Cooking Class Recipes – October 26th, 2013 Class
· Spice Water
· Spice Churnas
· Cashew – Tamarind Chutney
· Sweet Rice
· French Lentil Dahl
· Paneer, Chard and Veggies
· Soup for the Evening Meal
Class began at 10 though some keeners, as invited, arrived at 9. There were 6 of us – max is 10.
Breakfast was stewed apples and pears boiled briefly (to fork tender) and allowed to steep, along with raisin and figs. (the figs were added while the mixture was steeping). 6 pieces of fruit, (one per person), 3 cloves per fruit and one ‘tip’ of star anise (not one star) per fruit. (The Anise is my addition and may not be suitable to some individuals.) Place these spices in a tea caddy for easy retrieval or insert them into the fruit. Raisins and figs are optional. I used 2 handfuls. A cup?
Almonds: blanch in boiled water to remove the skin. Some Vaidyas recommend soaking the almonds in room temp water overnight.
Barleymeal (rolled flakes as in oatmeal). I let the barley flakes (and raisins) soak overnight in milk that had been boiled. (milk from an Ayurvedic perspective should be non homogenized – ie cream is on top.) In the morning I spiced the barley with a sweet spice churna: 6 parts cinnamon, 7 cardamon, 3 ginger, 2 fenugreek (bitter), 1 nutmeg. (Usually I add the spices at night – I forgot)(I make my own spice mixes to suit my taste more on this below)
Spice Water is an enjoyable feature of Ayurveda. Session 2 of my book The Aging Reversal Course outlines hydration in detail. In brief, boiled water seems to assimilate more readily than water that has not been boiled. Infusing spices into boiled water results in a drink that is even more easily assimilated.
The basic spices for spice water seem to be fennel (which is sometimes infused alone) cumin and coriander. Put the seeds in a liter thermos or one liter glass bottle and add water that has been boiled. For sluggish individuals boil the water fully for 5 minutes – I usually bring the water to a boil turn off the heat and leave it on the electric burner till it is cool enough to pour. (careful, a bottle may crack when the water is added.)
Smell and taste the seeds to determine preference and then a create a tsp and one half of the mix, the spices proportioned to suit taste. One or possibly 2 other spices might be added – Mint, a clove, marshmallow root etc - one or 2, or I suppose all the ‘big three’ listed above could be eliminated.
What is ideal is to have a consultation with a knowledgeable Vaidya (an Ayurvedic Doctor with 8.5 years of post secondary schooling who can recommend a spice mix to help balance and enliven the physiology) If we don’t have that luxury we experiment with the 2 basic questions regarding food that should always be at the forefront when eating: Does it taste fabulous? Do I feel lively and invigorated? (now if the food choice that does this is half a dozen pork chops or the like we include the intellect in the decision)
Spice Churas used on our food, (not to be confused with Spice Water Spices) are usually ground spices mixed in proportions to suit individual taste. Generic churnas may be purchased – and I have found them to be very satisfying – but better though is to have a Vaidya recommend a mix, and if this is not possible mix your own using the same approach as outlined above in the Spice Water section. The ‘big 4’ spices are turmeric, (thought to be king of spices), cumin, coriander and fennel. Though ground cumin and coriander are available I grind cumin and coriander seeds (separately) in a coffee grinder. Regarding fennel I have not found a ground product so I grind these seeds also. Regarding turmeric I use a powdered form. Use the same approach as above when a creating a spice churna. Smell these spices, taste them. Which ones do you like? And on that basis formulate a churna. A starter ratio is 1 t, 1 cu, 6 cor, 3 f. But sometimes the ration is 1,3,1,1. Does this suit your taste. Keep in mind that combining them will form a taste that is different from any single taste. Add other spices into the cooking that you like. If cooking for others, then create churnas that suit each person you are cooking for. Do not try to ‘convert’ people to your taste – we are each unique with unique requirements. Cook their usual, regular food. Use a half tsp (or an amount to suit your taste) of the churna on your foods (drizzle churna and melted ghee on, for example, your asparagus or rice, and reluctantly offer the onlookers a drizzle – which they desperately want but won’t admit).
What we did was for each person to mix a spice churna to be combined with ghee and drizzled on the rice – we made the rice purposely bland. We forgot to heat the churnas with ghee so people just sprinkled the spices on the food. (It was one o’clock and though right on time to eat, but hunger does strange things to the mind – mine anyway.
Cashew Tamerind Chutney
Why I’ve neglected chutneys til now I have no idea.
· Cup of cashews (more or less – chutneys are quite forgiving) Almonds or coconut or any number of nuts could be substituted – but be sure the nut and the fruit are from the same general location on the planet. They will ‘go together’ better.
