Plain Old Rice

I know this is a bit of an obvious recipe but my husband simply cannot make good rice and in all my classes we have a big discussion on how to make the bestest, fluffiest rice!

So here is how I do it…

Some basics before you start.

1. Buy good quality Basmati Rice rather than sticky rice or wild rice.  It’s easier to cook and gives you lovely soft fluffy rice that shouldn’t stick together.

2. By all means use wild rice mixed with basmati rice for your meals but cook them separately as they are different types of rice and thus will cook at different times.

3. Wash the rice in cold water beforehand to get rid of the starch that makes it sticky.  Don’t handle it too much or you’ll break up the beautiful long grains.  Just pour some cold water in, stir it gently with your fingers or a fork and then pour the water out.  Do this 5 or 6 times and you’ll see the water getting lighter in colour as the starch is removed.

4. Soak the rice for at least half an hour and this will remove even more of the starch.

To make it

  • 1 bowl of rice
  • 3 bowls of water

It doesn’t matter what size bowl you use, as long as you use the same one for the rice and the water.  In general terms one fistful of rice is enough for one person.  This is what my mother taught me.

  1. Prepare the rice using the basic advice above.  If you don’t have time to leave the rice to soak, then at least wash it through 5 or 6 times to get rid of some of the starch.
  2. Put the rice and the water into a large saucepan and simply bring it to the boil.
  3. Let it boil for about 5 minutes and you should have rice that breaks easily and is soft but not soggy.  If you’ve followed the proportions above your rice should not have stuck to the bottom of the pan or run out of water.
  4. Pour the rice into colander and leave to drain for a few minutes.
  5. Spoon into your serving dish and serve steaming hot.

If you want to flavour the rice slightly you can add a few tablespoons of ghee and  some cumin seeds before spooning into your serving dish.  My favourite snack, which I ate amazing amounts of when pregnant, was steaming hot rice with ghee and a little salt!

Aaaaaah Chai

Chai is so ubiquitous nowadays in the UK.  You’ve got chai latte, chai espresso, chai milkshakes, chai cakes, chai ice creams! It’s all a bit bonkers in my view for a simple cup of tea.

The recipe below is not to be confused with Masala Chai which has spices such as cinnamon and cloves within.  This is my cousin Hetal’s recipe for chai which we had every morning when we visited her and the rest of the family Rajkot last summer.

One thing about chai recipes. They are passed down based on the ‘implement’ used by the individual to measure. My Dad uses a tea cup as a measure. My Mum the same. My Aunt uses a specific saucepan which is marked with levels for the water then the milk. You get the drift! My cousin Hetal uses a glass about 15cm high – so I guess you’d say a tumbler. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as the ratio of water to milk is 2:1!

Also – making tea is a pastime.  It’s a ritual. While the tea is simmering, you chat, you read, you prepare some vegetables – you do something because you’re looking at about half an hour of ‘timepass’!

And what will you drink it in? In Gujarat you will never be served tea in a cup. No. That was only for the British during the Raj.  You will have it in a glass – steaming hot. The glass will be placed on a saucer so you can pour the tea out to cool it quickly so you can drink it. My father pours his morning chai into a cup but uses the saucer to slurp it up. Rituals.

So anyway.  Here’s the ‘recipe’.

  • Milk
  • Tea leaves of your choice – when we were little this used to be PG Tips so we could collect the monkey cards inside the boxes!
  • Sugar

This recipe makes 4 -5 cups

Put one full glass of water (or two tea cups full) into a saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon loose leaf tea. Add 4- 5 teaspoon of sugar and let it boil – yes yes I know it’s a lot but this is for 4-5 people. Add half a glass of milk (or one tea cup full) and bring it back to the boil on a gentle heat.

Watch it carefully! I have been slapped many a time for letting it boil over and having to start again! Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down further and let it simmer – the longer you leave it, the stronger it will be.

