All posts tagged: gluten-free

Artichokes with Crispy Garlic, Ghee & Sumac

After coming home with a bag of freshly harvested baby artichokes from Palo Alto Farmer’s Market last Sunday, I was reminded that some fresh produce still remains seasonal. With year-round access to our favorite fruits and vegetables, sometimes remembering whats in and out of season can be a little challenging. Strolling through the Farmer’s market was a lovely way to reconnect with nature’s seasonal gifts, the farmers, and sunshine. While remembering that produce like fava beans, cherries, peaches, fresh peas and artichokes don’t come by daily. Seasonal produce still exist!

Sesame Honey Ladoos (Balls)

Remember the sesame brittle candies wrapped in clear twisted plastic..often found at the check-out counter? These sesame honey balls from Divya Alter’s cookbook, What to Eat for How You Feel remind me of them. But without the sticky fingers and teeth. Since the beginning of winter, I’ve been wanting to make sesame “candies” from scratch. They’re the perfect, nourishing winter treat. Rich in immunity-boosting nutrients, healthy fat, anti-oxidants, and minerals. With a warming energy to balance with the cold season. Sometimes, it’s hard to wrap my mind around how a yummy “candy” can also be nutritious. Traditionally, sesame “candies” are made in the cold season. Often in the form of a laddu (ball) or as brittle (I love the diamond-shaped versions). Instead of honey or refined sugarcane, South Asian recipes most often call for jaggery, an unrefined sweetener that comes from sugarcane. It’s often given to kids melted on a chapati with ghee for their iron and mineral content.  A snack after my own heart. Jaggery is also used in nuts and seeds based spiced treats made specifically for women, post childbirth. …

Shredded Carrot & Lentil Salad

I think what I appreciate most about Indian/Pakistani salads is their similarity to a slaw.  They can be eaten as is,  a side, added to a wrap or the final topping on a bowl. Complimenting a meal or a bite, similar to a chutney or condiment. While retaining a hearty, crunchy freshness like a slaw. Since they last a few days in the fridge without wilting or losing the crunch factor, they can easily be made ahead. A handy convenience when time is of the essence. Salad-slaws can be a quick way to add a missing taste, quality or vegetable to a meal when applying Ayurveda food guidelines to eating.  Need a sweet, sour, astringent or bitter taste? Or something a little dry (aka crunchy) or light? Depending on the type of slaw, several missing bases can be covered at once. If I haven’t already said enough about why slaw-salads are awesome, here is one more thing. Slaw type salads aide and support digestion. A light fermentation process takes place from the salt and lemon or lime “dressing”.  Adding a …

Roasted Butternut Squash & Lentil Stew

The days when I craved butternut squash soup were long ago. A time when the sweetness did not overwhelm my taste buds and the heavy soup felt light.  An era I did not think would return.  Until I came across this Roasted Butternut Squash & Lentil Stew recipe in . A cookbook filled with Chitra Agarwal’s family’s recipes from the southern Indian state of Karnataka (click here to read my review). The combination of sweet and spicy ingredients immediately appealed to my current taste preference. Which is currently lingering between autumn and winter. When vata dosha is still center stage and kapha dosha begins to introduce itself.  A time when the grounding, earthy nourishment from the sweet taste is still integral to Ayurveda’s seasonal diet. While the pungent taste needs to take a step forward.  To counterbalance the start of the cold and wet season with its warming and drying qualities. A take on a traditional family recipe, Chitra, author of , blends butternut squash with red lentils.  Then spices it up with with a traditional …

5 Dishes to Spice Up Your Fall Harvest Feast

Looking to add a little spice to your Fall Harvest Feast this month? Here are five delicious sides (and 1 appetizer) that also happen to be vegan, dairy and gluten-free. Happy Eating! Happy Digesting! 1. Smokin’ Sweet Cranberry Chipotle Chutney It’s amazing what a little chipotle, cumin, cinnamon, garlic and orange does to cranberry sauce. Click here for the recipe. 2. It’s a Rose-Mary Citrus Party Entice those fingers to grab some pre-meal fruit. Thinly sliced citrus makes keeps it easy and clean for the chef and guests.  A  light, hydrating snack that leaves room for the main course and sides. Click here for the recipe. 3. 5 Spiced Yams & Rainbow Chard Spice up yams and greens with three tasty digestive aides cumin, fennel and ginger.  A variation of the popular 5 spices and a veggie. Click here for the recipe. 4. Corn in a Roasted Poblano Coconut Curry  Take the corn off the cob and this recipe can easily convert to a vegan, dairy-free creamed corn or corn dressed in a spicy coconut based sauce.  Click here for the recipe. 5. Roasted Squash & Yams …

