Lotus Stalk Raita

lotus raita dinnerRaita is a cooling dish that accompanies many spicy curries. It is usually made with a yogurt base, but I use milk kefir because they are very similar and the kefir is easy to make at home. The cooling properties of milk help to balance the heat from many Indian dishes.  One of the most common varieties is cucumber raita, so I made one with raw lotus instead. It goes perfectly well with the Lotus Stalk Curry from last week. Continue reading

Tangerine Turmeric Bliss Smoothie

tangerine bliss smoothie rose cupMikans are a seedless variety of tangerine. After zesting six mikans for another recipe, I knew that I had to act fast before they dried out. I wasn’t going to eat them over the course of a day, so I did what anyone with a high-powered blender would do. . . I drank them.

To be clear, this is a dessert, and probably the best fruit smoothie that I’ve ever had. It’s bright, warming, and comforting. The tiny specs of vanilla bean warm my heart and I’m pretty sure that I’m in love.   Continue reading

Purple Carrot Salad

purple carrot salad bowlI can’t get enough of purple vegetables. At the farmer’s market last week, I found gorgeous purple carrots. I thought to snatch them all up, but opted for a small healthy bundle. I’ll cross my fingers for more this week. In the meantime, I’ll share with you a simple salad that will showcase the carrots. I could hardly stop myself from eating the whole bowl. It’s super delish! After we gobbled down this salad, I regretted my display of self restraint. Continue reading

DIY Chinese 5-Spice Powder

chinese 5 spicesMy kitchen spices are some of my most prized possessions. I’m delighted when I open an Indian cookbook, notorious for long lists of unusual spices, and can prepare any meal within. We enjoy frequent relocations overseas. My primary concern is whether the movers will ship my spices, and if not, where can I hide them in our belongings? After that, I start to worry about getting our cat, Skeletor, to his new home. Priorities.

As a spice collector, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never had Chinese 5-spice until I made it this week. So obviously, I am now an expert. It’s delicious! I’m generally not a fan of store-bought spice blends; I feel like it stifles my creativity. This seemed like a mystery blend, and I wasn’t sure how it would taste. What is a Sichuan peppercorn anyway? Continue reading

Fujimame Stir-fry

fujimame stirfry bowlI’m enamored with the array of purple vegetables that I find in Okinawan farmer’s markets. One such delight is the fujimame, but it is also known by several other names including hyacinth bean, dolichos lab-lab, pharaoh bean, Egyptian bean, Indian bean, and Chinese flowering bean. It’s no surprise that this bean gets around, considering its beautiful appearance and crisp texture. Continue reading

Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancake

okonomiyaki templeWe spent New Year’s Eve in Kyoto this year with my sister-in-law and her beau. It was beautiful and busy, but most restaurants were not open. It seems to me that Japanese people take their holidays very seriously.  I mean, where are people going to eat? Options limited for dining and drinking, we made the best of the situation and bought kimonos to stroll around the streets of Gion, greeting passersby with “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!” During our stay, we ended up eating at an okonomiyaki place twice… in one day. Yes, it was that delicious, but our hand was a little forced by the occasion.

okonomiyaki kyotoKyoto is in a region of Japan that is well known for its okonomiyaki. The name for this savory, grilled “pancake” translates as okonomi, for “whatever you want,” and yaki, for “grilled.” I particularly like how easy this is to throw together. I think it’s a great, last-minute meal for cleaning out the refrigerator, which is appealing to my frugal senses. I purchased a gigantic head of cabbage for fewer than two bucks and had to make plans for using it up. After Mexican and Vietnamese inspired coleslaws, I still had a lot leftover. Okonomiyaki is the perfect vehicle for hiding lots of veggies into a quick and delicious dinner. Continue reading

Kitchari

kitchari arialKitchari is like the Ayurvedic version of chicken noodle soup. It’s great for cleansing, resting the digestive system, and for when you’re feeling under the weather. Also, it’s a nourishing and comforting food. I especially like kitchari when I notice that my digestion is off from eating too many meals away from home.

The basics of kitchari are basmati rice, mung dhal, and plenty of water. This can be cooked into a watery soup or a thick porridge. The mung (or moong) dhal are split and de-hulled mung beans. Instead of the whole green mung bean, look for the split yellow type. They cook faster and are easier to digest. Mung beans are balancing for all the doshas. White basmati is also easier to digest than brown basmati. Continue reading