Charnamrita inspired breakfast bowl

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I vividly remember two occasions when I have had a Panchamrita/ Charnamrita. One was when my aunt had taken us two sisters for attending some Puja in an old haveli in Lucknow. I remember asking for a second helping of the 1-2 tablespoon serving that we were given. And the other time when a dear friend’s mother had summoned me to help mash bananas in a big pot of cold milk and yogurt mixture. I was then made aware that this has to be done by hand only.

Panchamrita/ Charnamrita is the offering to the Divine and then consumed also by those making the offering. Yogurt, milk, ghee, honey, sugar, Indian Basil. Dry fruits, and bananas are added by others.

Because it is so tasty I thought about using the same ingredients with the addition of roasted Amarnath and Foxnut, which is very popular food during this fasting time and making a breakfast bowl.
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Ingredients:
1 cup Yogurt
2 cup Milk/ Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Honey (you could use a combination of sugar and honey)
1/4 cup Ghee
2 Bananas
1/2 cup Dry Fruits of your choice
1 cup Roasted Foxnut
1 cup Roasted Amarnath seeds
2-3 sprigs Indian Basil

1. Soak the torn Indian Basil leaves in the milk for a few hours.
2. Peel and mash the bananas in the yogurt. I did it by hand, just for the memory. It is fun. You can try it.
3. Mix the milk, ghee and honey into the banana yogurt mixture. Once every thing is assimilated add the dry fruits, roasted foxnut and roasted amarnath seeds.
4. Divide into bowls and serve.
5. Its another great bowl of food post a morning yoga flow.
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A mouthful of coconut (energy balls to the world, laddoos to Indians)

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Rituals in India include coconut in many ways. It is considered auspicious and is a staple across the vast coastline of India. It is now that the world has woken up to the possibilities of coconut and its dense nutritional value is fast gaining dominance in cooking, the world over.

During any festivities, yogic or ritualistic fasts, coconut and preparation from coconut is very common. So are coconut laddoos. Traditionally the coconut is cooked in milk, which I have replaced with coconut milk to become a completely plant based dessert.

The other thing done is that if coconut sugar is used the flavour is stronger and makes the laddoos more vegan friendly.

These are great post work out treats for me.
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Ingredients:
100 gms Desiccated coconut, plus some extra for rolling the laddoos in
50 gms Raw/ unrefined/ coconut sugar
1 tbsp Coconut oil
200 ml Coconut milk

1. Heat a heavy bottomed wok or pan. Ensure it remains on low heat all the time. The temptation to turn up the heat and expedite the process of cooking is very high. We are conscious cooking these days, so just enjoy the fragrance wafting in the house while preparing this. Also this will ensure that these coconut laddoos remain as white even when cooked
2. Add the coconut oil to the pan and the desiccated coconut and gently stir. Continue stirring till the decimated coconut is still white, but slightly toasted through and before it changes colour. Add the coconut milk and the sugar and continue stirring. Stir over low flame for about 8-10 minutes
3. Once the mixture is no longer loose and starts to leave the sides and comes together, turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. I like my laddoos to be very soft and hence I almost have a wobbly structure to my laddoos. But if you like a little more bite, cook the mixture a little more, till it is as dense as you like.
4. Once cooled, add some oil to your palms and form balls laddoos. Roll the balls/ laddoos in desiccated coconut and allow to cool. You can store it in the fridge as well, but they will fast disappear where ever you try to hide them.
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Potato Pancakes (Potato Chilla)

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The way of life in India and Yoga, is the current inspiration to the Western World. Especially the food we eat. We are traditionally whole grain and coarse grain and plant based eaters, with a vast variety of methods of cooking and a multitude of spices and thats probably why once Liz Hurley had once said that its easy to be vegetarian if you are eating Indian.

But twice a year at least, we give up grains as well. Once such time of the year started yesterday, the start of the Hindu month of Kartik, the end of Shradha (Autumn). This is the weather transition period and characterised by special food for the next nine days. The food is special because the focus is on a complete plant based diet, minimal to no spice and no table salt or sugar. Unrefined sugar and jaggery are allowed. And salt if at all required is Himalayan or Rock salt.

I am a vegetarian and I usually eat quite mindfully and since I travel a lot, sicking to 100 percent plant based diet for all meals can be tough. But this time around I am not travelling, so I decided to not eat grain for the next nine days. Its a tough challenge at hand and since I feel that some fun recipes can help kill the monotony of the food that you all are having at this time of the year.