Moong Daal in a Pot

Ghee-licious Moong Daal

Sometimes you’ve got to strip it all away and get down to the bare necessities. After six months of recipe testing, I was able to digest and implement this practice. Understanding that good food does not need to be complicated. The time and practice were well worth the experience.  Along with a ghee-licious recipe for moong daal, I love. You would think a girl who grew up eating daal every other week, could just whip up a  batch of soupy moong daal.  It would be easy breezy. Well…apparently, that wasn’t my case. Growing up moong daal was served like a dry curry. In which the integrity of the lentil remained. We ate this tomato based dish with chapati.  Sometimes rolled into a burrito. It was our road food. We also made other single soupy-style lentil recipes like tuwar and urad, but never moong. Hmmm—maybe it was a regional thing? I am not really sure of the why, but I do know there are a plethora daal recipes in South Asia. They vary from town to town, street to street, …

Peaches_Ghee_Coconut_Sprinkles

Peaches, Ghee & Spiced 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.

Thyme for Coriander & Asparagus

I’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. Whether steamed or sautéed, the simpler the …

Spring Time Masala Chai

Warming Cardamom, Ginger & Fennel Chai

Those leisurely Sunday mornings…lingering around in your favorite pajamas…slow beats vibrating softly through speakers…sun’s rays beaming in through the windows and pulling on those lethargic, sluggish strings to move on out…while the spirit snoozes under the aroma of cardamom, fennel and ginger brewing atop the stove. Ginger to heat the body, which has been dormant under the night sky, sweet cardamom to activate love, awaken the lungs, dissolve mucus and cooling fennel to lighten the body of excess air and water.  All three igniting the digestive fire, supporting movement and tantalizing the spirit through their aromatics. Masala chai Sundays are pure joy. For the past couple months, I’ve made it a spring ritual. Minimal ingredients, effort and three spices that are available in my spice cupboard at all times. This masala chai recipe is my current go to. It’s less milky, thus, less heavy than an autumn chai.  For a little extra pep with each step!

Zesty Fennel, Cucumber and Chive Salad

Over the past few years, fennel has a reserved spot my vegetable bin. Its versatility, carminative properties, and cooling energy has made it a weekly produce staple. When in season, I pick up a small to medium size bulb to incorporate half into a bitter-tart-sweet-slightly pungent juice, while using the stalk and fronds in homemade bone broths and the other half to roast with other seasonal veggies or shaved in a salad. From it’s seeds to flowers, fennel is used in many cultures around the globe. Commonly known as a digestive aid, fennel is cooling for the body. It is also a diuretic, helps with internal spasms and is considered a carminative herb. I wrote about the benefits of fennel if you would like to learn about it in more detail, click here. This week, I was craving a slaw-like salad. Something with a little crunch that felt cooling, was refreshing, with a touch of pungent and bitter tastes for balance and did not involve any lettuce. Apparently, all the ingredients also had to be green and white! I …

Smokin' Sweet Cranberry Chiptole Chutney

Smokin’ Sweet Cranberry Chipotle Chutney

With the craziness of the holiday season, I should have, could have, but didn’t post my cranberry sauce recipe in November. Ce la vie, at times. You do what you can do—right? It may seem out of season, but cranberries are still lingering around in the markets. If you love sweet, smoky and tangy flavors, you’re going to want to preserve a jar of this chutney, to take you through spring. If not, hold on to this recipe for next fall! Six years ago, I came across Chiptole Cranberry Sauce in Bon Appetit and have never looked back. The following year, I used it as my base recipe and added a little orange zest and increased the spices a bit. The flavor from the zest is not strong, but it adds a little complexity that makes it taste extra good. It’s hard to believe that was five years ago. To my surprise, this recipe is one of the few dishes that returns to the Thanksgiving table. every year. This cranberry chutney/sauce is a-mazing with turkey, but the sweet, spicy, garlicky, smoky flavors …

