Recently, I did a three-day liquid fast. I’d never done one before, and was sort-of trying to decide whether or not I believe in it as a practice. While the jury’s still out on that, my body did feel very light, clean and simple inside after three days of only juice and homemade vegetable broth. Of course I was very hungry during those three days, and spent a lot of time fantasizing about the mounds of sausage and pork carnitas I was going to devour when the fast was finished. And then, the strangest thing happened: at the end of the fast, meat no longer seemed very appealing to me.
So, I got out my vegetarian cookbook and looked up some recipes. I made this Indian feast two nights ago and it was phenomenal!
But of course, I had to set the mood! I wasn’t going to work that hard on a meal just to devour it in front of the television set! I set the table with a purple printed cloth that is sort-of Indian-looking, with the Tree of Life on it (I know, I’m a hippie). Then I lit some sandalwood incense and put candles in the carved wooden holders my husband made me for X-mas, and played Cheb I Sabbah’s Devotion, which is one of my favorite albums of all times. I don’t have a sari (but, oh, how I want one), so I improvised with some sarongs (which I have in spades).
Viola! Indian magic! The only thing missing was a table full of distinguished guests. If I could have, I would have invited Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, my friend Mark who lives in India, Ruby and her family (of course), and YOU!
Click “More” to view the recipes. If you want to be really authentic, eat this stuff with your hands!
Red Lentil Dal with Fruited Rice
1 c. red lentils
4 c. water
2 T. butter
½ small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4-5 cloves because I eat garlic like a maniac)
1 t. each: fresh grated ginger, ground cumin, and tumeric
dash of cayenne pepper to taste
salt (to tase)
Rinse lentils and combine with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils are mushy, about 40 minutes.
Heat the butter in a skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over moderate heat until golden. Stir in the lentils and remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat, covered, for 15 minutes. The texture will be like thick porridge. Serve over fruited rice.
4 c. water
1 ½ c. brown Basmati rice (I used regular brown rice)
2 T. butter
½ small onion, chopped (the other half of the one used in the dal)
1 sweet apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/3 c. currants or raisins
½ c. chopped toasted almonds
½ t. each: dry mustard, turmeric, cinnamon
Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. Heat the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion until golden. Add the apple and sauté until it softens, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the rice and the remaining ingredients. If you need to add some liquid, about ¼ c. of apple or orange juice makes it nice and sweet (but you could use water, too). Cook over low heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped.
1 c. plain yogurt (I like the Greek Gods brand. It’s not Indian, but it’s DELISH)
2-3 T. chopped fresh cilantro or mint
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
½ t. cumin
fresh black pepper and salt to taste
Mix all this stuff together in a bowl and chill before serving.