April 16, 2015

Healthy Eating Inspiration from India

When I was traveling through Northern India, I spent as much time as possible absorbing the aromas, textures, flavors, and cooking techniques of roadside vendors and food kiosks.

It is amazing to get to watch food prepared in a way that's so connected to cultural creativity.

Try these recipes and food meditation, inspired by the healing culinary gifts of India.

Aloo Saag – Potatoes and Spinach



You will need:
2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 large potatoes, cut into chunks
½ tsp each: salt, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala
1 tablespoon mustard
2 cups spinach leaves


Heat the oil in a large pan.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes and spices.
Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes more.
Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Check the potatoes are ready by spearing with the point of a knife, and if they are, add the spinach and let it wilt into the pan.
Take off the heat and serve with grilled chicken and rice.

Ghee


Ghee, or clarified butter, is unsalted butter that has been separated from its water and milk proteins. When heated, butter will separate into three layers: the casein, a frothy layer on top; the clarified butterfat--the ghee--in the middle; and the milk solids, and proteins in the bottom.

Heat 1 lb. of unsalted butter in a stainless steel stock pot. When it starts bubbling, reduce heat to low.
Fetch a small bowl and spoon.

Stay with the butter, skimming the foamy white casein that rises to the surface with the spoon.  Repeat the skimming process for about 15 minutes, or until the ghee has stopped making any bubbling sounds.

Remove from heat immediately. Strain through a fine mesh tea strainer or cheesecloth into a glass mason jar. This process removes leftover milk solids. Ghee can be used to cook for people who are lactose intolerant.

Allow it to cool completely before closing.

Ghee stores at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.

Cooking Meditation



Slow Cooking
1. Begin from the very first moment you place the water on the heat, or pour the oil in the pan. Listen to the sounds, the smells and the sensations.

2. As you begin to cook the various foods, notice how the addition of each new ingredient affects the overall fragrance of the dish. Allow yourself to be present with the different senses, rather than being lost in thought. Each time the mind wanders, just gently bring the attention back to these sounds and smells.

3. Try to be aware of how your mood and thinking change throughout the cooking process. Do you find the heat oppressive? Do you find yourself getting anxious trying to keep all the different things going at once, or confident and in control? Don’t try and change any of these things for now –- simply building up a picture is enough.

4. As you observe the mind, use the physical senses as a safe place to come back to when you feel the emotions running off. For example, rather than feeling anxious about feeling anxious, come back to the smell of the food. Instead of getting increasingly frustrated at feeling frustrated, bring your attention back to the sounds of the food cooking.

5. As you become aware of these things, notice where your mind wants to travel. Does it drift off to memories past, perhaps associating the smells with previous meals? Or does it race ahead to the future, perhaps imagining what the food is going to taste like? This doesn’t require any analysis or thinking, it is simply a matter of being aware. Being aware of the thoughts in this way will help you to get much better at the exercise, which, for most people, means enjoying a more peaceful experience in the kitchen.

with gratitude to Headspace.com 

Cooking Inspiration: Cashew Cream Sauce



Watch this fun video and learn how to make your own cashew cream sauce. This is another dish that I originally sampled while in India.


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