Himalayan Halva

As we continue to travel, “six tasting India” both north and south, there are certain dishes that elicit such oohs and ahhs they have to be shared. Fortunately, wherever we go the restaurant staff is so delighted by the exclamations of praise that recipes are readily granted. One such was Chef Altah Shah of Raga on the Ganges whose delightful meal creations overcame language barriers to communicate friendship, generosity and loving nourishment.

Chef at Raga

Laura's India Yatra

This red halva may not fit easily into the category of “Ayurvedically inspired” but I could make a case for it.

First, it comes from India as does Ayurveda. That may sound like a weak start but it’s almost impossible to separate Ayurvedic medicine from the culture where it was born. So many of Ayurveda’s staple meals resemble Indian classics – dal, rices, vegetable soups and broths – and involve Indian ingredients like ghee, boiled milk, mung dal, cardamom, ginger, etc.

Most importantly, many Ayurvedic medicines are stirred into boiled milk, often with jaggery added. That may seem odd, but this age-old tradition holds that bitter herbs and astringent medicines are rendered optimally bioavailable when blended with foods of the hydrating, cooling, strengthening, sweet taste.

Plus, beets are good for you.

Beet Halva
What they call Beetroot Halva, we might call a Beet Pudding. It is a creamy curiosity. We had fun asking people to guess what it was before we told them. Some thought chocolate, others a rice or nut pudding, and one even thought it was cookie dough. Each had a different guess, but no one guessed beets!

Here is the recipe translated from Chef Shah who makes desserts in large quantities and measures in the metric system. I made this yesterday for friends who raved, so I think the translation works. Earlier this week I tried translating it even further into a vegan dish. As it relies heavily on milk, as most Indian desserts do, it was a risk. But before anyone knew what the original would taste like, they swooned over the vegan version. That recipe, plus three photos of the vegan halva served with coconut ice cream, are below.

Beetroot Halwa

2 c beets, grated
2 c organic whole milk
1/2 c khoya*
1/2 c jaggery (raw sugar)
1/3 c ghee or coconut oil
25 cashews
25 g raisins

Put grated beets in a saucepan with milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Add khoya, sugar, ghee, nuts and raisins. Stir. Serve warm. It is delicious with homemade vanilla ice cream, or plain yogurt.

*Khoya: You can make khoya by bringing 3 cups of organic whole milk to a boil and then simmering for two hours to reduce. 

FullSizeRender 7

Vegan Beetroot Halwa

2 c beets, grated
2 c organic coconut milk
1/2 c coconut milk khoya**
1/2 c dates, pitted and chopped
2 handfuls cashews
1 handful golden raisins
maple syrup, to taste – optional
dash cardamom
dash ginger

Soak cashews. Soak dates. Put grated beets in a saucepan with milk and bring to  boil. Reduce and simmer for one hour. Drain cashews and dates, Add to beets along with khoya, raisins and spices. Stir and simmer until reduced to a pudding like consistency. Taste and add maple syrup if needed.

Serve warm. It is delicious with coconut ice cream.

**Coconut Khoya: I made the khoya with organic coconut milk by bringing 3 cups (equivalent to two 13.5 ounce cans) to a boil and then simmering for 1 hour to reduce. 

FullSizeRender 9

In India today is Holi, a colorful day celebrating the arrival of Spring. Honoring mother nature’s blossoming beauty, I want to celebrate that in you too – and so am offering my friend Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar’s new book Enchanting Beauty to one beautiful reader. Please leave a comment below if you are interested in this gift.

What is your intent for your beautiful self this Spring?

 

Joani’s Ferments 2: Beet Kvass

beet kvass
Have you heard of the GAPS diet? To me, it is the ultimate Vata-reducing way of eating, and as with any Vata-reducing regime, one of the key elements is to eat lots of fermented vegetables.

Joani Culver who shared her recipe for ferments and your own homemade farmer’s cheese in this post says, “Ferments have healthy digestive enzymes, loads of dietary fiber and a terrific profile of probiotics to really amp your belly’s fire power.”

how to ferment anything

“In  the winter I love to have Beet Kvass in the fridge. Here’s how I make it: Get a 2 quart wide mouth jar with a 2 part lid (ring and suction cap). Fill the jar half full of cleaned (I peel my beets), cut into chunks beets, add ¼ cup whey (see the “ferments” post to make your ow whey) and 1-2 tablespoons sea salt. Fill up to the elbow of the jar with pure water…you need some air in there so don’t fill to the top. Set in a warm dark place for 3 days and then put in fridge. If it’s to your liking, enough body and zing, yeah…if not wrap it up and let it go another day or so.  Temperature will be the deciding factor as to how long it will take to get a good ferment.  Such a good liver tonic.

Drinking 2-4 oz per day as a tonic/aperitif before meals is a great way to start your meals. The fermentation process enhances the already strong nutritional profile of raw beets, increasing levels of food enzymes and B vitamins (especially folate) and inoculates the beets with beneficial bacteria which support immunity and digestive system health. It is a great liver tonic, too.”

beets-stamped

When I made this on my own at home, I used golden and red beets for sunny winter color, and I grated rather than chopped my beets. Even though this makes an aperitif, I wanted to add the beets to salads after they had fermented, and prefer my roots grated when not roasted. But of course you get to do it however you like. Just know that if you grate them, this may ferment faster, so be sure to check after a couple of  days 

beet kvass - stamped

Joani’s Beet Kvass
Makes 8-12 servings

Ingredients
2 qt Mason Jar with 2 part canning lids
3 large Beets (5-6 if small), cleaned but not scrubbed (we want some of that skin)
1/4 c Whey
1-2 T Sea Salt (Joani likes Celtic)
1 qt clean, filtered Water (must be free of chlorine: if you are not sure, boil your water first, allow to cool before adding)

Instructions
Chop your beets. Put them with whey, water and salt in the Mason Jar. Be sure add enough water to fill to “the elbow” – about half an inch from the top, then seal. Cover the jar in a dark dish towel and set in a warm corner of your kitchen. Test after three days. If you like the taste, refrigerate and use. by carefully starting to open the jar. If it fizzes loudly, like it might shower like all-shook-up champagne then let it sit another day and try again. When it is done, it may still fizz, but it will be a much softer and non-threatening sound.

Once it is done, pour yourself an aperitif, and store in the refrigerator. It can keep for months in the fridge, but hopefully you will enjoy stand use it up in weeks. If the taste is a bit salty or earthy for you, dilute it with sparkling water, or add it to half a glass of fresh pressed apple cider.

make your own cheese

According to Monica Ford of Real Food Devotee, you can skip the whey if you want to keep it dairy free. You will just need to let it sit longer. You do everything the same, leaving out the whey, then let it sit in a dark, warm place for 7-10 days. Monica writes more about why she loves beet kvass here

What does Ayurveda say about sour, you ask? Read about the medicinal value of all 6 tastes here. Do you make your own ferments? What is your favorite?

beets in a row

Ayurveda has always said that optimal health starts with optimal gut function. So here’s to your belly’s fire power! May it be always intelligent, indigenous, and inspired!

Namaste!