"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Yogic Feast: Chapati, Dal, 2 Kinds of Salad

My good friend Sarah recently moved out to the Bay from NYC. We go back to freshman year in 2005 and I'm thrilled to have her home again. She and Erika came over for dinner one Wednesday and I was inspired to use my 'Yoga Cookbook' - a little gem I found in Varanasi, India. All the recipes are fro the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, which coincidentally also has an outpost in NYC...go figure! I also have a chapati pan I picked up in Pushkar, India for the equivalent to $1.50. I'd yet to use it so this Yogi feast was the perfect opportunity. The feast included whole wheat chapati, a slowly fermenting cabbage slaw, kale salad, and a delicious dal - all the recipes are included in this post. Sarah also has a professional camera so it was quite exciting to get some fancy looking food photos...finally! Check out my chapati pan with a piece cooking :) 
A little something about taking a midweek break for a calm, healthy, peaceful meal with loved ones...or just yourself since we all deserve self love. Sometimes life can feel like a continuous rat race of always trying to get ahead and yet - we'll never get there. But it's also a continuous adventure. I've found that at times when I may struggling against the enemy of overwork, unwholesome food, or stress - I can develop an inner strength by taking the time to have a mindful meal and more so, by sharing food with friends. Your meals aren't only cleansing for your body but also for your soul...
(makes about 18)
Chapati are the standard flat bread throughout Northern India. Made slightly different in each region, I loved the chapati on the treks.  You can use chapatis as a spoon for stews, dal or raita. 

250g whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
175ml of water

1. Combine the flour and salt. Gradually mix in the water until the dough binds together. Knead for about 10 minutes. 
2. Oil a bowl, turn the dough twice in it, then cover with a damp dish towel. Leave the dough to sit for one hour, then knead it again. 
3. Form the dough into small balls. Flatten them and roll into thin disks. As thin as you can without tearing them. Repeat turning the chapati in circles as you roll them, so you can make them evenly thin. The more symmetric the rounds are, the more they will puff up. It's tricky the first time around, like all things, you'll get better with practice.
4. Turn your burner on high and put the chapati pan on it. You can also use a skillet if you do not have a chapati pan. There should be NO grease on the pan. Cook the chapati on each side for a few seconds until it puffs up and gets golden brown. It helps to have a damp cloth handing to press down on the sides of the chapati for even puffing.
Lentil Dal
(Serves 5)
Many Indian & Middle Eastern dishes call for turmeric. While in Bahrain I learned of the health benefits of turmeric. Many women take a turmeric tea every morning to maintain memory and fight off Alzheimer's. The spice is also warming and a good stomach and appetite regulator. If you have a cold or cough, try boiling some turmeric with hot milk.

200g red lentils
750 ml water
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 butternut squash, chopped

1. Roast the butternut squash in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cubes are easily pierced with a fork. Set aside.
2. Place the lentils in a pan with the water, turmeric and bay leaf. Bring the pan to a simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Careful, tenders can easily get mushy - there is definitely a tipping point. 
3. While lentils are simmering. Heat the ghee in a skillet. Add the cumin and mustard over high heat for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the coriander, tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the butternut squash and add the mixture to the lentils. Add the salt and lemon juice. Stir to get the mixture a little thicker. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve warm :)

Optional Add-Ins:
Chopped onions - add these in with the tomatoes
Fake meat - add this in the tomatoes
Chopped boiled potatoes - add in with the tomatoes
Slowly Fermenting Cabbage Slaw
I love making a tub of this at the beginning of the week and adding some to my lunches each day. This really does get better as the days go by. I haven't perfected this recipe yet - but this is a good start. Also, as the days pass, this dish takes on a gorgeous fucsia color.

1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, smashed in a mortar and pestle 

1. Slice the cabbage and place in a bowl.
2. In a mason jar (that has a lid!) combine the sesame oil, rice vinegar, lemon juice and smashed garlic. Shake vigorously until combined. Pour over the cabbage and toss to evenly incorporate. You should taste it at this point and add more of any of the ingredients to suit your liking.
Kale Salad
The options are infinite but a favorite combination of mine is kale, avocado, sliced white onion, and hard boiled egg. All with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and a little mustard.

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