Rose-Mary Citrus Platter

It’s a Rose-Mary Citrus Party

Citrus season is in full swing in California. Local markets are filled with an abundant array of varietals, from juicy tangelos—don’t you just love the ring of it? To sweet ruby reds and blood colored oranges. On a cold winter’s day, walking through the citrus aisle warms the heart like a gorgeous sunset. The vibrant colors and invigorating scents activate the sluggish winter mind, while their sour taste activates digestion. As energizing as citrus fruits are, they are also heavy. All that juicy goodness, may be hydrating, but water can be weighing. Lucky for us, Mother Nature provides a little balance through the bitter pith and membranes. Bitter, one of the six taste in Ayurveda, is naturally detoxifying. In eating citrus with the membranes retained, the intended balanced nutrients are received—sweet with a little sour and bitter. In comparison to citrus juice, which can reduce fiber content and the bitter, detoxifying element. Juice also increases the serving portion from one piece of fruit to perhaps three or four. Something to consider, when sugar intake is of concern. Citrus fruits also …

chit-chaat-chai ayurvedic roasted squash and yam with tahini dressing

Roasted Squash & Yams with Sweet Spices & a Tahini Lime Dressing

A common perception about ‘Ayurvedic’ food is that it is Indian food and vice versa. Hundreds of years ago, this may have been true, but over time, trade, economics, immigration, migration, personal tastes, priorities, availability, population, media, etc…have influenced India’s cuisine. Creating a distinction between Indian food and ‘Ayurvedic’ food. Although the spices may be similar, Indian dishes tend to a bit spicier, oilier, heavier, hotter or at times more processed than a dish deemed ‘Ayurvedic’. As the proverb goes,  “what you eat becomes your mind, as is the food, so is your mind”. ‘Ayurvedic’ food is based on a holistic approach to ingredients, preparation, and serving. Each aspect accounts for the mind-body connection, to ensure a meal is not only nutritious but that it has soul! Ingredients are fresh versus highly processed to attain the highest nutritional value. They align with the season to support digestion, absorption, and elimination. Meals are prepared with an intention along with calm, steady and happy mindset to infuse the meal and ultimately the mind-body-soul with the same energy. When food is served, it’s to appease the eyes and the …

5 Spices w/Yams & Rainbow Chard #chitchaatchai

5 Spiced Yams & Rainbow Chard

I love leveraging a good, basic recipe and adjusting a few ingredients to change up the flavor. It makes cooking easier, leaves room for a little creativity and keeps meals fresh—who doesn’t want that?! Today’s recipe, is based on a recipe I posted awhile back that was intentionally developed to be flexible—5 Spices & a Veggie, a Quick ‘Ayurvedic’ Stir-Fry.  Using the same simple concept to create today’s recipe. I chose veggies and spices based on the tastes and qualities that are complimentary to the summer aka pitta season. The main ingredients—yams (sweet), red onions (sweet when caramelized) and rainbow chard (astringent and bitter) make up the 3 key tastes of summer according to Ayurveda’s wisdom.  A sprinkle of five spices (technically six with the lemon-oops!) provide the remaining three tastes—pungent, sour and salty. Ayurveda speaks to the importance of incorporating all six tastes in every dish and/or meal to ensure the body, mind, emotions and spirit get the essential nutrients and nourishment. This helps with retaining balance and reduces cravings.

Cauliflower "rice" & Peas Pilaf #chitchaatchai

Golden Cauliflower “rice” & Peas Pilaf

Spring is here! Time to focus on pungent, astringent & bitter tastes. It’s the season to detoxify, cleanse and utilize the energy we accumulated from Autumn and Winter while prepping ourselves for Summer, Summer, Summer time. This means increasing the veggies and reducing the grains. It’s all about lighter foods in the Spring. This doesn’t mean denying yourself of rice or bread, rather it’s about reducing grains, to help bring lightness and balance the heavy, wet’ish air that comes with Spring. With this in mind,  I thought I would try making “rice” with cauliflower. Cauliflower, or gobi is a light, slightly drying vegetable that is considered to have an astringent taste according to Ayurveda. Making it perfect for Spring and all people who are kapha or pitta dominant. Cauliflower is one of the vegetables that I ate way too much of as a child, so I am always looking for new ways to cook with it. I prefer it mashed, creamed and now riced! There’s something about changing the texture that transforms my frame of mind—cauliflower is new again. A new texture, …

CCF Tea

CCF:’The’ Ayurvedic Detoxifying & Rejuvenating Tea

CCF Tea—cumin, coriander, and fennel are the three key ingredients in this gentle, yet effective, detoxifying and rejuvenating classic Ayurvedic tea. Case studies shared by my teachers along with my own personal experiences have shown this tea to help with ailments that range from blood pressure imbalances, anxiety, PMS, bloating, hormonal fluctuations, and much more! I encourage you to try making and drinking this simple tea—three times a day for one month.  Whether you have an imbalance or you just want to support your digestive system, you will feel a difference (and you may even lose some weight).

