Spring is in the air !

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Spring is in the air !

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20140319-114250.jpg We have had the winter to hibernate and reflect on. Now we awaken, reNew! reEnergize and reInvent ourselves into action. A walk to through the Farmers market has indications of spring everywhere.

Keep it Simple Asparagus !

3 bunches of spring asparagus 2 large lemons, juiced 1 cup of green and black olives, I kept them whole 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped 3 tablespoons of olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and cut off the woody bottoms of the asparagus. 2. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit . 3. Place asparagus spears in baking sheet. Drizzle the oil. Add the olives and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. 4.place in hot oven for 12-14 minutes. 5. Add lemon juice and serve. Good, hot or cold or at room temperature.

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Homecoming !

Have been savoring a growth spurt. Becoming a 50% elder has been quite a journey. Have seen my whole life in slow motion versus a flash and a deeper shift to the spirit has occurred ! What this simply means is that everyday I am more and more mindful of my intentions behind my actions and a more conscious awareness of recognizing the moment.

March 18, 1983 was a new beginning . Landed at SFO as an official immigrant . March 18, 2014 is a great day to reinforce my recognition of the true homecoming ...living an enlightened life !

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Get your own Bowl !

My Bowl stories begin more than five decades ago in Kolkata, India. Mom would pick me up from school and we would have lunch together . The lunch would be traditional India...curried lentils, rice, vegetables, pickle and relish but the special item would be the bowl! Medium large brass metal bowls. Very wide and shallow, almost like the pasta bowl. I guess many , many years later the bowl has resurfaced in my life with so much more than childhood memories! Cupping the bowl of food in my hands gets me connected to the food. This food will nourish my mind, my body and my spirit!! It helps me honor the fact that the Universe and I are One ! And so I see The Universe in my bowl !!

I started my Sunday by talking to my Mum and got Bowled over. So the pasta got Bowled and spice whispered!! Enjoy the idea!

The pasta = penne pasta with a Kumato pesto The cauliflower = cauliflower in a lemon, garlic and black pepper broth The carrots, crimini mushrooms and green bell pepper = olive oil and bishop weed ( ajwain ) The fresh tomatoes= fresh tomatoes, feta and will be adding some fresh tarragon!!

The best idea of the bowl is that one can create their own special pasta bowl !!

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East meets West !

Three decades ago, I replanted my roots in the Bay Area. Having become deeply dual rooted over the years, it is no surprise that my food reflects this .These Poached Pears with Saffron Semolina ( Sooji ka halva ) are representing that dual rooted ness. Sooji ka Halva ( a sweet semolina polenta) is a very special dessert in North India. It is served on all auspicious occasions . I remember the way the house smelled when the semolina was being toasted in ghee. Many wonderful memories are attached to the halva.

So when the garden provided pears, pears and more pears, I decided to make these poached pears in raspberry, rose and hibiscus and pair it with saffron Sooji halva.

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Don't kill them !

I am always bothered about making strawberry jam! We take the farm fresh, vitamin loaded strawberries. Then add sugar and cook and cook and cook till we have jam for the year !! This process unfortunately kills a lot of the nutrients and ends up with too much sugar! Here is my 5 minute method of fresh tasting, healthy strawberry jam!

1 Cup fresh strawberries, washed and hulled 2 Tablespoons chia seeds

Put the two ingredients in the blender. Purée. Refrigerate for several hours to gel. Enjoy! This jam will need to be refrigerated . Uses:

I love having this in my breakfast cereal. Make your own fruit yogurt by adding a dollop to your plain yogurt. Great with scones. Makes a great strawberry vinaigrette.

Need I go on.

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Broth and Spice! Makes simple and nice !

Hello Namaste All! A visit to the farmer's market always brings joy to me. This corn and miso broth soup was inspired by the market ingredients, the weather and the Whisperings of the spices !

6 ears of corn, husked 4 medium carrots, scrubbed, cut diagonally 2 cups shelled edamame 1 teaspoon garlic, minced 1 teaspoon ginger, minced 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced ( optional ),your choice. I used, cilantro, mint, tarragon 8 cups of water 2 tablespoons light miso paste 1 tablespoon Spice Whisperer blend ( you can substitute a good curry powder)

In a large pot bring the water and corn to a boil. Then simmer for about 30 minutes. When cool , slice the kernels off the cob and put back into the corn stock. I added the denuded cobs too. Add the spice blend, ginger, garlic, edamame and carrots and simmer another 15 minutes or more. Just before serving stir the miso paste and fresh herbs!!

