Ayurvedic cooking- Green Mung dal

India being the land of Ayurveda has long been integrating ayurvedic principles in everyday cooking.

Ayurveda talks about three main constitutional types. The Vaata, Pitta and the Kapha. That is Wind, Fire and Water. Every human body is the combination of these 3 elements. The balance in these three elements is what leads to the well being of mind, body and spirit.

Invariably, Indian cooking, especially vegetarian cooking is integrated with these basic principles of Ayurveda. Everyday cooking is balanced with lot of Satvik elements and healing ingredients.  The cooking techniques and the way food should be consumed is  key in achieving that balance. Food is medicine and what we eat will affect our overall well being , even our consciousness.

Indian recipes have been passed on from generations who were pioneers in applying Ayurvedic principles into everyday cooking. We have quick and healing recipes or home remedies for certain ailments. We have specific concoctions or pastes or mixtures for ailments like common cold, headache, sore throat etc. Even pregnancy and post pregnancy diet is influenced with these principles.

Today we are focusing on one such dish using the Green mung. It  is extremely healthy, has lots of protein and fiber. The Ayurvedic property green mung is it’s cooling and cleansing abilities. It is calming and soothing for the stomach, prevents gas and bloating  and is easily digestible. It is an astringent and a toner. Go Mung for sure!! 🙂

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Green Mung Dal

(This recipe serves 2 people)

Ingredients:

1 cup Green Mung beans- Washed and soaked overnight

1 small plum tomato- diced

1 bunch of scallions- finely chopped

2 tsp Cumin powder

1 tsp Coriander powder

1 Tsp Chilli powder or  Pepper powder or 2 slit green chilli for the heat

1 tbsp Ghee

2 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp Turmeric

Salt as per taste
Cilantro and curry leaves for Garnish.

 

For tempering:

1 Tsp Cumin seeds

1 dry red chilli

1/2 Tsp  Asafoetida

1.2 inch Cinnamon stick, 1 clove and 1 Bay leaf for flavor (Optional)

Ghee

 

Preparation:

To save time place the soaked green mung  and cook in a slow cooker or pressure cooker until soft and can easily break with your fingertips. If you do not have a slow or pressure cooker then just boil  the beans directly in water until soft

In a pan pour ghee. Once the ghee is heated add all the tempering ingredients. Let the spices release the aroma and turn fragrant in hot ghee.

Next add the chopped scallions and tomatoes. Saute until the tomatoes become soft and mushy.

Add turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, pepper/chilli powder and salt into the tomato mixture.

Once all the spices blend in and the ghee starts separating, add the pre -cooked mung beans.

Add the grated ginger. Stir it all in and adjust the consistency of the soup as desired by adding a little water.

Let the dal simmer and come to boil for about 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and curry leaves. Serve with hot rice or just have it in a bowl by it self.

About being authentic.

It is very natural to imitate. That instinct to be wanting to be “like” someone else. Someone who is better than us. We all do that. Try to be like someone else. Mostly because, when we are surrounded by people who are doing better than us, we often feel low and inadequate and the pressure builds to be good and achieve success “like” others.

This is so true especially in the world of blogging. I will tell you my story.

I started a blog because I wanted to have a blog. Not because others have their own blogs.

But over the period of time, when I started browsing hundreds of others’ blogs and noticing how great they were, be it their writing , be it their photographs or just their post titles, I felt awful. I felt  ” I am pathetic”. This feeling is strong, especially when your readership is so low and when the clicks on your blog is almost close to zero.

 

But then something happened. Something dawned on me. And it happened TODAY.

In today’s morning show, the popular blogger of Smitten Kitchen was featured on TV. She is the famous food blogger with her famous site, I realized. I was further intrigued when the TV segment featured her famous kitchen on TV. Her kitchen is famous, famous for being teeny tiny!!! Her kitchen looked like a warm, cozy place where you can find solace by making your favorite comfort foods and just enjoy them even if you are alone!

My curiosity rose and  in the afternoon I visited her site. This was the 10th time I was visiting her site. 9 times before the TV feature!

And what I read there caught my attention. She writes, “food has to be accessible”. And “she does not believe in fancy ingredients like an expensive bottle of pink Himalayan salt”.

I realized there was a song beneath these lines. A song of authenticity. A song of originality. A song of what she believes in. And that is what differentiates her and makes her unique. So unique to be featured on the TV show!

I took a deep breathe, refreshed my thoughts and came to a conclusion. Imitating, trying to BE Like someone else due to mere pressure to succeed, will not take me anywhere.

There is great strength in being original, being authentic, being yourself. Drawing inspiration from others is one thing, but completely trying to live other peoples lives while losing complete focus on yours is nothing short of ridiculous.