· ¼ teaspoon of lemon or lime juice. (to taste)
· Tsp of salt (to taste)
· ½ inch of ginger root (to taste) (scrape the root with the back of the knife to clean the skin off it)
· 1 or 2 hot green thai chillies (to taste)
· Soak ½ cup of tamarind in ½ cup of water overnight. Raisins or dates (cooling) may be used. The tamarind we used came in a ‘block’ reminiscent of the blocks of dates we had as kids. Some types require that the seeds be removed.
· Two tablespoons of fresh cilantro. (I found our cilantro - it was still in the grocery bag.) Chop the cilantro and sprinkle on the chutney
Blend and puree all the ingredients but the cilantro. Add water if needed to achieve the right consistency. The unused portion may be stored in the fridge. Chutneys are to be used on any portion of the meal and may be use as part of a cooked dish – for example cooked with green beans or possibly asparagus.
Team Nanaimo – Pat, Barbara and Eileen – did a super job on the chutney.
We left the rice dish largely unspiced the idea being to drizzle the spice churnas along with ghee in order to try out the churnas created earlier in the morning. We used white basmati rice, almond oil (would prefer cashew oil as we added cashews to the dish), raisins, and sliced fennel (the plant) along with 6 cloves. The raisins are best added when the rice is beginning to firm up and will keep them from sinking to the bottom. Team Sandra and Paul roasted cashews to be added to the top of the rice prior to it being served. Cilantro was added also at about this time. A great job on the rice by Eileen.
French Lentil Dahl
I soaked one liter (3.5 cups) of French lentils overnight. Team Kathleen and Paul prepared the dahl. Ghee, water, salt, chopped ginger root and spice churna: ginger4, turmeric 2, cumin 2, coriander 6, fennel 4. Later, cumin seeds and mustard were made to ‘dance’ in ghee in a small fry pan and added to the mix. I, for some reason, felt that the dahl needed to be pureed. Pureeing produces a great texture for some grain but only an okay one for French lentils. The taste was delicious but the texture left something to be desired. I added water to the dahl later that night to make a soup that was delicious. Often I add a pinch of cayenne to dahl.
Paneer, Chard and Veggies
On a fairly high heat bring to a boil a liter of non homogenized milk. (I added a few tsps of ghee to help keep the milk from scorching. This aspect of the cooking needs to be watched very carefully.) When it foams add 1/3 of a liter of buttermilk. Just before it begins to boil again turn off the heat. Curds and whey form. Strain out the curds and let them set up in the strainer. Using the buttermilk results in ricotta cheese. Adding lemon and/or lime juice instead of buttermilk results in paneer which is similar to the ricotta. If the milk does not curdle reheat and add more buttermilk or lemon, lime. Even the riches milk does not yield a great deal of paneer. I recommend using 2 liters for 6 people
Peel and cube 2 medium red skinned potatoes the same size as the paneer is cubed. Slice carrots on a diagonal. Fry both in ghee to create a brown crust. In the small fry pan used to ‘pop’ the mustard and cumin seeds for the dahl add more ghee and create a similar crust on the paneer as on the veggies. (Use a low medium heat for the paneer as it sticks to the bottom of the pan. The veggies can take a higher heat.) Combine the paneer and the veggies.
The stalks were removed from 4 bunches of chard and 1 bunch of collard greens. (the chard stalks could have been used but I find the collard stalks unpalatable) (the reason for the collard was that there was not a 5th bunch of chard in the store – collard would also suffice.) After a meticulous washing of the chard it was then torn into small squares (2 or 3 inches) and boiled with a small amount of the whey. (the use of whey is frowned on in ayurveda as it is hard to digest and thought to be ‘clogging’ – which is not a joking matter. But we were a high pitta group and it adds to the taste of the dish.) A spice churna was added along with salt. 5 t, 1 cu, 6 cor, 10 f, a pinch each of black pepper, fenugreek, ajwain (celery seed) and kalonji 1 (called, but not actually, onion seed) The chard was boiled but not so much as to lose its shiny green color, and then pureed and poured onto the veggies and paneer.
I suggest that the carrots would have worked better in the rice dish though the sweetness was a nice contrast to the ‘bitter’ chard.
