Ayurvedic Indian Feast

I am so happy to be able to share this special cache of recipes with you all!

Weekend before last I helped cater a lunch with the angels of Taking Care Portland at Portland's 2015 Ayurvedic Fair. What an incredible collection of knowledgable practitioners, speakers, visionary artists, and artisanal food (and GHEE!) makers. Good lord, the aromatherapy alone.. SO. GOOD. 

I was, however, the majority of the time working behind the scenes under the direction of an amazing native of India named Minal Rajan. A breast cancer survivor herself of two years, her kindness and was only matched by her staggering knowledge of Ayurvedic spices and traditional Indian food preparation. (SCORE..).

She has generously handed over all the recipes we served at the event (that, by the way, sold out in a little over an hour..!) All of the lunch proceeds will go towards Taking Care Portland's incredible community cancer survivorship events. Click here if you want more info about their free services or would like to volunteer in a future TCP event. Kitchari means mixture, and is best described as a healing stew that combines protein and carbohydrates into a gentle, nutritionally balanced and deeply cleansing meal. It was chosen for this event as it is a staple of many Ayurvedic cleansing diets and, especially with all the amazing condiments Minal showed me, is simple to prepare and REALLY delicious.

Win-win, right? Well, there's a few more bonuses you should be aware of before I set you off on your own: This amazingly tasty dish is also said to heal digestive distresses (THE cornerstone of Ayurvedic philosophy surrounds balancing the digestive system), balance the metabolism, cleanse the liver and the blood, assist in healthy weight loss, and support the body's tissues in detoxing accumulated toxins. YUM!

You may consider taking a field-trip to your local Indian grocery store. In Portland the one I went to is called Apna Bazar. They have great prices on bulk and specialty spices, the specific kind of mung dal and rice needed for the kitchari, and otherwise tricky to locate items all under one roof. It's also kind of like a mini global travel experience..so I can highly recommend! 

Kitchari:

1c rice (use small grain rice (zeera rice/Ambemore rice from Indian store) -- long grain basmati is for special occasions and too pricey) 

1c yellow Moong Dal

wash both well and keep aside. 

Take about 2c diced vegetables. (ie carrots, fresh or frozen green peas, etc)

1" PC ginger -- chopped fine 

2-3 cloves of garlic 

10-12 black peppercorns & 1tsp cumin -- dry roast till fragrant and crush with a pestle. 

In the pan put oil / ghee and when hot gently fry the ginger garlic and then the vegetables.-- about 3 mins. Add the crushed pepper cumin spice mix. Mix in the rice- dal. Add 3/4tsp or more of Turmeric powder and salt to taste. You can add slit green chillies if you like a bit of a kick to it. 

Add about 6 cups of water and bring it to boil. Once boiling lower the flame and cover the pot till the dal is soft -- and most of the water is absorbed. It usually should be served runny like a porridge/ oatmeal so you can add more hot water if it's getting dry and dal is not cooked. Serve with a dollop of ghee on top. 

Usual accompaniments are green chutney or Raita -- a yogurt whisked with roasted cumin powder  & salt -- a little red chilly powder if you like and chopped cucumber or mint leaves. Or mango pickle or try it with Kimchee!

 

Tomato Chutney:

Chop about 10 large Roma tomatoes 

Slice 1-1/2 inch pc of ginger 

12-14 pods of garlic peeled and crushed 

In a pan heat oil -- I typically use Mustard oil for this -- 

Add 1/2 tsp each of Fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, nigella seeds. Split dry chilly. When they splutter add te ginger and garlic and fry till a little brown and fragrant. 

Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to mix. Add salt , sugar and turmeric (pinch) and chilli powder a pinch. Cover and stew for good 20-30 minutes -- you should have a nice sticky sauce that coats the back of the spoon.

 

Green chutney:

Two bunches of cilantro leaves. Wash and pick any brown leaves but keep the stems- remove only the very bottom part that looks white and fibrous. 

1-2 green chillies 

1tsp cumin 

A handful of peanuts 

Salt 

Put all ing in the blender add a little water -1/2c and blend. Add water little by little to facilitate smooth sauce -- too much water will not blend the leaves and you will get a gritty texture and floating leaves. 

Remove from blender and adjust seasoning -- salt and sugar. Squeeze 2-3 tbsp of lime or Lemon juice. It should have a a nice tangy freshness and salt and sugar and green chilly balance. Refrigerate for a while to let the flavors settle. Stays bottled for upto a week. 

-- use this to marinate vegetables, meats fish and grill them. 

-- use it as a dip for tempura vegetables or kebabs

-- use it instead of mustard as a sandwich spread with tomato and cucumber slices. 

-- add a bunch of mint leaves and remove the peanuts to make another version.

 

Coconut chutney: 

-- if you buy a whole brown coconut then break it open and take the white flesh out. You need a scraper. Else using a knife remove pieces and then you can blend them in a blender. 

Easiest -- buy grated coconut (fresh and not desiccated) -- 

A handful of cashew nuts

Half a handful of raisins -- sweet variety. 

A green chilly a few curry leaves (have seen at trader Joe's etc and in Indian stores.) 

A few cilantro leaves if you like. 

Again add water and start blending to a smooth paste. Add salt. 

Season it on the top by heating a tsp of oil in a small pan and splutter 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and  1tsp of moong dal. And a few curry leaves.  Pour this onto the coconut chutney. 

 

Delicious with savory pancakes. We make fermented rice pancakes called Dosa and this is the typical chutney served with them.