SO here I am. The new me. Trying to be myself again. In this humble blog of mine. Renewing and reflecting in what I believe in related to food and life. Mainly because when food and taste  is such a personal thing, it does not make any sense to imitate others.

Palak Rajmah- Spinach and Kidney Beans.

Tall cardboard boxes unpacked. Furniture set in place. Suitcases full of clothes slowly making their way into the large closets. All toys found intact, for the girls. The house is set. The kitchen’s got going.

We have moved!

Not very far from Cambridge though. It is the next town literally.we moved to  lexington,Ma.

This is our fifth move in 10 years. and our third move within Boston. All our moves have been for great reasons and have worked out well for us. Touch wood. We moved from NY to Boston for my husband’s Grad school. Once  he finished school, we had our second child, while our first one turned 5.

5 is a big number in USA. we realized! It is the age when the kids start school!!! The official, real life, mainstream, public school.

We have been hearing about the American school system, the public schools, the way it works, the school districts, the registration and all that from the past few years. But  just that , it was not our turn yet. We were just very relaxed and were enjoying our first born girl while watching other friends of ours frantically moving and changing homes and places. All for one reason. GSD! Good school district!

Little did we realize that time flies by so fast. Our daughter is already 5 and now it is our turn to find the GSD.

It is amazing how Kids take up all the priorities in life and suddenly we as parents are thinking everything from their point of view.

We did  our part of research, discussed with friends and neighbors and also paid attention to word of  mouth and we finally settled down for Lexington. Apparently, it is the good school district. We just do not know what it exactly means or what we have to expect from the school or even from our daughter,being in a good school district, here in the US. It is so different from our country, the curriculum, the system, everything.

As much as I am not sure about how this school might work for my daughter, I am  excited about  being introduced to the American system of education. I am curious to see my daughter getting blended and integrated into her school with great diverse set of students  and begin her lifelong journey of education. Starting now, from Kindergarten!

While we wait for the school to start next week and while we settle in our new apartment, I made this wonderful dish in  my new kitchen. It is my first dish in my new place.

PAlAK RAJMAH

This a spectacular combination of beans and greens. Double dose of health in one dish.

This is  a simple twist to the traditional Rajmah masala.

1 cup of cooked kidney beans

2 cups of finely chopped Spinach

1 onion (medium size) finely sliced

3 ripe tomatoes pureed

3-4 green chillis

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

3 tbsp oil

Spices: 

1 tbsp, good quality Garam masala, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 2 cloves, 1 stick cinnamon,  1tsp turmeric.

salt to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a wide pan. add cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, and green chillis and ginger garlic paste and saute for 10 secs. Next, add onion and fry till they turn translucent

Next, add the chopped spinach and cook until it wilts and becomes soft. Spinach cooks very quickly.

Once the spinach is cooked, add the tomato puree. add salt. turn the flame to low. Cook the tomatoes on a low flame, until the color changes to a bright red and until the oil separates.

Next add the garam masala and red chilli powder and mix well and cook for 5 minutes until the rawness fades. Finally add the cooked Kidney beans. Add some water. Mix well and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

While simmering, all the flavors blend well and the kidney beans soak up all the flavors from the tomato and the spices.

Turn off flame. Serve with rice or rotis.

Notes: Add water according to the consistency needed. If it tends to get too watery, then simmer for a longer time. Watch out for the salt, specially if you have already cooked the beans with salt. You may add a chunk of butter or heavy cream in the very end, if you please to do so. You may add the same water that you had used to cook the beans to get that rich dark brown color for the dish.

Believe it or not we ate this as a side dish with rice and rasam as we did not have any wheat flour to make rotis.  And yet, it worked out so well.

Chole stir fry

Chickpeas or Garbanzo

A chubby legume

Why the two names?

When you are crushed

You will turn into Hummus….:) LOL

This is the poem I remember time and again, whenever I cook Chick peas.

 

This poem was composed by an Undergrad student at MIT, during one of the Toastmaster’s club meetings. The task was to compose an instant poem or something of that sorts, which I don’t recall well. But I have always felt it is kind of funny and cute.

Anyways, I call this dish as Chole stir fry because unlike traditional chole masala, this one  is prepared like a stir fry. Which means there is no grinding or purees involved. You just dump one ingredient after the other directly in a pan, stir them all together into one lip smacking dish.

Here is how.

Chole stir fry:

1 medium onion chopped finely

3 ripe tomatoes cubed small

1 cup of cooked/canned chick peas( i generally do NOT prefer canned)

Spices:  1 tsp turmeric, 1 stick cinnamon, 3 cloves, 2 tsp Garam masala, 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp aamchur( dry mango )  powder, 2 tsp roasted cumin-coriander powder, 1 tsp crushed black pepper.

Lemon juice

Cilantro.

2 tbsp oil

Method:

To start, heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add cinnamon and cloves and turmeric and saute for 10 sec.

