Friday, January 23, 2015

flexitarian. soup recipe.

let me be clear. i'm not vegetarian. what am i? flexitarian. here's what i really love about the food principles in ayurveda. they are not against any food. the classical ayurveda texts do not say, don't eat this or that. what it says is this, eat what you can digest. if u have good digestion, even poison can turn into nectar. if u have poor digestion then even nectar is poison for you. seriously. three sanskrit words sum it all up. hitabuk, mitabuk, ritabuk. seasonal. local. moderation. ayurveda is not food police. my doctor ji,  dr harikrishnan, in his gentle, straightforward manner, says, once in a while, have fun, you can eat a little bit of everything. simple, huh? but, pay attention, suk wah. the key words are 'once in a while',  'a little bit.' the problem with my old eating habits has a lot to do with...eating more than what i truly need. the stomach is of the size of a fist. ayurveda text says fill half of it with solid food, a quarter water and fourth quarter free. as i look back on how i ate i cannot tell you how thankful i am to my belly. it has been so abused and yet so forgiving, putting up with my mindless eating.

therefore it's not exaggerating to say ben and i have revolutionized the way we eat, what we eat , how much and how we eat. not to say i don't get taken over by residual habits once in a while but those habits are definitely not in the driver seat anymore.

but, i must emphasize that cooking based on ayurveda principles do not mean awful food. quite the opposite. case in point. a lentil soup i make and take to torah study has been so popular that my rabbi says, suk wah, if you want to make this soup you are welcome to my house anytime. several study mates say, suk wah, send me the recipe. nothing makes a cook happier to see the pot scooped out dry and everyone says, who makes this soup, it is delicious. so, here we go.



red lentil, 1 1/2 cup
asafatieda, a nice pinch. crucial to take away gas. get it in indian store. i go to bombay spice house.
cumin, 1/8 tsp
coriander, 1/8 tsp
turmeric, 1/8 tsp
rock salt to taste
pepper, couple of grind
tamari, a splash or two to taste

onion, medium chop, a few Tsp. take it out if cooking for buddist
cumin seed 1/8 tsp
coconut oil, 1 Tsp, or a little more if you so please
carrot, small cubes, 1/2 cup, more if you like
green bean, bite size, 1/2 cup at least, or other seasonal veg. green bean gives nice color and texture.
turmeric, 1/8 tsp
cumin, 1/8 tsp
coriander, 1/8 tsp
tamari, splash or two
dry mango powder, 1/8 tsp, optional, get it in indian store
asafatieda, a pinch
cilantro leaves, plenty or to taste.

let's start cooking.

wash lentil in room temp water  a few times until water clear. put in soup pot. add 7-8 cups water. put on highest notch, uncovered, to let it come to boil.

while keeping an eye on soup pot chop and start cooking veg. here's the secret. cook veg separately. the end product is so much tastier. flavor profile fuller and richer. anyway heat up a pan or small pot, depending on how much veg i have, put in coconut oil. i hear you asking, why not veg oil? first, it tastes better. second, more importantly, coconut oil has good cholesterol, you know, MCT,  medium chain triglycerides. seriously. google it. coming back to cooking veg. add cumin seed, asafatieda. by the way i always add a pinch of asafatieda. you never know what might cause gas. e.g. cabbage and cauliflower and green leafies are gaseous. when cumin seed sizzle, put in onion. stir for a minute or until translucent. sprinkle a little rock salt and splash of tamari. i always put in these two with each addition of veg. it brings out that extra veg aroma and flavor.

by now lentil is probably coming to boil. the next step is important. remove foam. that's gas producing.  huge. major. then put in asafatieda, bring it down to medium heat so it's rigorously simmering. stir periodically.

meanwhile, return to veg. add cumin, coriander, tumeric. stir rigorously for 30 sec or until you smell that beautiful aroma of spices. now, put in carrot or the veg that takes longest to cook. stir well, do the rock salt and tamari thing. if you like it more peppery go ahead and grind it in at this point. or you might do it at very end. up to you. okay, then put in a few teaspoons of water. let it come back to boil while stirring periodically. cover, cook a minute or two on medium heat. then add in green bean. again, rock salt and tamari. stir. cover. cook 2-3 minutes or until just done, not mushy.  turn off flame, add dry mango powder. throw in cilantro leaves. stir well.

somewhere in midst of cooking veg, lentil is done. add spices, salt, tamari. a word of caution. be light abot it because seasoned veg is already salted. you can always add more salt but can't take it out. turn off flame.

pour the whole veg thing into hot lentil. i scrape every bit off bottom. that's where deep flavor lies where a little caramelization action happen. mix really well.

there you have it. enjoy. pair with a bowl of grain and it's a yummy, full meal.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

4th panchakarma. cellular cleansing

what is my favorite breakfast? now? or before ben and i began this practice of panchakarma? towards the finale of this, my fourth round, something remarkable happened. one morning, after morning prayer, and by the way, i feel the treatment and medicine are that much more potent when my doctors chant vishnu sahasranama, thousand names of vishnu, alongside patients at 6 am. they faithfully implement the ancient ayurveda texts. when a patient questions the way they prescribe treatment slokas would roll off their tongues. doctor ji says, this is what the text says. and since the text says mantras, prayers, homa, puja emanate healing vibration therefore chanting, praying and pujas are integral components in the healing village daily schedule. these doctors really walk their talk. i salute them for that and i trust them with my life. anyhow, what am i talking about? my top fave breakfast. so there i am walking happily along the covered walkway basking in the morning lights after the ecstatic chant and i see doctor omprakash approaching me beaming with excitement. he says, suk wah ji, there is dosa and chutney, do you want? without a blink i say, no, thanks, i'll have congee and mung. here's the context. the ideal panchakarma food is congee, mung and boiled veg. it's only during the preparation and final phase of treatment regimen that patient is offered something other than. i'm not exaggerating when, back in my first round three years prior, when i saw that bowl of plain congee the mind would run wild with imagining all kinds of tgoodies that chinese would put into congee, say, thousand year egg, fish, minced beef. but here i am, three rounds of panchakarma later, reveling in this simple metta rice congee. creamy, nutty, textred, light and satisfying. mung cooked over wood fire has a deep, slightly smoky flavor that pressure cooker cannot replicate. i feel full and fulfilled, happy and content. the mind is quiet and present.

let me be clear. there's nothing wrong with fresh dosa and coconut chutney, nor thousand year egg congee. yummy they are. but i do believe my palate has been radically transformed after four rounds of panchakarma, or shall i say, cellular cleansing. the palate is purified and refined. i taste the essence of essencej, ojas, of rice and mung. bright. alive. rich. the highest and innermost self of me is one with the self of congee.