Indian Comfort Food

Those of us with food sensitivities often are confronted with social food situations where we know “if I eat any of this, I’ll be sorry later” . . . but we want to be polite.  So we pick the things that seem “relatively safe.”  I’m pretty good at avoiding the likely culprits.  And lucky for me, I won’t end up in the hospital if I am accidently exposed to gluten, dairy, or corn.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t suffer: intestinal distress (gluten), sinus trouble (dairy), hives (corn).

My choice when I need to rebalance and cleanse my system is what I call Indian Comfort Food, two ayurveda-inspired porridges that soothe and restore: Kichari (aka kitchari, khichdi, and many other variations) and Savory Farina.  Try one or both of these recipes and your body will thank you!  (Recipes adapted from information obtained at an Ayurvedic Cooking class at Health Through Ayurveda.)

Kichari

Kichari with Sweet Potato and Chard

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup split yellow lentils (moong dal) or red lentils (masoor dal)
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1-2 Tablespoons oil or ghee (I use coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 8 cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 10-12 cardamom pods (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cups chard (swiss, red, or rainbow, about 1/2 bunch), stems removed, sliced or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse split mung beans until water runs clear. Soak 4 hours or overnight; drain and rinse.
  2. Get water boiling if it isn’t already.
  3. Warm oil in large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Add cumin seeds and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add drained mung beans. Sauté for another few minutes. Add 4 cups of boiling water and pinch of baking soda. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile measure out remaining spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, clove, cardamom), prepare sweet potato, and rinse rice.
  5. When beans are mostly cooked (after about 20 minutes), add rice and sweet potatoes. Add remaining 2 cups boiling water.
  6. In a separate small pan, heat 1 Tablespoon oil. Add spices. Warm over low heat just long enough to release aroma. Be careful not to burn.  Add to bean/rice/sweet potato mixture.
  7. Continue cooking at a simmer until rice is done, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add chard. Cook until greens are wilted and combined with the rest of the ingredients (5-10 minutes).
  9. Salt to taste.
  10. Enjoy!

Notes

  • The original recipe called for a pinch asafoetida (hing) added with the cumin seeds.  I tried to find hing that didn’t also include gluten and/or corn starch.  Unfortunately, my body reacted to the one product I found that said it was gluten-free in a way that told me there was something in it that I shouldn’t be eating . . . so even though this is a traditional “healling” ingredient in Indian/Ayurvedic cooking, I omit it.
  • If you can’t find small split lentils, you may be tempted to use regular split peas (yellow or green).  Unfortunately, those require MUCH longer to cook.  I’m really not sure how to best modify this recipe to use them.  There may be other kichari recipes on the web that use those larger split peas. (See slideshow below for a picture comparing the different types of lentils.)
  • Kale or other leafy greens can be substituted for the chard.
  • Sometimes I heat all the spices at the beginning (with the cumin seed and ginger) rather than waiting until later.  The flavor is a bit different and there’s a greater danger of burning the spices, but it can work (and leaves one less pan to wash and frees up one more burner).
  • The original recipe claimed that this recipe “Serves 2-3.”  I usually get 5-6 serviings out of it.

 

Hearty Breakfast Farina (Uppma)

Savory Hot Farina

Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup brown rice farina (I use Bob’s Red Mill “Creamy Brown Rice Farina”)
  • 1/2 cup vegetables (I use 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots and 1/4 cup frozen peas)
  • 1-1/4 tsp Breakfast Spice Blend (see below) (OR 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Start the water boiling in your kettle.
  2. In a small cast iron pan over medium heat, lightly the brown rice farina, stiring frequently until the farina is light brown in color.  Remove toasted farina to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt the coconut oil or ghee in the cast iron pan over low heat.  Add the Spice Blend.  Let spices warm for 10-15 seconds.  Add vegetables and a small amount of water.  Stir. Cover and cook vegetables for 5-7 minutes.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked, add the toasted farina and stir to coat.
  5. Add 1 cup boiling water and a dash of salt.
  6. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently as farina thickens.
  7. Enjoy with a cup of Chai Tea!

Breakfast Spice Blend (makes approx 1/4 cup, enough for 6 individual servings)

  • 2 Tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Combine all the spices in a glass jar.  Use 1-1/4 teaspoons (or a heaping teaspoon) for each serving.

