth (or 2 qt pkts vegetable broth)
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • A few springs of mint
  • Vegan Matzo Balls (see below)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the shallot and leeks and sauté over medium heat until the leeks are limp (about 10 minutes).

Add the celery root, carrots, celery, turnips, and mushrooms and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the vegetable broth and tomatoes. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.

Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Resting during seder will allow the soup to gain in flavour.

Just before serving, add the paprika, dill and mint and heat the soup through. Add more water or vegetable broth if needed, then adjust the seasonings. Serve with Vegan Matzo Balls.

Adapted from and


Sauteeing the veggies seals in flavour

Vegan Matzo Balls

Adapted slightly from

Most vegan matzo ball recipes use silken tofu; I picked this one because it used quinoa flakes instead. I decided to use whole wheat matzo meal for health and taste. And I added turmeric to replace the golden colour of egg yolk and because it's healthy. I've had disasters boiling vegan matzo balls, they just fall apart in the water. So I loved Nava's idea of baking them instead. They hydrated and became larger in the soup. Not really like Granny Pearl's fluffy matzo balls, but not like bullets either. I did a trial run this shabbat in preparation for Pesach and Sadananda and Frances did appreciate these vegan matzo balls.


Matzo balls are shaped and ready to bake; I used Ancient Harvest quinoa flakes and Whole Wheat Matzo Meal

Makes: About 24

  • 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup whole wheat matzo meal (or 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes for a gluten-free version)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil

In a large mixing bowl, cover the quinoa flakes with the water. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.

Stir in the matzo meal (or additional quinoa flakes for GF), salt, pepper, turmeric, onion powder, and oil. Mix until well blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Just before baking, preheat the oven to 275º F.

Roll the matzo meal mixture into approximately 1-inch balls; don't pack them too firmly. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (more like 30 min for whole wheat), carefully turning the matzo balls after 10 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch; don't let them brown.

If making ahead of time, let the matzo balls cool completely, then cover until needed. Warm them briefly in a medium-hot oven and distribute them among the soup bowls, allowing 3 or 4 matzo balls per serving.

Note: Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes are kosher (carry a hexure). They don't need a special kashrut for pesach because they are not a grain at all. I used Manischiewitz 'kosher for passover' matzo meal.


Baked yummy matzo balls ready to add to soup!


Making thrifty vegetable broth (aka vegetable stock) is easy; it just takes a little thought and planning. At Alandi, we usually make the broth on Friday. All week long, I save clean vegetable scraps in a plastic, cloth or brown paper bag in the frig. This time I had asparagus stalks, watercress stalks, tops and tails of carrots, some Jerusalem artichoke offcuts and the stem and outer leaves of my cauliflower. Often I have broccoli stalks etc.

When you're ready to make the broth, use a stainless steel stock pot. Wash your veggie scraps and put them in the pot. If it's something large, like a cauliflower stalk, chop it up. Look in your vegetable drawer for anything that needs using up. You can wash and add it. If you like, add some dried herbs for seasoning, but you don't have to. And I prefer not to add salt as it's easier for me to salt the final product (soup, risotto etc). Add plenty of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for a couple of hours, until the water has a good colour. Strain and store in a screw top glass jar until you're ready to use it as a base for a soup or as called for in a recipe.

Mint Chutney

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Yam Kitcheri.jpg

Mint Chutney with Tridoshic Yam Kitcheri

The perfect accompaniment to kitcheri is Mint Chutney. This refreshing condiment stimulates digestion, comforts your taste buds and adds to meal satisfaction. As you come off your pancha karma or kitcheri cleanse, begin adding Mint Chutney alongside Cleansing Kitcheri, Tridoshic Yam Kitcheri or Kitcheri with Cauliflower and Peas.

Mint Chutney

Makes approximately 2 cups


3 cups fresh mint leaves

1 cup water

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

½ small green chilli, chopped

1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine

1 Tb ghee

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 pinch hing

4 curry leaves

½ lime

¼ tsp salt


- Wash the mint leaves and discard long stems.

- Put the mint, water, coconut, chilli and ginger into a blender and blend on medium until it is a well mixed and finely ground paste.

- Heat a saucepan on medium and add the ghee, cumin seeds, mustard, hing and curry leaves. Cook until the seeds pop.

- Cool and add to the mint paste.

- Squeeze in the juice from the lime.

- Add salt and stir well.

- Store in refrigerator, keeps for 2-3 days.

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


This comforting recipe is ideal for times when you are coming off pancha karma, are on a kitcheri fast, are recovering from flu or have delicate digestion. Warming spices make this a digestible and delicious meal balanced for all three doshas. Serve with Mint Chutney for a perfect combination of tastes.