What a hoot. Roti is the bane of my cooking career though I feel with certainty – as I always do - that the next time I make this bread it is going to puff up like a football. 2 cups of duram flour, a bit of salt, and warm water. (spices may be added – dill, basil, oregano etc or ‘sweet’ spices – cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves.) Make a well in the flour and slowly add ½ cup of water as you mix - ¾ of a cup of water may be needed but probably not more. After the dough is kneaded it will be elastic and silky. Some say to rest the dough: others shape it into balls right away. Using the thumb, gradually flatten the balls turning them into patties which may be then rolled out into relatively thin 5 or 6” patties. Using a cast iron pan or a tawa (which is a cast iron pan with a high center) heated to medium heat place the patty on this griddle letting it fall away from all concerned – particularly if you are using ghee on the griddle. Try adding salt to the griddle for a neat taste. When the color changes on the top and bubbles appear flip the bread. I have seen the bread cooked partially on the first side then flipped and cooked more on the other side then flipped back to the first side and then the bread magically puffs up. The puffing is neat but what it provides is a bread as tender as any yeast bread. Other recipes indicate cooking the bread to ¾s cooked and to hold it over the flame of a gas stove to puff it up; other recipes indicate to press the roti with a clean dry towel once it has been flipped. The theory is that the moisture inside the dough expands with the high heat. For us one edge of one roti puffed up. We were pretty excited. If anyone out there wants a fun and free cooking course in exchange for showing us how to cook roti you will be most welcomed.
Prior to Eating
It should be natural to have a good appetite prior to eating the midday meal. This is accomplished by following the promptings of Nature as recommended in The Aging Reversal Course but particularly by not overeating at breakfast, nor my snacking during the morning. If for some reason the appetite is not ‘sharp’ eat a few grapes or a ¼ of an orange one half hour before mealtime – if this is comfortable for you.
· Purple grapes were served.
Thankfulness prior to the meal as described in the ARC, is conducive to good digestion as is a settled atmosphere etc.
The body sees the food, smells the food, possibly hears the food, feels the food and finally tastes the food. All this sends a message to the stomach in order that the stomach can properly prepared itself to digest the food.
Lassi is made by mixing 1 part yogurt and 3 or 4 or 5 parts water to suit taste. Spicing is various. Salt – cumin – saffron are favorites.
Ayurveda is seldom big on processed food preferring unprocessed and fresh food. Homemade yogurt is quick, easy, delicous and costs about ½ the price. I placed glasses in the yogurt maker and filled them about 1/5 full of warm milk that had cooled after being boiled and yogurt starter. It seems that longer the mixture is heated the more sour it becomes? Is this your experience? I had been leaving it on the heat for 10 hours, now down to 8 and wonder if 6 hours will do. Or 4?
P.S. put the lid on top of the yogurt maker and press the on button. Re the pot I boiled the milk in: I also use it to boil the milk I drink before bed which I spice with cinnamon 2, cardamom 1, ginger 1, and when finished I put the pot in the fridge and use it in the morning to make porridge or chai.
I bought a pomegranate and a papaya (from the Caribbean, not Hawaii as the ones from Hawaii are gmo) hoping one of the two would be ripe. Both were ripe. Though cream and pomegranate probably don’t go together from an ayurvedic point of view (there is probably not a lot of whipping cream where pomegranates grow) and in addition pomegranate is out of season – more of a summer fruit – I thought the seeds would look good sprinkled on a mound of thick whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg or cinnamon. I didn’t do the cream but I have another pomegranate and a bottle of cream. I let you know how it goes. The pomegranate was very tasty, as was the papaya.
Chai recipes vary in terms of ingredients and time heated – largely it is up to taste though there are a few dos and don’ts. Watch you don’t curdle it with some of the spices – I think powdered cinnamon will curdle the milk.
For six of us I used 7 cups of water to which I added a handful of raisins as sweetener, one large stick of cinnamon, 7 cloves, 4 black and 4 green cardamom pods crushed, 1 star anise crushed and then boiled the water. Once the water is boiling add ¾ liter of nonhomogenized milk and 6 decafe teabags, return it to a boil and turned off the heat, let it sit, strain and serve. Sweetener may be added by individuals. Sometimes I add peppercorns and/or other suitable spices along with the basic spices listed above.
Soup for the Evening Meal
I had a fun day – a little frazzled but fun – and after my late afternoon meditation, I added water, cilantro and ghee to some leftover dhal - not an ayurvedic practice – and toasted some of the leftover bread and had a very tasty supper which I ate in my man cave while watching the world series – also not recommended in av – the not okay is eating while watching tv, the world series is okay.
For those of you not familiar with ayurvedic cooking a meal doesn’t have to be complicated and may be quite simple and quick (See The Aging Reversal Course, Session 8.) It is easier when one has 5 eager cooks to help. In addition a meal doesn’t need to be based around rice and dahl – the principles of av cooking are applicable to any type of cooking.
So there you have it. I may have one more course on Nov. 9th or 10th. If you are interested let me know and let me know if one of these day will not work for you.