Strain into a glass or tea cup and enjoy with some peace and quiet (like my Dad) or some chitter chatter like my cousin Hetal!  Whichever implement you choose there will no doubt be an aaaaah as you take your first slurp.

Copyright Urvashi Roe_dishoom-6

Rasiya Muthiya

Over the weekend I was teaching at Demuths Cookery School in Bath.  We had a lovely group of students from all walks of life.  I always start my classes with a dish that is so fundamental to Gujarati food –  Kicheree.  It was what I snacked on through my exams, sustained me throughout my pregnancy when I couldn’t tolerate richly spiced foods and is now my protein of choice after the long training runs I’m doing for the London Marathon. My problem with kicheree is that I make too much and even after freezing portions for the week there is some left! Well it matters not because there are so many ways to use it and a favourite of mine is Rasiya Muthiya.

Muthiya are basically steamed dumplings made with all kinds of different veg even beetroot greens like my last post.  Instead of steaming and stir frying lightly you can also cook them in a sauce – rather like meatballs.

 

Rasiya Muthiya

Rasiya Muthiya – my version with kicheree and a coconut sauce

 

I’ve used kicheree as my base today and no vegetables as market day is tomorrow so it’s pretty bare. Because I need any extra protein I can get I have made my sauce using coconut milk so this is a super rich and creamy version which I guess would be akin to an English ‘korma’.

Coconut Rasiya Muthiya

For the muthiya

  • 350g kicheree (or you can use day old plain boiled rice)
  • 6 tbsp chappati flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander and cumin powder – dhanna jeeru
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil. I used sunflower
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • a few curry leaves
  • 1 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour (gram flour)
  • 2 inches ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 green chillies, cut into 1 cm chunks
  • 2 tsp coriander and cumin powder

For the garnish

  • 2-3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped or chives work nicely too
  • dessicated or freshly grated coconut
  • sunflower seeds – optional
  • juice of half a lemon
  • red chilli flakes
  1. First make the muthiya by mixing together all the ingredients and forming a dough.  I do this by mixing first the dry ingredients into the kicheree and then pouring in the wet ingredients and mushing everything in between my hands.
  2. Lightly oil your hands with some oil and then take a tablespoon of the dough mixture and roll it firmly into a ball.  You need to make it quite compact so it doesn’t fall apart during cooking.  This mixture makes about 20 balls.  Set them aside once done.
  3. To make the sauce you’ll need a pan with a lid wide enough to fit all the muthiya you’ve made on the base.  Put the oil in the pan and then heat on a gentle flame until a mustard seed starts to fizzle and pop.
  4. Once it gets to that stage add the rest of the mustard seeds, the cumin seeds and the curry leaves.  Let them fizzle and pop for a few seconds and then add the coconut milk.  Pour some water into the empty tin and then scrape the sides so all the little bits of remaining coconut are not wasted.  Pour this into the pan.  Do that last bit again.  This is your sauce.
  5. Add the chickpea flour and gently whisk the liquid using a balloon whisk until all the flour is evenly combined and there are no lumps.
  6. Turn the heat to a very low simmer and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Whisk again to combine and then place the muthiya gently into the liquid.
  7. Spoon over a little sauce on each of the muthiya and then cover the pan with the lid. Cook for 15- 20 minutes to steam the muthiya through and then squeeze over the lemon juice and serve sprinkled with some coriander and coconut.

I didn’t have any coriander handy today so I used fresh chives from my garden and for even more protein I tossed over a handful of sunflower seeds.

Biting Biting – Muthiya and Chai

There is a term we Gujaratis use often and do far too often.  It’s called ‘biting’. It means snacking, eating little Polpo-esque portions of something to tide you over to the next biting or meal. When you are visiting relatives the first question you’ll be asked will be if you’ll partake in some ‘biting biting’.  If you are going anywhere, then you must taking ‘biting biting’ with you or at least have some ‘biting biting’ before you go.

