Buckwheat coconut milk pudding sweetened with country sugar

IMG_0174a dinner celebration! a dessert for my guest with a sweet tooth 🙂 a recipe that I happened to think up just today 🙂 I hadn’t taken strict measurements as I was just cooking, not planning to blog about it. But when my guest liked it so much that he went for it again as a midnight snack.. and when he requested the recipe, dear reader it was time to put pen to paper & share this sweet with you.

You need
¾ cup country sugar (jaggery)
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup buckwheat
Spice Mix
½ tsp cardamom powder
2 threads saffron
for seasoning
tbsp cashew nuts
1 tsp almonds
1 tsp raisins

How to
• Rinse buckwheat in cold water.
• Then pour boiling water over buckwheat and let soak in 1 cup hot water.
• In hot pan add jaggery with approx ½ cup water and let heat till jaggery dissolves to make a nice watery paste.
• Add in the cooked buckwheat, no need to drain water.
• Add the can of coconut milk, lower heat and let everything come to a light boil.
• Add some more water if you like a runny texture for your pudding.
• Pound the nuts into coarse chunks in a mortar and pestle.
• In a hot pan, dry roast the nuts and raisins. Or if you prefer roast them in either butter/ghee/coconut oil. I used a bit of coconut oil, but you can easily dry roast them & still have the flavour.. Roasting brings out the flavour and nuts add a great texture to a smooth pudding.
• Top the pudding with nuts and raisins.

Note : Jaggery or gur is Indian unrefined country sugar extracted from sugarcane. You can find it sold in blocks in east Indian grocery stores. If you don’t have one close by, feel free to use regular brown sugar.

I initially planned to make this pudding with tapioca pearls. But my pantry didn’t have any. I found these buckwheat groats and remembered my Ukrainian friends at work singing the praises of buckwheat.

You can get a huge list of benefits from here.

I liked how buckwheats manage blood sugar levels:
The nutrients in buckwheat may contribute to blood sugar control. In a test that compared the effect on blood sugar of whole buckwheat groats to bread made from refined wheat flour, buckwheat groats significantly lowered blood glucose and insulin responses. Whole buckwheats also scored highest on their ability to satisfy hunger.

My dinner guests loved this dessert. And the one guest I made it for, the one with the sweet tooth even asked if he could have it again well after dinner. So that was a pretty successful brand new dessert I just made up 🙂 Have you ever missed ingredients in your dream of a dish? What did you use as an alternative? Did you manage to dream up something that everyone loves now?

IMG_0164

I love no oil desserts that are incredibly tasty. And I plan to post this recipe on the let food by thy medicine facebook page.. Do check it out for amazing oil-free diet recipes, and the cool things people are doing to manage their diabetes..

Wishing everyone a terrific valentine’s day!

–charuyoga–

Advertisements

Mulligatawny soup

20160111_140328Brimming with luscious flavours, spiked with healing spices, you will fall in love with my variation on this anglo-indian soup. Muliga (pepper) + thanni (water) are the origins for this british soup that the brits borrowed from my rich tamil heritage 🙂

Last night I happened to rear end a car while driving home on the blusteriest of winter days.. My car buffeted, I was on the streetcar tracks, it was icy, my car screeched to a halt trying to not ram into the car in front that was trying to turn left. But, the elements, the road conditions got out of my hand. I lost control. After a long night of getting towed to the collision center, when I reached home, I kept reliving the episode, quite shaken at the turn of events. Still grateful that I was spared and only the car was a write off. This morning 20160111_140427when I woke up, I felt as if I had gone through a big fever or something, I felt the need to heal. I had made this batch of mulligatawny soup the night before for a friend with a fever and had some left over. Just the perfect soothing, nurturing, spicy, healing soup my mind and body needed. I remembered my grandmother making a variation of this soup and recalled the ingredients from memory. It was finger lickin good!