Enjoy!

Note: You can customize the vegetable combinations to your taste and availability. Serve it with a plate of noodles and stir fried greens and you have a full meal !

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Lavender kissed chocolate balls !!

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The idea of creating these chocolate balls came from several sources. Lavender is in full bloom. In India there is a popular milk based dessert called "peda". And then there is dark chocolate!

So these delicious lavender kissed chocolate balls take shape.

Intuitive recipe

1 # fresh ricotta or homemade paneer ( Indian pot cheese) 6-7 ounces 70% dark chocolate Organic and Fair Trade preferred 1 1/2 cups almond meal 1/3 cup organic, raw sugar 1/2 teaspoon crushed lavender

1. Place ricotta in a heavy bottomed pan. On medium heat cook the ricotta for a few minutes. Add the sugar and keep cooking till the mixture thickens and begins to pull in from the sides of the pan. 2. Add the chocolate in small chunks. Keep stirring till the chocolate has melted and mixed evenly. 3. Add the lavender . Shut the heat and mix thoroughly. 4. Cool the mixture. Form into balls and refrigerate.

This makes about 20-24 balls.

Enjoy !

 

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What Pride !!

It is truly a Pride weekend in San Francisco , Bay area !!! inspired to make a Pride Salad! Purple rice, millet, red bell peppers, zucchini, carrots , fresh mango and fennel. It is proudly dressed with  preserved lemons and flax seed oil !!2013-06-29 10.38.28 2013-06-29 10.39.09

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Beat the heat !!

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Beat the heat !!

2013-06-27 13.17.54

2013-06-27 13.17.54Namaste Hello All! Nostalgic food! When the heat hits !  I crave for the salted lassi ! So, while I am walking down memory lane, I am also walking in my backyard gathering a few mint leaves .

This was my lassi today !

2 cups plain, low fat yogurt

5 cups water

2 cups ice cubes

10-12 large leaves mint

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground, toasted cumin seeds

Blend all ingredients . Enjoy !!

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Tea Time at Memory Lane !!

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Tea Time at Memory Lane !!

2013-05-20 15.06.28

2013-05-20 15.06.28This post is inspired by the love of sisters!! Many moons ago Punita ( my sister) and Vinita took a Teapot Trail in the UK. It was about the Tea, the Teapots, the scones, dainty cucumber sandwiches and Love !! Love that creates memories of a lifetime ! Punita is an amazing person. She inspires me with her intensity! I miss her terribly and these scones have all the love of the Tea pot Trails and more.

Inspired Scones !

Makes 8 scones
2    cups whole wheat pastry flour
1    tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ,  cinnamon powder
2/3 of a medium size banana, mashed
1/8 teaspoon salt
5   Tablespoons butter, chilled, cubed
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup milk, low fat
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F!
  • In a food processor, add flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon powder. Pulse a few seconds to mix the dry ingredients.
  • Add butter, a few chunks at a time and pulse till the mixture resembles cornmeal.
  • Add  banana and pulse about 4-5 times.
  • Add the chia and hemp seeds and lemon zest and pulse a few more times.
  • Add milk in a few batches, and pulse a few times.
  • Transfer the almost ball of dough to a floured surface.
  • Push it together and form a disk! Flatten it to about 1 1/2 inch thickness.
  • Cut disk into 8 pieces. Lay them in a sheet pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes
Enjoy!!
Notes:
If you do not want to use a food processor, you can work the butter into the flour with fingertips or pastry blender.

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Welcoming Mother's Day !

20130506-202058.jpgSagging boobs, miles of wrinkles and stretch marks are my testament to years of nurturing and learning!  With THANKS to my mother, and her mother before her, and her mother before her and all the mothers before them, for this true gift. She is my source ! With utter surety her hand guided me on this path and journey. With love and grateful humbleness I wish all A Happy Mother's Day !

I dedicate the basic food of Punjab.....the roti, an unleavened flatbread, to this Mother's day. My mum still enjoys this with a dollop of freshly churned butter, a pinch of salt and a few chili flakes !

