Earth Day and India

 Ayurveda, Cultural integration, Development  Comments Off on Earth Day and India
Apr 222010

Rajasthani mustard field

A mustard field in Rajasthan

Today is Earth Day. In India, one can argue that every day is Earth Day for many people. Caring for the Earth has been an integral part of the South Asian culture. Take Ayurveda as an example. One can not separate nature from the practice; it is an integral part. I have seen examples of environmentally-conscious practices in India that are probably taken for granted. An example is seeing a housewife in Jaipur use a solar cooker on her flat roof-top to take advantage of the sun to cook mangoes in order to make mango pickle.

Of course, there are exceptions to caring for the Earth in modern-day India as resources are continually being sacrificed to support a growing population and demand as the country develops at an astounding rate. India is in the position to learn from the mistakes of developed countries regarding growing sustainably.

India can choose to integrate its green heritage to develop further in environmentally-conscious ways. Traditional sustainable practices can be balanced with current green technologies. Developed and undeveloped countries can learn from one another in this regard.

In appreciation of Earth Day, it would be great for Indians and other nationals to reflect on their heritage and its focus on nature and the planet. This heritage can remind us to live greener and to teach one another ways from our heritage we can do that more.


Grounding Kichadi

 Ayurveda, Books, Indian Cooking, Recipes  Comments Off on Grounding Kichadi
Mar 032010

Grounding Kichadi

Grounding Kichadi

After a trip, after sickness, or anytime some digestive comfort is desired, nothing satisfies like kichadi. Kichadi is a a simple stew of basmati rice and split mug dal. I grew up eating it with kadhi and a side of plain yogurt, since my childhood in an Indian village. It’s my favorite comfort food combo. I thought kichadi was an ordinary peasant food, like Macaroni and Cheese here. Then I started seeing it in gourmet settings. It truly is a perfect, nutritious food.

After a trip to San Diego the past weekend, I was out of sorts and craved some comfort food. My son had a stomach upset. This is the way it goes after a trip, when your diet has been off its routine. So kichadi was the answer. I followed a recipe somewhat from “The Ayurvedic Cookbook” (Morningstar, Desai). The book lists a variety of recipes to suit one’s needs and dosha. Kichadis are considered the core of Ayurvedic nutritional healing.

I modified a recipe for Digestive Kichadi” based on what I had on hand:
Preparation time: ~1 hour, serves 3-4

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsps ghee or sunflower oil
3 bay leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp oregano, dry
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated (I have some in the freezer, which I grate)
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup split mung dal
4-6 cups water (I used a little less)
3 cups fresh vegetables, such as carrots, zuccini, or summer squash, diced (I used some broccoli I put in the freezer before my trip and frozen peas)

Wash the rice and beans until rinse water is clear.
Warm the ghee in a medium saucepan. Add the cumin seeds, bay, coriander and oregano. Brown slightly, until aromatic. Stir in turmeric, rice and dal. Add water, salt, and ginger. Simmer covered over medium heat until beans and rice are soft, about 1 hour (was less for me – try to make sure it doesn’t turn into a smooth porridge – which can still be tasty). Wash and dice vegetables. Add them and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes more.

It turned out tasty. I had some plain yogurt on the side. I was only missing the Indian pickles to go with it, which would have made it perfect. I need to get to the Indian store. As an added bonus, my 1 year-old liked it, with yogurt on the side. She seems fine with Indian spices and the consistency was just right for her. It had been a while since I made it for her. She has been having rice and dal with yogurt, which is similar.

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