You need
¼ cup toor dal or pigeon peas (optional)
½ cup tomatoes
1 cm fresh ginger crushed

 

 

Spice paste
1 tsp yellow split peas
½ tsp tamarind paste
2 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
2 dry red chilies
Salt to taste
Spice oil
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp curry leaves
Pinch hing

Garnish
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro

How to

• Cook toor dal if using with ½ cup water. I like to use it to add some protein into this soup. Puree and set aside.
• Heat pan for spice paste. Dry sauté(no oil) the spice paste ingredients. When roasted light brown grind to a thick spice paste with 2 tbsp water. Set aside.

20160110_073931

• Heat pan. Add coconut oil. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter toss in curry leaves, hing and turmeric powder. Add tomatoes & lightly sauté till cooked.
• Now add in the toor dal, 1 cup water, fresh ginger & tamarind paste.
• Let everything boil together.

20160111_140259
• Add in the spice paste & allow to come to another boil so there are no raw spice smells.
• Garnish with fresh cilantro.
• Serve with rice. I like to use sona masoori rice that is short grained & not sticky for this soup..

Oh!. The comfort of mulligatawny soup. For a few minutes I was transported to my grandma’s kitchen. Nurtured and healed through my car adventure. Hope you enjoy this well kept secret recipe. Doesn’t the broth look pretty and nourishing? I’d love to hear how you enjoyed it. What do you eat when you need nurturing? What’s your favourite go-to comfort food ?

20160111_140427–charuyoga–

Chickpea Basmati Pulao – One pot dish

20151125_201938When it gets cold and all you want to do is snuggle up to warm tastes with least effort. 
Its time for one-pot meals to make their appearance.
No fuss, easy to make, spicy, warming, comforting – hope you enjoy my take on classic pulao

You need
4 tbsp. roasted chickpeas
2 tbsp. fresh spinach
2 tbsp. carrot slivers
2 tbsp. cauliflower
½ cup basmati rice
Spice Mix
2 whole brown cardamoms
½ tsp turmeric powder
4 cashews split in half
4 green chilies, slit
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fresh garlic
2 cloves
Salt to taste
Serves 2

How to
• Heat oil in pan. Add all spices and sauté till spices release fragrance.
• Add cauliflower and carrot and let lightly cook.
• Meanwhile rinse basmati rice thoroughly several times in cold water. Drain water & set aside.
• Add rinsed basmati rice to pan along with chopped spinach. Sauté everything and add salt to taste.
• Toss in the roasted cayenne chickpeas. (Apsara tip – no time to make the roasted chickpeas. quick substitute – use canned as a last resort. otherwise. soak 2 tbsp. chickpeas overnight, and drain before adding at this stage)
• Add ½ cup to ¾ cup water. Depending on how aged your basmati is. The older the basmati the more water it will drink, but it will also be more fluffy & each grain will stand out beautifully without sticking together. New basmati needs lesser water.
• Let come to boil and then turn heat to low and cover. Pulao will continue cooking process for about 5 minutes or so & then turn heat off. Let rest covered for about 5 minutes, before removing lid.
• Fluff with fork.
• Serve with a dollop of yoghurt.

20151125_201852

–charuyoga–

Garlicky Beet greens with Quinoa pasta

20151122_173857 (2)

Stop! Don’t throw those beet greens away.. They are really tasty & awfully good for you. And I’m going to share with you exactly how you can put them to good use.

Its been ages since I shared a food recipe. You might be tempted to believe that I haven’t been cooking. Far from it. Truth be told.. I’ve been cooking up a daily storm. And I’ve been cooking at my yoga center on Thursdays. I’ve become the chef on Thursdays. Ahem! It feels nice to have a couple of helpers in the kitchen. It was getting a bit lonely cooking all by myself.

