Beans on Toast

  • 1 15-ounce can white beans (such as cannellini or Great Northern), rinsed, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted mixed olives, coarsely chopped, or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced lemon zest
  • Two pinches crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal and toasted (for serving)

Toss beans, olives or tomatoes, parsley, oil, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl; season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice. Serve spooned over the warm toasted  baguette. Makes 4 servings (makes about 2 cups)           

Flavored Nut Milks

Recipe by Bhaeravii Devi

Yoga philosophy teaches that the body’s life-force energy—its prana—comes from air, water, and food. Eating pure, yogic foods increases our prana and nourishes body, mind, and spirit. The Bhagavad Gita, one of the most influential Hindu texts, includes a holistic philosophy of nutrition based on the nature of food’s vibrational energy, which falls into three gunas, or categories of nature. Homemade nut milks have deliciously strong prana.

If you forget to soak almonds, make nut milk with a combination of hemp and macadamia nuts. Since neither has a skin, you won’t need to soak them to remove phytic acid (a nutrient blocker in the skin that protects the seed from sprouting). Not only is it simple to make, but it’s also deliciously rich and flavorful. For these flavored milks, I recommend getting out your nut milk bag. The silky consistency of the strained milk allows their more delicate flavors to shine and gives a perfect clean and refreshing finish. Unlike a smoothie these milks won’t fill you up, making them a perfect between meals treat. The addition of coconut butter gives a nice hint of sweetness and adds a little richness too. They’re best served cold and keep well in the fridge for a few days. 

Hemp macadamia nut milk base

This hemp macadamia nut milk is a favorite nut milk with or without the added flavors. Rich in protein and omega fatty acids, hemp seeds taste fresh and slightly grassy when made into milk. The macadamias add a mellow sweet flavor and luscious creamy texture.Don’t worry if you forget to soak the macadamia nuts, they blend pretty well in an upright blender.

 ½ cup macadamia nuts, soaked in a cup of water for 2 to 4 hours

½ cup hemp seeds

4 cups filtered water

2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla

Tiny pinch sea salt

Drain and rinse macadamia nuts. Place in an upright blender along with remaining ingredients. Blend on high speed until smooth and foaming.

Use as is or strain milk through a nut milk bag, several layers of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel. Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Makes about 4 cups.


Famous for its anti-inflammatory properties, fresh turmeric (if you can find it) also has an intriguing tropical flavor and beautiful golden color. It’s slight astringent and bitter flavors are mellowed out by a touch of honey but you can drink it strait up if you’re used to the unusual flavor. Dried turmeric can be used instead of fresh, start with ¼ teaspoon and add more to taste.

 1 cup strained nut milk

½ inch piece peeled and chopped fresh turmeric root, or more to taste

½ to 1 teaspoon honey or other liquid sweetener

1 teaspoon coconut butter

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth and serve chilled.

 Raw cacao

Raw cacao is high in magnesium and contains more antioxidant flavonoids than green tea or blueberries. It also has a deeply satisfying chocolate flavor without the sugar or dairy.

 1 cup strained nut milk

2 to 3 teaspoons raw cacao powder

2 teaspoons coconut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth and serve chilled.


When blended with nut milk the strong and slightly astringent flavors of goji berries are mellowed out and you’re left with a pretty colored sweet drink that’s loaded with antioxidants. If you don’t have goji berry powder soak 2 to 3 tablespoons goji berries in a little water until soft, drain and blend with the ingredients below.

 1 cup strained nut milk

3 to 4 teaspoons goji berry powder

1 teaspoon coconut butter

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth. Serve chilled.


This milk is great with any fresh berries; since there are no other strong flavors in the mix, the fragrance and lovely color of blueberries really shines.

 ½ cup strained nut milk

½ cup fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon coconut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth. Serve chilled

 Vanilla spice

This milk makes the perfect light dessert. The medjool dates add a sweet caramel flavor while thickening the texture slightly and vanilla beans, cardamom and nutmeg add an irresistible exotic flavor.

1 cup strained nut milk

½ a vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch ground cardamom

Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

2 pitted Medjool dates

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth and serve chilled.

Chia Seed Pudding

Recipe by Bhaeravii Devi

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Thousands of years ago, chia seed was a staple in the diets of ancient Mayans and Aztecs. The word chia is derived from the Mayan language, meaning “strength,” and Aztec warriors relied on chia seed to boost energy and increase stamina.

