Tag Archives: rice

My 3 tips for mindful eating

It seems like writing about mindful eating is in these days.  It has been the subject of a few discussions between my husband and I in the last few months. He almost inhales his food, it’s gone before I’m done chewing the second mouthful. He finds it comical that I chew every bite about 30 times. Yes I actually do. He grabs a sandwich or whatever he can lay his hands on when he’s hungry. The thought of eating something that doesn’t taste good and is likely not healthy makes me squeamish.

And then he sent me this NY Times article to read. And this was in my Facebook stream. It was a sign. I’m always right of course, but this time, there was proof! And I just had to jump on the bandwagon.

For me, I think mindful eating started with wine tasting. It was because of all the attention paid to what wine I was drinking, where the grapes came from, how the wine looked and tasted, how old was the wine, what style was it made in? All this even before the first, careful, gurgling sip. The wine foreplay? And then of course, it continued with how did the wine taste after certain foods? How did the food taste after the wine?

Though I had always cared about how food tasted like, it’s been a couple of years since it mattered to me where the ingredients came from and how they were grown.

I started enjoying the layers of flavor of everything I ate and with it had a new appreciation for crispy food. There was a turning point where desserts went from just sweet to: a hint of honey, the deep sweet of molasses, the secret, je ne sais quoi flavor of jaggery, the bittersweet of really dark chocolate to disgustingly sweet cakes.

Ever since I started avoiding white rice, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the nuttiness of brown basmati, the texture of Bhutanese red rice that almost confronts you with texture, the good feeling in your tummy when you eat Thai purple rice and the heavenly plumpness of boiled Doddabaira Nellu (red rice from my home state of Karnataka). On an aside, I was shocked to find out that there are more than 40,000 varieties worldwide. And I can only get 5 in my local grocery store. It’s a shame isn’t it? Anyway, I digress.

Both articles mentioned earlier have already shared some great tips on how to eat more mindfully. What can I add to the NY Times? These three tips are what helped me the most.

  1. Cook your meal with texture in mind. Steaming or sautéing vegetables, remove them while they are still crisp. Use whole wheat in your breads. Switch up rice with quinoa and give your mouth a surprise.
  2. Wine tasting helped me be more mindful. Consider this your excuse to do more ‘tasting’. Responsibly please.
  3. Eat a meal alone once in a while. It forces you to focus on the meal. And no, you’re not a loser if you do eat alone. I, in fact, have a lot of respect for those who take themselves out to dinner.

And an easy weeknight recipe that will delight the senses and help you practice!

Thai Red Curry

  • 1 cup mixed vegetables cut to bite size pieces (I love broccoli, beans, bell pepper or anything with some crunch)
  • 1/2 lb or stir fry meat or tofu (I used chestnuts as an experiment and they were fantastic and talk about texture!)
  • 2 thin slices of ginger cut into ‘matchsticks’
  • 1 small onion or shallot, sliced
  • A handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
  • 1 15 Oz can of coconut milk (first pressing preffered)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan on medium heat. Saute the ginger and shallots for 2 minutes or till the shallots are lightly browned. Add the thai red curry paste (have a lid handy when you do) and stir for 30 seconds. Add the meat/tofu and brown slightly before including the vegetables. Stirfry everything for 3 minutes before adding the coconut milk and cilantro. Cover and cook for another 3 minutes or till meat and vegetables are done. Add salt to taste.

Serve with Thai purple rice or Bhutanese red rice. I used my favorite Indian red rice.

thai red curry with chestnuts and vegetables

A quick Thai Red Curry made with chestnuts and vegetables

red rice

My favorite rice - Doddabaira Nellu from South India

Cheers! And now if I could only get excited about doing the dishes.

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Kicchdi for the Soul

The waft of cumin cooking in ghee stirs the soul. The sweet whiff of cinnamon calms it. The spicy clove though adds some excitement.

Kicchdi, food for the soul

Eating kicchdi always brings to mind the 10 days I spent in yoga camp as a 15 year old.

School was out for the summer. My parents were gone for 3 weeks to a yoga school on the outskirts of Bangalore. But they had such a great experience that they decided my brother and I should attend too. We were not too enthusiastic about it but were made to go (sound familiar to anyone?!).  But once we got there and practiced yoga for a couple of days, I started appreciating the experience and how much more energetic and happy it made me feel. We would start at 5 in the morning with stretches and asanas and end with sun salutations just as the sun rose. After a brief meditation, it was time for breakfast followed by a shower. In the afternoon, there were lectures about yogic philosophy before lunch and time for individual exercise after. Pranayama or eye exercises and breathing practice was part of the evening routine. There was plenty of time to read and walk about the beautiful grounds every day.

Part of what made the experience special for me was the variety and colors in the food we ate. It was all vegetarian and very healthy ayurvedic food of course. But it was so tasty! At the buffet, kicchdi was the option I most often went for. It didn’t look like much but the flavor of ghee with the few spices used made each spoonful taste like a happy song on my tongue.

The cares of the day start fading away when I hear the sizzle of the lentils touching hot oil and the hiss of water as it hits the hot steel pot.  The muscles in my neck feel less tight as I cover the pot and let the lentils and rice simmer in warmth.

Here’s my recipe for kicchdi.  I normally use Bhutanese or Himalayan red rice but didn’t have any today and used germinated brown rice instead. I also like to finely dice up a jalapeno and mix it into the cooked kicchdi for a little kick. There are so many recipe twists you can take!

Kicchdi with jalapenos

But try as you may, there is just no way to make boiled lentils and rice look good. So I hope that you will go beyond mere looks and allow the aromas and sounds while cooking this dish make for a sensual meditation.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed (or any other rice)
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed (or other lentils that will cook in roughly the same amount of time as the rice)
  • 2 inch stick of Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1 inch stick cassia cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 pods green cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon Garam masala
  • Lime (optional), quartered
  • 1 jalapeno (optional), finely chopped
  • Cilantro for garnishing
For the difference between Ceylon cinnamon and cassia, see this post.

Red lentils

Brown rice

Spices for kicchdi (ceylon cinnamon, cassia cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, garam masala)

Recipe

  1. Heat 1.5 tablespoons oil in a thick bottomed pot for about 2 minutes or till a cumin seed thrown in sizzles
  2. Roast all whole spices for 10 seconds
  3. Add the rice, lentils and the garam masala
  4. Let roast for 30 seconds while stirring. The rice should start to clump up.
  5. Add 5.5* cups of water
  6. Add 1 teaspoon salt and mix
  7. Bring to boil
  8. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or till rice and lentils are cooked. The cooking times will vary if you use different rice or lentils. White rice and masoor dal will only take 10 -15 minutes to cook.
  9. Adjust salt to taste and squeeze lime if desired
  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve with vegetables or plain yogurt

*If you’re making this ahead of time, I’d recommend using 6 cups of water as the kicchdi consistency will naturally get thicker once cooked.

When I make kicchdi, I feel like I’m not just cooking but nurturing my body. And I surely hope that you feel just as good eating this kicchdi as I do.

Kicchdi

 

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