Category Archives: Ayurvedic Recipes

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Cauliflower Steaks Three Ways

I tasted this scrumptious cauliflower dish at The Well Fed Community Garden in Raleigh in late May when Arthur Gordon, of Irregardless Cafe fame, created the dish on the spot! He gathered up whatever looked fresh and interesting at the farmer’s market along with herbs growing in the community garden and—voila!—came up with this amazing dish! I’ve adapted it only slightly to serve eight instead of eighteen and made it a tad milder so it doesn’t bring on more heat in this sweltering summer.The complete dish is a cauliflower “steak” that is rubbed down with a mixture of fresh herbs, roasted or sautéed, and topped with a red pepper cashew sauce. The first time I made this myself, I ran out of time and served only the first part of the dish, pictured here—cauliflower with herb rub. That alone was delicious! So, if you want a simpler dish to make for a July 4th bash, you won’t be disappointed.

A third option, also simplified from the original, is to skip the marinade. You chop the florets, grill them (or sauté them in a little salted oil), and top them with the cashew sauce.

If you want to go the extra mile to impress your guests, I recommend making the full dish: rubbed cauliflower steaks with red pepper cashew sauce. The sauce is simple, and you can use it over any of your favorite vegetables. I’ve found it wonderful over grilled summer squash, plantains, and sweet potatoes—foods I like to see on a summer menu!

Finally, if you want to replicate Arthur’s dish more precisely, you can add some hot sauce to the red pepper/cashew mixture. It’s a flavor I always avoid, but I know many people love it!

Wishing you all the freedoms hoped for when our forefathers proclaimed their independence on July 4, 1776!

Lisa with Arthur Gordon, founder of the Well-Fed Community Garden and Irregardless Cafe.

 

 

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Auspicious New Beginnings with Black-Eyed Peas!

Ask any Southerner how to start the new year in the most auspicious way, and they won’t even blink before naming a bowl of Hoppin’ John or some other version of peas and greens—like this vegetarian Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Collards! Serving such a dish on New Year’s Day is thought to bring good luck because long ago black-eyed peas reminded someone of coins. The greens are said to bring prosperity because greens are associated with green cash. If you enjoy food history, you can read more about this legend at Southern Living  and Epicurious.

My Black-Eyed Pea Soup is filling because of the generous proportion of peas, and it is made even more satisfying by the addition of butternut squash, a favorite winter vegetable. If you serve this soup over rice, like a traditional Hoppin’ John, you will need little (if anything!) else at your New Year’s Day table.

How can you make your New Year’s Day even more auspicious?

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Best-Tasting Gluten-Free Pastas

I’m delighted to say that the gluten-free industry is creating some better-tasting, better-for-you pastas nowadays, and this summer pasta recipe features organic chickpea spaghetti.

Both the chickpea pasta and red lentil spaghetti made by Explore Cuisine™ hold up well, without turning to mush. As important, a two-ounce serving of either product has 11 grams of protein, a plus for gluten-free vegetarians. If you’re like me and you feel better with more protein and fewer carbs, you can add some grilled tofu to the recipe. As for the vegetables, you can substitute the listed ingredients with whatever

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Seven-Minute Sides: Mild Curry Leaf Chutney

Photo by Roger Winstead

 

This curry leaf and cilantro chutney recipe comes from Vaidya Smita Naram.  She whipped up this lovely sauce in our Vitamix in about 5 minutes while recently staying in our home.  My husband, Tom, and I happily poured it over mung bean “burgers” I had made for dinner.  A few days later I prepared another cup of the chutney, which we used to top off savory chickpea pancakes that Dr. Smita showed me how to make a half-hour before we drove her to the airport for her flight home to Mumbai, India.

Chutneys are relishes or sauces that are staples in Indian cuisine. They are also used in Ayurvedic cooking when freshly made. There are innumerable kinds of chutneys — some chunky, others that are more like a paste, and liquid sauces.  Chutneys have a reputation for being amazingly hot to the tongue because most Indian cooks spike their chutneys with chilies. Not so with this recipe!  Authentic Ayurvedic cuisine avoids the use of chilies except for people who are predominantly kapha types. Nonetheless, this chutney is guaranteed to add a bolt of flavor to any dish along with potent healing power.

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Savory Chickpea Pancakes with Curry Leaf Chutney

Photo by Roger Winstead

When my husband and I recently hosted Vaidya Smita Naram in our home, she taught me to make a classic yet simple and intensely delicious Ayurvedic dish: chickpea pancakes with curry leaf chutney.

Dr. Naram is a world-renowned pulse master and Ayurvedic physician, a pharmaceutical herbalist and nutritionist — and she also happens to be a marvelous cook. She has a successful restaurant in her panchakarma clinic in Malad, India (outside Mumbai), so I couldn’t have been more excited about spending some time in the kitchen with her. And we did have fun! Not a meal went by that one or the other of us wasn’t saying “wow!” I was thrilled that she loved my American approach to Ayurvedic cooking, and I loved learning to make this traditional dish that I’m sharing with you today.

