VICTOR’S CHAI TEA

chaiteaCHAI tea is a staple across India and also in my kitchen.  I love its intoxicating aroma that fills the house while on the stove.  It is a perfect everyday drink for the colder months.  There are countless ways to make chai.  I have several varieties posted to my blog.

This recipe, I adapted from Victor Van Kooten’s chai recipe that stands out time and time again as a favorite.  I had the good fortune of studying yoga with Victor several summers in a row in a friend’s living room.

These intimate weekend workshops were steeped in inquiry and creative movement. We were taught techniques for harnessing energy and working with the inner body all while being inspired by Victor’s gifts of brilliant metaphor and delightful humor.  As we practiced yoga, the aroma of this incredible chai would fill the house.

If you do not know Victor, I’d highly recommend checking out the beautiful and comical books he has published.  Not only is he a master yoga teacher with decades of study in India, he is also a remarkable artist.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Quarts water
  • 1 – 3″ fresh ginger root, sliced thin
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp of cardamom seed (decorticated)
  • 3 stars of star anise (broken apart)
  • 1 – 6″ cinnamon stick
  • 9 whole peppercorns
  • 2 tsp orange peel, dried

FOR SERVING (all optional)

  • Darjeeling tea
  • Milk or almond milk
  • Sugar or jaggery

DIRECTIONS

  1. For extra flavor, place all dry ingredients in a blender or mortar/pestle, grind coarse.
  2. Place all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Add one 1 tsp Darjeeling Tea per cup (optional)
  4. Milk or almond milk, to taste – I recommend heating the milk so that it doesn’t curdle when added to the hot chai.
  5. Add sugar or jaggery to taste.
  6. Use ORGANIC ingredients whenever possible.

 

KHEER RICE PORRIDGE

kheerIf heaven was in a bowl, this is it!  Kheer is a comforting sweet treat for the cold season.

As the cool, crisp and dry qualities of autumn increase, it may leave you feeling more anxious or ungrounded.  Skin, hair, nails and even the bowels may become more dry.  Ayurveda believes like increases like and opposites balance.

Shifting your diet to include the qualities of warm, smooth and moist, which help pacify the vata dosha, will help your mind and body maintain greater balance through the seasonal transitions of autumn and early winter.

Kheer is a traditional Indian rice pudding often enjoyed as a dessert.  Honestly, once a week, I sneak it in as breakfast porridge.   The sweet taste is best enjoyed in moderation.  I have replaced processed sugars that are often used in desserts with natural sweeteners like raw honey, maple syrup and vanilla.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 c brown basmati rice, cooked
  • 2 c almond milk
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 2″ vanilla bean scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c raisins
  • 15 almonds, soaked, peeled & chopped
  • 6 saffron threads
  • 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small pot, over medium heat, combine rice, almond milk, raisins, ginger, and cardamom.  Turn down to low, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla, saffron and almonds, cooking another 5 minutes or until desired porridge consistency.
  3. To serve, divide porridge between two bowls, and add 1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup to each bowl.

GINGER TAHINI NOURISHMENT BOWL

sweet potato and chard veggie bowl
Attuning your diet to the seasons will support your equilibrium and optimal health throughout the year.  Ayurveda suggests that like increases like and opposites balance.  As autumn arrives the qualities of cool, light, rough and mobile are more present.  Introducing the opposite qualities of warm, heavy, smooth and stable can be deeply nourishing and balancing for the body and mind.

I like to make this smooth ginger tahini sauce and change up the vegetables and grains to create variety in my weekly lunches.  The bowl above features quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, garbanzo, edamame and steamed lacinato kale.  Another favorite is forbidden black rice, steamed broccoli, kabocha squash and red russian kale.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c tahini
  • 1/2 c lemon juice, fresh
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 3″ piece ginger, minced

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Enjoy ginger tahini sauce over warm cooked vegetables and grains of your choice.

Recipe makes enough tahini sauce for about 2-3 vegetable bowls.