In my family biting takes the form of muthiya – little steamed dumplings of vegetables, chickpea flour and sometimes leftover rice which are eaten dipped in yoghurt or oil or stir fried to get a little crunch and burn on the skin and then eaten with chai. Patra and dhokra would be other examples of biting. Something substantial that involves just one plate.

What I love about muthiya is that you can really adapt the recipe to suit whatever is in your fridge that needs using up.  On my allotment I have a bounty of beetroot and I hate to waste their vibrant leaves so I used them in this recipe with some red cabbage.  You could also use grated carrots, marrow or courgettes, shredded spinach or chard – any hard vegetable that grates or a leaf that can be thinly chopped.

Muthiya

Muthiya – a great way of using up leftover vegetables

Beetroot Green and Cabbage Muthiya

  • Servings: 6 cereal bowls
  • Time: 60 mins
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

You’ll need

  • 250g cabbage, shredded
  • 300g beetroot greens or spinach, finely chopped
  • 250g gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 250g chappati flour
  • 2-3 tsp salt – I know it sounds a lot but the steaming process removes a lot of the salt flavour
  • 3 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 1 inch ginger, finely crushed
  • 5 small green chillies, finely chopped
  • red chilli powder to your taste
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • chopped fresh coriander – to your taste

To make them

  1. Mix the cabbage, beetroot greens, flours, coconut, spices, ginger, chillies, lemon and salt in a large mixing bowl and then using your hands add enough warm water to form a stiff dough.  You need to be able to make small round balls that will hold their shape so add the water a little at a time.
  2. Once you have the right consistency form balls about the size of a golf ball.  My mother makes sausages but I find that the balls are easier to fit in the steamer I have.
  3. Steam the balls for 30 minutes and then leave them to cool completely.  You can eat them as they are dipped in a little oil or with plain yoghurt or follow the next steps to stir fry them.
  4. Chop the dumplings in half and pop them into a bowl.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok and add the sesame seeds and curry leaves.  When they start to fizzle, add the chopped dumplings and toss together so they are all evenly coated.  It’s ok if they stick a little and get crispy.
  6. Add the fresh coriander and serve with plain yoghurt or a cup of chai.

What kind of ‘biting biting’ do you have in your family? 

Dahi Vada – Moon Bhajias

It’s Sharad Poonam (Full Moon).  Look up right now and you’ll see nothing but an overcast sky but on Friday morning when we woke up my girls and I marvelled for a few minutes at the moon.  It was like a huge golf ball in the sky shining so brightly in the crisp blue sky before the sun warmed up and shone it away.

Looking up at the moon in winter is a little custom for me and my girls when we wake up.  We used to have a little song they still sing to their dollies now.

“Good morning Mister Sunshine. How did you wake so soon? You scared the little stars away and shined away the moon”

The moon also always reminds me of dahi vadas.  It’s a random memory but when she was much smaller, my youngest daughter once called them ‘moon bhajias’ because they looked just like the moon.  I suppose I see her logic.  They are plump and round dumplings made with urad dhal and once smothered in yoghurt they do look a little moon like.

Full moon or no full moon, they are simple to make.  Cooling in summer as a dish on their own and perfect in winter for accompanying heavily spiced or ‘garam’ foods to bring cooling balance to the body.

I’ve used cup measures here because it’s easier to remember the proportions of one cup urad dhal to three cups of yoghurt.  The spice measures are also a guide.You should use more or less depending on your own palette.

