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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Arroz Verde (Green Rice)

Arroz Verde (aka Green Rice)

Green Rice

adapted from
http://www.penzeys.com/images/B14.pdf (p. 53)
and
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/health/nutrition/01recipehealth.html

Being gluten-free I eat massive quantities of rice . . . long grain brown rice mostly, but also basmati rice, Thai sweet rice, Arborio rice, short grain brown rice, and even plain old long grain white rice. Needless to say, I keep my eye out for ways to make rice more interesting. Here’s one I really enjoy.  (When I’ve posted about it on Facebook people asked for the recipe . . . so here’s what I actually did.)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 oz. (1-1/2 – 2 cups) bulk spinach, divided (see below)
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 Serrano pepper, stem removed (Serranos are the little thin green ones usually sold near the jalapeños; if you can’t find one, use 1/2 a jalapeño, seeded and stem removed; I don’t bother removing the seeds from the Serrano)
  • approximately 2 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water, divided (see below)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white or yellow onion, diced or minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup long grain or basmati rice, rinsed
  • Salt to taste (I use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon)

Preparation

  1. Wash and thinly slice 1-1/2 to 2 cups of the spinach. Set aside approximately 1/2 cup to be mixed into the rice AFTER it cooks. Combine the rest of the sliced spinach (1 to 1-1/2 cups) with the cilantro, the Serrano pepper, and 1/2 cup of the broth or water in a food processor, blender, or mini-chopper. Blend until smooth (or well-minced, depending on how you like it). Pour into a liquid measuring cup (or use the markings on the blender) and add broth/water to make 2-1/4 cups total liquid.  Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan with a well-fitting lid. Add the onions and sauté until transparent (approx. 5 minutes). Add the garlic and the rice. Cook, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes, until the rice is lightly golden.
  3. Add the broth/vegetable mixture (spinach/cilantro/pepper) and salt. Stir to mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and replace the lid until you are ready to serve. (This rice is easy to burn to the bottom of the pan, so check it at 20 minutes to see how it is cooking.  If it is getting stuck, just turn off the heat and put the lid back on.  It will continue to cook.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup sliced spinach.

Enjoy!

NOTE: Updated on May 6, 2015 to correct inconsistencies and modify Preparation instructions.  After a few times I found a better way.  The old way worked (if you have that version), but this worked better.

©2014 Lucinda DeWitt

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Friday Night Fish Fry

First a confession—I made this meal last Saturday (was too tired last Friday) and then didn’t get around to writing it up . . . better late than never.

Lent has had me craving fish fillets, so I looked for some recipes and found a couple that looked like they might work.  One required GF breadcrumbs, which I was all out of (will try this one next time) . . . the other was a rice-flour-based batter which I adapted to be dairy-free as well.  I put some clean oil in my Fry Daddy and put together a GF Fish Fry.

Menu

Menu Note: Due to my CFS (which greatly limits my ability to cook for a long time and/or do more than one thing at a time), I prepared everything except the catfish nuggets earlier in the day.  The slaw & guacamole need to chill.  The beans and rice can be reheated while you are cooking the fish.

Catfish Nuggets

Ingredients

  • 1 pound catfish nuggets (or other white fish like tilapia; catfish nuggets come already chopped up and are cheaper than buying a fillet and cutting it up yourself)
  • 1-1/4 cup rice flour (or other GF blend), divided
  • 1-1/2 tsp chili powder, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (or other dairy-free “milk”)
  • salt & pepper
  • oil for frying

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200°F (for keeping the nuggets warm after they are fried)
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the flour and 1 tsp chili powder in a shallow dish for dredging.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, the remaining 3/4 cup flour, soy milk, salt & pepper, and 1/2 tsp chili powder.  Add extra “milk” if the batter is too thick.
  • Heat oil (I’m guessing the Fry Daddy heats the oil to somewhere between 350°F & 400°F, but the beauty of the Fry Daddy is it keeps the oil at an even heat . . . the original recipe tells how to do this in a fry pan instead)
  • Dredge 3-4 nuggets in the seasoned flour, then run through the batter and carefully place the nuggets in the hot oil.  Stir gently to make sure the nuggets don’t get stuck together.  Cook for 6-8 minutes or until golden.
  • Remove nuggets from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel-covered plate.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and place in a warm oven to keep warm as you fry the remaining nuggets.

NOTES

  • If I made this recipe again, I would try it without the dredging step.  I’m pretty sure the batter would stick without it and it made the coating too thick.  Another option would be to make the batter thinner.
  • If you are frying on the stove or using a different type of fryer it would be wise to “test fry” a single nugget to see what the optimum frying time is for your setup.
  • If you have access to decent GF tortillas you can turn the above into delicious Fish Tacos.  Warm a tortilla, top with rice, beans, a couple of nuggets, some slaw & a spoonful of guacamole.  Fold & Enjoy! (I prefer just piling everything on a plate or in a bowl.)

Broccoli Slaw

Mix together:

  • 10 oz bag of cole or broccoli slaw mix
  • 1/3 cup GF mayo
  • 1 Tbls white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Chill at least one hour, stirring occasionally.

Guacamole

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 T cilantro, minced
  • 1 large spoon diced tomatoes (fresh or saved from beans recipe)
  • 1 T lemon &/or lime juice

Mix together and chill.

© 2012, Highly Sensitive Girl

 

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