April 15, 2010
After seven months of weekend-long intensives, weekly classes, teaching practicums, readings, personal practice and study; the nine ladies of the Shakti Mind Body Studio 2009 – 2010 yoga teacher training class have been initiated into the transformative practice of yoga as teachers and life-long students.
As a member of this class, I’m grateful for the experience of the program and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My interest in food and nutrition goes hand in hand with my study of healing movement through yoga and dance, as they all have the power to heal and foster well-being – body, mind and spirit.
During our graduation celebration this past Sunday, we all brought a vegetarian dish just as we had for our lunches throughout the teacher training program. The spread was delicious and beautiful from roasted vegetables to an Asian noodle stir-fry to chocolate dipped strawberries.
Wanting to make sure I contributed an especially delicious entrée for our special occasion, I looked to the flavor of Indian cuisine with its myriad of spices that always leave my mouth bursting with a party of flavors in every bite. I’m a big fan of Indian food, and thanks to my study of Indian cookbooks and several Indian cooking classes, the chole curry with pulao that I brought to the party turned out very well.
The chole (a.k.a. chickpeas or garbanzo beans) curry included the seasoning of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry powder, garam masala, cinnamon, bay leaves, parsley and fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. With a slow simmer these spices meld together to create a very tasty curry to go over the pulao. I highly recommend finding yourself a good Indian market to get your spices. Their spices tend to be less expensive than what you find in a regular grocery store.
Pulao, basmati rice pilaf, is a very fragrant dish in Indian cuisine. It can be made a variety of ways, but I used spices recommended by Chef Sudhir Seth of Passage to India, which I learned from him during a cooking class.
In addition to using the spices of cinnamon, black peppercorns, cardamom, cumin seeds and cloves, the key to this lovely pulao is washing or rinsing the basmati rice 3 to 4 times to remove excess starch and then letting the rice soak briefly while you cook the spices and boil your water. With the rice left to simmer on low for only 15 minutes and then removed from the heat and left to sit for 5 minutes, you’ll have fluffy rice every time. Enjoy and Namaste!
Chole Curry (Chickpea/Garbanzo Bean Curry)
Serves many (10 – 15)
4 tablespoons oil (extra-virgin olive oil, or ghee, or other)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cans (15-oz.) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 can (15-oz.) crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted if you can find it)
2-1/2 cups vegetable broth (plus more if needed during cooking)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes (or 1-1/2 tbs fresh chopped parsley)
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 Squeeze of fresh lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cover pot with lid to retain any popping seeds. Cook seeds for about 1 minute (until you hear them begin to sizzle and pop a little). Uncover pot and add cumin seeds, onion and garlic; and sauté about 5 – 8 minutes (until onions begin to become translucent). Note: As always, do not burn the garlic – otherwise start over.
Add the rinsed and drained beans to the pot along with the crushed tomatoes (juice included). Stir and next add the broth, curry powder, garam masala powder, salt, bay leaves, cinnamon stick and rosemary.
Stir contents well, cover pot and increase heat to medium high. Once the contents of the pot reach a hard simmer or low boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover pot and simmer stirring occasionally. Add additional broth if curry becomes too thick. It should neither be too soupy nor pasty.
After simmering for 20 minutes or so, add parsley, black pepper and lemon juice. Stir and taste for flavor. Add additional salt or curry powder if desired. Simmer on low for an additional 10 - 15 minutes. Serve over rice or with flat bread and enjoy!
Note: You can use dried garbanzo beans as well, just soak them over night and simmer longer (more broth or water needed) until the beans are tender. Canned beans are acceptable; just use a quality natural foods brand that doesn’t include preservatives. I used Whole Food’s 365 Organic Garbanzo Beans.
Pulao (Fragrant Basmati Rice)
Serves 5 (Recipe can be easily doubled)
Adapted from a mutter pulao recipe by Sudhir Seth of Passage to India
1 cup basmati rice
2 tablespoons oil (canola, ghee, or other)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 green cardamom pods
10 whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1-1/5 cups water (plus more for rinsing and soaking)
1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, rinse and drain (wash) rice 3 – 4 times with lukewarm water, then in the same bowl, cover rice in lukewarm water and set aside. Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan and add cumin seeds. After about 15 – 30 seconds, seeds will begin to sizzle. Immediately add other spices and sauté for about 1 minute.
Add 1-1/2 cups water to pot and raise heat to bring water to a boil. Drain soaking rice and add rice to the boiling water. Allow water to come back to a boil, stir once, then cover pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove covered pot from heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff rice and serve.
Note: The pre-washing the rice removes excess starch and results in separated, fluffy rice.