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The quantity below makes 2 pancakes and serves one person. Multiply the portions as per the number of people.
Ingredients:
1 boiled potato grated
2 tbsp water chestnut flour
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 green chilli chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tsp ghee
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp mint chutney (just blend 1 green chilli, 1/2 cup mint leaves and 1/2 cup raw mango, 1 pinch rock salt, splash of water)
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

1. Heat thoroughly a non stick pan. Add some ghee on the pan and spread with a brush.
2. In a bowl add the grated potato, water chestnut flour, green chilli, dill and water. Whip through till well mixed. The batter should not be too thick of thin. It should coat the back of a spoon.
3. Pour half the mixture on the non stick pan and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Do not make the pancake too thin.
4. Now its time for patience. Do not touch the pancake till the edges have started to brown, else it will be difficult to turn and might break. Once the edges are browned, flip it over and gook on the other side as well. Repeat this activity with the rest of the batter.
5. Serve with yogurt, mint chutney and pomegranate seeds.
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Pancakes with Thyme, Grilled Mango and Mango Syrup

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Crepes and mangoes I sorted for you all. Now well they are tricky, more technique requiring and demand more patience. But then pancakes are better. This one is a multigrain pancake. I usually take a big jar and just add various coarse grain flours and keep it for such handy use. So be more we proceed lets get this little tip on multigrain flour out of the way.

Multigrain flour.
Add all the flours below in a jar and shake it up.
250 gms Buckwheat Flour (Mothi /Kuttu Atta)
250 gms Maize Flour (Makai Atta)
250 gms Bengal Gram Flour (besan)
250 gms Sorghum Flour (Jowar Atta)
250 gms Pearl Millet Flour (Bajra Atta)
250 gms Oats Flour
250 gms Ragi Flour
500 gms Whole Wheat Flour
250 gms Rice Flour

So I made these same pancakes all the time. This one here had a mango syrup, grilled mangoes and there is thyme in the pancakes. Ya odd. But works beautifully. I personally love some cream with my Pancakes, so you will find them a regular feature.
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Ingredients:
Grilled mangoes:
2 ripe Fibrous Mangoes
2-3 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Ghee
Mango Syrup:
500 ml Mango Juice (they are only now going to be preserved ones)
1/2 lemon
Pancakes:
1 cup 9 Grain Flour (as mentioned above)
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Ricotta
1 cup Diced Mango
1 pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Sodium bicarbonate
1 tsp Thyme
2-3 tbsp Ghee

1. For the grilled mangoes. Peal the mangoes and try not to lick your elbows while at it. Heat a grill pan and brush with some ghee. Place the mango chunks. Brush the chunks of mango with Honey and balsamic vinegar alternatively. Keep the flame low and keep turning the mango chunks on the grill pan. Once you can see that there is colour on the mangoes. Take them off the flame
2. Simultaneously take a heavy bottomed pan and add the mango juice and let it simmer away and reduce slowly. Keep stirring occasionally. Once it starts coating the back of a spoon, turn ff the heat and add the lemon juice. The lemon juice is to prevent any crystallisation and also makes the syrup more fresh and zingy
3. Heat a non stick pan and coat it with some ghee. In a mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients of the pancake batter. Then add the ricotta. Use a balloon whisk and add the buttermilk. Then fold in the mango chunks
4. Take a ladle and pour the batter on the greased nonstick pan. Allow the pancakes to form shape. Bubbles will emerge from the pancake and it will appear cooked on the sides. This is time to flip the pancakes. Place them on a serving plate once cooked on both sides.
5. Serve the pancakes with chunks of grilled Mano and mango syrup, some quark cheese or sour creme
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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – 13 Reasons Why – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1837492/
Movie – Room – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3170832/

Listen –
Come Together – Paul McCartney, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher – for War Child – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQVPZI7dvWs
The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8
Song for the Deaf in general – No One Know – Queens Of The Stone Age – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s88r_q7oufE

Read
Blog/ Webpage: http://www.refinery29.com
Book: Beautiful Maria of My Soul – by. – Oscar Hijuelos – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7600936-beautiful-maria-of-my-soul

Poem
Moonlight, summer moonlight

‘Tis moonlight, summer moonlight,
All soft and still and fair;
The solemn hour of midnight
Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere,

But most where trees are sending
Their breezy boughs on high,
Or stooping low are lending
A shelter from the sky.

And there in those wild bowers
A lovely form is laid;
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers
Wave gently round her head.

– Emily Bronte

Jam the Mango and Mummify Summer

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For a lot of us a morning breakfast is a morning ritual. Something repeated time and time again. For me there are phases. One of the phases I go through is the tea and toast mornings. And this specially when I settle back into the morning routine. After an hour of running, kickboxing or yoga. There is comfort in the familiarity of tea and toast. How boring you might say. But change the jams, experiment with nut butters and tea combinations and it never is boring. I love fresh home made small batch jams. It keeps me interested in the toast morning after morning.