Whole wheat rotis

2 cups whole wheat flour ( my favorite is from Community Grains communitygrains.com )

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water ( or more) for a smooth but wet dough

  • Knead the dough. Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • Portion the dough into 6 to 8 balls and roll them into medium to thin circles ( about 6 inches circle)
  • Place a griddle on medium high heat. When hot place a rolled out roti on the griddle.
  • Let cook for a minute or so, then flip to the other side. Lift after about 2 minutes to see tiny brown spots.
  • Now turn over and with a wadded tea towel, gently press to puff up the roti.
  • Remove from heat , smear with a touch of butter or ghee and eat ! ENJOY !

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the-spicewhisperer !

Come share my current incarnation..... The -Spice Whisperer. Some read auras. I read spices. Every transition  in my life is to bring about a new vision. The-Spice Whisperer is my new practice of  living and sharing with more intention!

The stories of the spices embody the communities, the women, the histories of the world. "The something better for tomorrow Lies embedded in the past !" And through the spicewhisperer we shall discover this !!

Spices, they resonate with me.

You pound them,roast them,

Dry them and toast them.

And they impart their essence to you No matter what!

They heal. They flavor. They whisper through our foods.

Inspiration comes from my Mother, my sister, my daughter and all the amazing barefoot goddesses of the world !!

May the spices fill your life with love and peace.

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Gluten-free amaranth risotto

Risotto is a wonderful side dish for chicken, porkchops, grilled fish or a pot of lentils. And amaranth is a tasty and nutritious grain, with higher protein and fiber than the traditionally used arborio rice. Thus, this is a great spicy and gluten free version that will hit the spot at your dinner table.

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Amaranth Risotto

Makes 6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Amaranth
  • 6 cups water or stock of choice
  • 4 cups packed baby spinach
  • 3 cups lightly steamed broccoli florets
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add a dash more or less, depending on your heat preference)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts*
Method:
  • In a large saucepan, bring liquid to a boil. Add the amaranth, spices and salt. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes. Be sure to stir at least twice during this time to make sure the amaranth does not stick to the bottom.
  • Toast the pine nuts, lightly. You can dry toast them on low heat in a pan or in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit .
  • Once the amaranth is done, add the spinach, cheese and broccoli. You'll know it's done because the liquid will be absorbed and the grains will be tender and chewy.
  • Serve hot  in a bowl and top with the pine nuts.
*Pine nuts are expensive, but don't let that hold you back from adding a crunch to your risotto. Toasted walnuts or slivered almonds work wonders. Allergies? Croutons work, too. 

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Lemon Pickle

In the last few months, our lemon tree has been generous and given us a basketful of lovely fruit. They looked so beautiful that they inspired me to make an Indian pickle. A lot of people ask me what the difference is between "Western" pickles and "Indian" pickles. Western pickles, like dill pickles, are submerged in a brining solution made up of water, vinegar and spices. Indian pickle, or "achaar", on the other hand, is made up of traditional spices and vegetables in oil. You can delve into a jar a mere week after you've prepared it.

Preparing my achaar brought back memories from more than 40 years ago of me in the Northern India city of Lucknow. My maternal grandparents had their home there and all of our family gathered there for both summer and winter vacations.

Winters were lovely outdoors in the afternoons. The women would gather and some food activity would always be going on. Making massive amounts of pickles was what I remember the most: Large amounts of vegetables, spices and big huge cooking pots to prepare everything. One very popular North Indian pickle was a mixture of cauliflower, carrots and turnip. The spices with these particular vegetables create a slightly sweet and spicy flavor.

Our grandmothers and great aunts would sit and give directions to the daughters and daughter-in-laws and kids. All the women and girls in the family would be a part of the pickle process. It's amazing how some actions force you to recall memories, as if you were right back where you were all those years ago. Last Monday, I once again felt the cool on my skin and the warmth of the sun. I smell the  prepped vegetables and the warm love of generations of wonderful women.

Picture a beautiful courtyard with a patch of velvet lawn. Sheets are spread on the lawn and blanched veggies are drying on it. Mounds of deep red carrots, white cauliflower and turnips with a shy shade of purple. Portable stoves have huge pots, oil gets heated, and spices are toasted. The pungent and spicy smells fill the air, eyes watering at times with the pure mustard oil. I remember an aunt who smoked the hookah, shouting instructions while seated on the "charpai," a simple woven bed. And then I return -  back in my kitchen in California thousands of miles away from Lucknow. It's a different time but a familiar and wonderful sense of continuity.

My kitchen fills with aromas, memories and a lot of love that will be shared both through the recipes and little samples with family, friends and students.

Pickle can be enjoyed with so many things - an Indian meal of curried lentils and rice - or think outside the jar - try alongside grilled pork chops or topped on pita chips. So many possibilities!

