Kitchari, a magical food… and I’m scared to death of my pressure cooker!


Rice and beans is a staple meal in most cultures. It’s got everything you need for a (somewhat) balanced diet – carbohydrates, protein and fiber. The combination never much appealed to me – I’ve always been more of a pasta girl – until this past week when I somehow managed to gain five pounds in six days (I’m thinking shots of jagger had something to do with it).

With my sister’s wedding looming around the corner, I decided to try something I’d never done before: fast. I remembered something from a book on Ayurveda called “Eat, Taste, Heal” that I’d recently been introduced to. In it, the authors describe a cleansing through what they call a kitchari mono-diet. It’s basically a 24 hour fast that lets you eat three times a day. Sounded easy enough to me.

The first challenge came in finding the right ingredients, such as split yellow mung dahl. I asked a friend who often cooks with Indian ingredients where to go, which of course lead to the question why. When I explained I wanted to try kitchari, she became so excited. I quickly learned it was one of her favorite comfort foods growing up and something she and her family still make frequently. I had no idea – I thought this was a food for a fast, like having to drink that awful gunk before a colonoscopy. I promised I would try her family’s kitchari recipe, which she swore would be better than the bland recipe for fasting. Read more of this >>

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Get Your Rice While You Can!

Rice is one of those ingredients I’ve continuously taken for granted: it’s always just been there at the ready, the perfect, simple accompaniment to most meals. That all changed today when I found out the U.S. supply is limited. Suddenly, I’m obsessed with rice. I suppose its human nature. Like the old saying goes, “you never appreciate what you have until it’s gone.”

From a culinary standpoint, the unending possibilities of rice-based dishes are astonishing. It comes in hundreds of varieties from producers throughout the world and is featured in culturally defined dishes such as risotto, paella, kitchari, sushi and even simple pilaf. Rice is a staple in what seems to be the majority of the worlds’ diets. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s filling, nutritious, and low in calories and fat. Read more of this >>

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Cattails

Something of a cross between cucumber, leek and okra, cattails are an interesting stalk that can add a unique but subtle flavor to many types of dishes. I was introduced to cattails today by Spence Farm based in Fairburg, IL, and, after some Internet research (i.e. wikipedia), found that these wetland weed-like stalks are edible in both raw and cooked states but can often be confused with poisonous look-alikes.In the springtime, the shoots smell fresh, like woody cucumbers, taste mildly sweet and have a thickening quality similar to okra. They work great on salads and, according to Spence Farm, are wonderful as the thickening agent in potato soup (think potato-leek soup but substitute the leek with cattail).

 

Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to personally experiment with cattails yet but I hope to soon.

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