Previous month:
February 2009
Next month:
April 2009

March 2009

Vegetable and Lentil Soopa. A recipe from Sukham Ayu- An Ayurvedic Cook Book

Vegetable-and-lentil-soopa- Old Brillat-Savarin  turned out to be quite right. In his book Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante, 1826 he wrote-

"Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es" which translates into “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”.

It has become more and more evident that “we are what we eat”. Medical science has proved that old adage without doubt and we now are bashed about the head with that truism by diet gurus from the west who come out with a bestseller every month trying to cure all illnesses AND obesity with a new spin on the great saying.
May I say- we Indians knew it all along. I mean, I could ask with righteous indignation-“are you trying to teach my great, great, great, great ad infinitum, grandmother to suck eggs?” Witness all those texts from the ancients, who took food more seriously than most western philosophers.

Nevertheless I am thrilled with a new cook book felicitously called “Sukham Ayu” which means “Happy longevity ”  Written by jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain, it is the second in line to their superb   “Cooking at Home with Pedatha”, the definitive Andhra cook book which won the Gourmand Award for the ‘Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World 2006”.

“Sukham Ayu” has been researched at KARE, a health retreat outside Pune, which by all accounts, is a great place for Ayurvedic treatments. Here a combination of traditional Ayurvedic therapies from Kerala , Iyengar yoga and an Ayurvedic  vegetarian diet  help each guest towards a healing experience.

The books’s subtitle “Cooking at Home with Ayurvedic insights” is so appropriate. It makes the tenets of Ayurveda easy to follow in your home with ingredients to be found in most Indian kitchens. Jigyasa and Pratibha have done their research well and have understood that in the Ayurvedic tradition our daily intake, well chosen and cooked, acted as preventive medicine.

Beginning with a knowledgeable explaination of  Prakriti- Who Am I and going on to the three doshas, by which method texts on  Ayurveda  discriminated between kinds of people and tried to establish types . Self questioning to define our natures helps in understanding the equilibrium that can be acquired by balancing the doshas and one way is by eating the right things.

While I am against ‘typecasting ‘, so to speak, in the belief that people go through phases in life and their doshas change according to events and age, I am  totally struck by the food presented in “Sukham Ayu”.  Simple, healthy, nourishing and easy to cook.

As we have come to expect from Jigyasa and Pratibha, this book is eminently useable. The layout and design attractive enough to get you going on one of those recipes right away! And the recipes themselves…perfect.

Each page has notes with references  to  Ayurvedic texts and tenets. The book is divided into logical sections and a meal planner and glossary at the end gives it added value.

As usual I could not wait to try it out : Here are the results of their  Vegetable and Lentil Soopa of which I made a version.( I did not blend the vegetables.)  Needless to say it was still delicious and was finished off with alacrity by the family.



 Cabbage ¼ cup shredded

Cauliflower 3-4 florets

Carrots 1 small , chopped medium

French beans 4-5 , chpped mediem

Onion 1 small chopped fine

Garlic 2 cloves, chopped fine

Split green gram (husked) 2 tbsp

Pepper powder a generous pinch

Powdered rock salt to taste

Cow’s ghee  1 tbsp

1. Pressure cook the vegetables (except onions and garlic) along with the green gram and 1 cup water for up to one whistle. Churn usuing a blender, strain and set aside.

2. In a pan, heat the ghee. Saute onions and garlic over low flame for 2-3 minutes until onions start to brown.

3. Pour the soup mixture intop the onions with a cup of warm water and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and start dinner with this hot soup.

Gobi Sabzi- Cauliflower and Mustard vegetable

Gobi-Bhaji-002 Considering the gratitude with which my Kashmiri Mutton recipe was received I thought I'd share another superfast recipe for people who are so hungry they can't wait to eat.Bet you can't cook anything faster than this.

Essential : a 3 kg pressure cooker or pressure pan.


3/4 kg cauliflower
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seed/ rai
3 cloves of garlic/ lasun, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric/ haldi
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp jaggery / gur bits or brown sugar

1 tbsp grated coconut optional

Soak cauliflower florets in salted water for 5 minutes. Remove and put the florets into a pressure cooker. Do not add water, just the drops which cling to the cauliflower will do. Put on the weight and cook on high heat for one whistle.Turn off and put the cooker under the tap to reduce heat fast. Open cooker.
Heat the teaspoon of oil in a kadhai . Add the mustard seeds and saute till they pop. Add the finely minced garlic. When the pieces brown lightly add the cooked cauliflower, the turmeric, salt and jaggery. Stir a couple of trimes, cover ,lower heat and cook for 3 minutes more. Garnish with grated coconut and serve.