easy spelt focaccia & a vegetable garden

13th June 2017

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I make this focaccia every Sunday as an accompaniment to our traditional pasta night.  I mix the dough in the morning and leave it covered on the side for a full day, the extra fermentation adds flavour to the bread.  You can also make it days before, and store in the refrigerator after the first rise, the dough develops a more complex flavour, and you can pull part of it out to make dinner – just be sure it has time to come to room temperature before shaping and continue with the recipe.

I usually make one large focaccia but since our move a month ago I have a small oven that fits two narrow trays – now I make two oblong focaccia.

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Quality of Food

‘A very natural lifestyle in which we could collect fresh vegetables everyday would be even more ideal, however. Growing a small garden can serve that purpose to some degree. There are also many other benefits one may experience from having a small garden. For example, one may gain beneficial exercise, as well as deep satisfaction in doing garden work. If done in a measured and relaxed way, it may lead to a calm and quiet mind.’ 

~ Dr. Shankaranarayana Jois – The Sacred Tradition of Yoga

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easy spelt focaccia

Makes 1 rectangular or 2 small focaccia. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce.

‘You can top the focaccia with almost anything: a liberal pouring of oil and a dusting of salt, a handful of fresh herbs, olives or sautéed vegetables, or a flavourful tomato sauce. However you plan to top your focaccia, before cooking pour a generous glug of olive oil over the top – especially around the edges – for a crunchy golden crust’.

ingredients :

1¼ cups warm water

1 tsp active dry yeast

tsp sugar

1 cup/120g whole spelt flour; plus additional for kneading

2½ cups/320g white spelt flour/all purpose flour

1 tsp fine rock salt

2 Tblsp olive oil + ¼ cup (divided) for drizzling over the top

herbs, spices, or other toppings of choice

preparation :

Lightly rub a large bowl with olive oil. Set aside.

Add 1¼ cups of warm water, yeast, and sugar to another bowl. Stir, and allow the yeast to bloom and bubble for about 5 minutes.  (If it doesn´t, it may be inactive; throw it out and start again.)

Add the flours, salt, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil and mix to combine to form a sticky dough.

To knead by hand: Turn the dough out on to a clean work surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and silky.

Or, to use a food mixer: Fit the dough hook and add the water, yeast, and sugar to the mixer bowl, stir, and allow the yeast to bloom and bubble for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt. Mix on low-speed until evenly combined, then add the oil and leave to knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and silky.

For the first rise : Put the dough into the oiled bowl, turning it so that the top of the dough is coated with oil. Cover with a towel and leave for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

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Generously oil a baking sheet with olive oil.

For the second rise : Place the dough on the baking sheet or divide the dough into two pieces and place them on the oiled baking sheet.  Stretch the dough out with your hands (It helps to oil your hands) into your desired shape on the baking sheet, and dimple it with your fingers. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise for an hour.

Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (or put a single rack in the middle if you´re using one baking sheet) and preheat to 200C/400F.

After the dough has completed its second rise and has puffed up on the sheet, drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, herbs or spices, or toppings of your choice.

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Bake for 22  – 25 minutes, until golden brown. Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil while still hot from the oven.  Allow the bread to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Serve it with your favourite pasta or top it with mashed avocado, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, red pepper, fennel and a sprinkling of fresh herbs and salt.

Focaccia is always best eaten the day it is made.

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cosamberi – moong dal coconut carrot salad

31st May 2017

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Cosamberi is a delicious light, easily digestible raw salad that nourishes the body. It can be eaten twice a week and in all seasons. Cosamberi is best eaten as a side dish alongside a main meal. It can also be eaten as a small snack in the morning or evening.  It balances Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

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Less is More 

There are hundreds of varieties of food, but in order to be fit and healthy for Realization, we need to eat only a few of them. Once we establish a basic diet, we may or may not decide to eat other kind of foods. We are best served to work hard only for what is most needed to maintain a balanced mind and body. This is our duty and the essence of aparigraha (the value of having few belongings).

