At Vaidyagrama… So many of the pages in my journal presently start like this that I don’t even know now where to start. How can I tell you of a hospital as eco-village? An Ayurvedic center as model of traditional Indian principles, and yet not a model, nor a museum, nor an experiment… but an engaging, high-functioning example of “Vedic” values at work? How to even begin to express the depth of care? The doctors, living here with their families, who instantly become friends, counselors, coaches, and make you feel you are part of the family. Not to mention the power of the treatments, pace of the healing, and peace of the place.
What about the meals? It’s Ayurvedic dining at its best, which means, lots of whole grain rice, dal, vegetable broth and purees, steamed vegetables, chapati and buttermilk. It’s simple, satisfying, and light. One patient here told me yesterday he’s lost 40 pounds in 5 weeks. Another woman who came when I did two weeks ago looks half her size. Of course, it’s not a weight loss farm, but digestion is Ayurveda’s target when it comes to good health and effective healing. Considering all the ways we have now in our modern world to confuse and corrupt our digestion, it is not surprising that when people come here for health, the first thing restored is digestion, which includes metabolism, and then the weight falls away.
We are blessed with a couple of cooking classes a week. This week our chef showed us how to prepare a gorgeous local treat called Kolukkatai, a Kerala recipe made traditionally with jaggery and cardamom for Easter (Kerala is a Christian state). This was a healthier version, a rice-mung concoction you could almost call a kichari ball. I think it would be a great for breakfast, or with vegetables for lunch, and it’s ideal for travel when you need something light, nutritious and portable.
In this video you can see chef Kavita making it. There are a number of steps, but really it took her no time, and it’s so easy if you have your ingredients mise en place as she does. The coconut chutney can be prepared up to 10 hours ahead of time, which would make dumpling prep a breeze.
To make these gorgeous little treats, you will need a sauté pan, a kettle for hot water, a blender and a steamer. As for ingredients, split mung beans are usually found at Indian or Asian markets. People’s in Ocean Beach carries them, but call first. Or, order them online here. Split mung is so healthy and such an Ayurvedic staple, my blog is full of recipes calling for them, all my cleanses include them, and you can always substitute them for any recipe calling for lentils. In other words, a bag of split mung will get used up, and stores well in the meantime.
Curry leaves might be hard to find. Kefir lime leaves might work, but then half the amount. Mint would be my choice, and basil would also be good. If you do substitute with mint or basil, wait to add to the sauté until just before stirring into the batter, as curry is a strong leaf that does well sautéed, unlike mint or basil which are so fragrant fresh.
Please note, all measurements are guesses! This is really the Ayurvedic way, following your own intuition and five senses. And I halved my guesses, as 30-36 dumplings seem more than most of us need. So be playful – taste, season and adjust as you go.
Coconut Rice Dumpling
Makes about 16 dumplings
2-3 T coconut oil
1 T mustard seeds
1/3 c onion, chopped
1 T ginger, chopped
1 small handful curry leaves
2 c rice flour
1 c boiled water
1/2 c coconut, flaked or shredded
1/4 c split mung beans (mung dal)
1-2 pinches pink or rock salt
1/2 c coconut, flaked or shredded
1 ginger slice
3-4 curry leaves
pinch pink or rock salt
1/4 c water
1 pinch mustard seeds
Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat. Add mustard seeds and pop. Immediately add the onion and stir. Next add the ginger, and stir together about 1 minute. Stir in the curry leaves.
While the spice mixture sautés, pour about a cup of hot water into the rice flour and mix.
Add the coconut to the spice mixture. Stir for another minute or two, until the onions are translucent and just before the coconut toasts. Fold into the rice flour.
In your same sauté pan, melt another tablespoon coconut oil and stir in the mung dal. Stir continuously until the dal is a lovely golden brown, then fold into the rice mixture. If it is too dry, add water slowly until it is moist and all blends together well.
With a dab of coconut oil, oil your hands. Take a handful of the rice mixture and shape into ovals or rounds. Place these on a steamer tray and steam for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, make the coconut chutney: Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Add more water if needed for a creamy consistency. Scoop into a serving bowl. Put the remaining oil into your pan, sauté the mustard seeds. Once they pop, spoon them into the coconut chutney.
After ten minutes, remove the dumplings from the steamer and arrange them on a platter. Serve with coconut chutney.
If you like it, please let me know, and if you share please tag your photos #myfoodlovestory so I can see it. Nanni & Namaste!