Dahi Vada

  • Servings: 15-20 dumplings
  • Time: 60 mins plus overnight soaking
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

Dahi Vada

Dahi Vada – Deep fried, moon shaped dumplings made from urad dhal, slathered in yoghurt and spices

You’ll need

  • 1 cup urad dhal – white or split black urad dhal
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 2 green chillies – optional
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • 3 cups plain yoghurt
  • Salt to taste
  • Handful chopped coriander
  • 2-3 tsp garam masala
  • 2-3 tsp red chilli flakes

 To make them

  1. Soak the urad dhal in water for overnight or for a minimum of 3-4 hours
  2. Wash and drain the urad dal.
  3. Fill a wok halfway with the sunflower oil and set to heat on a slow to medium flame.
  4. Prepare a large platter with kitchen paper to drain off your vadas once fried.
  5. Prepare a large bowl of water for your vadas to soak in.
  6. Put the urad dhal, ginger and green chillies into a blender and grind to a smooth paste.
  7. Add the the bicarbonate of soda and salt to your taste and mix well till the batter is light and fluffy. It should be a thick puree the consistency of shop bought hummus. Add a little water if needed.
  8. Take two spoons and scoop some batter into one. Using the other spoon make a quenelle or ball shape – this is your vada.
  9. Deep fry in hot oil on a slow flame till the vadas are golden brown, for about 10 minutes.
  10. Drain on the prepared platter of kitchen paper.
  11. Once all your vadas are fried, pop them into the bowl of water to soak for about half an hour.
  12. while they are soaking, prepare the yoghurt by whisking it together with some salt to your taste.
  13. Take your vadas out of the water and squeeze them so most of the water is out.
  14. Place a layer of yoghurt on your serving platter and then place all your vadas on top.
  15. Ladle over the rest of the yoghurt and then sprinkle over the shopped fresh coriander, garam masala and chilli flakes.

Do you have any recipes that remind you of the moon? 

The Perfect Homegrown Patra

Patra is one of my all time favourite Gujarati dishes.  My Baa (maternal grandmother) used to make them for breakfast when I was little using fresh colocasia leaves and her own spice mix.  I was too little to really appreciate her or her patra which makes me so incredibly sad.  However, I wasn’t so little that I don’t remember the wonderful smells in the kitchen and the taste of this lovingly prepared dish.  Though as a child I would ladle over copious amounts of plain yoghurt to stop the stinging of chilli on my tongue.

I have used homegrown colocasia leaves in the recipe below as I was lucky enough to find a bulb in Burford Garden Centre earlier this year and successfully grow it in my allotment.  You can find the leaves in most Asian grocers in packs of 10.

Patra

Gujarati Patra

Gujarati Patra – Perfect for breakfast with a cup of chai

You’ll need

  • 2 large colocasia leaves
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1.5 level tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp finely grated or minced ginger
  • 2 tsp finely chopped green chillies
  • 3 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 2 tbsp grated jaggery
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp small black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp freshly grated coconut
  • fresh coriander to garnish (optional)

To make them

  1. Clean both sides of the colocasia leaf using a wet cloth. Just wipe carefully down all the spines to remove any traces of dust or dirt.
  2. Carefully thin any thick spines being careful not to rip the leaves then set aside to dry.
  3. Mix the chickpea flour, salt, red chilli powder, ginger, green chillies, tamarind pulp and jaggery together with a little water to give you a smooth paste which is the consistency of peanut butter.  Beat to ensure all the lumps of flour have been removed.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your palette.  If it is too sour, add a little more jaggery, if too sweet add more tamarind.
  5. Lay both leaves out on a flat work surface and divide the paste between the two.
  6. Evenly coat each leaf with the paste and then roll the leaf up so you have a long cigar shape.
  7. Place each cigar into a steamer and steam for 10 minutes. It’s fine to cut the cigar in two if your steamer isn’t wide enough.
  8. Leave the cigars to cool completely otherwise you will not be able to cut them cleanly as the paste will be too moist.
  9. When cooled, slice them into rounds approx 1cm thick.
  10. Heat the oil in a wok on a medium flame.  You can test if the oil is ready by adding a few mustard seeds.  If they fizzle and pop then it’s ready.
  11. Add the curry leaves, mustard seeds and sesame seeds in quick succession.  Be careful as they may spit at you.
  12. Carefully add the sliced steamed patra and stir fry gently until some of them start to brown and crisp on the edges.  About 5 minutes.
  13. Stir through the coconut and if your are using it, add some freshly chopped coriander and mix well.