~ Dr. Shankaranarayana Jois – The Sacred Tradition of Yoga

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cosamberi

Serves 4 – as a side dish.

Recipe shared by our teacher Ganapati Aarya, as part of the Jivana Yoga Diploma. 

Any left-over coconut can be grated, sealed and stored in the freezer. If unable to obtain fresh coconut, replace with ½ cup/35g dried shredded coconut.  For best results, grate the carrot and coconut small and fine, using the finer side of a box grater.

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ingredients :

½ cup/100g split moong dāl  (split yellow dāl)

1 heaped cup/75g grated fresh coconut

1 large carrot – approximately 100g

1 Tblsp + 2 tsp/25ml lemon juice – divided

⅓ cup/15g finely chopped coriander

½ tsp fine rock salt

voggarane :

1 Tblsp + 1 tsp/20ml peanut or coconut oil

½ heaped tsp mustard seeds

1 heaped tsp split urad dāl

1 dried red Byaadagi chilli

20 fresh curry leaves

pinch asafoetida powder

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

preparation :

Rinse moong dāl thoroughly by covering with water and swishing around with your hand, drain, then repeat 3-4 times until the water runs clear.  Cover again with water and set aside to soak for one hour.  After one hour, drain the dāl through a fine-mesh sieve and allow it to dry for 15 minutes.

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Finely grate the fresh coconut using the finer side of a box grater – measuring 1 tightly packed cup.  Wash, peel and grate the carrot – measuring 1 tightly packed cup.  Pour 1 tsp lemon juice over the carrot to prevent discolouring. Rinse, dry and chop the fresh coriander – measuring ⅓ cup.  Place in a medium-sized bowl along with the soaked dāl, sprinkle with salt and do not mix.

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prepare the voggarane :

Depending on the level of spice preferred, cut the chilli into small or large pieces, then set aside.

In a small pan over medium heat, add oil and mustard seeds. When the seeds start to splutter and pop (make sure the mustard seeds have popped well), add the urad dāl and the chopped chilli, then fry until the urad dāl is golden in colour.  Add the curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric powder, and continue to fry for a few seconds, swishing the pan around so the spices fry evenly.

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Pour the voggarane into the bowl, and add the remaining lemon juice, mixing well to allow all colours and flavours to blend evenly.

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raspberry quinoa muffins with an almond crumb

30th April 2017

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This garden breathes beautifully of our time here……

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and deeply grateful of the gifts it has given……

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raspberry quinoa muffins with an almond crumb

Makes 10 muffins.

A recipe I make often based on this Plum Millet Cake, the sweet almond crumb adds a delicious crunchy texture which contrasts nicely with the sourness of the raspberries. These muffins are tender, fragrant and light.  The maple syrup can be replaced with ½ cup brown sugar; you will need to increase almond milk to ¾ cup instead of ¼.  

I made my own muffin liners by tearing up  12 x 12 cm square pieces of baking paper and pressing them down into the tray – if you grease the tin before hand the liners behave nicely.  If you don’t have a muffin tin, this recipe can also be made as a cake, may need to increase the baking time.

for the quinoa:

¼ cup/50g quinoa, washed

½ cup/125ml water

for the almond crumb:

cup/30g flaked almonds

2 Tblsp/15g brown sugar/coconut sugar

2 Tblsp maple syrup

for the cake:

1½ cup/210g whole spelt flour

1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder

¾ cup/185ml maple syrup

¼ cup/60ml plus 2 tablespoon mild tasting olive oil/melted coconut oil

¼ cup/60ml almond milk

1 Tblsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

¼ tsp fine rock salt

150g frozen/fresh raspberries

to cook the quinoa:

Drain and rinse quinoa.  Place in a small pot, add ½ cup water and salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium – do not cover as this eliminates any impurities.  Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until the water has evaporated.  Turn off the heat; cover and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.  Measure out 1 cup/130g cooked quinoa, set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  Fill a muffin tray with 10 liners.

prepare the almond crumb:

In a small bowl place the flaked almonds, sugar and maple syrup, stir to combine and set aside.

to prepare the cake:

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside.  In a medium jug, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil, almond milk, vanilla, lemon zest, salt and the cooked quinoa. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture then pour in the wet, and using a rubber spatula, stir until well combined.  Fold in the raspberries – be careful not to over-mix.

