Kitchari (Deconstructed)

Kitchari (Deconstructed) Recipe

 *Kitchari is traditionally made in one pot, with the rice and mung beans cooked together for ultimate digestibility. This is recommended while on a kitchari monodiet, preparing for or during panchakarma (cleansing). For a delicious and healthy meal apart from these times, I like to use this kitchari (deconstructed) recipe as it leads to, in my opinion, a more desirable texture. Here the rice and mung beans are cooked separately and then mixed together at the end to serve.

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow split mung beans, soaked for at least 1 hour, preferably longer

1 cup white basmati rice

2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (i.e. zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, yams, cabbage)*

2-3 Tb. Ghee,  about ½ TB for rice

1/8 teaspoon hing (asafetida) (optional, used to increase digestibility of beans)

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

7 fresh curry leaves (refrigerator section of local Indian grocery store) or use 2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1 small tomato

1 Tb. Fresh grated ginger

1-2 tsp. ground turmeric

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp Salt and add more if needed

Pepper to taste

Juice of one lime or lemon

Handful chopped cilantro

 

Directions:

 1.  Soak mung beans for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight in cool, purified water.  Next day drain old soaking water and rinse several times until the rinse water is clear.

2.  Place mung beans in a large pot with 4-5 cups of water, add more hot water later on if thinner consistency is desired. Bring water and mung beans to a boil, skim off foam from the top (foam is gas producing), bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover with lid and cook for 30-45 minutes or until mung beans are 75% cooked (slightly al dente at this point).

3.  Soak basmati rice for at least 20 minutes. Pour off soaking water and rinse twice. Cook basmati rice separately. For 1 cup of rice, use about 1.5 cups of water. Add a pinch of salt and a spoonful of ghee. Bring rice to a boil, stir the rice so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom and let the rice boil for 1 minute.  Then turn heat to low, cover with tightly fitting lid, and allow rice to simmer for 16 minutes.  No peeking! When the time is up, remove rice from heat and let stand with lid on for another 5-10 minutes.  Then remove the lid and fluff with fork.

4.  Meanwhile, wash and chop vegetables into bite-size pieces. 

5.  In a separate sauce pan heat 2-3 Tb of ghee, add mustard seeds and wait until they begin to “dance”. Then slightly reduce heat, add hing, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and cinnamon stick. Stir together about 1 minute.

6. Add chopped tomatoes and ginger, let simmer about 2 minutes gently stirring. Then add in ground spices: turmeric, coriander, and ground cumin. Stir everything together until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute and then add the spice mixture and vegetables to mung beans when the mung beans are about 75% cooked. Stir everything together and let simmer until the vegetables are soft and the mung beans are fully cooked (this will take about 15 more minutes). Add at least 1 tsp of salt and likely more to taste once the mung beans are cooked. Wait until this time to add the salt as it may inhibit the mung bean’s ability to properly cook. Add fresh cracked black pepper and the juice of 1 lemon or lime. Add more ghee if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro.

YUM!

 This recipe is vata and kapha pacifying, and may increase pitta.

To make it suitable to pitta, omit mustard seeds and tomato. Go easy on the black pepper.

Writing As Medicine

Medicine takes many shapes and many forms. In my own life, I have found that my greatest tools for self-healing have long been meditation and writing. When I lost my baby 5 months into my pregnancy, it was writing that saved me. It was writing that gave me a place to make meaning of the meaningless. To create a purpose when I had none. To see beauty in a long pause of bleakness and despair.

Sometimes I go back to old writings and reread them. To see where I've been, to see how far I've come. Grieving is not a linear process. One counselor I spoke to said to me, "the only way out is through". It was my daily ritual of writing that got me through the heaviest parts of grief. My daily ritual of writing continues to be my medicine. 

Here is something I wrote last summer. And still, the fireflies continue to illuminate my imagination.

With love, Rachel

 

Firefly Poem

I've written hundreds and hundreds of poems
in my head.
Never writing down a single word,
the poems burn like paper set fire.
All that remains are the ashes, they sweep
through my mind replaced only by longing
for what could have been.

Imagine, if you will, a glass jar filled with hundreds and hundreds of glowing fireflies.
The lid, now, cracked open.
The lighted fliers each like a whole and complete poem.
After years of catching fireflies only in your mind,
now you have a net.

And like a ravenous hunter you swipe and slosh around with your net,
trying desperately to catch each one
as if your life depended
on its light.

As if each firefly was indeed a poem
you’d written then lost.
And now, you have one chance
to collect and carry off as many sacred elements of beauty, of hope, of love
that you ever dared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Space Between

There are many ways of seeing the world, I want you to know that it is possible to see it through new eyes. It is possible to suddenly and inexplicably come upon a creative solution that had been there all along, right under your nose.  I want you to know that the best comfort is the one you learn to provide for yourself. That everything you will ever need already lies within you. I want you to know that all of life exists at the intersection of duality. In Chinese Medicine we call this yin and yang. Healing occurs when this duality is felt and embodied. I want you to know that it is the paradoxical nature of living that gives life any meaning at all. It is about exploring where the paradoxes of life occur and more importantly, it is about exploring the space between them.  

I want you to know that it is space that transforms. It is space that is needed in our lives and in our work. It is space that allows us a moment to notice, to reflect, to change. It is space that is lacking from our grief process. It is space that is lacking from our experience of learning how to mother our children and more importantly, how to mother ourselves. 

