All posts tagged: vegan

The Alkalizer | Coconut Water & Cardamom Elixir

This cooling, alkalizing elixir comes from ayurvedic physician, Vaidya, Lakshmidevi M. Kartha, BAMs., from Kerela, India. A quick, easy and alkalizing tonic made with two ingredients, coconut water, and cardamom. Cold infused for ten to fifteen minutes, this refreshing, aromatic drink acts as an antidote to acid. While also preventing its reoccurrence in the body and urine. An age-old recipe commonly recommended when there is indigestion or a burning sensation during urination. The tender, young, coconut water serves as a natural cleanser with its’ diuretic, antimicrobial properties. Helping flush out infectious bacteria and keeping the body cool. The crushed cardamom pods or powder balances samana vayu, a sub-dosha located in the abdomen that governs digestion and assimilation. Cardamom, a carminative and diuretic also balances apana vayu.  Another vata sub-dosha permeating the lower abdomen area, responsible for downward movement in the body.  Including the elimination of carbon monoxide, urine, stool, etc. The combination of these two natural ingredients acts like a gentle cleanser.  It can be enjoyed at room temperature, a few times throughout the day for two-three …

The Summer Cooler | minty, cucumber, aloe & lime elixir

On those summer days when no amount of water seems to quench the thirst, there’s nothing more satisfying than a refreshing, minty beverage. A glass filled with a little sweet, a little tangy, and a whole lot of cooling hydration. To rebalance the five elements, nourish the tissues, replenish electrolytes, and pacify pitta dosha. During a season where mineral depletion and heat accumulation are common imbalances, reaching for a cooling mineral-rich drink can recharge the system, while reducing internal heat. Summertime well-being has a lot to do with the balancing the water and fire elements in the body. Staying hydrated and cool are essential practices in cultivating a balanced pitta dosha. To sustain energy levels and prevent imbalances related to dryness and heat. In a season when the body is prone to rapidly lose water and minerals, dehydration is a common imbalance. Depleting the tissues of vital nutrients and moisture. Dryness in the body can also play a role in imbalances related to blood pressure levels, the flexibility of the joints, muscles, and be one …

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 …

Green Bean & Coconut Stir-Fry

Quick and easy with a flavorful aromatic punch pretty much sums up this string bean coconut stir-fry recipe from Chitra Agrawal’s new cookbook (read more here).  Any dish with shredded coconut always makes my eyes shine.  The chewy goodness sweetly balances the spicy flavor profile of this Karnatakan dish.  Adding a layer of complexity to a fairly simple dish.  The use of coconut is one of the things I appreciate most about cuisine from the Southern part of India. When I came across this recipe in Vibrant India, I knew it was one of the first ones I wanted to try.

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 …

Hibiscus-Rose Infusion for all Aphrodites

A magical infusion of hibiscus, rose, and cinnamon. It’s been several years since this intoxicating pinkish-red tonic touched my lips. Oh, how I missed it! This summer it returns. Exciting my eyes and tingling my nose. While cooling the body and mind from the fiery heat of the sun. Know for reducing excess heat from the body, hibiscus supports the first two chakras and balances feminine energy. In enhancing internal beauty is aids in producing an external glow. A gentle, detoxifying flower, hibiscus also evokes sattva—purity, harmony and balanced mental energy. A flower 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

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 …

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 …

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 a while 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 complementary 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, …

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 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 dietary 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 …

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 …

Coconut-y Summertime Daal #chitchaatchai

Summer Time Red Lentil & Coconut-y Daal (Masoor)

Of all the daals (lentils) in my cupboard, peeled masoor daal (red lentils) are my go to lentils in a pinch. They cook-up quickly, they’re tasty, can be found in most grocery stores (even Trader Joe’s), are affordable and nutrient packed. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. I’ll take it, thank you very much. Usually when I make daal with masoor, I like to keep it quite brothy, like a light soup. This summer, however, I’ve been opting for a thicker consistency since my appetite tends to have a little more velocity. In making a heavier daal, I skip eating the grain portion of my meal as the coconut cream satisfies the sweet taste and the heavy quality of any form of starch. The oily and cooling qualities of coconut also balances the drying and warming quality of red lentils.  In the end, although this is a heavier daal than I am use to,  it’s still lighter than if was to have it with rice, toast or potatoes. This daal works well for my pitta-kapha constitution. For someone with more vata-pitta energy, I would recommend a slice …