 Other than a spot of work travel, a couple of new courses that I designed and taught, I’m also delighted to announce that my yoga center partnered with Doctors without Borders “Medicins sans frontiers” to raise funds for work in Syria. This was a 30-day long event culminating in a concert on the final day. When the organizer asked if I would sing I jumped at the chance. I’ve been a singer for a long time, and love to sing, especially for worthy causes like this. Instead of giving handouts the doctors actually go on the field and provide urgent medical care and attention.

 How could I not help? I said yes and then had to think about fellow musicians. The ones I used to play with had moved on to other cities. Luckily, 2 musicians showed up in my life just in time for the Syria concert. A classic case of ‘ask and you shall receive’  🙂 we practiced and it was so interesting, blending my Indian classical music with western instrumentalists who were trained in a completely different musical tradition. The end result was phenomenal, the recording wasn’t clear so I’m posting some pix instead.

Macaroni1Now for the recipe I want to share with you. I found the quinoa pasta in Costco. Wasn’t really sure how I would use it or even how it would taste. But it looked really delicate and pretty unlike whole wheat pasta or gluten free pasta which can look downright mean 🙂

Ingredients
1 cup GoGO red and white quinoa pasta
2 cups beet stems and greens
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. coconut oil
Spice Mix
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 hot green pepper
1 tbsp fresh garlic
½ tsp urad dal
Salt to taste
Serves 2

Method

•  Remove stems with leaves intact from beets. Wash thoroughly and chop into 1 cm length approx.
•  Heat oil in pan. Add mustard seeds, let them splutter, then add urad dal, green chili, and chopped garlic. Sauté lightly and then add chopped onions and salt.
•  Sauté greens till cooked and then toss in the beet stem and leaves.
•  Let cook and then squeeze in lime juice to balance off the greens. Set aside.
•  Boil 1 cup quinoa pasta in 2 cups water. I got this beauty at Costco and haven’t stopped singing its praises. Just watch out since it cooks super fast, less than ½ the time of regular pasta. Drain water and serve beet greens on top of the pasta. I added chopped walnuts for a nice crunch.

Health Benefits

20151122_174056There’s something about greens! I feel so fresh and alive after a meal with greens 🙂 Did you like this recipe where I tried an unusual mix and match? Beet greens that we would normally throw away combined with quinoa in pasta form.. Creating new recipes out of old is what I love.

Besides look at all the goodness – protein, phosphorus, and zinc, beet greens are also a great source of fiber. Packed with antioxidants, they’re high in vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, and low in fat and cholesterol. Best of all, the vitamin K in beet greens contains blood clotting properties, helps ward off osteoporosis, works with calcium to boost bone strength, and may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, beet greens have a higher iron content than spinach, and a higher nutritional value than the beetroot itself.

I also love the premise of musicians of different backgrounds coming together to play. Its possible to combine indian music melodically… with clarinet, harmonica, keyboards & western drums.. in the spirit of yoga, or oneness…its possible … to overcome all barriers of language, borders, and differences through … the language of music. Here we are, Jeremy on the clarinet, Richard on the drums and me singing.

SONY DSC

–charuyoga–

Crunchy roasted cayenne chickpeas

20151005_084611
Crunchy roasted channa are my favourite. They are a great street food and you can find them at every corner market in delhi. But I got tired of looking for this Delhi street food classic in grocery stores.  Stores in Canada tend to carry excessively salty & overly spiced roasted channa in packages. So I decided to make my own and was truly surprised by how good home made roasted channa can be. Nothing out of a can, nothing overly oily, or spiced, just hints of spices for an amazing home made snack.

Ingredients
1 cup chickpeas, soaked, rinsed and cooked till soft
Spice Mix
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Method

• Wash dry chickpeas thoroughly and soak in fresh water overnight. Next morning, rinse thoroughly and cook till soft. I use a pressure cooker as a great time saver.
• Set aside to cool.
• Meanwhile heat oven to 350 degrees C.

20150930_214646
• Wipe down cooked chickpeas thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel..so no trace of outside moisture remains. This is very important to get them crunchy.
• Toss in olive oil and let bake for about 20 minutes, turning once.