And just as the mangoes are bidding adieu, what better way to savour them a tad longer than Jamming it.

I do not add any flavour or spice in mine, but you can add chilli flakes or cinnamon or cardamom. Just a hint of after taste. Let the mango shine
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Ingredients
2 cups chopped mango
3/4 cup of raw sugar
1/2 lemon juice

1. Chop the mangoes and add them in a pan on low heat. Add the sugar and cover with a lid. Stir occasionally.
2. Cook till the consistency you like has been reached. I like my jams chunky, so for me its all about tenderising the mango.
3. Before turning the heat off, add a squirt lemon. Stir and turn off the heat. Pour in a clean try jar. As the sugar quantity of the jam is low, it is not apt for long term storage outside the fridge. So store in the fridge and enjoy with toast, pancakes, crepes etc.
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P.S.
Watch?
Netflix – Are you done with Game of Thrones?. I am not. – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0944947/
Movie – Out of Africa – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089755/
Listen –
Wolfman ft. Peter Doherty – For Lovers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLY0eUtVlXo
Electronic – Getting Away With It – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSfjtdnUsls
Arctic Monkeys – Knee Socks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZvn3KsUYwk
The Chemical Brothers – Come With Us/The Test Clip – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsHzrbebhjc

Read
Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/202897.Foreign_Affairs

Poem
Tis the Last Rose of Summer Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone:
No flower of her kindred,
No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie wither’d,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

– Thomas Moore

Whole Grain Crepes with Mango Jam and Fresh Mangoes

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Blogging was something I must have started planning some aeons ago. First up usually was this desire to create a stock of images. And this morning I was browsing through them and I found these. Mango crepes from last year. But I cannot bring myself to remember if I ever started writing about it.

I lost some stuff this winter, some writings and scribblings. Maybe in there. But so what? I could write afresh. And so I remade these crepes just to be sure of the measures and then only ate. No clicking pictures for a change. So the speciality of these crepes is that they are whole grain wheat and buttermilk crepes. And not syrup soaked, like the suzette which remains my favourite. But it is really well balanced, nutty from the almond butter, sweet from the fresh ripe mangoes and the mango jam and creamy from the coconut cream used.

Light on the stomach and yet packed with flavour. Great to make ahead and store. This freezes well too. You know of my current obsession with mangoes. This is just another one of those.
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Ingredients:
Crepes:
1 cup butter milk
3-4 heaped table spoon whole wheat flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3-4 tbsp ghee/ clarified butter
Toppings:
1 mango pealed and sliced
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 tbsp almond butter per crepe (Liplik almond butter )
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1. Sieve through all the dry ingredients and then use a balloon whisk to blend this into the buttermilk. Whole wheat flour is tricky to handle without a balloon whisk.It tends to get lumpy. If you want to use a food processor, just keep the soda bicarb to be added last. Over beating the soda bicarb will not air the crepes right.
2. Gently heat a non stick pan. Add some ghee and swirl. Alternatively you can spray the ghee or use a brush to coat the non stick. There is a trick to mastering the eggless crepes. The trick is that you should have a flat spoon or ladle and work quickly to spread the batter thinly on the pan. You might not succeed in making very thin ones initially, but if you keep at it its achievable.
3. With patience spoon the crepes and cook gently on each side.
4. Once the crepes are ready, its just a matter of assembly. Place a crepe on the plate, slather it with almond buttered mango jam. Plate some fresh mangoes on top.
5. Gently whip the coconut cream. Spoon some of the coconut cream on the crepes. 6. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds.
7. Savour or devour
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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – El Chapo – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6692188/
Movie – Their Finest http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1661275/

Listen –
The Last Shadow Puppets – Is This What You Wanted – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8LtrwbEUow
Florence + The Machine – You’ve Got the Love – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQZhN65vq9E
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Ballad Of The Mighty I – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzQYtpjMjSo

Read
Siddharth by Hermann Hesse – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52036.Siddhartha
The Journal of Andre Gide – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/492519.THE_JOURNALS_OF_ANDRE_GIDE

Poem
I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
I taste a liquor never brewed – 
From Tankards scooped in Pearl – 
Not all the Frankfort Berries
Yield such an Alcohol!

Inebriate of air – am I – 
And Debauchee of Dew – 
Reeling – thro’ endless summer days – 
From inns of molten Blue – 

When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee
Out of the Foxglove’s door – 
When Butterflies – renounce their “drams” – 
I shall but drink the more!

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats – 
And Saints – to windows run – 
To see the little Tippler
Leaning against the – Sun!

Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886

Po-ta-to Gratin

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When you have a French friend and she says she’d like to come home for dinner, I tell you it’s cause for great anxiety. She says she misses cheese and the only request is some cheese please.  Add to it she is vegetarian these days. Add to this you decide to be a total fool to try a potato gratin. Just imagine the amount of technique that will come to play.

Potato gratin with a very Indian element paneer or Cypriot grilled haloumi. Once all the elements are ready, assembling the gratin is a simple job. Very simple indeed. So the elements I used were: Thin grilled slabs of paneer (cottage cheese) caramelised onions and blanched and grilled slices of potato. Plus a blend of cheese and bread crumbs for the layers and the crust (this was largely because I did not have enough of Parmigiano Reggiano, but in retrospect, it was a delicious deficiency). Next is the béchamel. Sauces form the founding pillars of French cuisine. And probably if you get that right, the rest is an assembling job.

The trick to the right, no fail béchamel is butter, cold milk and a balloon whisk. Butter in abundance ensures the raw flour flavour does not eminate from the sauce and the bayleaf and nutmeg are subtle flavours which will not work with the overpowering flavour of raw flour. Plus the dollop of butter will save the sauce from becoming lumpy as the flour will cook through evenly. Next up the cold milk blended when the butter and flour are both not on the flame with a balloon whisk. Both together and the result is a silky lump free sauce.

So whenever you try one, don’t be rushed, play some John Coltrane, pour yourself a Chiante and meditate through cooking.

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Ingredients:
Béchamel Sauce
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp butter
2-3 bay leaves
1 pinch nutmeg
2 cups cold milk
Gratin
4-5 tbsp butter/ghee
2 large potatoes sliced
300 gms cottage cheese/ Halloumi
2 large onions sliced
1 cup bread crumbs
2 cups grated cheese (Aged English Cheddar, Gruyère, Pecorino)
200 gms cream
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan add the flour and butter. Keep the flame on low heat. Stir and cook till the flour just starts to change colour.
  2. Take the pan off the flame and add the bay leaf, and nutmeg and stir. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly with the ballon whisk.
  3. Put the mixture back on the flame, stirring constantly with a balloon whisk. Once the sauce starts to coat the back of a spoon, take if off the flame and pour into a container and set aside. Immediately cover the bowl/ container with a cling film to avoid the formation of a dry layer on top.
  4. Next, heat a grill pan and brush it with butter/ ghee.
  5. Grill the potato slices on both sides and set aside on a plate. Repeat this activity with haloumi. Add a little more butter/ ghee for the onions and allow them to really cook through to near caramelisation. This adds a lovely sweetness the the gratin. WHile grilling the potato and the onion, be generous with the butter/ ghee, else chances are that both will not grill well and will by dry. Haloumi / cottage cheese has enough fat on its own to grill through.
  6. Now the assembling. Take a 10 inch by 10 inch deep dish. Add a layer of potato, followed by the onion and the haloumi/ cottage cheese. Sprinkle some cheese on top. Sprinkle fresh ground pepper and salt. Cover this with a few spoons of Béchamel Sauce.
  7. Repeat this layering process till the top of the dish. Once the layering is complete, pour the cream on the top, slowly. This will enable the gratin to remain moist when it is put under the grill.
  8. Mix the bread crumbs and the remaining cheese and sprinkle on top as the last layer.
  9. Put this in a pre heated oven, and cook at 180 degree centigrade till the top crust is golden which will take approximately 40 minutes.
  10. Serve with crusty bread and more butter and watch everyone scramble for the crusty edges.

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P.S.

Watch

Netflix – Stranger Things – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4574334/

Movie – Amélie –  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4574334/  –

Listen – to a lot of jazz

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman – My One and Only Love – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCpIuw_ZKEI

Edith Pilaf – Browning – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUC74h6AiaI

Edith Pilaf – La Vie en Rose – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzeLynj1GYM

Robreta Flack – Killing me softly – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgl-VRdXr7I

Nina Simone – Feeling Good – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5Y11hwjMNs

Read

In keeping with the French theme – Albert Camus – The Stranger –  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49552.The_Stranger

‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.’

  • Return to Tipasa by Albert Camus

Poem

Eternity

It has been rediscovered.What? Eternity.It is the sea fled with the sun.

Sentinel soul,We whisper confessionOf the empty nightAnd the fiery day.

From human prayers,

From common spirits

You free yourself

And thus you fly.

Since from you alone,

Satin embers,

Duty breathes

No one says: at last.

No hope here,

No emergence.

Knowledge with patience,

Torment is certain.

It has been rediscovered.

What? Eternity.

It is the sea fled

with the sun.

– Arthur Rimbaud – L’Eternité