Scoop the batter into muffin cups, filling them all the way to the top using a spoon or an ice cream scoop.  Spoon a teaspoon of the almond crumb on top of each muffin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.  Take the muffins out of the tin and place them onto a wire rack to cool. Serve with a generous dollop of greek yogurt.

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fig almond & orange swirl cookies

19th March 2017

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This recipe was quite a journey.  After many attempts and too many references to mention, I persevered, as there seemed too much scrumptious potential in these cookies to give up. It felt like I was conjuring up a kind of magic, from the transformation of ingredients to the finished result – even more so due to the many attempts to get here.  I am now satisfied to share it with you.

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In Ayurveda, sultanas are considered kingly of all the fruits, figs are considered precious and Winter citrus adds colour and zest to the last of these dark and rainy days.

Figs, whether fresh or dried, are an incredibly healthy treat and have favourable levels of calcium, contain iron, potassium, manganese and vitamin B6.  They also have a high fibre content, keeping us feeling fuller for longer and have a helpful laxative effect.  When buying any dried fruit, look for organic and sulfite-free.

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fig almond & orange swirl cookies

Makes approximately 18 cookies.

Recipe inspired by here and here.

Not overly sweet, the luscious fig filling is deeply flavourful and the pastry is light and buttery. 

The filling could be replaced with any dried fruit of choice – dates would work nicely.  I used 1 cup whole almonds which I ground in a blender – blanched almonds would give a much more visually pronounced contrast between the filling and the dough.  I wanted to achieve a lighter cookie, so I used white spelt flour, but it can be replaced with whole spelt or for a gluten-free version, rice flour. 

I call this a dough but just to clarify it doesn’t handle like a normal dough – it is very fragile and easily crumbles this is why it is recommended to work between to pieces of baking paper – the end results is delicious and is worth all the fiddliness.

for the dough :

1½ cups/130g almond meal (1 cup whole almonds ground in a blender)

1 cup/120g white spelt flour

tsp fine rock salt

¼ cup/60ml olive oil

2 heaped Tblsp brown sugar/coconut sugar

¼ cup/60ml freshly squeezed orange juice

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

for the fig paste :

180g dried soft figs

80g dried sultanas/raisins

orange zest of 1 orange

½ tsp cinnamon powder

¼ cup/60ml fresh orange juice

sesame seeds for garnishing

preparation :

Set the oven to 180C/360F.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

to make the dough :

Place in a medium bowl the almond meal, flour and salt, then whisk together. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil and sugar for a few minutes.  Add the fresh orange juice, baking powder and baking soda.  Whisk until combined – it will billow up and turn into the most gorgeous, soft, golden colour.  Slowly add to the flour and almond meal mixture, then gently combine.  The dough should be quite moist and soft. Cover and refrigerate while making the fig paste.

to make the fig paste :

Remove and discard the hard stems from the figs, chop in half, then place into a food processor, along with the sultanas, and orange zest, process until the fig are nicely broken up.  Add the cinnamon powder and pour in the orange juice. Process until it forms a thick, sticky paste and starts to come to together.  Cover and set aside.

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to assemble :

Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a piece of baking paper.  Place another piece of baking paper on top and roll out the dough into a rectangle just under ¼-inch thickness, approximately 15-x 9-inches.  (It is fine for the dough to be longer than 15-inches but makes sure it is no wider than 9 – 10 inches.  To make a neat rectangle, trim off any excess dough around the sides and press it into the corners which need more shaping.  Spoon the fig filling over the dough and spread evenly, making sure it comes all the way to the edges.