Tridoshic 'Yam' Kitcheri

Serves 8


1cup split hulled mung beans

1 cup basmati rice

3 tbsp ghee

1 and half inches minced fresh ginger

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1 tsp turmeric

1 handful cilantro leaves

8 green cardamom pods

8 whole cloves

11 black peppercorns

3 inch piece cinnamon stick

3 bay leaves

Salt to taste

1 large yam, cubed (actually a golden sweet potato)


  • Rinse mung beans well with cold water and soak for a few hours
  • Rinse rice well and soak while beans are cooking
  • Put ginger, coconut, turmeric, cilantro and some water in a blender or food processor and blend. Use enough water to blend well.
  • In a large pot, melt ghee over medium heat and sauté cardamom pods (split open first), cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and bay leaves for a few minutes. Then add the blended spices and sauté for a few more minutes until lightly cooked.
  • Next add beans and yams; cook for a couple more minutes. Add enough water to cover the beans with at least 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the beans are completely broken down. Then add the rice and cook until the rice is broken apart. Add more water as needed. Salt to taste and enjoy!

  • tridoshic-yam-kitcheri

Here is the ultimate 'fancy rice' for a special event. This delicious recipe uses channa cheese balls, which can be made from either cow or goat milk. Here is a video on how to make chenna cheese. Generally chenna is softer than paneer due to not having been pressed or hung for as long.

Since this is a relatively complex recipe in that it has a number of steps, we decided to take a series of photos to make the process easier. Please give it a try--it's delicious and well worth the effort. Thanks to chef Scott Bears for making this dish and Nicole Herbert for taking the photos!

Scroll down for the recipe.


Roll the chenna cheese into balls with ragi (or rice flour) as a binder


Fry the chenna cheese balls.


Voila! Yummy fried chenna cheese balls!


Mix the rice with turmeric and ghee.


Soak the saffron threads in milk (or water).


Fry the nuts and raisins.


Gather the spices and then fry them.


Then stir in the rice.


Stir fry for a few minutes.Pour in fried nuts, raisins, coconut and saffron milk, stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer 20-25 minutes or until rice is done.Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tb ghee and fried chenna balls. Gently fluff rice and mix ingredients. Enjoy!

Royal Rice

Serves: 5


  • 1 ¼ cups basmati rice
  • Freshly made Chenna cheese (p. 315) made from 6 cups milk
  • 1 Tb ragi flour or rice flour
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbs blanched raw pistachios, halved
  • 2 Tbsp cashew peices (optional)
  • ¼ cup dried coconut cut into ribbons
  • 3 Tbs raisins or currants
  • 3 Tb melted ghee
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ Tb milk
  • ¼ tsp saffron threads
  • ghee or oil for frying
  • 6 cloves, whole
  • 2" piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 large black or 4 large green cardamom pods
  • 1 whole dried red chili (or as desired)
  • 1 ½ tsps cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tsp kalonji if available
  • ¼ tsp hing
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 ¾ - 3 cups water


  1. clean rice
  2. place warm chenna on counter and knead out extra moisture, knead until creamy and knead in flour. Scrape cheese into a ball. With film of oil on hands divide into 5 portions and roll each into 10 round balls - set the 50 balls aside on a plate.
  3. Place nuts, coconut and raisins in individual mounds on a plate and set aside.
  4. Place rice in a bowl and add 1 Tb melted ghee and turmeric. Mix together and set aside.
  5. Heat milk in a serving spoon, transfer to a small cup and soak saffron threads until needed.
  6. Heat ghee/oil to a depth of 2" in a frying pan over moderate low heat. When oil reaches about 325' F fry one by one the mounds of nuts and coconut until each turns golden brown. Fry raisins until they turn plump and a few shades lighter. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and place in a medium sized bowl. Raise heat to moderate and cook cheese balls in two batches. Cook them for ½ minute, then move balls with a chopstick until they rise to surface. Continue frying using a slotted spoon, and fry until rich golden brown on all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and hold aside.
  7. Remove ghee/oil from heat, put 4 Tb in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot (not smoking). Add cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli, cumin and coriander seeds and kalonji. Fry until cumin seeds turn brown. Stir in hing, then quickly add turmeric-coated rice and salt. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil.
  8. Pour in fried nuts, raisins, coconut and saffron milk, stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer 20-25 minutes or until rice is done.
  9. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 Tb ghee and fried chenna balls. Gently fluff rice and mix ingredients.

Source: Yamuna Devi, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987).

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


• 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


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


  • 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


  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).



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.


Frying the spices and chilies


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.


  • 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)


  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.


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


· 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


  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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