Lemon Pickle ("Nimbu Achaar")

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Yields: 2.5 cups

Vegetarian/Vegan/Low-sodium

Ingredients:

2 cups lemons with peel, diced into quarter inch pieces 6 chilies, jalapeno or Serrano 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup fenugreek seeds 1/4 cup whole mustard seeds (yellow or black are fine) 2 tbsp ground cumin 2 tbsp ground coriander 2 tbsp ground sesame seed 2 tbsp garam masala 2 tbsp ground paprika 4 tbsp red wine vinegar Juice from three large lemons 1 tbsp salt Optional: 12 curry leaves

Method:

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan; add fenugreek and mustard seeds. Heat until the seeds start to pop!

2. Add the curry leaves, cumin, coriander, sesame seed, garam masala and parika. Stir this mixture over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes - you should really start to smell the toasted spices coming together.

3. While the spices are toasting, wash the chilies and pat dry with a towel

4. Once the spices are toasted, add the chilies and lemon to the saucepan. Stir so that all the lemons are coated with the mixture.

5. Add the lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Lower the heat and stir frequently for about 8-10 minutes. Constant stirring will prevent the spices from burning at the bottom of the pan.

6. Transfer to a glass bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap or an air tight lid. Leave out of the refrigerator to sit for at least a week. Stir twice a day during the first week.

7. After a week, transfer the pickle to mason jar/jars, making sure that the pickle is packed down, ensuring that oil covers the jar. This will help preserve the pickle for up to a month. If you can't cover each jar with the oil, put it in your refrigerator. It will keep for up to three months there.

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Dal Palak (Lentil Spinach Soup)

I love when my entire meal can fit into one bowl. When it's soup season, why not call upon the spices that help make our bellies feel warm and satisfied? This lentil soup gets its flavor from mustard seeds, turmeric powder and chilies. Grab some crusty bread or some hot naan, and you're all set.

Dal Palak (Lentil Spinach Soup)

Ingredients:

1 cup red lentils, rinse and soak 3 1/2 cups liquid ( water,broth, stock, brewed tea) 3 cups baby spinach,ready to use 1 cup carrot chunks, medium size 2 cinnamon sticks 1 teaspoon prepared mustard* 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 2 dried chilies 1 teaspoon mustard seeds ( brown or black) 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1 teaspoon minced ginger 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1 lemon , juiced 1/2 teaspoon , cracked black pepper 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil) Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Place the lentils in the liquid of choice, together with the carrots,ginger,garlic,cinnamon,turmeric ,mustard and pepper in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes or so, till the lentils are very tender.
  3. In another small saucepan, heat the oil and add the mustard and cumin seeds till they snap, crackle, and pop!
  4. Add the dried chilies till they are lightly toasted. Then turn off the heat.
  5. Pour this tempered mixture into the lentils.
  6. Add the spinach. Let this simmer a few more minutes. You can add more water if you like a more soupier consistency. Leave it out if you prefer it to be on the stew side.
  7. Season with salt and fresh lemon juice.

*A note on prepared mustard: Some people may not be familiar with this term. Unlike mustard seeds or powder, this is the mustard that you buy in the condiment aisle. Dijon, ballpark mustard. I prefer Creole or Dijon mustard for this recipe. Something with a kick.

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Whole wheat pumpkin bread

We're at that time of year when everything from our latte's to pies are filled with that delicious pumpkin spice flavor. I love turning the oven on when the weather cools and it gets a bit drizzly.

For those afternoons, how about some whole wheat pumpkin bread? The ginger gives this bread a little kick and the whole wheat flour and chia seeds will make for a heartier loaf!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups roughly chopped walnuts 2 .5 cups whole wheat flour 1 cup oat flour 1 cup chia seeds 2 cups pumpkin purée 1 cup sugar 0.5 cup oil or melted butter 4 eggs 1.5 cups low fat buttermilk 1.5 tablespoons cinnamon powder 1.5 tablespoons ginger powder 4 teaspoons baking soda 1 tablespoon baking powder

Method:

Lightly grease the baking dish Preheat oven to 350 F Mix all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Mix all the wet ingredients in another bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredient bowl. Add the wet ingredients and fold lightly. Pour the thick batter into the baking dish Bake for about 50 minutes or so until the toothpick comes out clean.

Note: You can also bake this into muffin pans. It will make about 24 muffins. Reduce the time to about 25 minutes or so.

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