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Use the baking paper to gently roll the long side of the dough around the filling, so that it forms a neat log. Leave the seam side down as the weight of the roll seals the edge.  Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and use the outer edges of the baking paper to help press the seeds into the top of the roll and the sides, pressing any seeds which have fallen down.  The contrast between the dough and fig paste will be more pronounced after baking.  Place the log in the freezer for 20 minutes – this will make it firmer for easier cutting.

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With a sharp knife, slice into 2 cm thick pieces, wiping the knife after each cut. If wanting a more perfect round shape, rotate the roll after several cuts, then give them a gentle squeeze to reshape them into rounds on the tray.

Carefully transfer them onto the baking tray, laying them flat, with the spiral of the fig paste facing up.

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Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray half way through baking and bake until golden in colour,  remove from the oven.  Delicious eaten warm, or later that same day, or the next.

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everyday simple dal for Yasmin

6th March 2017

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A simple dal we make weekly, served with chapati and along side a cabbage or okra palya.  A recipe my daughter requested that I write-up so that she can refer to when she moves out later this year.  It is also one of her favourite meal combinations.  We are in the process of learning how to make 6 easy meals which she can prepare herself.  This dal being one of them.

If the thought of making chapati sounds a bit over whelming – it can be served with a bowl of rice and a crispy salad.  When drizzled with ghee it becomes a deeply soothing, warming, nourishing meal.

The tomatoes can be replaced with any vegetable of choice,  I like the process of stewing them in a voggarane pan before adding them into the cooked dāl, this way they slightly caramalise, deepening the flavour with the spices.

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~ Evening forage at the end of the day in a blanket of mist.  Silent.

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everyday simple dal

Serves 3 – 4

Inspired by Tara O’brady – Everyday Yellow Dal.

In Ayurveda, it is important to understand the different types of dal/legumes used and their energetic qualities.  There are two dals which are favourable and used most often – whole mung beans (whole moong beans) and split moong dal (yellow split lentils) which are whole moong beans skinned and split.  These two are easy to digest, gentle on the system and cause minimum disturbances to your constitution.  All other dal/legumes are recommended to use in moderation and in small quantities.

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ingredients :

1 cup/220g yellow split moong dal (yellow split lentils)

3 cups/750ml water

for the voggarane :

2 Tblsp ghee

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

8 fresh curry leaves

1 dried chilli – torn in half

⅛ tsp asafoetida powder

⅛ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

1 medium tomato, chopped into small pieces

½ – 1 tsp fine rock salt

a small handful coriander leaves

juice from half a lemon

preparation :

In a heavy saucepan, wash dal several times until water runs clear – then drain.

Pour the 3 cups water into saucepan and bring to boil on a medium-high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer. (Do not cover the pot, this allows certain impurities or energetic imbalances to be eliminated.)  You may need to skim of any foam which accumulates at the top at the beginning of boiling.  Simmer until dāl is soft, creamy and broken down – approximately 30 minutes.  You may need to add a little water if the dal becomes too dry.  I like to have the consistency quite thick when serving with chapatis and more liquid when serving with rice.

While waiting for the dal to soften, prepare the voggarane.  In a small pan over medium heat, add the ghee, once hot add mustard seeds; as the seeds start to splutter and pop (make sure the mustard seeds have popped well), add the cumin seed, curry leaves, fry for a few seconds, then add asafoetida and turmeric powder, swishing the pan around allowing spices to fry evenly.  To the voggarane add the chopped tomatoes and ginger, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, fry until the tomato starts to break up.

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Stir this into the dal, add salt, lemon juice and garnish with fresh coriander.  Serve with fresh chapati, a cabbage or okra palya.

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barley kichadi

22nd February 2017

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Barley is cooling, sweet, and mildly astringent.  Ideal for decreasing Pitta and Kapha.  It can improve a sluggish digestion and has a slightly drying effect, helping to clear fluids from the body. Barley is considered one of the “good” carbohydrates.

If the water in which barley is boiled, is given to a person suffering from diarrhea it gives him instant relief.

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~ evening reflections.