Lavender-Rose Blueberry Jam

Nearly a decade ago, I made my first spiced jam—blueberry with black pepper. The sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper on buttered toast had tickled my fancy for quite some time. Adding a few twists of this heating spice to homemade jam that was likely going to spread across crunchy, fermented sourdough, slathered in coconut mana or ghee seemed like a wise choice. Tickled are the taste buds. Nourished are the emotions. Satisfied is the spirit. With a little spice. So, why not a little spiced up ja Spices have been a part of my life since before my memories begin. One could say they’re part of my DNA. A lingering character that has melded into my life story.  A constant presence, spices filled the pantry even when the fridge was empty. When their presence became known, our relationship sparked. It began with learning their names. The process took a little time as unlabeled jars created some challenges along with way. Eventually, their English and Urdu/Hindi embedded themselves into my muscle memory. Soon after, I began to …

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 Honey, Alphonso, Tommy, Kent and Hadden 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’ summertime 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!

Strawberry Fennel Jam

During my last visit to my friend and Ayurveda teacher’s home, Mamta Landerman,  I recognized eating a pint of strawberries was perhaps a little over the top for me. I was so excited for the just-picked, sweet strawberries from her farm, Sonoma Swamp Blues, I found it hard to control myself. I went a little crazy for all those antioxidants and forgot about their heating energy. A fruit’s color is often a good indicator of whether it is heating or cooling.  With red, it pretty safe to assume—it’s heating.  Although, usually sweet, strawberries also have a touch of the sour taste.  A little fire element that imbalaned my fire. Which for me showed up in the form of acidity.  A couple days of CCF tea, set me straight again. Reminding me to reduce my intake going forward. At the sametme, I still had three pints of strawberries from my visit. Those berries needed a belly and I needed a solution.  Turning to my spice cabinet, I was drawn to fennel. A digestive spice, I imagined would compliment the berries, …

Golden Aromatic Rice with Turmeric & Masoor

The one discussion that always comes to mind, from the days I use to linger around the family kitchen, was the one about the color of the curry. Yes, it was a discussion. If you have ever watched a Bollywood film, or come across a Desi wedding, you know we like vibrant colors. This love for color carries over to the dinner table. Like spice, color is an integral ingredient. Without beautiful color, the “most amazing” tasting dish is just “amazing”. Tragic, I know. Dramatic, for sure. But it’s serious! We had some major processing happening in the kitchen if the color of the curry did not have the right shades of red, yellow and brown. Either the onions fried a little too long, or not long enough, or the spices were over sautéed—there were a plethora of reasons being debated upon while attempting to recharge the color. In the background, there was also some eye-rolling and chuckling happening by your’s truly. I understood it, I mean, a bright, yet deep golden-reddish-tan-orangish color is not always easy to create and when it doesn’t come out quite right, …

Gingery, Lemony & Roasted Sesame Cabbage Salad

About 15 years ago, my friend Shenaaz introduced me to this cabbage salad recipe and its been on my life menu ever since. I love food that is simple, easy, healthy and flavorful! Every bite has a blend of tangy, slightly spicy, and roasted goodness that adds a nice warmth to the cold energy of cabbage. Growing up, a cabbage salad of a different sort was on the daily menu. My mom loved it and so did I. The crunch, crunch is so satisfying and the perfect complement to a simple meal like, daal chawal (lentil soup & rice). When Shenaaz made the non-ginger version of this salad for me, I was really happy to have another delicious variation of cabbage salad to choose from. Being a ginger lover,  I added grated ginger to the dressing as a digestive aide to prevent the common side effects that are associate with cabbage—you know what I am referring to right?! And for the record, the ginger has served me well. To mix it up every once in a while, I have added steamed …