Notes

  • I’ve only made this dish one serving at a time, but it should work if the ingredients are doubled/tripled/quadrupled.  You might need to adjust water quantity, spice quantity, and/or cooking times.
  • Other vegetable options: chopped onion, minced ginger, chopped yam or sweet potato, asparagus, leafy greens, or whatever else sounds good.
  • I’m guessing this dish could be made with other grains (e.g., wheat farina or grits), but I haven’t tried that.  You might have to adjust cooking times.

 

WOW!  That’s quite a bit of information.  Please let me know (in the comments) if anything needs clarification.

 

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I’m BAAACCKKK!!

Yes, I’m still here.  Still cooking.  Still living with CFS and multiple food sensitivities.

I just haven’t been working so hard at modifying recipes or creating new recipes.

I’ve settled into a collection of recipes that I make fairly frequently.  (Some folks might say I’m in a rut, but I’m just relieved that cooking and eating isn’t quite so time consuming as it was when I first gave up gluten, dairy, and corn.) Most of the recipes I make now came to me from other cooks or cookbooks (so are copyrighted) and didn’t need much modification to make them gluten-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.

Still, I’ve had some requests (mostly from friends seeing pics of the food on Facebook) to share the recipes, so I will make an attempt to put some of the recipes up here or to point to their original sources for reference.

Another change in my cooking/eating came after last April when I attended a workshop on Ayurvedic Cooking at Health Through Ayurveda.  This course led me to incorporate several recipes and principles into my regular routine.  More on all that in a future post.

So here’s a list of what I eat most frequently these days.  As I add recipes (or locate them online) I’ll include links, but for now here’s my “food routine.”  Let me know in the comments if you are particularly interested in hearing more about a specific item.

Breakfast rotates between:

Lunch is almost always a “cooked salad.”  I was eating so many greens (because I love them) but sometimes having trouble digesting them.  I’d heard of pre-wilting the greens in the microwave, but the Ayurvedic Cooking workshop actually suggested that I cook them.  It really helps.  So I chop up everything I want in my salad: tomatoes, carrots, avocado, mushrooms, bok choy (for crunch), chicken, onion (not always all of these).  Toss it in a frying pan with some oil and some herbs.  While the veggies are cooking (stirring occasionally), I measure out a big salad bowl full of greens.  Once the veggies are cooked, I toss the greens in the fry pan and pop on a lid.   Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the greens are thoroughly wilted.  Turn off the heat.  Drizzle on some vinegar or a basic vinaigrette.  Let sit for a few minutes to cool down.  Pour into a salad bowl and enjoy!  Same great veggies, just easier to digest.

My most frequent dinner meals are:

Kichari with Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard

Roasted Chicken (from the Seward Coop) with Potatoes (or Sweet Potatoes) and Kale/Chard or Green Beans or Beets

The following dishes have also made multiple appearances:

So, a routine, but a routine with lots of variety.

Speaking of food . . . I need to go eat some dinner (tonight: leftover Green Curry with Tofu, Green Beans, and Chard).

Next post: Indian Porridges (Kichari and Savory Hot Farina)

©2015 Highly Sensitive Girl

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A is for Amaranth

Eat More Whole Grains!

We all know we should . . . and after 6 weeks of GF baking using mostly rice/tapioca/potato starches “Eating More Whole Grains” is an important part of my New Year’s path of Health through Good Food.

This morning I decided to have amaranth for breakfast.  (Technically not a “grain” but  just click on that link to all the nutrition info . . . it definitely counts in this category!)

First I tried popping it as recommended by Gluten-Free Girl.  Unfortunately, all that resulted was little pieces of amaranth flying all around my kitchen.  I probably should have watched this video from the Whole Grains Council first:

How to Pop Amaranth (with Kara!)

Next time I’ll try that!

Instead, after cleaning up the mess, I followed the directions on the Arrowhead Mills bag of Amaranth:

Arrowhead Mills Amaranth

Combine 1 part Amaranth and 3 parts cold water in a pan.  Simmer for 25 minutes.

What resulted was a creamy breakfast cereal reminiscent of the Wheatena/Malt-O-Meal I used to eat (long, long ago).  I stirred in some maple syrup and warm soy milk and am still feeling full hours later.  Even better, I know I got a breakfast high in fiber, protein, iron and many other nutrients.  (Unfortunately, I ate it without taking a picture first . . . SORRY! 🙂

For more on what to do with amaranth, check out http://www.versagrain.com/amaranth.html

Enjoy!

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