~ Pleopeltis polypodioides, also known as the resurrection fern. The resurrection fern gets its name because it can survive long periods of drought by curling up its fronds, appearing grey-brown and dead. However, when just a little water is present, the fern will uncurl and reopen, appearing to “resurrect” and restoring itself to a vivid green colour within about 24 hours.

~’Chasmanthe floribunda, African cornflag.

~ the outer edges of the wall at the end of the day.

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barley kichadi

Serves 3 – 4

I have been making this weekly, quick and easy with a scoop of thick yogurt and a drizzling of ghee, it is a wonderfully warming, soothing and cleansing meal.  When simmering the moong dal try to catch them while they still hold their shape and before they turn to mush.  I use an organic pearl barley in this recipe, if using unhusked barley it will need an overnight soaking and longer cooking time – recommended to boil separately ½ hour before adding the moong dal .

Our favourite barley recipe is this lovely soothing lemon barley water.

ingredients :

½ cup/100g  pearl barley

½ cup/100g whole moong dal (mung beans)

2 litre /8 cups water

1 cup/90g chopped celery/fennel

1 cup/50g chopped cabbage

1 heaped teaspoon rock salt 

1½ heaped tsp jaggery/brown sugar

¼ cup/20g dried shredded coconut

1 Tblsp finely chopped ginger

½ cup/60g frozen green peas

voggarane :

1 Tbsp  ghee

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

⅛ heaped tsp asafoetida powder (hingu)

1 medium red chilli, roughly chopped

10-15 fresh curry leaves

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

juice of half a lemon or more to taste

½ cup chopped fresh coriander 

handful small kale/spinach leaves

preparation :

Place the whole moong dal & barley, in a heavy saucepan and cover with water.  Swish around with your hand, drain, repeat and rinse.  Do this several times until the water runs clear.  Pour the 8 cups water into the pot and bring to boil over a high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a rapid simmer.  Simmer until barley has soften and the dal is cooked but still holding their shape – approximately 30 – 40 minutes. (Do not cover the pot, this allows certain impurities or energetic imbalances to be eliminated.) Half way through cooking add the chopped celery & cabbage.

While waiting for the barley & dal to cook, chop the chilli into three pieces and tear the curry leaves in half (this way everyone is guaranteed to consume a curry leaf and benefit from their medicinal properties).

When the barley & moong dal has softened, add salt, sugar/jaggery, dried coconut and the chopped ginger.  Simmer for 5 minutes more, then turn off the heat, add the peas, (if using fresh peas add 5 mins after adding other vegetables) cover and set aside.

prepare the voggarane:

In a small pan over medium heat, add ghee and mustard seeds.   When the seeds start to splutter and pop, turn down the heat and add the cumin seeds, asafoetida powder (hingu), and the chopped red chilli.  Fry until sizzling and fragrant.  Add the curry leaves and turmeric powder and fry for 30 seconds, swishing the pan around to allow for the spices to fry evenly.

Turn off the heat, add the voggarane to the kichadi.   Squeeze in the lemon juice and with your hands, break up the fresh coriander and kale, stir into the kichadi.  Check for seasoning, adding more salt or lemon if needed.  When ready, drizzle with ghee, garnish with fresh coriander and serve with a spoon of yogurt.

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kaseri bath – sweet upma

12th February 2017

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Satyam, sivam and sundaram.

Truth, sacredness, and beauty are three most important characteristics seen through the universe. They come from the Eternal Truth and are contained in everything to a greater or lesser extent. Happiness takes shelter under their protection.  Violence can utterly spoil them.  When we intentionally violate these qualities we violate Truth. It is therefore our duty to preserve and maintain them.

~ The sacred Tradition of Yoga – Dr Shankaranarayana Jois

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A recipe shared by our teacher last year as part of  The Jivana Yoga Diploma, we are fortunate to be graced with their presence here in Portugal.  Their presence in our home and lives leaves a profound effect on our daily existence and our practices become that little bit more concrete and established on this yogic path.