Coconut-y Summertime Daal #chitchaatchai

5 Tips on How to Make Lentils Digestion Friendly

Lentils are a rich source of fiber, protein, and minerals, but as nutritious as they are, lentils are a gas (vata) producing food. Not fun for the digestive process and for those with vata imbalances. According to Ayurveda, healthy digestion is essential for good health. If we are unable to digest, we’re likely in-digesting. Over time, indigestion can lead to the accumulation of ama or toxins.  Eventually, this build-up can lead to disease. To prevent ama or toxins, one thing we can do is ensure our food, in this case, lentils, are digestion-friendly. Lentils are astringent in taste and are primarily comprised of air + earth. The combination of these two elements makes lentils heavy, cold and dry.  However, when cooked properly and combined with digestive spices, we can reap the nutritional benefits of lentils without the digestive issues. Here are 5 tips on how to make your favorite lentil dishes digestion-friendly

Simply Delicious Daal II with Spinach #chitchaatchai

Simply Delicious Daal II (with Spinach)

One of my favorite additions to my Simply Delicious Tangy Daal in 30 minutes is adding leafy greens, like baby spinach. It’s a great way to transform leftovers into a new meal or work with what you know and then change it up! Adding greens into the daal also saves me a bit of time and clean up as I no longer need to make a separate veggie dish to accompany my daal. Yes, it stems from a bit laziness—but when time is of the essence, this is quick and efficient.  I get 2 for 1 and then all I need is a crunchy salad, a grain (if I am having this for lunch), and viola my healthy, digestible meal is complete in less than an hour. Eating a bit of greens with every meal is important, especially for pitta and kapha dominant constitutions. Bitter tastes are primarily cooling, light, can be detoxifying, rich in fiber and high in nutrients. If you have high blood sugar, are overweight, have a tendency to gain weight easily, incorporating bitter greens into every meal …

Simply Delicious Tangy Masoor Daal in 30 Minutes

I love me some daal. With rice, crunchy sourdough, chapati, quinoa, millet or just as is, like a bowl of soup. It can be my lunch or dinner, and if you are my sister—breakfast. Aside from the taste, the nostalgia, the comfort factor, I love the variety of daals I can make by simply changing a few ingredients or my cooking process. From adjusting the water content, the type or blend of lentils, the cook time, or the spices results in a new daal every time. Cooking lentils is like a blank canvas waiting to be splashed with some vibrant colors. From Mondrian to Pollack, I choose the palette and then it’s all about the technique and having fun! Daal means lentils—but daal is also the name of a dish.  With the large variety of lentils available, comes a gizzilion types of daals. Depending on the person’s region, what the cook feels like making, the type of lentils, the dietery restrictions, the spices, or the cooking technique—will inform the flavor of the daal. You never know what to expect when someone says they are cooking up daal. It can be thick and …

Cardamom-y Plantains (Kela) & Ghee #chitchaatchai

Cardamom-y Plantains (Kela) & Ghee

You know it’s going to be a good day when you wake-up to the smell of bananas caramelizing in ghee.  After you realize it’s not a dream, it’s pretty good motivation to get out of bed. Kela Ghee was and is one of my favorite warm fruity breakfasts. My parents didn’t make it very often, so when it came to the table it was quite a treat. Everyone loved this super easy, quick and a great way to use up bananas that were a day or two too old for breakfast. On occasion I still make this for breakfast. It may appear to be a guilty pleasure, but when eaten within balance and in the right season, it’s quite nutritious. I like making a spiced version of Kela Ghee in the late summer to early fall. The air is lighter, a bit drier and life is more active. Having a slightly heavier, soft and moist breakfast or mid-day snack is a nice way to harmonize with external environment and create balance. What l also appreciate about having cooked bananas or plantains is a few pieces …

5 Spices & a Veggie, an 'Ayurvedic' Stir-Fry

5 Spices & a Veggie: a Quick ‘Ayurvedic’ Stir-Fry

One of the best things for strengthening the digestive track is to—spice it up! Spices (and this includes herbs) are like digestive aides. They support the digestion of food from the time it enters the body to the time it exits. Rich in vitamins and minerals, spices prevent toxins from accumulating in the gut.  In-turn, allowing for better absorption and fostering good health. Eating healthy is not just about organic, fresh and local vegetables, good fats, and whole grains.  It also considers if the food can be easily digested.  Spices can be intimidating, at first.  The variety of spices alone can make it challenging to figure out which ones to buy.  I recommend starting with a 4-5 dry spices. A few different spices is all you need to get the party started.  Then, it’s having fun experimenting with different combinations, adjusting the quantity, or  when to incorporate them into the pot. Even with just a few of the same spices, making these types of adjustments can change a dishes flavor. My recipe below will help you get started on your spice journey. It is a tri-doshic recipe, meaning …

