I participate in Summer Solstice Parade every year. My tribe is called Panzumo led by Lisa Beck and Budhi Harlow.(We were in red costume this past Solstice – west african + bollywood dance) Through this wonderful lively yearly event (definitely highlight of my summer), I got to meet this amazing woman, Aparna Khanolkar who introduced me ‘real’ home cooked indian food. Since I haven’t been to India (yet), all I know about indian food is from the restaurants. Although I love some of them, home cooked indian food is just incomparable. When I first tasted her food at one of the potlucks, I knew I had to ‘stalk’ her (Oh yes I mentioned my impaceble chef-stalking skill before right?) to see if she teaches. And guess what? She holds Ayurvedic cooking class once a month! How lucky are you, huh?
Aparna is an Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor, chef and speaker. Born and raised in Southern India, in Mysore, Aparna was immersed in the world of Ayurveda through food, herbs, yoga and meditation. She grew her own food, prepared three fresh meals a day, and practiced many rituals of Vedic living. After working at the Chopra Center in San Diego as a head chef and moving to our beautiful city of Santa Barbara, she decided to teach Ayurvedic lifestyle tools that can be easily integrated into Western life.
‘I want to give people an experience of my philosophy: Food is medicine for the body-Love is medicine for the heart-Meditation is medicine for the mind.’ Aparna said with her gentle voice. I am already feeling my busy mind aligned. Ommmmm
You probably know something about doshas. Don’t you watch Dr. Oz?
Ok here, doshas in a nutshell : Doshas are energies that are responsible for physiological
functions. Thousands of years ago, sages in India recognized that these energies are based on the five elements that govern everything in the universe. These elements come together in combinations to form the doshas. Vata dosha is composed of space and air. Pitta is made of fire and water. Kapha is a combination of earth and water. Each dosha requires a certain lifestyle to keep it in balance and to function optimally as well as food. Vata requires warming foods that are cooked and soupy. Pitta is balanced with cooling foods that are nourishing and balancing. Because pitta has a need for food at regular times, make sure that you have food ready
on time in order to avoid aggravation of pitta. Kapha loves food and eating. This dosha requires the least amount of food and do best with two meals a day. Absolutely intrigued, we take a quiz to find out which doshas we are and learned how to balance our food accordingly. With doshas explained, we are off to make some green food. Greens in Ayurvedic are “drying”. Drying means taking away- it cleans out your body! Bingo baby-Greens detox your body. (In contrary, meats and dairy are “building”) But wait, you don’t have to torture yourself with juice cleanse. In fact, if you are vata, raw food is probably no good. Well, I tried juice cleanse a few times but trust me, my ‘Pitta’ went all the way up to the top. I wouldn’t want to be around myself either.
First, we cooked french lentils with spinach and lime. Once you have ginger and garlic paste ready (Make a small jar of ginger and garlic paste and keep it in your fridge, It will make your life so much easier!), it is so simple to cook. The key to this dish is to use freshly grind coriander. Simply dry roast the seeds and grind it in a spice grinder. I’m telling you, it totally worth this extra step.
This goes perfectly with Kale fried rice. Note to myself-another way to eat this ever so popular green, Kale! Why didn’t I think of this?? These two dishes became my favorite to cook! My Vata in me loves this healthy but warm and satisfying dish. I don’t even crave sweet after. What is going on??? Well, in ayurvedic, our body take bitter food as a sweetness. Oh well, in that case, I will take kale as a dessert. I’m totally kidding. you know me, I love sweets.
Then we are off to make Asian Style Kale salad with sesame oil. It is packed with nutrients- I love the fact that it doesn’t need any ‘dressing’ per say. All you need is sesame oil and garlic. And boy, it tastes divine. Tofu stir fry is something you can cook in a sec. Healthy and quick-its my kind of weeknight meals.
Weirdly not craving dessert after this meal, my body is thanking me…feeling so good inside and out. I’m glowing. Aparna, can I marry you?
For her cookbook that contains all these recipes and her cooking classes, check out her website at http://www.aparnakhanolkar.com/
Food file fun fact
Do you drink water during meal or after, hot or cold?
In Ayurvedic, you ‘sip’ a small glass warm water ‘during meal’. Never cold water-no good for the digestion. Remember this ayurvedic saying : A person with strong digestive fires can convert poison into nectar, while someone with weak digestive fires will turn nectar into poison.”