Cream of sweet potatoes topped with Kalonji 'Caviar'

Cream of sweet potatoes topped with Kalonji 'Caviar'

 I learned how to make this soup during my monastic days while living in the Hare Krishna ashram in New York from my dear friend Vasudeva das. As my cooking has evolved  I've 'Ayurvedised' it with detox spices and made it my own. A few weeks ago I had some friends over for brunch and decided to make it.  Right before serving the soup I pan-fried some kalonji seeds in coconut oil and poured dollops of the oil mixed with the seeds on the soup. To my amusement it looked like caviar! My guest were delighted and the soup, in my opinion reached new heights! 

You may be asking what is Kalonji? People tend to confuse them with onion seeds or black sesame because of their color and shape. In reality they come from a plant botanically called Nigella sativa.

Scientific studies have shown that Nigella sativa helps treat a broad array of diseases, including some immune and inflammatory disorders. Also anticancer activity in prostate and colon cancers, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

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According to Ayurveda, rheumatism and other inflammatory conditions in the body generally occur due to the accumulation of excess fluid deposits, salt, calcium deposits, improper blood circulation and "AMA" toxic remains from improper digestion. This is mainly caused by the excess of kapha dosha leading to water retention, sluggishness, swelling, pain and inflammation. With its hot potency and warming qualities, Nigella oil is an excellent Ayurvedic remedy for reducing excess kapha deposits.

You can find these pretty little seeds in asian markets or online! Their pungent flavor makes a delicious addition to soups, breads and rice! And now that you know some of Kalonji's amazing health benefits get off of your seat and get some!!!


Serves: 4

Cooking/Prep time: 35 min


3 Cups of Water or home made vegetable stock

2 Cups Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into half inch cubes

1 tbs Ginger, minced 

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2 tsp Jalapeno or thai chili, seeded and minced (optional)

1 tbs Coriander , freshly ground

1/4 Cup Cashews

1 tsp Salt

2 tsp Coconut oil

2 tsp Kalonji seeds

Limes for garnish 

Parsley or dill leaves for garnish (optional)

Place the sweet potatoes in the water/ stock and bring to a boil. Add the spices and cashews and simmer for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft.

Place the soup in the blender, and blend until silky smooth.

Heat the coconut oil in a small pan (avoid burning the oil) add the kalonji seeds and allow them to 'fry' for 30 seconds.

Serve the soup in small bowls. Garnish with the kalonji 'caviar' by pouring dollops of the oil mixed with seeds (like pictured) Add a splash of lime juice and top with herbs. 

Om's Quinoa Kitchari

Om's Quinoa Kitchari

Kitchari is a detox porridge mixture made usually with two grains, Basmati rice and Mung dal. This is my Kitchari recipe. I find the Quinoa very nourishing and easy to digest. The vegetables mentioned in the ingredients can be substituted by any other vegetable of your choice. Mung dal is the ayurvedic lentil of choice but my favorite is Masoor dal (red lentils) because it cooks faster than mung.


Serves 4

Cooking time 30 min


1  cup of Organic Quinoa

1  cup Red lentils (masoor dahl)

6 cups of filtered Water

2 tsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Turmeric powder

½ tsp fresh ground Cumin

1 tbs fresh ground Coriander Powder

½ tsp fresh ground Fennel Seed

1 Tbs minced Ginger root

1 Taro Root, peeled and diced

1 Carrot, peeled and diced

1 cup organic Arugula or organic  spinach

1 ½ tsp Himalayan salt (real salt being the second choice)

fresh ground Black pepper

Cilantro, chopped for garnish

Lime wedges

Place the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a coffee grinder or magic bullet and grind them to powder.

Wash the Quinoa and lentils in a colander and allow them to drain.

Place a heavy bottom pot on the stove with the water, the lentils and Quinoa. Bring to a boil.  When foam rises, remove with a spoon and discard .

Add the ground spices, olive oil, and vegetables.

Simmer for 25 minutes or until the quinoa and the lentils are soft. You may need to add some water if the lentils look dry. I prefer my kitchari a little runny.

Add salt, cilantro and pepper and serve with a wedge of lime.