20151003_223229
• You’ll know chickpeas are done, when they smell like toasted heaven and coloured light caramel.
• Bring out of oven, shake cayenne pepper & salt to coat all over.
• Serve up with your favourite beverage, madras coffee is a great complement.

Try it by itself, or in salad. I added them as a topping to ruby jewel beet salad I took for a 15 k hike for my friends who love this salad..

20151025_131307

Or sprinkle them in your pastas. like I did for today’s lunch..so many possibilities.

20151025_212538

Reach for them in the afternoon when your energy levels dip for a healthy & tasty accompaniment to caffeine. Be warned! highly addictive..I polished off the first batch single-handedly in no time.

Hope you get to try my snack! Let me know how it came out for you. Most importantly let me know if you had any leftovers 🙂

20151005_084601

–charuyoga–

Mung dal puree for Iqaluit hunters and gatherers

20150811_190117

‘You and I take vegetarian food for granted’, said my friend Connie.

She was sharing her experience while helping the native Inuit of Iqaluit. ‘They find the texture of lentils unfamiliar. Its not part of their culture. They are hunters and gatherers’, she said.

Connie is right. I’m fortunate I was raised in a country like India. Where Its super easy to prepare light, unprocessed, sustainable recipes. I could easily cook lentils 365 days of the year and not have to repeat a recipe. I really feel for new vegans. Especially those for whom a veg diet is not part of their food culture.

20150811_190205

To help the people of Iqaluit, Connie has been fund raising for months. Iqaluit is a northern city closer to Greenland than it is to Ontario where I live.

a-map-of-canada-look-for-iqaluit-

With the funds raised, she bought them this industrial grade food processor to puree their lentils. She’s flown off to Iqualuit to hand this off. So their lentils will be more palatable to their hunter – gatherer state. Wow, look at the size of that..I’m surprised Connie can even hold it up!

20150811_213252

I promised to write her an easy puree lentil recipe that they could blend in their soup kitchen as they transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer.

Ingredients
½ cup yellow mung beans

1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp fresh garlic
½ cup tomatoes
¼ cup onions
Spice mix
1 tbsp curry leaves or kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp fresh lemon/lime juice
1 big brown cardamom
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp fresh cilantro
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
Pinch hing

Method
• Wash mung beans thoroughly. Soak in 1 cup water and cook till soft.
• Chop onions, garlic and ginger and tomatoes. Set aside.
• Heat coconut oil in pan. Apsara tip – I’m excited & grateful to have a chance to introduce the hunter-gatherer inuit to vegan food.. I’m not sure what oils they have locally available so will leave choice of oil to them and to you. Coconut oil in my humble opinion is great. I believe its best not to judge choice of oil anyone wishes to use., but only point out what is healthy and best for body.
• Add cumin seeds, hing and then quickly add onions, garlic and ginger. Saute till cooked and soft.
• Add tomatoes and spices and let cook till soft.
• Add cooked mung beans and ½ cup water. Let come to boil.
• Take off stove. Puree the entire soup. Stir in lemon juice and fresh cilantro leaves.
• Serve with your choice of flatbread- indian chapati, or pita bread or any bread 🙂

 20150811_190256

Health benefits:
88eba384e7d9cefbMung beans are the healthiest beans going around. According to Ayurveda, indian system of health, the smaller the beans the easier to digest.

20150811_213327

Look at Timbit in the kitchen. that’s a quiet cat. First time I’ve seen him stay so quiet. no take that back, he’s quite a zen cat 🙂 look at him watching my yoga class..10952295_10204735306214695_1929285923377642519_n

Though the Iqualuit inspired this post, dear reader, anyone who is a new vegan or even a seasoned vegan can easily try my recipe. You will be sure to fall in love with it. Its foolproof and delicious beyond description.

