I am happy to have some friends here in the kitchen.
- Charles Olson
Starting with the most basic thing, where you cook, Ayurveda suggests the kitchen be in the Southeast corner of the house, with plenty of natural light and a pretty view so you are happy as you prepare your meals. If you are like most of us, living in a house that has already been built, but the kitchen is not in the southeast corner, try painting it red or orange to invoke fire power.
De-clutter it so you have space to create, visit with friends, dance and sing, and be sure to make it pretty. A beautiful kitchen supports beautiful food. Beautiful food makes a beautiful you. A beautiful you creates a beautiful life, and a beautiful life is a gift to the world. Paraphrasing Rumi, let the beauty you love be what you do and let it be alive in your kitchen!
In addition to the regular pots and pans, I use our Vitamix blender every day, but almost never use the food processor. It is too much fuss. A lemon juicer helps, but as with most tools, I find the old-fashioned, hand-held version simpler, more reliable and easier to clean than anything with a plug. Keeping a mortar and pestle around for pesto, sauces and spice mixtures offers muscular reward. A coffee grinder will do the trick with the spices, but it will never give you that rhythmic sensation of moving in spicy syncopated oneness that rewards the work of grinding by hand.
I like to always have cheesecloth available for making ghee and empty paper tea bags to fill with spices that I want to share. I only use measuring cups to determine amounts so that I can write up recipes, which is the only way I know how to respond to friends and clients who’ve asked, “How did you make that?” Otherwise, I have no use for measuring.
Long ago, Swamini Mayatitananda recommended using hands, fingers, sight, sound and taste to determine amounts and I guess I just breathed a great sigh of relief upon hearing that. It may even have been the start of my own separate peace with the kitchen: the reclaiming of my own experience, of my own feminine wisdom, put to the service of love, nourishment, and the creative cycle of life.
So I recommend using fewer measuring utensils, in the hope that you will find a similar freedom, trust, creative expression, authenticity and empowerment by your own perfect measure and innate wisdom.
We keep oils aplenty on hand – safflower, coconut, olive and sesame. Our spice cabinet has grown from three small shelves by the stove to include an additional long shelf in the pantry as well. In general, the spices you want to keep on hand for the recipes you will find here are: turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamom, cardamom, nutmeg, fennel, mustard seeds, cayenne or red pepper, black pepper, sea salt, Himalayan salt and asafoetida, otherwise known as hing. I also like to have dill weed, basil, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, tarragon, anise, and fresh mint, rosemary and cilantro, too, as these are easy to grow at home.
You can purchase spice mixtures like Garam Masala, Curry, Quatre épices to get a number of these spices in one bottle, but it is never as good as it is freshly ground from the seed. Also, buy organic spices only ~ otherwise, they might be irradiated.
The super foods to look for at your market
Blueberries, Kiwi, Pomegranate, Cranberries, Oranges, Apple, Avocado
Broccoli, Spinach, Mustard greens, Collard greens, Kale, Cilantro
Pumpkin, Sweet Potato
Wild Salmon, sockeye
Beans, especially split Mung, Pinto, Lentil, Chickpea
Oats, Brown Rice, Amaranth, Quinoa
Walnuts, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Pine Nuts
Coconut Milk, Yogurt
Cocoa Nibs, Maple Syrup, Dates
Cinnamon, Ginger, Fennel, Cayenne, Cardamom, Coriander, Cumin, Basil, Mustard Seeds
Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Safflower Oil, Ghee
Some of the staples of Ayurveda
DR. JAY APTE’S KICHARI
1 cup Basmati Rice
½ cup Split Mung
2 tbs Spicy Oil
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ghee
1 tbs. Masala Spice
1 tbs. Coconut
1 sprig of Cilantro, chopped
4 cups boiling water
Rinse rice and mung in water and drain. Sauté rice and mung in spicy oil for 3-4 minutes over medium flame. Add water, Masala, sesame seeds, and coconut. Cook on medium heat until rice is almost cooked. Add ghee and salt. Stir and cook for another few minutes on low heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.
1/3 cup split mung dhal beans, rinsed thoroughly
2 1/2 cups filtered water
1 zucchini, chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons ghee (recipe below)
3 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons Bragg’s amino acids (optional)
1/2 cup organic coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Ghee, for garnish
Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and scallions and cook, stirring, until the seeds turn light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and then the Bragg’s until thoroughly combined. Stir in the coconut milk, lemon juice, and maple syrup and cook for 2 minutes more.
For a dairy-free version, replace the ghee with olive oil or Earth Balance.
1 cup Oil (canola/sunflower/vegetable)
2 tbs. Mustard seeds
1 tbs. Cumin seeds
1 tbs. Hing (asafoetida)
1 tbs. Turmeric
Heat the oil in a pan. Add 2-3 mustard seeds to oil while heating. When the seeds begin to pop remove pan from heat, add the remaining seeds and cover. When the seeds stop popping add cumin, hing and turmeric. Allow the oil to cool for 5 minutes, then pour it into a thick glass jar and store at room temperature.
1 lb. unsalted Butter
Heat the butter in a pot for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. Once the ghee is transparent and there is a brown sediment on the bottom of the pan, it is ready. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain through a stainless strainer or a cheesecloth into a thick glass jar. Store at room temperature.
1 Granny Smith Apple, diced
1 tbs. Salt
1 tbs. Jaggery (Sucanat)
½ tsp. chili powder
1-2 tbs. Spicy Oil
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Use as condiment or as a sandwich spread.
2 Cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 medium Carrot, shredded
1 cup Yogurt, plain
1 tbs. Cilantro
Salt to taste
1 Jalapeno Pepper, sliced the long way, seeds removed
Mix all ingredients together except cilantro. Garnish with cilantro and chili just before serving.
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