10/14/10

Enlightenment Soup


Here is a classic recipe that is easy to prepare and will become a favorite of yours, I’m sure.

In certain circles I am known as the “King of Sour Cereal”! This spicy dish is served for breakfast at Siddha Yoga ashrams (spiritual schools) worldwide. It is said that ‘sour cereal’ was originally served to inmates in prisons in India. No wonder we never hear about prison escapes in India! It’s delicious! The soup, that is. Not about that we never hear about prison escapes in India. That's nice. But, not delicious.

As if the fact that this dish is an ashram staple were not enough justifcation for its name, Enlightenment Soup, when you look at the cooked millet seed it bursts open and takes the shape of the sanskrit symbol for OM. Is it just our imagination, or is it? Enlightenment or not, it's damn good.

Recipe yields 2.5 Quarts (6-8 servings). Half recipe works just as well. (The seeds called for in this recipe are all available at your local Indian grocery ; but, you should already have them around if you're anywhere near a half-way good cook.) If you live in Nepal, just ask the neighbor lady.


Combine
           
2.0 quarts boiling pure water
1 Cup millet
2/3 Cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
1 Cup finely chopped sweet onion
1-2 tsp. cumin seeds (jeera in Indian parlance) or more to taste
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds (mehti)* use sparingly/bitter
1/4 tsp. ajwan seeds** use sparingly/ very bitter, strong flavor
1 tsp. Salt or more to taste

Simmer until millet is cooked (stir frequently to avoid scorching)

Meanwhile, assemble "Masala" (spice/flavor mixture) for blending...
           
1 medium tomato chopped
1" fresh ginger root chopped (or more to taste)
2-3 pitted medium size dates chopped (more for sweetness)
1 tsp. coriander seeds (dhania) (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp. crushed pepper seeds
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 fresh hot chile pepper (jalapeno, serrano) or more to taste
1 small bunch cilantro stems chopped (plus roots if you have)*
Water enough to aid blending
*Save cilantro leaves for garnish

Blend to liquefy

Add liquid masala to cooked millet base
           
Bring to heat (remember...stir frequently to avoid scorching)
           
Adjust consistency...  Add water as needed to yield medium thick, soupy            

Adjust salt, hotness, sweetness
           
Thicken if need be with rolled oats or cream of wheat

Stir into pot just before serving... 1 small bunch finely chopped cilantro leaves

Accompaniments...

-Nutritional Yeast can be served separately as individual garnish
-1/2 pat of butter per bowl (optional)
-Plain dry toasted bread (optional)
-Bitter Melon (stewed with onion, tomato, and Indian spices to taste) Enjoy!

Fenugreek,commonly known as Methi, seeds provide a tangy flavor and powerful curry scent to the vegetable and lentil dishes. Fenugreek seed are used in wide range of curry powder. Fenugreek can also be used as a fresh herb.


Fenugreek seeds are always roasted before using. Light roast gives a mellow flavor and dark roast will give a bitter. Sometimes the seeds are soaked overnight, when they becomes easier to combine in curry paste. Soaked seeds can also be used as main ingredient for a vegetable or chutney.

Fenugreek are used and grown throughout the South Asia. The Fenugreek plant grows 2 feet tall with light green leaves and white flower. Each Fenugreek pod gives from 10 to 20 seeds. Fenugreeks are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.

Ajwan seeds (also known as Ajwain, Ajowan, Bishops Weed, Carom, or Ethiopian Cumin) add a perky freshness to carbohydrates and lentils. Ajwan is related to fennel, caraway and cumin, but it is much smaller than these. The seed has a similar size and shape to those of celery seeds. The taste is strong but has a certain freshness to it. When crushed, they have a Thyme-like aroma and may substitute thyme in smaller quantities. Some Indian recipes call this spice Lovage.

Before using Ajwan seeds, crush them to release the flavor by rubbing them together with your finger tips. Ajwan is popular in some Indian dal dishes and in breads and potatoes where it is used as a spice very much like cumin. Ajwan is mainly used for potatoes and lentils, although it can be good for any root vegetable dish. It is used in curry powder mixed specifically for vegetables and lentils, as well as in Indian breads like parathas and pooris, and Indian appetizers such as pakoras. Ajwain contains thymol, which is a germicide and antiseptic, and is valued in Ayurvedic cuisine for its medicinal uses, including diarrhea, colic, flatulence, asthma and indigestion. It helps expel wind and mucus.

Bitter Melon, also known as Karela or Momordica Charantia is a herb that helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps body functions operating normally. It contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli. Karela's principle constituents are lectins, charantin and momordicine. The fruits have long been used in India as a folk remedy for diabetes mellitus. Lectins from the bitter gourd have shown significant antilipolytic and lipogenic activities.

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