–charuyoga–

Meatless Monday with mango nectarine salsa

20150802_154332

Ever had a sluggish constitution?
Ever felt tired and bloated for hours or days after a big meal?
Ever wondered why you feel so lethargic hours after a big meal?
Then read on for one sure fire way to get your intestines moving along and keeping you healthy.

During teacher training, I learnt more about the benefits of fasting and a meatless diet. Our intestines can take anywhere between 4 hours to days to digest the heavy foods we eat. The problem becomes bigger if we stuff ourselves with food, without paying conscious attention to how much we really need versus how greedy we are.

From a yoga perspective, digestion is a downward activity. Yoga with its focus on energy has many types of energies depending on function. Digestion uses a downward energy called Apana which helps with elimination. Digestion takes up a lot of energy. A good healthy diet with exercise will focus on reducing energy spent on digesting food. A healthy body focusses on increases upward moving energy called Prana which is what we need for mental work. The heavier foods we eat, the harder it is for our mind to focus as more energy is being used towards digestion.

20150802_154310

Mondays are meatless fasting days. I really missed my once-a-week fruit fasts while on my yoga teacher training. My excuse: its hard to get picky on a yoga camp.. eat what’s lovingly prepared is the best way. Plus there was a lot of learning to do. So really appreciated having the staff cook us meals & not worry about going fruit picking.

A meatless diet aids with digestion. It is one of the first principles of yoga called ahimsa or non-violence towards everyone, including animals, others & of course ourselves.
A meat eater friend of mine decided to try the Monday fast with great results. My coworkers tried it and loved it so much some of them now do it twice a week. Now before you faint and think it’s a complete fast, I have to let you know. It’s a fruit and nuts fast.. and you break it at sunset with a simple meal. Coffee and tea are allowed during the day, but you might want to try tea instead. In Delhi where I first learnt the Monday fast from my Punjabi coworkers, potatoes & sweet potatoes are also allowed :). Now how can you say no to this type of fast?

Here then is my mango nectarine salsa recipe to keep you lightly fueled during your Monday meatless fast.

20150802_154215

½ cup cubed mango
½ cup white nectarines
1 tbsp chopped mint

Method
• Wash mango and nectarines. Don’t you love this silver plate? I managed to get wuite a collection during my yoga training. Every time I would sing at the temple, the priest would come over and present me with a plate full of mangoes 🙂

20150802_152252
• Slice mango all around in one go. This is a trick I learnt watching my cousin during summer holidays in Madras. She did such an elegant job that I have never peeled mango any other way since then.

20150802_152929
• Cube the mango.
• Cube nectarines, being careful to cut away any fleshy fruit too close to the seed.
• Sprinkle chopped fresh mint. Serve fresh or cold.

Apsara tip – you can use any fruit combination for this salsa. But just ensure that the fruits have the same texture and that you cut them the same size (tip from my childhood bestie who gave me this recipe). Other than that this is a pretty easy going salsa.. Another tip from my aunt who makes an awesome fresh mango pickle(recipe another time)- don’t bother with salad dressings when you have fresh and juicy summer fruit. I take her advice to heart. This salsa doesn’t need much disguise other than a slight sprinkling of fresh mint leaves on top.

Health benefits:
• You will feel lighter, literally 🙂
• Your digestion will thank you for it
• You won’t have a gassy feel around your abdomen
• You will feel good about staying away from meat for one day in a week
• You will move old undigested food out of your gut..(that gets toxic when sitting around for a while and impacts your other organs).
• Most important you will feel a sense of brightness as your mind is now clear. Having taken away the pressure from your body system’s focus on digestion, your mind will be able to function in a calmer, clearer, focussed, more present way.

Hope you can join me next Monday for Meatless Monday fruit & nut fast. The benefits are huge, not only physically and mentally but also for the environment and treating animals gently-its just once a week and your mind, body & soul will love you for it.. Satisfaction guaranteed otherwise money back 🙂

–charuyoga–