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Kaseri Bath – Sweet Upma

Serves 8 – 10 small servings

Kaseri Bath is especially recommended for Yoga practitioners.  It calms the mind and keeps it fresh.  It may be used by all constitutions.  Kaseri Bath can be served as part of a main meal and it is especially recommended to be served with Upma or Idli.  Best served warm, it is the Indian tradition to start with the sweet first.  Depending on the type of sugar used, the taste and colour may vary. Instead of bananas, apple or pineapple can be used.

ingredients :

1½ cups/350ml warm water

1 pinch saffron – approximately 15 threads

6 cardamom pods  – ¼ tsp ground

3 medium-sized bananas – approximately 200g chopped

10 pieces raw cashew nuts

10 pieces raw almonds

1 cup/165g semolina

½ cup/125ml ghee – liquid

¼ cup/35g raisins/sultanas

¼ tsp fine rock salt

1 cup/205g light brown sugar 

preparation :

Measure out the 1½ cups water and place the saffron threads to steep for 15 minutes, while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Peel & cut the bananas into 1 cm pieces.  Cut the almonds into 3 pieces and the cashew nuts into 2 pieces.

Remove the hard shell from the cardamom, and place the small black seeds in a mortar and pestle, grind into a fine powder.  Set aside.

Over a medium heat, pour the ghee into a medium-sized skillet/bandalei, add almonds, cashews and semolina.  Stir continuously for approximately 10 minutes, or until the cashews have turned golden-brown in colour.

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Pour in the saffron water, add the raisins, chopped banana and salt. Stir continuously for approximately 3 minutes.  Add the sugar, after about 30 seconds of stirring the Kesari Bath will become considerably more softer and liquid in consistency, and then will thicken slightly again. 

This process will take approximately  2-3 minutes, of continually stirring; or until the sugar has dissolved.  While stirring, once you feel the Kesari Bath is thicker in consistency and starts to slide away from the pan – it is ready.  Turn off the heat, stir in the cardamon powder, mixing well. 

Allow the Kesari Bath to rest for a minute and for the flavours to deepen.  Serve warm.

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garam masala powder

25th January 2017

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Garam means “heating” and masala means “spice blend”.   Garam masala is a warming spice mix – in Ayurveda, the word ‘warming’ refers to the ‘heating properties’ of the ingredients.

Garam Masala is a very simple spice to make, you can toast the spices on the back burner while you prepare the vegetables for the dish you are going to make.  When you grind the spices, the most delicious aromas fills your kitchen and puts you into a state of blissful contentment.  And that is good place to start when cooking!

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In yogic philosophy the cook who prepares the meal is very much honoured.  The mindset of the cook deeply affects the food.   It is important for the person preparing the food to maintain a calm and quiet demeanor, thinking about divine subjects is also highly beneficial while preparing food.  If the cook is a seeker of Truth, holding the thought that her efforts to prepare the meal will support aspirants will have a positive effect to those who eat it.  

  ~ The Sacred Tradition of Yoga – Dr Shankaranarayana Jois.

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garam masala

Recipe inspired from ‘The Vegetarian Table’ by Yamuna Devi.

If you have ajwain seeds add ½ tsp to the recipe below.  Grind your own cardamom as the taste is so much more fragrant, fresher and more intense. An easy way to do this is place 3 tablespoons of cardamom pods in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder, and roughly grind. Use a strainer to sift the ground pods, discard the shells and grind the bigger chunks again to a finer powder.  Make in small batches, as the spices can lose some of their flavour after just a couple of months, which can change the flavour and balance of the whole blend.  When using Garam Masala it is best to add at the end of cooking.

Makes about  cup

ingredients :

½ cup/35g coriander seeds

3 Tblsp fennel seeds

1 Tblsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cardamom seeds

10 whole cloves

½ tsp red pepper flakes

2 – inch piece cinnamon stick (roughly broken up)

preparation :

Preheat a heavy skillet over medium-low heat.  Add all the ingredients except the cardamom (as roasting it destroys the ‘sweetness’ in the seeds) and dry toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they darken slightly – about 10 – 15 minutes.

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Transfer the spices to a bowl, allow to cool completely, when cool place in a coffee grinder or blender, add in the cardamom seeds and grind to a powder.

