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Moong Daal in a Pot

Ghee-licious Moong Daal

Moong Daal in a PotSometimes you got to strip it all away and get down to the bare necessities. It took me six months of recipe testing to digest, practice and implement this, but I got there. Practice, practice, practice! And now I have a recipe for moong daal, I love.

You would think a girl who grew up eating daal, almost every other week, could just whip up a moong daal.  It would be easy breezy. Well…apparently, that wasn’t my case. Growing up we enjoyed a dry moong curry in which the integrity of the lentil remained. Several other single lentil daal recipes were enjoyed too, but never a soupy moong. Hmmm—maybe it’s a regional thing? I am not really sure of the why, but I do know there are a plethora daal recipes. They vary from town to town, street to street, home to home, religion to religion in South Asia—that’s just the glory of daal.

While working on this recipe, I pulled out every typical ingredient from my daal bag—fried onions, whole garam masalas, an array of spice mixes, but none of them were giving me that simple, uncomplicated goodness I was seeking. After a couple months and moong daal overload, I needed a break. I was trying too hard and the repeated disappointment was fostering stagnated ideas. Heavy clouds were looming over me and the creative fluidity was running dry.  Then, good ol’ Father Time delivered a message. “Just make it the simplest way you know how”. And boom! That’s my story of how a girl whose life was turned upside down, over a simple moong daal recipe, developed  Ghee-licious Moong Daal.

I am loving this recipe. It has been on my weekly rotation. It’s nothing fancy or complicated, it just simple, traditional, goodness. The combination of ghee and hing (asafetida), add a buttery touch, while still keeping the daal light. It’s not overly spicy or predominant in one spice versus another.  Each time, I have made this recipe, I am reminded of how sometimes the simple things are the best things in life.

Daal SpicesMoong is the favored lentil in Ayurveda. It is known for its digestibility, overall nourishment, and sattvic nature.  It is also the key ingredient in khichadi, a simple rice dish enjoyed throughout India (and parts of Pakistan) when feeling under the weather, like chicken soup.  I like to have moong daal over a little basmati rice, as a compliment to a veggie dish or use it as a soup stock. In the autumn an extra dollop of ghee, or if you have a pitta/vata dominant dosha that dollop can come with each season. Happy Eating. Happy Digesting.

Ghee-licious Moong Daal

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy

Dosha: VPK Season: All Qualities: Moist, Warm, Soft, Light Tastes: Astringent, Bitter, Pungent, Sour, Salty Time: 30-40 minutes* Serves: 4-6 What you need: a 3-4 quart heavy bottom pot, a small pot, hand blender (optional)

Ingredients

In the pot:

  • 1 cup peeled+split mung daal (lentils)
  • 6 1/2 – 7 cups water*

Vaghaar/Taarka/Hot Oil Infusion:

  • 2 T (heaping) ghee or sunflower (any season) or coconut (summer) 
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing aka asafoetida
  • 1 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 T grated ginger (heaping)
  • 1 medium garlic clove very thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  •  8-10 curry patha (leaves) (nice to have)
  • 1/2 serrano chili sliced or 1-2 dried red chili or 1/4 tsp red chili powder (optional)

Finishing Touches:

  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon or opt for lime in the summer
  • 4 T chopped cilantro (with stems)

Directions

  1. Rinse and soak moong daal for a minimum of 20 minutes to overnight if possible. This aides with digestion, slight starts to sprout the pulse and can reduce cook time. I soaked mine for about 4 hours (after I had breakfast).
  2. 2.In a 4 quart pot add water and rinsed mung daal (throw out the water it was soaked in). Bring the daal to a boil on medium-high heat with the lid slightly uncovered. Remove foam, if any. Cover and let the daal simmer on medium heat. Be careful it doesn’t overflow. If this happens lower heat and/or leave it slightly uncovered.

    While the daal is cooking, prep your spices and bring them close to the stove. The oil infusion is a fast process, so having all your spices measured out and nearby is really helpful.

    3. While the daal is simmering, in a small pot (this way you have a puddle of ghee), warm the ghee over medium heat. When it is nice and warm—add 1 mustard seed. If the seed sizzles the ghee is at the right temperature. If the seed pops out it too hot—let it cool down. If the seed sizzles, add the remaining mustard seeds and keep a cover nearby. The seeds need to pop to release the flavor, covering the pot can help getting seed stung. I also like to use a mesh, flat strainer with a handle. Once the mustard seeds begin to crackle, they are activated! Then add in the following order: the hing, cumin seeds, curry leaves, dry red chili or green chili, and garlic. Once the garlic starts to turn a light golden brown, add the ginger and stir. Then turn off the stove and add the turmeric (and the optional red chili powder)—this will activate the spices, but won’t burn them

    4. Immediately, but gently, pour the infused ghee into the simmering daal. It will sizzle and you will see lots of steam. Get every last drop of the infused ghee into the daal. I also like to ‘rinse’ the pot, by adding a little bit of the daal into the infusion pot. Give the daal a good stir. Continue to simmer with the pot slightly uncovered until the lentils are well blended & creamy.