Next, add onions, fry until translucent. add ginger garlic paste and fry until raw smell fades.

Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook until it forms a paste and oil separates.  add salt.

Next add all the other spices and cook for 5 mins on a low flame.

Add 1/2 a cup of water and add the chick peas. Mix well and cook on a low flame for about 5 minutes or until the water evaporates and the mixture comes together.

Squeeze lots of lemon juice and serve.

Peas and Cauliflower in Yogurt Sauce

Tender peas and crunchy cauliflower simmered in a mildly spiced yogurt sauce. Matar Gobi or Gobi matar are the Indian names given to them,where Gobi means Cauliflower and Matar means peas.

But what is in a name? what matters is the flavor and deliciousness.

This semi gravy curry goes so smoothly well with rotis or chapatis or any bread for that matter.

I realized my brain works this way. Two days ago me and my Sis-in -law were on the phone having the usual “what’s for dinner” conversation. And she mentioned she had made gobi matar.

Recorded and saved! In my brain! I knew I will make that dish soon :). That is one way of getting inspired to cook, I thought. You just hear the names of the dishes(not even the recipe details). Just the names. Then you make your own recipe using that name. Its fun and innovative 🙂

But matar gobi is not a new dish. It is quite common in Indian households. It is similar to Aloo matar or Paneer matar with almost similar methods of preparations.

With just a few simple ingredients from the pantry, comes out this warm ,simmering and aromatic curry dish. I cannot thank enough the Rajwadi garam masala( badshaah brand) which takes the dish to a whole new level when ever I use it!

Matar Gobi:

1 small head of cauliflower florets

1 cup of fresh or frozen peas

1 medium onion, finely grated or pureed

4 tomatoes pureed

1  cup Yogurt

Masalas/Spices: 

1 tsp Cumin seeds, 1 tsp Turmeric, 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste, 1tsp Garam Masala, 2 tsp Kitchen King masala, 1 tsp red chilli powder

Salt and 1tsp Sugar and 2 tbsp Oil.

Method:

In a wide thick bottomed pan, pour 2 tbsp oil. Once heated, add cumin seeds, turmeric and onion puree and fry for a minute or until oil separates. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry until the raw smell fades.

Next add the tomato puree. Mix well with the onions. Simmer the flame and cook until the mixture comes to a boil and oil separates. Add salt and sugar. Once cooked, the mixture changes color and turns into a thick red sauce.

Add the Yogurt and 1/2 a cup of water. Add all the spices (garama masala, kitchen king maslaa and red chilli powder) one by one. Mix well. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes

Next add the cauliflower and Peas and mix well altogether with the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer. Cook until the cauliflower turns tender, but not too soft that it crumbles. Sprinkle some water if needed.

Finally, give the entire curry a nice sitr. mix well. Add salt if needed.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rotis.

Notes:

If  you do not have KitchenKing, substitute with Cumin-coriander powder.

I have used Rajwadi garam masala- But any other variety will also work.

If using frozen peas, make sure you refresh them in cold water before adding to the curry.

String beans curry, Quickly in a microwave!

This is  a very simple dry curry which is very common in South Indian meals.

The curry concept or  as in kannada we call it ” palya”is very common and has a vital place in the south indian meal. As rice is the main course along with sambar or rasam, the palya is often prepared as a side dish to go with the rice.

Different vegetables and greens can be used to make the Palya, like cluster beans, Amaranth greens, Spinach, Okra etc.

In each case, the cooking process  is similar. The ingredients used are very simple . The coconut garnish is really important to enhance the flavor. Most cases a bit of Jaggery is added to sweeten the curry. But I have omitted it here in my recipe.

This simple stirfry is a great accompaniment with Rotis or chapathis.

The tenderness and the natural sweetness of the string beans , makes it melt in the mouth.

The tempering adds a little nuttiness and spice. My favorite way to enjoy this curry will be with some creamy yogurt rice!

String beans curry

1 big bowl of string beans, cut into 2 inch pieces

Salt

For Tempering:

2 tbsp oil

1 pinch Asafoetida

2 red chillies, dry

2 green chillis, chopped

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp black gram( urad dal)

Coconut for garnish

Method:

In a microwave safe bowl, put all the cut beans and fill the bowl with water, just enough to cover the beans.

Cook for about 5 minutes, closing the lid on the bowl.

Meanwhile, work on the tempering.

In a small pan, pour some oil. once it is heated, add mustard seeds, asafoetida, black gram, green chillis and red chillis.

Fry all of them for about less than a minute, on a slow flame. once the seeds splutter and urad dal turns a little golden brown, turn off heat.

Now take the cooked beans, drain excess water from the bowl, add some salt and pour the prepared tempering on top of it.

Mix well. Garnish with fresh coconut.