There is a space between knowing when to ask and then knowing when to let go of the question. There is a space between knowing when the call of a bird is a sign--an omen foretelling a future of hope untold--and knowing that the call of a bird is just that, meaningless and mundane. There is a great joy and devastation that occurs in holding it ALL in a single moment.  It is the space between that gives us any sense of what matters at all.

Healing is an art. Healing is bound in love. Healing involves calling on the creative capacity of your inner being. By creating space in your life for healing and creativity, you spark the catalyst that is necessary for deep rooted change to occur.

It's all happening now, if you allow it.

Rachel 

My Favorite Chai Recipe

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I have a small obsession with chai. In India, “chai” simply means tea. In 2009, four friends and I drove down the western coast of India from Mumbai to Trivandrum. Chai was always on my mind. Every new destination was a new place to stop for another tiny cup of chai.

After safely making it to Pune after that epic two-week road trip, the next 6 weeks were spent studying Ayurveda with my beloved teacher, Dr. Lad. One day, after driving back from the farm where we would see patients in a rural clinic, the most incredible thing happened. I was given a private chai lesson by Dr. Lad, in his home! As students, we rotated who got to drive with Dr. Lad back from the farm and on this day, I don’t remember the circumstances, it was just me.

I got the best chai making lesson of my life. Dr. Lad made four cups of chai, one for me, one for him and one for each his two drivers. To figure out how to make the perfect amount of chai, measure out milk and water using the mug you plan to drink from. In this case, Dr. Lad filled the cup with water twice and with milk twice, equaling out to four cups of liquid. I do the same at home and my husband is always happy to drink the second cup of chai.

What you need

1 inch chunk of fresh ginger root (you can add more if you want it be more gingery)

1 cup of whole milk or milk alternative

1 cup of water

a few pinches of ground cardamom

2 black tea bags (or 2-3 tsp. loose black tea)

sweetener to taste- raw sugar, honey, maple syrup or whatever you like

What to do

Serves 2

Choose your mug that you plan to drink your delicious chai from (no need to dirty a measuring cup here).

Fill mug with water and pour into small pot. Then fill mug with milk and pour into small pot. Add a few pinches of ground cardamom.

Bring milk to a boil, and then quickly turn off heat. It is best to keep an eye on the pot because once it boils it can quickly overflow. I’ve made this mistake one too many times!

While milk and water are heating up, grate the ginger on a cheese grater or microplane*.

Tip: To peel ginger, use the edge of a spoon. In fact, is not necessary to peel the ginger since you will strain it anyway, but I usually do. 

Once milk has boiled, turn off the heat.

Add grated ginger, black tea and a teaspoon (or two) of sugar/sweetener of choice. Let this steep together for 2-3 minutes. Stir and strain into cups with a small strainer.

Sip and enjoy!

*Dr. Lad used a mortar and pestle, not a microplane. He simply smashed the chunk of ginger up which took all of 30 seconds and left almost nothing to clean. I don’t have a mortar and pestle, which is why I use a microplane. I used to chop the ginger finely with a knife, but I don’t have the patience for that anymore. The microplane ends up producing a spicy, gingery cup of chai as the ginger juices are easily released in the grating process.

You can do it!

·      This may feel like a lot of work the first few times that you make it, but once you get down the rhythm it is simple to make and easy to clean!  

·      Both the ginger and cardamom make the milk easier to digest and promote optimal digestion in general. Chai is a delicious and supportive way to start the day!

·      The simpler, the better. One time I wanted SUPER gingery chai, so I went to the trouble of juicing the ginger and then added it to the cold milk and water mixture. After all the trouble and dirty juicer, the milk curdled! I learned the hard way that ginger juice will react with cold milk, hence the curdling. To avoid this, simply follow the directions and add the freshly grated ginger to the milk and water once it’s already boiled.

To Your Health!


 

 

How I healed my digestive issues with Ayurveda

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For years I struggled with regular, often daily stomach aches, pain, constipation and an intolerance to dairy. Back in the day we called it lactose intolerance and I popped those Lactaid pills religiously whenever I ate dairy. Still, I felt pain and discomfort for the first 18 years of my life. By the time I was a freshmen in college, my digestive issues were so bad I could hardly eat anything without feeling horrible. I went to the doctor and was given a pill and told I could take it daily, for years if needed.

Though I was a relatively naïve 19 year old, the idea of taking a prescribed medicine for the rest of my life just didn’t feel right. I was young and by western standards healthy, but I knew something deeper was going on. I wanted to figure out the cause of my digestive issues so I could actually heal the problem rather than cover it up. I took the medicine for a year, and was grateful to have relief from some of my symptoms while I looked for a different solution. 

Towards the end of my freshmen year in college, I found my answer: Ayurveda.  Ayurveda, is an ancient holistic medical science from India. At the time, I had never heard of Ayurveda and could hardly pronounce it (it’s Ahh-yur-vay-duh). Though my stomach issues worsened with food, dairy in particular, my treatment did not start with food, it started with meditation. Quieting the mind and focusing on the present moment allowed me to begin to process a backlog of bottled-up emotions that I had pushed way way down and out of my conscious mind.

Within 3 months of meditating everyday, nearly 80 percent of my digestive issues resolved! Nearly twenty years of daily discomfort, gone. Poof!  The same foods that left me doubled-over in pain no longer caused me a problem (and let me tell you I tested my limits!!!). There was a side effect from all this meditating. Anxiety was no longer my constant companion. I found my answer in ayurveda and my passion in sharing that ancient wisdom with you.