CARROT & BEET SALAD

This shredded carrot and beet salad is by far one of my favorite summer salads.  Toss on top of a green salad, on a sandwich, add to a wrap or enjoy as a side dish.  It is also a great choice for potlucks.

Ingredients

2 c shredded carrots
2 c shredded beets
1 tbsp+ fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp+ grated ginger
1 tbsp parsley
pinch of sea salt to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl whisk lemon juice. coconut oil, ginger, parsley and salt.
  2. Add carrots and beets, mix well to coat.

RED LENTIL & KABOCHA SQUASH SOUP

redlentilsquash

After a long travel day, going from warm sunny Costa Rica, to damp and grey Madison, I was craving a nourishing and grounding meal. Luckily these staple ingredients were waiting at home for me.  This soup is quick to make, easy to digest and filling, plus it travels well to work or school in a thermos.

Taking the extra step of grinding your own spices adds a boost of flavor. If you do not have the time or whole seeds on hand, you can use ground or powdered spices. If you are short on patience for steps in cooking, this soup will also turn out well by tossing all the ingredients into a slow cooker.

1 cup split red lentils, soaked & rinsed
1 cup kabocha squash, peeled, seeded & diced
1 cup sweet potato, peeled & diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp ghee
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp pink Himalayan salt
6 cups water

  1. To support smooth digestion, soak the red lentils in cool water for 2-8 hours, then rinse well.
  2. In a spice grinder or mortar & pestle, grind cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds, set spice mix aside.
  3. In a soup pot, heat ghee on medium, add onions and sauté until translucent.
  4. Add mustard seeds until they become fragrant.
  5. Stir in spice mix along with turmeric, ginger, and salt.  Sauté until aromatic, about a minute.
  6. Add water, red lentils, squash, and sweet potatoes.  Stir, bring to a boil, then turn to medium-low heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until squash, sweet potatoes, and lentils are tender.
  7. Adjust salt to taste.

Serves 2

 

WINTER PORRIDGE

winterporridge
Breakfast is an important meal of the day.  It gives you the fuel to begin your day from a grounded and nourished place.  A hearty warm breakfast is the perfect antidote to winter’s cold mornings.  This particular porridge is heaven in a bowl.  I love farina’s smooth texture, though you could swap out farina for cream of wheat, steel cut oats or rolled oats.

1 cup farina (creamy brown rice cereal)
3 cups water
1 small apple, grated
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp ginger, grated
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp flax seeded, ground
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp maple syrup

  1. This first step is optional, though the extra work will support your digestion and make for creamier porridge.  Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse farina until the water runs clear.  In a medium pot, soak the farina over night in 3 cups of water.
  2. When ready to cook, add apple, raisins, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
  3. Bring pot to a boil, then turn heat to a simmer. Stir often so that it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot.  Cook for 10 minutes or until water has absorbed and farina is soft.
  4. Pour in to two bowls, garnish with ground flax seeds, ghee and maple syrup.
Serves 2.

TULSI LEMON GINGER TEA

IMG_8055This immune and respiratory boosting tea is perfect for cold days.   Whether you are soothing a sore throat from last week’s wicked winds, wanting to ward off the congestion that may try to sneak in with the wet days ahead, or need a little warmth, brew a mug of this healing tea.

Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is revered as one of the most sacred herbs in India.  Tulsi is considered an adaptogen and expectorant as well as contains anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  Adaptogens help the body adapt and recover from stress while being deeply balancing for the nervous system.  Tulsi is known to work wonders to prevent and recover from congestion, colds, and flu.

Tulsi tea bags can be found at most groceries stores.  You can find loose leaf tulsi locally at Willy Street Coop and Community Pharmacy or online at Rose Mountain herbs.

My all time favorite honey comes from Snug Haven farm.  You can purchase their honey at the Madison Saturday farmers market.  Lemon is high in vitamin C and antioxidants while ginger is warming and promotes circulation.  These are all good provisions to have on hand through the coming cold weather months.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups water
1-2 inch knob of ginger, sliced
Juice from half a lemon
2 tbsp loose leaf or 2 tea bags of Tulsi
honey to taste

METHOD

1. In a medium pot, bring water and ginger to a boil.  Then cover with a lid and reduce heat to low for 5-10 minutes.
2. Turn off heat and add tulsi, let steep for 5-10 minutes.
3. Remove tea bags or if choosing loose leaf tea, strain tea through a fine mesh strainer.
4. Add lemon and honey.