    5. Once the lentils have dissolved add the salt. Continue to cook until the lentils and the water are melded together. If daal is too thick, add a little warm water. If it’s too thin, continue to cook with no lid until you get the consistency you like.

    6. After the daal is nicely blended and creamy. Turn off the stove. Add the cilantro and lemon juice and cover for 3-5 minutes before serving.

    Notes: The total time ranges from 30-40 minutes. If you live in high altitude, times may differ—consider using a pressure cooker to cook the lentils first. If you prefer a really smooth daal, once the lentils are cooked and the foam has been removed, blend the daal with a hand blender. Then continue with step 3. This recipe is for a daal on the thinner daal, like the consistency of a soup. If you prefer a thicker daal, reduce water (you can always add more water—always add warm to hot water to keep the temperature same and to avoid longer cooking time ).

    Moong Daal in a Pot


Sprouted Moong Soupy Khichadi with Summer Veggies

Summer-Squash-Khichadi-AyurvedaAfter returning home from a summer road trip to New Mexico, my body was needing cooling, hydrating and earthy nourishment. A meal that was filling, yet light. Comfort food with a touch of the summer season. Soupy khichadi, kitchri or kitchuri, depending on the transliteration, was calling my name.

I started to make soupy khichadi when I was living in San Marcos. One of the many beautiful towns surrounding Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. During this life period, my eyes awoke with the sunrise and fell asleep when it was too dark to see. We had no electricity or curtains, but we had a propane stove and a pressure cooker.  All we needed to prepare our daily khichadi lunch.

Not familiar with pressure-cooker cooking, my khichadi was consistently neither a porridge nor a pilaf. Instead, I’d end up with soupy khichadi. Where the lentils and rice still held together in a seasoned broth. Basically daal over rice made in one pot. A comforting meal with that nostalgic touch. Exactly what I needed, in my temporary home away from home.

Summer-Squash-Chit-Chaat-ChaiI’ve thought about getting a small pressure cooker. However…in my tiny kitchen! My four quart pot will need to suffice. And it did. After twelve years, soupy khichadi is back! Coinciding perfectly with with transit of Jupiter in virgo. Where it lived during my San Marco days. How does this astrological transit fits together with this story? I have no idea…but the timing has my whiskers on alert mode.

With this version of the recipe, I’ve introduced corn. My touch of summer. I was a little wary about adding sweet corn, but I wanted to move away from the normal veggies, I occasionally add to khichadi. Familiarity serves a valuable purpose. It can be easier and save time. While also allowing for complacency. A side effect I was starting to recognize. The season of transformation, called me to to change it up.  Take a chance on corn. Love the little lessons I am reminded of when cooking.

Sprouted Moong Soupy Khichadi with Summer Veggies

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy

Dosha: PKV Season: Summer Tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Astringent, Bitter What you need: 4-quart pot

Ingredients

  • 3 T ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 T (heaping) freshly grated or finely chopped ginger
  • 1/2 serrano green chili diced (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups sprouted moong
  • 1/3 cups basmati rice (rinsed and soaked 20 mins)
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh corn (2 cobs)
  • 3-4 summer squashes
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt/pink rock salt or to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup (heaping) chopped cilantro
  • 6 cups water

Directions

1.Over medium heat, warm the ghee or coconut oil in a 4-quart pot. When the oil has melted and is quite warm, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick.  Cook until the cumin seeds are toasty (darker brown) and aromatic.

2.Then add in the sprouted moong,  soaked rice (drain the water it has been soaking in), grated ginger, turmeric and give it a few stirs. The wet rice should prevent sticking and let the ginger and turmeric gently warm.  Then add in the 6 cups of water and fresh corn. Increase the heat and bring it to a boil.  Then let the khichadi simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes or until rice is 95% cooked.

3.While the khichadi is cooking, chop up the summer squash into medium size chunks or slices, depending on the shape of the squash. Try to keep the pieces consistent in size for even cooking.

4.Once the rice is 95% cooked, add in the squash and salt. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the squash. Turn off the stove when squash is 95% cooked, to prevent overcooking. Add in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Mix well and serve with a dollop of ghee (especially for vata constitutions).

Notes: If you want a soupier khichadi, add additional boiling water prior to adding the squash so the flavors can meld. Bring to a boil and then continue with step 4. Frozen corn can be used as well. If adding a dollop of yogurt, skip the lime juice as both ingredients are not compatible for digestion. Chit_Chaat_Chai_Summer_Kitchri


4 Rosey Ways to Stay Cool

Chit_Chaat_Chai_Ayurveda

Roses are summertime’s queen of the floral court. A sniff of her petals and she’ll have you wrapped in bliss with her sweet, intoxicating aroma. Feeling grounded, calm and cool even on the hottest of summer days.