The present Mexican state of Chiapas received its name from the Nahuatl “chia water” or “chia river”. This simple pudding is nothing more than raw chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk, yogurt, vanilla extract, maple syrup and a pinch of salt. It’s also vegan/gluten-free. Since chia seeds are considered a superfood (the best plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids on the planet), this is an unbelievably healthy breakfast, dessert or snack!

Amazingly, chia gel can also be used as a substitute for eggs in many baked goods. Use a proportion of 1 to 6 ratio of Chia Seeds to Water to make chia gel. Use approximately one tablespoon of chia gel to replace one large egg in your baked goods.

Chia Seed Pudding

1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk
1 cup plain low-fat (2 percent) Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (preferably grade B), plus 4 teaspoons for serving
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

In a medium bowl, gently whisk the almond milk, yogurt, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, the vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon salt until just blended. Whisk in the chia seeds; let stand 30 minutes. Stir to distribute the seeds if they have settled. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, in a medium bowl, toss the berries with the remaining 4 teaspoons maple syrup. In a small bowl, combine the strawberries and almonds. Spoon the pudding into 4 Dessert bowls or glasses; mound the berry mixture on top and serve. Makes 4 servings

Suggested Toppings: (feel free to mix and match and be creative!)
Blood orange segments and pistachios
Mixed berries and lemon zest
Diced mango, toasted coconut, and dark chocolate shavings
Sliced Bananas with cinnamon
Blueberries and toasted almonds
Dried Fruit

Vegetable Fritters in Chick-Pea Batter with Three Dipping Sauces

There is nary a gathering with my Indian friends that does not offer a big platter of pakoras, or vegetable fritters. As the guests arrive, someone is in the kitchen frying the fritters while engaging in light conversation. Tempura was introduced to Japan and India in the 16th century via early Portuguese missionaries and sea traders. The word tempura means both the technique for the batter frying and from the Latin word tempora, which referred to the holy days when Catholics eat no meat. Fritters are an excellent way to use seasonal vegetables by dipping them into a batter, but have a bad reputation because of their need to be deep-fried.  But in this recipe they are conveniently cooked in a frying pan with less oil.  You could use clarified butter (ghee), sesame oil, avocado oil, or safflower oil for the deep frying instead of the peanut or canola oils in the recipe. Use a combination of vegetables; other suggestions include whole okra, carrot slices, potatoes, or sweet snap peas in the pod.

Vegetable fritters are an excellent savory side dish with a made-ahead yogurt sauce, known as a raita, designed to cool your palate, a tangy ginger lime soy sauce, and a really zingy fresh chutney with ginger, cilantro and mint that you only need a nab of. If you don’t have time to make one or all of the sauces, offer a bowl or sour cream or crème fraîche and lime wedges. If you have not cooked with chickpea flour before, a staple in both Indian and Mediterranean cuisines, you have a treat; it has a fabulously delicious flavor. Many recipes heavily spice the batter with garam masala, cilantro, coriander, crushed chiles, etc., but this version is rather simple and embellish with the sauces later. Brown mustard seeds and the chickpea (besan) flour are available in ethnic markets. The batter is gluten-free.

Vegetable Fritters in Chick-Pea Batter with Three Dipping Sauces

Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Few splashes Tabasco sauce or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 cups (1 pint) plain yogurt

Soy-Lime Dipping Sauce

Three 1-inch slices ginger, peeled and grated to make 3 tablespoons

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Green Chutney Sauce

Two 1-inch slices ginger, peeled

1 Anaheim green chile pepper, cored and seeded

2 bunches fresh cilantro, leaves only

1/2 bunch fresh mint, leaves only

Juice of 3 fresh limes

1 tablespoon olive oil or almond oil

1/2 teaspoon salt


1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

3/4 teaspoon whole brown mustard seed

1 1/4 cups chickpea (garbanzo) flour or rice flour

1/4 cup white rice flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup cold club soda or plain sparkling water, or plain water

1 tablespoon oil


1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch strips

3 ounces medium green beans (about 15), stem end trimmed

8 slices 1/3-inch thick slender Asian eggplant, ends trimmed

8 slices 1/4-inch thick sliced yam, peeled or unpeeded, ends trimmed

1/4 pound zucchini, ends trimmed, cut on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices

About 2 cups small broccoli flowerettes or cauliflowerettes, cut in half

About 2 cups peanut oil, organic canola oil, or grapeseed oil, for frying

Make the yogurt sauce. Add the salt, spices, and Tabasco to the yogurt in its container. Stir with a whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Makes 2 cups. Make the soy-lime sauce. Stir together the ginger, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, and sugar. Mixture will be thin. Cover. The sauces can be made 1 to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Make the green chutney. Place the ginger and chile in a food processor; pulse a few times to finely chop. With the machine running, add the cilantro and mint until finely minced.  Add the lime juice, oil, and taste for salt. Will still have a texture, not a full purée. Transfer to a covered container. Refrigerate until serving. Best served the day it is made.  Makes 1 cup.