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Sift through, discarding the roughage – depending on how powerful your grinder is.  Use while fresh or store in an airtight container for up to a month.  I use garam masala in this gingerbread spice cake & fruit cake in replace of the all-spice, in this tofu curry or in these vegetable samosas – using a quick good quality puff pastry.

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roasted carrot, cauliflower, whole moong dal, mustard & greens

10th January 2017

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So good to have my site back.  It had disappeared for 10 days – having it back was like having the comfort of an old friend.

We just came back from a holiday with my husband’s family travelling through parts of Kerala in the South of India.  We started in Cochin, staying in a lovely place called The Eight Bastion in Fort Kochi, where the food was exceptional, and prepared by a wonderful chef who catered for all our odd dietary needs taking such pride,care and enthusiasm in everything he prepared – there was no need to venture out for our meals.  We saw the Chinese fishing nets and visited a few local churches and a Synagogue – in the heart of Fort Kochi.  We then travelled high up into the hill stations of Munnar.  This part of the trip was my favourite.  We stayed at a lovely resort called ‘The Spice Tree” where we were literally up in the clouds.

We went on hikes through the plantations and saw all sorts of spices grown – peppercorns, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and even had a go at cutting and harvesting rice.  The evening sunset walks were particularly special, enjoying the breath-taking views down into the valley.  The last part of our trip was exploring the backwaters. We spent a day on one of the typical house-boats made of teak and bamboo – observing how the local people lived on the water, using the river to bathe, to wash their clothes and dishes, as a source of food and transport and everything in between., we watched palm tree after palm tree pass us by, paddy fields and colourful houses and a romantic way of life that seems unchanged for centuries.  This is the beauty of Kerala.

For the last 25 years, we have been travelling to India, and this was the first time as a tourist, rather than a budding yoga practitioner.  India as always, presented her magic and opened all our hearts – it was a truly memorable and magical trip.

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~ Chinese fishing nets in a bright sky at Fort Cochin

~ Tea Plantations taken from the bus window at the end of a winding, five hour journey, Munnar

~ Domestic chores along the river, Kumarakom

~ Water, vegetation and sky all become one, Back waters

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a warm salad of mustard, roasted carrot cauliflower & moong dal

Recipe slightly adapted from Grown and Gathered.

Don’t be shy with the kale greens, just make it green and lots of it.  I love how the carrot adds a splash of colour; roasted beets would also work.  I serve it with a whole avocado, sliced and spread into a fan, and slices of grilled haloumi. It is also great with a bowl of hummus.  A welcomed dish to take along to a lunch or dinner.

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main.

ingredients :

400g carrots or Baby (Dutch) tops trimmed to 2cm

½ head/400g cauliflower

½ cup/100g whole moong dal (whole mung bean)

3 cups water

120g kale, mustard greens, chard, spinach, coarsely chopped

mustard dressing :

1 Tblsp yellow mustard seeds

2 Tblsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tblsp brown sugar/jaggery/honey

zest from two lemons

vinaigrette :

2 Tblsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 Tblsp lemon juice (1 large lemon)

½ tsp fine rock salt

⅛ tsp ground black pepper

1 Tblsp honey/sugar (optional)

preparation :

Pre-heat the oven to 190 C/ 375F.

Cut the cauliflower into rough 4 cm florets, and place in a large bowl.  Peel the carrots and cut into matchsticks, about 5 cm in length. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the mustard seeds until about half are ground and half are cracked. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and continue to grind gently until combined.  Pour the dressing over the cauliflower and carrot. Toss, using your hands until thoroughly combined.  Spread the vegetables out on a baking tray in a single layer and roast for 45min – 1 hour, or until the vegetables are just beginning to blacken around the edges.

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Wash the moong dal (whole mung beans) thoroughly and place in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a rapid simmer and leave, uncovered until they are tender – about 20 – 30 minutes. Just keep in mind you may have to add more water when cooking – depending on the quality of your dal. You really need to keep an eye on them and judge so that you are not left with mush. You want the mung beans firm, but cooked. When ready, pour into a strainer to drain off any excess water – leave for a few minutes.