Serve hot with a side of plain yoghurt.

You can also buy tins of ready prepared patra in Asian grocers.  If you prefer starting with those, here’s an easy recipe to prepare them.

Have you ever tried cooking with colocasia leaves? What do you use them for?  

Green Tomato and Onion Curry

I’m very fussy about tomatoes.  I love the sundried variety but not in pesto.  I like the raw variety but only paired with basil and mozzarella and in a ‘cachumbar’ (salad) with sliced onions, red chilli powder and salt.  But I love cooked tomatoes.  Especially in curry.  It’s my go to dinner when I am ravenous but don’t have the patience to wait.  I usually eat this with some plain basmati rice or leftover boiled barley or kicheree.

I have used green tomatoes because I like the unusual.  You could use cherry tomatoes cut in half or the different coloured heritage tomatoes that can be found at farmer’s markets nowadays.  Which ever you choose, make sure they are lovely and firm so they will keep their shape when cooking.

Lovely Green Tomatoes

Beautiful green tomatoes

Tomato and Onion (Shak) Curry

Green Tomato and Onion Curry

Green Tomato and Onion Curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped tsp small black mustard seeds
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 250g red or green tomatoes – it doesn’t matter as long as they are firm and tomatoey! Don’t buy the cheap economy ones
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp dhana jeeru (coriander and cumin powder)
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder – more as you wish
  • 1/2 tsp amchur (dried mango powder) – optional but adds a tangy twist
  • Handful fresh coriander – chopped

To make it 

  • Slice the onion and garlic and chop the tomatoes into nice large chunks.  About 1 inch is good.  Smaller will turn them to mush and you don’t want that. Set aside
  • Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan – not heavy bottomed. This is a stir fry type dish.
  • When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves in quick succession.  To test the oil you can pop in a mustard seed. If it fizzzles and pops then it’s ready.
  • The seeds will crackle and fizzle and spit up so be careful when you add the onions and garlic now.
Frying Onions

Frying onions is one of my favourite smells

  • Stir for a minute with a fork (not wooden spoon as this will absorb the spices you are going to add)
  • Add the tomatoes and then the rest of the spices and stir until all the spices are well combined.
Green Tomato and Onion Curry

And then the spices go in and the smell gets even better

  • Keep tossing the onions and tomatoes with the fork for a few more minutes to cook the dry spices out and prevent sticking.  If it does stick add a little more oil or water.
  • Do not overcook.  you want the onions to have a little bite and the tomatoes to keep their shape.
  • Pour into a serving bowl, top with the chopped coriander and eat straight away.  This dish does not keep well so try not to have any leftovers!

I served these on Clearspring Quick Cook 5 Grains but you could also go with plain rice.

Green Tomato and Onion Curry

Green Tomato and Onion Curry – A simple and speedy supper

What is your favourite way to eat tomatoes? 

More tomato inspiration here:

Ondwho – The Only Gujarati Bake I Know

So the Great British Bake Off is back on UK television screens brightening up the early part of the week.  I’ve tuned in every week with fond memories of being in that tent, panicking, cursing, cheering and praying to the oven ‘bhagwan’.

I was wondering who the judges would be if they were to ever do an Indian version.  Firstly I would like to put my hand up.  It would be great to be sitting in the judge’s seat vs be a contestant – even for a little while! But I think the legend that is Madhur Jaffrey would need to claim the Mary Berry seat and I would gladly bring her all the chai and bhajia she wanted.

But who for the Paul Hollywood shoes? I was thinking Cyrus Todiwala but he’s simply too lovely.  I cannot imagine him saying anything negative to anyone.  The same would go for Vivek Singh.  Too nice.  So who is handsome yet could give that serious critical stare?  It has to be the legend that is Tony Singh.  Like Paul, he has links with cooking for the royals and knows a thing or two about baking.