 

 

 

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Agar Agar Jello with Berries

Agar Agar Jello with Berries

Jello reminds me of summer vacations! My mom made killer jello, she layered it in all kinds of colors and flavors... It is too bad regular gelatin is made with animals. Its kind of inconceivable how something so pretty and sweet is made from such violent products! Thankfully my cooking teacher Divya Alter showed me how to make this beautiful cruelty free Jello using Agar Agar! 

You may be asking what is agar agar? 

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Agar, also known as agar-agar, is a mix of carbohydrates extracted from seaweed specifically Red Sea algae. It’s also known by its Japanese name, Kanten. Agar-agar has no flavor, odor or color so it’s helpful as a culinary ingredient. Agar has no calories, no sugar, no carbs, and no fat. It is free from soy, corn, gluten, yeast, wheat, starch, milk, egg, and preservatives. It is a great source of fiber, calcium, and iron.

The best part of Agar is that it is said to help digestion and help detox the body by acting as a mild laxative. It absorbs bile and is believed to help the body dissolve more cholesterol. It passes through the digestive system quickly and inhibits the body from storing excess fat. There are a few differences between agar-agar and gelatin. Agar sets more firmly than gelatin so recipes will be less jiggly and less creamy.

Now that you have read all the benefits of agar-agar, get of your phone or computer and whip up this super easy dessert! 

enjoy!

serves: 4

cooking/setting time: 1 hour


2 Cups Water or Fresh fruit juice like apple, strawberry or orange. ( I used white sapote juice in the pictured dessert)

1 tsp Sweet leaf Stevia sweetener

3 Tbs Agar Agar powder 

1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

pinch of fresh ground Cardamom (optional)

1 cup of your berries of choice


Place the water or juice in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Add the Agar Agar powder or flakes and sugar and whisk for a minute or until the agar is dissolved.

Place half the berries in 4 ramekins or small glass containers, pour the agar mixture on top.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour

serve and top with the rest of the berries! you can also drizzle it with cashew whipped cream! 

 

Cruelty free 'poke' bowls

Cruelty free 'poke' bowls

I've been cooking this watermelon dish for days and for a bunch of my friends!!! My husband found this idea in a video while scrolling trough his Facebook feed and showed it to me. Dustin was so excited about it that he asked me to make it for him; the video didn't have any measurements for the ingredients so I modified it to my liking and avoided the soy. 

I moved to LA only a year ago and for the first time heard the words ‘poke’. I have not eaten meat for 16 years so I don't know how this ‘poke bowls’ are supposed to taste like... but my husband says the cooked watermelon resembles the texture of fish.  I researched what POKE was all about and it means ‘to cut or slice' in Hawaiian. The new trend of the poke bowl is sliced chunks of marinated fish over rice, topped with sauces and veggies. I truly believe all Fishes are friends and beautiful living entities that I respect and admire so I am all for this non-violent version of ‘poke bowls’ Try it! you wont regret it!

The watermelon should marinate for at least two hours. You can prepare it a day prior and leave it in the fridge overnight to make things easier.

Serves: 4

Cooking/prep time: 2 hours and 15 min


1/2 Watermelon, peeled and diced in 1’ cubes 

3 cups cooked Forbidden Rice 

Marinate:

1/4 cup Cashew butter

1/4 cup Toasted sesame oil

1 tsp lime zest 

1/4 cup lime juice 

1/4 cup Coconut Aminos 

1 tsp salt

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2 tbs Ginger root, minced 

2 tbs Jalapeno, minced 

toppings:

2 cups Organic bean sprouts 

1 cup sliced Snap peas

1/2 cup thinly sliced red Cabbage 

Avocado slices 

Parsley leaves for garnish 

Basil leaves for Garnish 

 

Whisk all the marinate ingredients together until well mixed.

Place the watermelon in a big ziplock bag or tupperware and pour in the marinate. Refrigerate the mixture for two hours or overnight.

Strain the watermelon and set the marinate aside.

Heat a skillet and add a few drops of sesame oil, add the watermelon and grill for two minutes.

Add the Marinate and cook for 4 minutes or until the mixture is thick.

To serve the 'watermelon poke':

Place a layer of forbidden rice in the bottom of the bowl.

Add a generous spoonful of watermelon and sauce of top the rice.