Prepare the vinaigrette – place the oil, lemon juice, zest, honey, salt and pepper in a jar. Seal with a lid and shake well.  Set aside.

Wash the mustard and kale leaves, removing the inner thicker stem from the kale and chard, and roughly chop.  Lightly saute in a heavy-bottomed skillet, turn off the heat and cover for a few minutes until just wilted. Place in a large salad or serving bowl, pour over the vinaigrette and roughly massage with your hands to bruise the leaves.  Add the cooked moong dal and toss gently.  The heat from the dal will help soften the leaves even more.  Set aside for the flavours to come together while the vegetables are still roasting.

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When the vegetables are ready, add them to the marinated greens and dal and gently combine.  Garnish the top with a large avocado, sliced and spread out into a fan, then add a few good rounds of freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

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Goodness shared by Stacey

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chocolate-hazelnut truffles & pecan-cardamom date balls

17th December 2016

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These make a wonderful healthy addition to bring along to a festive celebration or wrap them up in some recycled paper, a ribbon with a little bit of nature tucked in somewhere for a well-wisher or loved one.  They are always appreciated.  Some other ideas are these homemade raw halvah or zesty mango bliss balls or these chocolate covered caramels  Or an assortment of all three!

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chocolate – toasted hazelnut truffles

You could experiment with the different variations of these chocolate balls by adding orange or lemon zest, fresh mint, peppermint essence or even delicately salted.  For a smoother consistency, grind the nuts first, and then add the rest of the ingredients.

I like how toasting brings out the rich flavour in the nuts, if wanting to keep the truffles raw skip the toasting process.

Inspired by Donna’s Date Chocolate Balls & Green Kitchen Stories

Makes about 18 – 20 balls

ingredients :

15 large medjool dates, pitted

50g dried unsweetened shredded coconut

100g toasted hazelnuts/almonds

1 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

2 – 4 Tbsp cacao/carob powder

1 Tblsp water

1 tsp cinnamon powder

preparation :

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Place the hazelnuts on a tray and toast for 12 minutes, (until fragrant, careful not to burn them) roll in a clean tea towel to remove some of the skin.  The toasting brings out the warm rich hazelnut flavour.

Place all the ingredients for the chocolate-hazelnut truffles in a food processor, and pulse for about 1 minute or until the mixture comes together.  Take a small amount of the mixture and roll into small round balls.  If you are having trouble with the mixture coming together, place the dough in the  fridge for 15 minutes.  Rolls the balls in cocoa/carob powder, finely chopped toasted almond flakes or shredded coconut. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.  Or package them into a jar tied with ribbon or raffia for a holiday gift offering.

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pecan – cardamom spiced date balls

I love these bite size balls for their exotic taste!  If possible, grind your own cardamom as the taste is so much more fragrant, fresher and more intense.  An easy way to do this is place 3 tablespoons of cardamom pods in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder, and roughly grind. Use a strainer to sift the ground pods, discard the shells and grind the bigger chunks again to a finer powder.  

A recipe inspired by Anna

Makes 18 – 20

ingredients :

12 large medjool dates, pitted

50g dried cranberries/goji berries (if using goji berries roughly chop)

50g dried unsweetened shredded coconut

100g raw pecans/toasted almonds

1 Tblsp extra virgin coconut oil

2 Tblsp freshly ground cardamom

1 Tblsp water

1 tsp ginger powder/1 Tblsp grated fresh ginger

preparation :

Place all the ingredients for the pecan-cardamom truffles in a food processor, and pulse for about a minute or until the mixture comes together. Take a small amount of the mixture and roll into small round balls; half the size of a golf ball.  If you are having trouble with the mixture coming together, place the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Rolls the balls in finely chopped toasted pecans or shredded coconut.  Place in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.  Or package them into a jar tied with ribbon or raffia for a holiday gift offering.

4V7A9372_1980x1297Goodness shared by Stacey

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