To make the batter, place the seeds in a dry skillet and toast, shaking the pan so as not to burn. Place in a mixing bowl. Add the flours, salt and baking soda. Add the yogurt, club soda or water, and oil, whisking until almost smooth and slightly thicker than heavy cream. Add more flour or liquid so that the batter is thick like pancake batter.

To fry the vegetables. Line a platter or baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels.  Place the vegetables to the side of the stove and the bowl of batter. Heat a few tablespoons oil to make 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep, in a heavy deep, straight-sided skillet or wok until very hot, almost to the smoking stage; the oil must fizzle (365ºF/190ºC on a deep fry thermometer). Working with 6 to 8 to 10 pieces of vegetables at a time, dip each piece into the batter and stir until just coated; let the excess drain off, then drop the batter-coated vegetables into the skillet.  Do not overcrowd; add more oil if you like. You want to keep the oil temperature constant. Fry until the edges start to brown, turn over with a metal pancake turner, and fry on the other side, about 1 to 2 1/2 minutes each side; they cook fast.  Fritters will be crispy and deep golden brown in spots.  You will need to turn them over a few times. Remove with a slotted spoon, chopsticks, or tongs to the platter to drain (they can be kept warm in a 250º oven). Using a long handled strainer, remove excess bits of fried batter to keep the oil clean.  Add more oil to the skillet for the next batch of fritters. Continue until all the vegetables are fried, adjusting the heat to maintain the oil temperature. Once the vegetables are all done, start serving so they are fresh as possible. Best made the same day it is to be served, 1 to 4 hours ahead. Place the dipping sauces in individual bowls to serve with the warm fritters. Makes about 30 fritters, serves 8

Sweet Greek Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkins have a place in rustic Greek cuisine but mainly in the form of savory and sweet pies known as pitas. A savory filling includes feta cheese, while the sweet pumpkin pie (glikia kolokithopita) is traditionally combined with raisins and walnuts. It is vegan since it was consumed often during Greek fasting periods. This version here also includes walnuts, olive oil, brown sugar and a just a touch ginger. No milk, no eggs and no butter.

The crispy sheets of phyllo is perfect with the soft sweet pumpkin pie filling. It can be served warm (you can reheat it in the oven before serving to get the  phyllo crispy) or at room temperature.
  • 2 cups plain pumpkin puree, cooked fresh or canned 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided use, plus 1/2 cup more for brushing phyllo
  • 1/2 cup organic granulated cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
  • 12 phyllo sheets
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven at 350ºF. Parchment line a large baking sheet.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the phyllo and powdered sugar.
  3. On a large flat surface (like a table or kitchen counter). Lay down one phyllo sheet and brush with olive oil, place a second phyllo on top and brush again with olive oil.
  4. Place filling carefully with a spoon on the edge of the short side of the phyllo and roll carefully into a log. You will put about 4 tablespoons of the pumpkin mixture in each log.
  5. Brush the top and bottom of log with olive oil and place with bottom down on the baking sheet. Make slits on top about 2 ½ inches apart (that is where you will slice them once baked). You can also wind the logs into a shell shape all around a large pan or individual rolls.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo sheets and you should have 6 logs. The 6 logs will fit on the one baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 30 minutes until phyllo is golden.
  8. Remove from oven, let them cool for at least 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
  9. Yield: 30-36 pieces

Growing Your Own Sprouts

Try growing your own sprouts. Whole grains are transformed into a living food when they are sprouted. Sprouting increases vitamins, enzymes, and minerals and makes them more bio-available. Growing your own guarantees fresh clean sprouts. Sprouts will add living food to your otherwise dry food supply and also for your survival food pantry. One of the dadas was telling me about when he would go out to meditate for prolonged periods in the woods or cave. He would bring dried garbanzo chick peas, soak them, and sprout them for an instant protein-rich food.