When pitta (fire + water) dosha is at its peak, roses are the aromatic elixir to balance the lower quality flames. From emotional outbursts, anxiety, to heat related pitta headaches, roses cooling energy and sweet aroma is medicine for the spirit. Awakening loving, compassionate and peaceful vibrations to support a mind-body balance.

In Ayurveda, aroma (to smell) is connected to the grounding earth element. Even on the hottest of days, when it’s hard to move, think or breathe deep, aroma grabs ahold of attention. A compelling scent can vie one to sniff and sniff again. Encouraging the breath to become longer and deeper. Deep breath then activates the circulation of stagnated air within the body. Helping to release pent-up tension and bring forth a moment of calm. Read More

Peaches_Ghee_Coconut_Sprinkles

Peaches, Ghee & Spiced Coconut Sprinkles

Peaches_Ghee_Coconut_Sprinkles

It’s July and my California fruit calendar is telling me peach season is here.  So, I head to the Berkeley Farmer’s Market and guess what? Fuzzy, flame colored beauties everywhere! I love how each month my fruit calendar gets it right. White, yellow and donut peaches filled the stalls.  Calling to almost all my senses—sight, smell, taste, and touch.  Riding high with sensory overload, I picked-up more than I could eat—surprise, surprise.  Over excitement and hunger are discernments worst enemy. Read More

Hibiscus-Rose Infusion for all Aphrodites

Hibiscus-Rose-Tonic-AyurvedaLast summer, I brewed an ol’ magical recipe of hibiscus and rose. It had been several years since this intoxicating pinkish-red tonic touched my lips. Oh, how I missed it! This summer it has returned again. Exciting my eyes every time I open the fridge and tingling my nose with every sip. While cooling the body and mind from the heat of the sun.

In reducing excess heat from the body, hibiscus also are a supports the first two chakras. Balancing feminine energy to enhance beauty  internally resulting in an external glow. A gentle, detoxifying beverage, hibiscus evokes sattva—purity, harmony and balanced energy. This summer time brew is for all the goddesses, the Aphrodites. Here’s to embracing and balancing the divine feminine energy that births the population.

Hibiscus through the lens of Ayurveda

Read More

Venus Water

Rose Water Ayurveda

I love turning what may seem like an ordinary moment into a spa like experience. Whether it is taking a bath or drinking a glass of water. Evoking the senses with something out of the norm allows space for the ah-ha moment, the deep breath and appreciation. It’s a treat I wish I did more often, but there’s also something special about an occasional routine, I truly appreciate.

Making water smell like roses will be one of my occasional summer routines. I am thinking of mixing up a jug at least once a week. To have on hand after a hike, on a lazy afternoon or just as a substitute for plain H20. It’s a cooling, nourishing option without the sugar that supports balancing  pitta’s (fire + water) intense summer energy.

If I feel like enhancing the sensorial experience, I’ll sprinkle in dried rose petals and fresh mint. In a few seconds (literally), the herbs transform my glass into a mini-edible garden and look so darling floating around. The bright green and pink attract a calming, yet vibrant energy. While bringing nature, finger distance to my day. Read More

Thyme for Coriander & Asparagus

Asparagus with Coriander, Thyme & Lemon ZestI’ve been eating asparagus every week for the past 6 weeks and I am still loving it! With minimal prep and cook time, whether sauteed or steamed, these slightly sweet and astringent tasting spears are topping my spring list for the easiest green veggies. They’re so tasty too!

Rich in the earth and air elements, foods with an astringent taste, like, asparagus, can bind and draw out excess from the body.  Whether it is ama (toxins derived from undigested food), fat or water, the astringent taste supports detoxification. Have you experienced urinating a bit more or longer after eating asparagus? In helping the body release excess water, combined with asparagus’ cooling energy, these delicious spears support reducing inflammation and puffiness, while helping to purify the blood. For individuals who tend to retain water or have accumulated excessive heat from the winter season, asparagus is spring’s natural detoxifier. It’s light and dry qualities harmonize with spring and prep the body for the summer. Mother Nature’s—she’s on it and one step ahead.

Spices for AsparagusWhether steamed or sautéed, the simpler the better when it comes to my favorite way of cooking asparagus. Too much of any spice, I find takes away from it’s natural flavors and can be to over powering.

For those who tend to have more of a kapha constitution or imbalance, steaming asparagus is a great option—no fat needed. For those who tend to have a vata constitution or imbalance, sautéing or steaming works just add a good fat to help balance the astringency and dryness. For pitta constitutions or imbalances fat or no fat—either method works.

Here are two versions of the same recipe…steamed or sautéed, you choice.

Happy eating, happy digesting. Read More