Cookbook author Mindy Toomay's blog about eating for health, cooking with spirit, and celebrating life in northern California. Here she dishes up food rants and raves, recipes, and plenty of kitchen wisdom.

By your own efforts, waken yourself, watch yourself, and live joyfully.
-- The Dhammapada

Why not make a daily pleasure out of a daily necessity?
-- Peter Mayle


Kicharee time

Wintry day today, even though we're two weeks into spring. Heavy rain this morning, then overcast -- and COLD. It's a soup day, for sure, and probably a "kicharee" day. In the ancient "science of life" called Ayurveda, practiced in India for ages, kicharee is highly therapeutic, just what we need when we're fighting off or recovering from an illness.

I'm feeling a bit under said weather, I must admit. Our local news station announced last night that Seattle, which is in the Northwestern American rainforest, had 2.5 inches of rain in March. The San Francisco Bay Area, my beloved home in the temperate zone, had 9 inches! It's upside down. Today I heard from a friend that the state of Virginia had one of its driest months on record in March. Maybe it's not a new global weather pattern, just an extreme year, to be expected every once in a while. But after the record-breaking hurricane season, you can't help but wonder...

Anyway, kicheree. It can include any number of vegetables and spices, and always includes some kind of "dal" (split legume), basmati rice, and "ghee" (clarified butter). The spices are heated in the ghee, then the vegetables are added and sauteed for a few minutes. Then you add vegetable stock or water and when it comes to a boil, in goes the dal (split mung beans, available at natural food stores, is a traditional choice, but you can use red lentils instead). After about 10 minutes of boiling, the rice goes in, then all is gently simmered (stirring the pot occasionally) until it turns into a lovely, aromatic stew.

Ayurveda teaches that ghee is one of the great healing foods. It warms and lubricates our bodies and is considered deeply nourishing for all. According to my Ayurveda-wise friend, Ronda, all the cholesterol is removed from the butter during the clarifying process. So though ghee is all fat, it isn't the kind that's going to clog our arteries. I make my own ghee from organic sweet butter and use it occasionally. Strict vegan cooks can substitute canola or olive oil.

So when fighting off flu bugs -- or just culinary blahs -- cook up a pot of kicheree. Use plenty of grated fresh ginger and garlic, as I do, and plenty of cayenne pepper. It will certainly cure what ails you.

If only it could chase away this rain.



At 3:56 AM, Blogger cmthite said...

Kicharee is just the kind of food we love to eat on cool day here in Pune, Maharashtra. Use a little fresh butter on top of it, a lemon pickle, and a roasted papad (kind of pan cake made out of Udad/Urad dal). Haven.


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