But what to bake? 

But what would the challenges be? There isn’t much Indian food which is baked – certainly not in Gujarat.  The only bake I know is Ondhwo.  A lovely rice and lentil based dish which we have as part of a breakfast line up or snack with tea.

Gujarati Ondhwo

Gujarati Ondhwo -my version uses grated courgettes

Gujarati Ondhwho

  • 300g plain yoghurt
  • 300g cold cooked rice or kichree
  • 350 coarse semolina
  •  4 tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1 small globe courgette (about 600g)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch stick of ginger
  • 1 small lemon – zest and juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 350ml warm water
  • 2 tsp Eno fruit salts – you can buy this in most Indian grocers or the chemist!
  • 5-6 tbsp white sesame seeds

For the vaghar (temper mix)

  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 small red chillies
  • 10 small curry leaves
  • 2-3 small sticks of cinnamon
  • 2 -3 cloves
  • 2 -3 black peppercorns

To make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Line a roasting pan with some greaseproof paper – the one I use is about 12 x 8 inches.
  3. Grate the courgette into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Chop the coriander coarsely and add this too.
  5. Add the chilli flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, yoghurt, boiled rice or kichree, semolina, chickpea flour and salt.
  6. Give it a good mix to combine all the ingredients and then grate in the garlic and ginger.
  7. Add the water and mix until everything is well combined.
  8. Now make the vaghar or temper mix – heat the oil in a small frying pan and add a few mustard seeds.  When they start to fizzle and pop, add all the other vaghar ingredients and let them also fizzle and pop for a few seconds to release the flavours and then pour into your mixture.
  9. Stir through and then add the eno fruit salts.  You will see this starts to fizzle which is good. It will help the mixture to rise.
  10. Pour the mixture into the lined roasting tin and then sprinkle over the sesame seeds so you have an even topping.
  11. Bake for about 1 and half hours until the top is golden brown.  You want nice dark brown edges as these are the best bits!

Have you come across any Indian recipes that are baked? Who would you like to see if there was an Indian version? 

Kicheree – Gujarati Detox Food

This year already seems full of ‘New Year, New You’ posts and ideas for healthy eating after the excesses of the various festivities this time of year holds.   So I thought I would join the bandwagon and share the one dish which I revert to in times of detox, sickness and cleansing – Kicheree. (Our sounds are difficult to translate into English and I have also seen this written Kichadee or Kicharee).

Kichree (1 of 1)

Nothing better to get your system back in order

Comfort food at it’s simplest 

There are two basic ingredients – split green lentils and rice cooked in equal quantities with water.  You can also use split yellow lentils.

Kicheree

  • 100g split green lentils
  • 100g basmatic rice
  • 1 tsp salt or more as to your taste (optional)
  • half teaspoon of turmeric (optional)
  1. Wash and drain the rice and green lentils together several times under warm water to release the starch.  Better still soak them for a few hours as with the method for making rice.
  2. In a saucepan, cover the rice and green lentils with two parts water.  So basically a third of your pan is the rice and lentils and two thirds is water.
  3. Bring to the boil
  4. Add the salt and turmeric and cook til the rice and lentils are soft – around 15 mins.

Strong links to mind-body medicine

Many Ayurvedic doctors recommend seasonal detoxing and fasting – especially after periods of excess and/or rich food consumption.  It helps the digestive system to rest, let go of our attachments to food and also releases toxins that have accumulated both emotionally and physically.

It’s difficult to physically release toxins at stressful times of year such as Christmas, Diwali and New Year. Our bodies are programmed to store fat during times of stress – hence the feeling ‘fat’ and lethargic.  But during calmer and more peaceful times, or as our daily life and patterns normalise, it’s easier to burn fat and the more we burn, the more toxins we release.  And the more toxins we release, the healthier our immune systems become.  It’s fascinating reading and if you are interested in delving deeper try the work of Candice Pert, especially Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine.