All you need are some organic seeds, a large, clean quart mason jar and some netted fabric secured with a screw on mason jar band or rubber band. You can sprout any grain, provided you’re working from the whole grain berry, not a rolled, flaked or otherwise damaged grain. Soak seeds that have been thoroughly rinsed for the first 24 hours in clean cool water, draining and refreshing the water several times. Store in the dark. Then rinse twice a day with fresh clean water and set in sunlight Your sprouts will be ready to eat in a week.There are many varieties of seeds and legumes which can be sprouted offering a plethora of options for any dishes.  Sprouts contain a significant amount of nutrition in their tiny form offering the opportunity to boost a meal with their simple addition.

Many different seeds and legumes may be used for sprouting though ensure they are sold for sprouting and contain no pathogens. All seeds have different sprouting timeframes that range from 2 days to a full week.  In a test sprouting I did for this post the mung beans began to sprout in about 2 days and had filled the Mason jar within 4 days.  The other sprouts ranged to be close to that or a few days longer.

Directions for Making Sprouts

Once you have created your sprouting jars, place 2 tablespoons to ½ cup of sprouting seeds in a given jar depending on how large a crop you wish to have.  ½ cup of mung beans creates a quart of sprouts; maybe a bit much for a starter batch.  You can experiment with the amounts until you decide what works for you.

Seal the jar with the screen lid. Fill the jar with water to cover the seeds plus an inch. Allow them to sit in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight overnight.  Drain the water through the screen top. Place the jar on its side again in a cool spot out of direct sunlight.

Rinse the seeds twice daily by filling the jar to cover the seeds, swish the water around to rinse all the sprouts; drain through the screen top and replace on its side until the sprouts have grown to the size desired.

Once the sprouts are finished, remove them from the jar, place in a plastic bag or sealed container in the refrigerator to use.  Sprouts should stay fresh for up to a week.

Types of Grains for Sprouting

Bean salad sprout mix includes adzuki, mung, green lentils and radish for a kick. Where do microgreens fit in? Microgreens are less mature than baby greens but harvested later than sprouts.




Beet Seeds



Red Clover




Mung Bean


Sunflower Seeds in Shell

Wheat, Spelt Berries

Benefits to Sprouting

· concentrated source of protein

· concentrated source of vitamin A, B, C, and E

· concentrated source of antioxidants

· concentrated source of minerals

· source of fiber

· source of chlorophyll

· source of essential fatty acids

· nutrients are more easily digested and absorbed

· alkalizing to the body

Sprouted Grain Flour

You can substitute it at 1:1 ratio for any whole grain flour, and is particularly good in baked goods, cookies and breads. Sprouted grain flour is rich in nutrients, particularly B vitamins, excellent for vegans. If you haven’t the interest or time to sprout your own grains for sprouted grain flour, you can also purchase sprouted grain flour online at amazon.com, as well as in well stocked natural foods stores. These sprouts set in a mesh strainer that sits into a sink in the open air. There is specific equipment that is designed to grind sprouted flour.


  • 1 pound whole grain (such as rice, wheat berries, einkorn berries, spelt berries etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar


  1. Pour the grains into a large mixing bowl, and cover with warm water by 2 inches. Stir in the vinegar, cover the bowl, and set it on the counter. Let the grains soak, undisturbed, for 18 to 24 hours, then drain the grains and rinse them well.
  2. Pour the grains into an over-the-sink fine-mesh sieve and rinse them under flowing water. Stir the grains with your outstretched fingers. Twice a day for 2 to 3 days, continue rinsing and stirring the grains, a tiny, cream-colored sprout emerges at the end of the grains. In using sprouted grains for flour, be mindful to begin dehydrating the grains shortly after the root tip appears.
  3. Transfer the grains to dehydrator trays lined with a non-stick dehydrator sheets (available from amazon.com). Dehydrate the grains for 12 to 18 hours. Once the grains are firm and dry, transfer them to the freezer in a plastic bag or sealed container, or immediately grind them in a grain grinder. Grind them to a fine flour, sift it, as desired, and store it in the freezer in plastic freezer bags until ready to use.

Equipment You’ll Need for Making Sprouted Grain Flour

  • Fine-mesh Sieve: I use a fine-mesh sieve that fits over the sink for rinsing and aerating the grains as they sprout. Fitting it over the sink saves much-needed counter space, and also allows the water to run cleanly through the grains, minimizing clean up.
  • Dehydrator: To prevent sprouted grains from roasting in the oven at too high a temperature, I dry them in a food dehydrator. I have a 9-tray Excalibur model that I also use to preserve the summer and autumn harvest, to help bread rise and to keep a constant temperature for yogurt making. There are new models with digital timers. I also make sure to use BPA-free Paraflex dehydrator sheets which keep the grains from slipping through the holes in the dehydrator’s trays.
  • Grain Grinder: When I first began grinding my own grains for flour, I used a Nutrimill; however, early this year it stopped working, and I purchased a Komo Grain Grinder and Grain Flaker which is blessedly quiet and doesn’t heat the flour during grinding.  There are many grain grinders, electric and manual, in a variety of price ranges. 