Serves 2-4

RED LENTIL DAHL

redlentildahl

The cool winds of autumn have arrived.  It’s the time of year to bring your warming and comforting soup recipes back into weekly meal planning.  Red lentils are an easy favorite, especially on weeknights, when you may be short on time to get a meal on the table.  They cook quickly and are more easily digested then other legumes. Although optional, I prefer to soak the lentils for 4-8 hours in water to speed their cooking time and to help promote smooth digestion.

Many different red lentil recipes circulate through my kitchen however this one has been a regular for over a decade.  I was living with an Indian boyfriend at the time.  Having grown up in a boarding school in India, he wasn’t much of a cook, though he knew exactly how things should taste.  So over the years, I perfected my cooking with Indian spices, and although the relationship didn’t last, my love of Indian inspired food has.

INGREDIENTS

1 c red lentils, well rinsed, soaking optional
4 c water
2 tbsp ghee or olive oil, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2″ ginger, minced
1 tomato, chopped
10 curry leaves, chopped
1 heaped tsp cumin, ground
1 heaped tsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
himalayan salt to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
cilantro, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a medium sized pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato and saute for another 5 minutes or until the onions become transparent.
  3. Add the water and lentils, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Stirring occasionally, cook until lentils are soft, 20-30 minutes.
  4. In a separate small pan, heat 1 tbsp of ghee on medium heat. Add cumin seeds, saute until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add cumin seeds, ghee, and salt to the soup pot.
  5. Serve in bowls, garnished with cilantro.

Serves 4

WATERMELON JUICE

watermelon
It seems, this year, the hottest and most humid of days are coming at the end of summer.

According to Ayurveda, an accumulation of summer’s heat, can increase the pitta dosha and leave you feeling fatigued, irritable, and impatient.   Watermelon juice is a great way to cool down and stay calm on a hot day.

Watermelon is known for its cooling, hydrating, and mild diuretic properties.  And who can resist its gorgeous pink color?

I add a pinch of salt and mint to balance the intensely sweet nature of watermelon.

It is important to note that in the way of optimal digestion, melons should always be eaten alone.  If enjoying a watermelon juice, wait a couple of hours before your next meal as to support best digestive health.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups chopped organic seedless watermelon
1 tbsp mint leaves
1-2 pinches Himalayan pink salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender.  A Vitamix works great as the wand attachment can press down the melon into the blade.
  2. Garnish with a mint leaf and enjoy!

 

Serves 2-4

 

WARM ROSE CARDAMON CASHEW MILK

sweet potato and chard veggie bowl

If you are a coffee drinker, ditch the coffee for this healthy morning alternative.  If you are looking for something warm to tuck you in at night, this too is your drink.

In Ayurveda, homemade nut milk combined with dates, spices, and ghee is revered for building ojas.  Ojas is the vital essence that boosts your immunity and overall sense of vitality.

Soaking the cashews and dates will allow them to blend more smoothly. Be sure to purchase organic rose petals as conventional roses are loaded with chemicals. You can purchase rose petals locally at Community Pharmacy or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Ingredients

  • 12 cashews
  • 3 medjool dates, remove pits
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp organic rose petals
  • 1/8 tsp cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp ghee
  • a few saffron threads

Directions

  1. Soak cashews and dates in separate glasses of filtered water for 2 hours.
  2. In a small pot, bring one and half cups of water to a boil. Turn off heat and add rose petals. Let steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Strain and rinse the soaked cashews and dates.
  4. Place rose tea and petals, cashews, dates, cardamon, and ghee in the blender. Place a dish towel over the lid and hold it down, to ensure the lid doesn’t blow off given the hot water. Blend until well blended.
  5. Pour warm nutmilk tea into a mug and add a few saffron threads.

 

Serves 1