Many of my elderly aunts meditate.  I’ve never really been keen on this but having done a little reading I’m tempted.  I found out recently that negative emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, jealousy and so on are lipophilic.  This means they are stored in our fat cells.  Burning fat and releasing toxins lets go of these old patterns of behaviour (which is another reason why exercise also feels so good at this time of year).

How does this all relate to my simple dish of kicheree? 

Kicheree is a key part of a detoxing fast.  Fasting in our Gujarati world is not about forgoing all food.  Just simplifying our diets or even eating once a day with some religious fasts.

Kicheree pulls toxins from the body and is healing for the digestive tract.  It’s eaten on it’s own and at the very most with steamed vegetables for those following a very strict fast.  Some add ‘warming’ or ‘burning’ spices such as ginger, clove and cinnamon.  Interestingly because it is so easy to digest kicheree is one of the first foods given to little ones in my family. Once they have passed the baby rice phase and are starting to toddle, we believe their digestion improves a little more with the extended hip movement and exercise.  My mother uses to mush it up with ghee for me and make little mountains for me to pick up.  I have done the same with my girls.

A few other things to think about…

To get my system back to basics, I always start with the simple kicheree which has nothing but a little turmeric and ghee and perhaps a splash of warmed milk. Here are a few other things you can do and eat to support your detoxing fast:

  • drink warm water – lots of it to flush your systems out
  • drink herbal teas without caffeine
  • rather than eat fruit, drink fruit juice or smoothies as they are also easier and faster to digest and stick to sour fruits to keep sugar intake down
  • don’t eat fish, meat or any cow dairy products
  • sleep
  • avoid over stimulation – that means watch less TV and switch off from web surfing to keep your mind calm
  • reintroduce foods slowly and simply – eg boiled or steamed rather than rich with heavy spices and sauces

Just a final word. I am not a doctor – ayurvedic or otherwise and so everything I’ve just written is based on what’s worked for me or passed down from my mother and aunts. Please consult your own doctor before you start any fasts to make sure it’s the right path for you and your body.

Happy New Year!

Garam Masala – The Ultimate Winter Warmer

Isn’t it cold? Outside my window it’s raining, there’s a howling wind and I’m shivering at the thought of going out.   It’s going to be a busy morning tomorrow and I want to come home to something that makes me feel I’m wrapped up in a fluffy, woollen blanket.  Something warming from the outside in.   Garam masala.

Garam masala

Warming spice mix

A lot of Indian recipes call for garam masala but the Gujarati food I grew up with only uses it occasionally.  When I was little I used to sit and watch my grandmother grinding the spices.  She’d sit cross legged on the floor.  I’d sit next to her and pour the spices into the mill or sit on her lap and help turn the wheel.  Nowadays there is no grinding stone.  I just use my pestle and mortar or a spice grinder.

Garam masala stimulates blood flow

There are lots of recipes for garam masala. This one only uses spices which are ‘garam’ or hot for the body. They stimulate blood flow bringing energy and heat which is why I don’t use them all the time.  In fact I will breakout into spots with regular use.  They are however perfect for days like today which chill me to the bone and when I feel the sniffles coming on.

A simple but powerful mix of spices  

The following measures are for a small jar and should keep for a couple of months.  Throw it away after that because spices do go stale.  Simply grind them all up to a powder.

  • 3 tsp black cardamom seeds
  • 3 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 tsp caraway seeds
  • 3 tsp cloves
  • 2 large cinnamon sticks
  • a small nutmeg

A teaspoonful adds depth to most dishes

You can add a teaspoon to the dishes below.  I balance this with a little extra lemon juice to help distribute the spices in the blood.  That’s what I was always taught.

 

 

What makes your shivers go away? Do you use any special dishes in your culture to ward off colds and flu?