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Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Here’s an easy-to-make, completely satisfying vegan Black-Eyed Pea Salad. Quick, delicious and healthy to boot.

Black-eyed peas are especially appreciated by vegan and vegetarian cooks because the peas will be tender after boiling in about 30 minutes, unlike harder beans such as black beans and chick peas that take an hour or more to cook in a regular pot. With black-eyed peas you’ll have a protein-rich main dish that you can build a summer meal around with very little labor—a gift to the cook on a hot summer night.

If you’re too hungry to wait for the black-eyed peas to cool, no problem! This quintessential Southern food is equally appealing when eaten warm after it’s just been cooked. Once the salad is chilled, it’s an ideal dish to serve at your 4th of July picnic.

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Seven-Minute Sides: Sautéed Asparagus

Need a quick side dish to finish off a meal with perfection? Enter sautéed asparagus, my favorite side to accompany almost any menu. It comes in especially handy when you’re making a complex main dish that is time-consuming and you need an easy recipe to complete the meal.

With organic asparagus still in abundance around much of the country, I’m offering this recipe as a follow-up to last month’s asparagus soup. Asparagus complement many menu centerpieces, from legumes, vegetable entrées and casseroles to more omnivorous fare. You can add asparagus to a salad for panache. Surprise your beloved with asparagus in a goat-cheese or all-veggie sandwich.

I call this recipe a seven-minute side,* but if you buy pencil-thin asparagus they will cook in three minutes! If you buy the extra-thick stalks, the dish could take as long as 10 minutes, but that’s prep to plate.

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Welcome Spring with Asparagus Soup

Magnificent spring! O, how we welcome your abundant blessings! For my toast to spring I offer you, dear readers, this easy asparagus soup recipe, a sneak-peek from Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.  It’s still cool enough during these early spring nights to enjoy the warmth of  a delicate vegetable soup, though this is one of the few vegetable soups that I also enjoy at room temperature on a warm day.

When I initially crafted this recipe, my intention was to make a creamy soup, but the asparagus smelled so good before I added milk that I served it dairy-free and have ever since.  If you love dairy and are able to digest it, you can certainly add some real cream, say 1/4 to 1/2 a cup. Or add a swirl of whole coconut milk for a sensual flourish when you serve the dish to your grateful guests.

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Slow Cooker Mung Soup with Vegetables

Even though it was 84 degrees in parts of North Carolina this week, the word is out that the North winds are headed our way.  By the weekend much of the country will be under the spell of an autumn chill. What better time to pull out the slow cooker and start a lovely pot of soup? (In case you’re not familiar with the term “slow cooker,” you may know of it by the original manufacturer’s name: Crockpot® or the new hit, Instant Pot.

A slow cooker can be invaluable for vegetarians and omnivores alike, but it helps to know a few tricks that make a  slow cooker meal worth savoring.

Instead of loading all of the ingredients into the cooker before bedtime (or in the morning before leaving for work), save the real flavor-makers for when you get home:

1. Sauté dried spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric in ghee or oil on your stove-top before adding these ingredients to the slow cooker. If you leave spices in the cooker for 6 to 8 hours, they can actually burn … says the voice of experience.

2. If you cook soups and stews with onions, slowly brown the onions in ghee or oil until they caramelize (20 to 30 minutes). This additional step will infuse your final dish with a layer of flavor that you just won’t get by cooking onions in water or stock all day.

3. Add fresh herbs the last 15 minutes before serving so that they don’t over-cook.

4. To keep vegetables flavorful, steam them 10 to 15 minutes before finishing the soup with salt, ginger and garlic, if you eat garlic.

So, you may ask,  what DO you leave in a slow cooker all night or day?  Legumes!

You can apply these tips when you cook this hearty mung soup recipe, a gussied up version of the classic Ayurvedic dish. I make this hearty dish once a week on an ongoing basis because it helps to keep the digestive system clear.  When mung soup is served during panchakarma (Ayurvedic detoxification) programs, it’s very simple: cooked mung beans, salt, bay leaf and a few spices.  That describes the base of my soup recipe, one I modeled after a recipe I learned from Dr. Smita Naram, a renowned Ayurvedic pulse master, a pharmacologist and… an excellent cook! She created many delicious recipes  for a successful restaurant in the panchakarma clinic she founded with her husband, Pankaj Naram, outside Mumbai, India.

When I’m cooking for our regular diet at home,  I like to add onions for extra flavor and vegetables for a more substantial dish. It’s a thick soup so it may suffice for your meal, or you can serve it over quinoa or rice.

With Halloween approaching this evening, it’s a great idea to make a batch of mung soup this weekend — particularly if you or your kids eat too much Halloween candy!

Happy eating!

 

 

 

 

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