Vegetable Kofta

It is our last few moments in Rishikesh. Bhava and I are packed and ready to go. Dehradun. Delhi. Newark. San Diego. 36 hours of travel.

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It is worth it. To sit by the Ganges, Hike in the Himalayas. Listen to sages. Be in the presence of enlightened ones. Meet international Yogis, adepts and Sadhaks. Soak in the bhav’ with my Bhava.

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We were up early this morning, enjoying our final hours with “Ma Ganga” ~ Meditating in the predawn by the huge window in our room that overlooks this storied river; listening to her soothing yet powerful flow, while stirred by the punctuating cries of pilgrims heading to pay homage to Shiva at Neelkanth Temple, on the eve of Shivaratri. Then to the Ghat for Puja, flowers for Ma Ganga, and Sadhana with our fellow Deep Yogis.

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We just had an early lunch at the Green Hotel before our beloved friend Madhav heads over to fetch us for the airport.

What did we have for our last meal? Why Palak Paneer, of course, along with Vegetable Kofta, a kind of Vegan Meatballs in a curry sauce, without meat,  wheat, eggs ~ just pure delight. It’s the ultimate comfort food. Something I need lots of now, as departing this heavenly realm is never easy for me.

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With this last hour, we could go back to the river, but at this point, that feels maudlin. It is hard enough to leave. Just thinking about it, my heart starts to crack. Instead, we look forward, thinking about all that we have to return to  ~ our precious family, our friends, students, fellow Yogis, even our own holy waters – the Pacific.

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I am also looking forward to sharing some of the Indian specialties we’ve enjoyed here, starting with these delightful Koftas.

Kofta

While it includes a few “exotic” ingredients, the spices are usually carried by Whole Foods or  your local spice shop. Otherwise, order in small quantities online from a reputable purveyor. Having said that, it does require one special ingredient: Gram flour. Also known as Besam, it is simply ground chickpea and is used in cooking, in natural home remedies for skincare, and in Ayurvedic treatments all over India.

Apart from having a high protein content, when mixed with an equal proportion of water, gram flour can be used as an egg-replacer in vegan cooking. You can find it at any Asian or Indian market, but in the meantime bread crumbs will work.

Vegetable Kofta Curry

Koftas

1 c Cabbage
1 Carrot
1 Red Pepper
1 c Broccoli and/or Cauliflower
2 Bananas
1 Onion, chopped fine
2 T Gram flour (or bread crumbs)
1 t Garam Masala
1 t Ginger Paste
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 t lemon juice
Himalayan salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 T Peanut Oil (an alternative could be coconut)

Curry

1 c Tomato purée
1/2 Onion chopped
1 t Chili paste
1/2 t Ginger paste
1/2 t Garlic Paste
1 t Cumin seeds
2 t Coconut powder (flour)
1 t Fenugreek seeds (or powder)
1 t Turmeric
1 t Coriander
1 t Cayenne
2-3 Green chillies, sliced fine (or 1 t cayenne powder)
1 c Water
2 T Oil (ghee, Coconut Oil, Safflower Oil, etc.)
1/4 c Cilantro, chopped

Grate the vegetables for the Kofta and mix together in a bowl with the rest of the Kofta ingredients. Wet your hands with water and with your hands divide into 10-12 small portions and roll into round balls. Fry the koftas in hot oil until they brown all over (I will try baking these instead), and put to the side.

To make the curry sauce, heat the oil in a pan and toast the fenugreek seeds for about 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds and onion. Sauté until it turns a golden brown.

Stir in the ginger paste, coconut powder, spices and salt. After about 1 minute, add in the tomato purée and the water and bring to a boil.

Add the koftas made earlier and cook for 5 minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with paratha or roti.

This recipe is a westernized  amalgam of two very different recipes from Cooking with Sapana  and Sindhi Rasoi to whom I am so grateful. If you make these before I get home, please let me know how you like them, and what adaptions you make.

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Meanwhile, how about coming with us to India next year? It is not only magical, it is life-changing. And the food is endless delight!
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Be home soon! Namaste! 

Channa Masala

Chick Peas in Masala Sauce

My husband Bhava and I are going to India in February/March to teach at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh. A group of wonderful, heart-centered Yogis are coming with us for a twelve-day Retreat, including 4 days of Ayurvedic treatments on the banks of Ma Ganga.

It is such an honor to take people “home” to the source of our practice, to meet wise sages and saintly swamis, to bathe in the healing waters of the Ganges, and to dwell for a time in the pure possibility of such enduring peace.

For this opportunity we feel humbled, blessed and deeply grateful.  Jai Guru!

This past weekend, we hosted a dinner for those who will be traveling with us. We wanted to give them an idea of what to expect and help them to prepare, both physically and emotionally. With my most fabulous husband’s help, I prepared our favorite dishes from a typical meal they might enjoy in India.

Fortunately, the dinner was appreciated. Two of our guests even said that they would become vegetarian if they could eat like this everyday. I am not sure if they knew just how that motivates me! Since I stopped eating meat at age 16, I promised I would never proselytize, but who does not see the reason in Paul McCartney’s statement ~

“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
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So, when a flurry of requests erupted at the end of the evening, of course ~ despite an impossibly full week ~ I enthusiastically said, “Yes, I’ll post the recipes.” I love cooking, I love blogging, but mostly, I love it when people taste and feel the love that is in their food. So, yes!

We enjoyed a number of dishes, in the Indian Style. Of them, Channa Masala is the simplest and quickest to prepare. Since we are soon to depart, rather than typing it out, I encourage you to try this great recipe,  similar to the one we made, from my favorite Ayurveda recipe book,  Eat, Taste, Heal.

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You can use any Korma and Garam Masala spice mixtures. If you can’t find Korma, use Curry powder. If you can’t find Garam Masala, just make it by mixing cinnamon, coriander, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper: a little more of the first three, a little less of the last three.

You can serve Channa Masala with rice, or with Chappatti or Naan. If you can’t find these Indian breads at your local market try an Italian flat bread. Garlic was the favorite with our guests!

I hope you enjoy this protein-packed meal.

To your Good Health ~ Namaste!

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I invite you to join me, Friday January 28th, from 6-9 pm, for a class on “Stoking the Fires: Ayurvedic Cooking in the Winter Season” to learn to prepare at home fresh Garam Masala and Korma Powder used in these recipes.

Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children at the Ashram
Sadhvi Bhagawati with Children

For a great close-up on what to expect in India, please read our beloved friend Sadhvi Bhagawati’s article, “India: Let It Inside You.”

Linda McCartney

Paul McCartney’s wife Linda was an original food pioneer who turned her passion into a food brand. Her family has maintained her company and a website where you can find her recipes for wholesome cooking. With so many delicious recipes like these available today, you might succeed in convincing your friends, too!