Post Cleanse 'Ayurvedic' Khichadi

Post Cleanse ‘Ayurvedic’ Khichadi

This year instead of going away for Labor Day weekend, I decided to treat the hardest working organ in my body, my liver, with a treat—a cleanse.  After which, I treated myself and my digestive system, with khichadi. Back in the day when I lived with my parents, khichadi rotated onto the dinner table on a bi-monthly basis, if not more.  My mom would make Naram (soft) Khichadi, which is like the consistency of porridge. It too is made with split moong, but the moong still retains the skin or peel. The flavor and consistency are quite different considering the only differences are the amount of water and using split-unpeeled moong, but the essence is the same. She would also make Bhooni Khichadi, which is similar to my recipe below. The variations for khichadi are endless and can depend on regional traditions, the occasion or on the need for some variety.  One thing is for sure, khichadi is always made with moong and a grain (most often basmati rice, a red rice or millet). Khichadi is not just an ‘Ayurvedic’ …

Lavender Rose Blueberry Jam #chitchaatchai

Lavender-Rose Blueberry Jam

Eight years ago I made my first spiced blueberry jam with black pepper. I love a little sprinkle of cracked pepper on my toast—why not add it to my jam? Since then, I’ve  spicing up all my jams. However, instead of using any ol’ spice that tickles my fancy, I now choose spices based on the season and their heating or cooling energy. It’s important I try to balance my foods to promote balance within. Besides, I can buy plain jam anywhere. Why not spice it up and brighten it up with fun flavor combinations and some aromatherapy—ahhhhhhh, pass the lavender rose jam, please! Ayur-wisdom: Blueberries are sweet and slightly sour in tastes. They have a heating nature like most berries, and when condensed into a jam they become heavier. Their heating nature is balanced by adding cooling and pungent spices like, lavender and rose. In balancing foods this way, helps prevent dis-ease, like bloating, which comes from too much cold or acid-reflex, which stems from too much heat. Lavender, a digestive aide, also helps to lighten the heavy nature of jam since it is a carminative herb. It prevents stagnation in …

Aam Ka Raas aka Mango Soup @chit.chaat.chai

Aam ka Raas aka Mango Juice

It’s mango, mango, mango time.  Big, juicy varietals like Tommy, Kent and Haden are in peak season. Ready to be devoured straight off the skin like an artichoke and into my belly. Mango juice dripping down the sides of the mouth, hands getting stickier with every bite—tie your hair back because there’s nothing like the first mango of the summer! Mangos are not just any ol’ summer time fruit—they are an event.  Uprooting nostalgic sensations that ignite all of my five senses. Upon seeing, touching, smelling and eating a mango, I tumble down the rabbit hole hearing ancestral voices echoing pleasure. 

Creamy Fennel & Tahini Salad Dressing

I love making my own salad dressings. From simple vinaigrettes to creamy dressings—like this tahini based dressing. With a few basic ingredients (usually something acidic & oily), making homemade dressings are quick, simple, easy—and always fresh! Plus, I really appreciate all the extra room in my fridge. Having recently made a jar of Fennel Fronds Pesto, from an over abundance of fronds I accumulated. I thought I’d try mixing it in with my lemony tahini dressing to jazz it up and balance the warming tahini with cooling fennel. Creating a balance between heating and cooling energy is one way to foster balance within—if your food is balanced, you are likely to be in balance.

Waste Not: Fennel Fronds Pesto

What do you do when you have way more fennel fronds than you know what to do with? You make pesto! After a week of my fennel extravaganza—roasted fennel, 2 fennel based soups, and fennel salads. I was left with an over abundance of fronds.  Despite using them to finish, garnish or spice up my dishes, these fluttery fronds just kept lingering around.  Not one to waste (I try my best), I thought, why not fronds pesto?  It couldn’t hurt and I could preserve these delicate tasting fronds for future meals.  I have to say, it was the best thing I did.  The following couple weeks were so busy that having a homemade pesto around made cooking all that much easier. The simplest dishes were tastier. Sometimes, it’s all about the quick and easy, and this pesto helped to keep the spice in my life!