Layer the toppings on top the watermelon and “Voila” 

Enjoy

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Soy-free Red Rice Pad Thai

My favorite cuisine is hands down Thai food! Their use of fresh roots like galangal and ginger, lemon grass, kaffir leaves, basil, spices and coconut milk as a base for so many of their dishes makes it to me, the best food in the world! I love eating pad Thai, my only worry when I eat out is that traditionally thai food is also made with fish sauce... So in an attempt to satisfy my cravings for it I make my own!!!

Every time I decide to make a dish the first thing I think about is how to make it not only delicious  but also easy to digest! This is what I call 'non violent cooking' it is my first priority when cooking that whomever eats my food won't feel indigestion or any discomfort! In Ayurveda indigestion is said to be the root cause of all disease. When you eat very heavy foods or foods that don't combine well; AMA or toxicity is created; the accumulation of this toxic byproduct with time creates many ailments. You will notice that my recipe is soy-free and peanut-free! (soy and peanuts are very difficult to digest). 

I discovered this amazing Gluten free organic red rice noodles by Explore Cuisine! I highly recommend them! Follow the instructions of how to cook them (I prefer to cook them for 4 minutes only and mix them right away with the sauce.) 

Enjoy!!!

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serves 4

10 minutes cooking

SAUCE:

  • 3 Tbs Organic Cashew butter 
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Aminos
  • 2 Tbs Organic Lime juice or Rice vinegar 
  • 2 Tbs Organic  toasted Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp freshly ground Coriander 
  • 1 tsp Organic Himalayan Salt (or real Salt)

TOPPINGS:

  • a handful of organic Snap peas, cut into thin slivers 
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Bean sprouts 
  • sliced Radishes 
  • Shredded Purple Napa Cabbage (this cabbage is softer than the regular one but if you can't find it the regular kind works great too)
  • 1/4 Cup toasted Pumpkin seeds (dry toast the seeds by placing them is a oil-less pan in a low flame for a few minutes switching them around until they are golden)
  • parsley, cilantro or Thai basil for garnish

NOODLES:

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  • 8 oz Organic red rice pad thai noodles (or noodles of your choice)
  • 1 cup Broccoli chopped into small florets 
  • 1/2 Cup Carrots thinly sliced 

Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Boil 8 cups of water, add the noodles and the vegetables. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Strain the noodles and veggies. Toss them with the sauce right away!

serve in bowls and layer the toppings making it a beautiful rainbow like irresistible dish! 

 

 

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Creamy Fennel Soup

Creamy Fennel Soup

Many of the dishes I create are reminiscent of my mom’s cuisine. When I was a child she would buy a packet mushroom soup mix. You just needed to add water, warm it up and “Voila”… Cream of mushrooms was ready! I loved it… could never get enough of it. As I have been grown up I have become more conscious about the importance of eating Whole foods! Meals that are made from scratch with non processed ingredients. Why? Because these foods when cooked and eaten fresh maintain their ‘Prana’ or healing energy of the earth inherent in them. Packaged and processed foods are depleted of Prana. Plant-based Whole-foods are not only fuel to our bodies but they support detox and assimilation of the healing properties that food can offer us! 

This soup in particular reminds me of my mom’s cream of mushrooms...The cashews and lime make it almost 'cheesy'. This recipe  requires 8 ingredients only and less than 20 minutes to cook! In the list of ingredients you will find that I call for "Freshly ground coriander", the powder you buy in the store never has the flavor and aroma that fresh ground coriander has! The only thing you need is a coffee grinder. Ground the coriander seeds until they are powdered and you will be amazed by the difference! Fresh ground spices are full of Prana!

Enjoy! 


Serves 4

cooking time: 20 min

  • 1 organic Fennel bulb (tops removed and sliced into 1/2 inch slices)
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • 1 tbs Freshly ground Coriander
  • 1/4 Cup raw organic Cashews 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • pinch fresh ground Black pepper
  • Parsley for Garnish
  • squeeze of lime juice

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium sauce pan. (except for the black pepper, parsley, and lime) Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the fennel is soft and translucent.

Transfer the soup into the blender (I prefer using a vitamix, being a high speed blender the soup takes on the most delicious velvety texture but any blender will do the job!) being careful of not burning your hands or face blend the soup until creamy.

Serve and garnish with a splash of lime, pepper and parsley! 

 

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