Mexican Salad with Blueberries, Roasted Corn & Avocado

Mexican vegetables are featured in a cuisine that combines indigenous and Spanish influences. Mexico is self-sufficient in most fruits and vegetables (that is, Mexican farmers grow enough to meet the needs of the people), and in beans, rice, and sugar. However, many people living in rural areas are poor, and are barely able to grow enough food to feed their own families. When I lived in Oaxaca, I liked to go the food stands that were right outside the university buildings downtown, which was right next to a small park, with plenty of room for the food vendors to set up their ingredients and comales. Comida (lunch) is usually a soup, tortillas or a torta sandwich, rice and beans, and a mixed salad. 

The most common salad is a tostada, which is layered on top of a fried tortilla. But the American influence is easy to see in the variety of raw and cooked salads, especially around the universities. Avocado, which grows on a tree, is native to Mexico and one of the most beloved vegetable with its creamy mild flavor. Think guacamole. Avocados are considered so healthy that it is now recommended to eat one every day. Corn is considered a staple, showing up in everything from tortillas to salsas at every meal, or just eaten fresh picked off the cob (an elote steamed and served with butter and cheese). Another way of serving elotes is serving the grains/kernels cut off the cob, in the southern and central areas Mexico people call this serving esquite instead of elote then eaten with a spoon. Jícama (pronounced /ˈhɪkəmə/, from Nahuatl xicamatl, [ʃiˈkamatɬ]), also known as a Mexican Turnip, is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant’s edible tuberous root. Jicama is a favorite sweet root vegetable of the street vendors eaten raw. Cilantro leaves gives a distinctive flavor. Add north of the border apples and blueberries and you have a satisfying mixed salad.

  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (cut from 3 corn cobs-save the cobs in the freezer for making veg stock)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 package (6 ounces or 1 cup) fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch cubes) jicama
  • 1 large crisp apple, cored and diced
  • 1 to 2 firm ripe avocadoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl toss corn with olive oil. Spread corn out onto in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast about 25 minutes. Mix corn with wooden spoon and spread corn out again to a single layer. Continue roasting until corn for another 5 to 10 minutes or until about half the kernels are a deep brown color. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, toss romaine, blueberries, jicama, apple, avocado, cilantro, lime juice and salt until evenly blended. Add corn and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Spicy Chili Baked Potato

Potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. Potatoes are available year-round and claim to be America’s favorite vegetable. They are one of the world’s four largest food crops along with rice, wheat, and maize (corn), and are considered a global crop. Store potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place or else they will turn green, sprout, and then shrivel up, making them inedible. Don’t store potatoes in the refrigerator. Don’t store potatoes in airtight plastic bags. If they are sold in plastic, the bag should have cut-outs to enable breathing. Shield potatoes from light. When exposed to light, potatoes become green-tinged, which is a sign of chlorophyll and toxic alkaloids. For the best baked potato, use the large russets (the Russet Burbank,named for Luther Burbank who developed the Russet Burbank potato in 1872, a more disease-resistant version of the Irish russet potato). Make a nice bean topping for your baked potato and you have a satisying full meal.

Spicy Chili Baked Potato

1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can (4 ounces) diced roasted green chiles, undrained
1 can (15.5 ounces) drained black beans
3/4 cup water

4 large baked potatoes (about 2 pounds total)
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Sour cream or tofu sour cream
Diced avocado
Fresh cilantro leaves

In a skillet, heat olive oil and chili powder until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add chiles, beans, and water and cook until slightly thickened; season. Split open the hot baked potatoes and top with chili, cheese, sour cream, avocado, and cilantro.

Sweet-and-Sour Tamarind Rice

The South Indian diet is a rice-based vegetarian one. For acaryas from other regions of India, it is a dish they discover when they work in Bangalore and Kerala. It is a beloved dish for its savory nature, complex with spices with that dash of sour. Dada Agryabuddhyananda, who was posted in South India during the 1980s, told me about how they had virtually no donations and they could only afford to make one meal per day and that was tamarind rice for lunch.

The recipe has been passed down over 1,000 years and there are thousands of variations. It is often made as part of a wedding feast. It is also made by the Hare Krishnas, copied from the Iyengar Brahmins who are followers of the living philosophical tradition of Ramanuja Sampradaya, a bhakti yogi from Tamil Nadu who lived in the 10th century. Ramanuja’s classical interpretations of the dominant Vedanta school philosophy is referred to as Vishishtadvaita because it combines Advaita (oneness of God) with Vishesha (attributes).

Tamarind is sold as a paste and is a souring agent like lime juice. It grows on beautiful trees. After harvest, the brown leather-like skin and the black seeds are removed by hand. The remaining pulp and stringy bits are sealed up in bulk and placed in storage for use throughout the year. There are no artificial ingredients or preservatives added to the tamarind. For tamarind rice, the tamarind is not cooked with other spices. Tamarind pulp is soaked in warm water and the thick juice is extracted. It is then mixed with steamed rice along with fried spices. Serve tamarind rice with yogurt.

1 walnut-sized ball of seeded tamarind pulp

½ cup hot water

3 cups water 

1½ cups basmati rice, rinsed

3 small fresh green chiles

¼ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds 

3 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut

1 tablespoon grated raw ginger

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar 

3 tablespoons peanut oil or light sesame oil

2 tablespoons raw cashews or peanut halves (or combination of both)

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds 

8 small curry leaves

Plain yogurt and chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Combine the ball of seeded tamarind pulp with the ½ cup hot water in a small bowl and set aside to soak for 15 minutes.

Bring to the boil the 3 cups of unsalted water in a small saucepan. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy saucepan and lightly toast the rice.

Add the boiling liquid to the rice. Stir until the water returns to a boil; then reduce the heat to a simmer, put on a tight-fitting lid, and leave undisturbed for 15 or 20 minutes or until the rice is dry and tender. Remove the rice from the heat and set aside, covered. Rice can also be made in a rice cooker.

Squeeze and strain all the thick pulp from the soaking tamarind with the aid of a sieve, discarding any veins. Keep all the liquid puree and discard the dry pulp. Wash, remove stems, and slice the green chiles.

Dry-roast the cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and sesame seeds in a small, heavy frying pan over moderately-low heat. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes until the sesame seeds become aromatic and golden, and the spices darken a few shades.

Remove the seeds and spices from the pan to a small bowl, allow them to cool, and then grind them in a small coffee grinder or blender until they are powdered. Combine them with the coconut, mix well, and place back in the small bowl.

Combine the tamarind puree, ginger, salt, and sugar and simmer the mixture over moderate heat in a small saucepan until slightly thickened (about 3 minutes). Remove from the heat. Add the ground spices, seeds, and coconut mixture into the tamarind syrup and mix well.

Heat the peanut oil in the small pan in which you roasted the spices. Place over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the nuts and stir-fry them until they are golden brown (about 2 minutes). Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Add the sliced green chilies to the hot pan and fry for 1 minute; remove from the pan. Continue heating the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds crackle, pour the contents of the pan into the tamarind syrup and mix well.

Place the hot rice in a medium serving bowl. Sprinkle with the nuts and pour the tamarind syrup over the rice. Carefully fold into the hot cooked rice with a wide spatula. Serve immediately or cover and let the tamarind rice rest for a few hours. Serve with half a cup of plain yogurt and some chopped cilantro on top. The rice keeps well and is good to make extra to carry if you are traveling as it can stay at room temperature over 24 hours. Serves 4.

Sweet and Fragrant Pineapple Chutney

I adore this sweet, hot chutney, a special preparation to make while pineapples are in season. It’s a snap to make and tastes good with Indian food, on sandwiches, with cheese, and any number of other ways you’ll discover.


1 average-sized medium ripe fresh pineapple
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground fennel
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ to ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
~ Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes (2 tablespoons)
1½ teaspoons coarse salt, or to taste
1 1/3 cups organic granulated cane sugar


Peel and core the pineapple. Put the pineapple into the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely puréed (or chop the pulp finely, using a sharp knife).
Put the puréed pineapple along with all the other ingredients in a medium-size enamel pan over medium heat. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until the sugar completely dissolves, and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, over low heat until the contents of the pan look thick and glazed like jam (about 30 minutes).
Turn off the heat, pour into a clean pint jar with lid. Although it is ready to serve, the flavor improves with two or three days of resting in the refrigerator. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 pint