Monday, January 4, 2016

CAPTURING CAPTIVATING AND KITARCHI with sweet potatoes, leeks, and pumpkin seeds

A couple of years ago my friend Kim and I were in a cute antique shop browsing the shelves. She picked something up and mentioned how lovely it was. Then she put it back and in almost a whisper said, "I'm so grateful I was able to experience that".

Wait. What?

Now my friend could have easily walked right up to the counter, purchased said object, and walked out with something beautiful to add to her already charming house.

But she didn't.

She put it back and somehow owned it without actually owning it.

Today I was driving my girls home from school and the song "Hello" by Adele came on. Let me say, I love this song. Adele's voice is one of the most powerful and moving I know. That being said, today it made me wonder about our collective desire to own the beauty we see, hear, and experience. This song came out and boom! everyone had to have it, including myself.


My guess is it made us feel something. Her voice cut through the fluff around us and went straight to our soul. Somehow, through a series of notes and pitch and words, it connected us to each other and awakened the deepest part of us. And we want to capture it and know with certainty we can come back to this place when the need arises.

It made me think of all the other ways we experience something that captivates us and then, in that same instant of enjoyment, we jump to conspiring to get it.

We're at the beach and experience this comforting sense of smallness and we build houses all along the coast.

We taste something exotic and find ways to bypass region and season, shipping it around the world.

We run into Target, see something pretty and without much thought add it to our cart.

We hear a song and play it over and over and over.

But once we own whatever this thing is, does the experience continue? Does it get better? Do we?

Please understand, I don't think these things necessarily wrong. I just wonder what happens when it becomes habit. Something our culture and country is defined by.

I think the beach gets old. The food isn't the same as right off the plant or tree. That thing looked a lot better on the shelf surround by the other pretties. The song suddenly becomes annoying.

But what if like my friend we take in the fullness of  beauty, allowing it to wash over and through us. We breathe in this brief moment in time and experience it as wholly and deeply and largely as we can.

And then we let that be enough.

We walk away with this sense of bittersweet contentment that can only come with loving and letting go. This incredible sense of this being enough and knowing there will be another experience waiting around the bend.

Because here's the thing - if we own, we collect, we fill the bank space with repeat - we leave little space for new and wonder and exciting. Instead of doing what's difficult at first but more meaningful in a lasting sort of way, we collect dust and headaches.

So here's my challenge. Stand there. For a ridiculous amount of time if that's what it takes. Laugh, cry, yell, dance, sing, shake. Do whatever it takes to make the experience fully yours.

And then walk away.

I think you'll find that the only thing you want to repeat is thank you.

This recipe is my cold-weather comfort food. It is dense but not heavy, warm and flavorful, and wonderfully nutritious. If winter is a more difficult season for you, you tend to get cold easily, or are looking for an easy-to-digest meal, this may be a great one to try. The cookbook referenced is one of my favorite and a real treasure-chest of wonderful recipes. 

Adapted from Eat, Taste, Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living

1 c. basmati rice
1/3 c. mung dhal [split hulled mung beans]
3 c. water
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes [appx. 2 cups]
1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into small cubes [appx. 1/2 cup]
2 T. ghee
2 leeks, rinsed and cut into thin slices
4 T. shelled pumpkin seeds
1 T. korma powder [see recipe below, make in advance]
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. tigernut or coconut milk [or milk of choice]
2 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. maple syrup
sea salt, to taste

Korma Powder Recipe:

1 T. whole coriander seeds
1 T. whole cumin seeds
1 T. whole fennel seeds
1 T. whole mustard seeds
1 T. whole fenugreek seeds
1 T. whole cardamom seeds
1 T. poppy seeds
1 T. whole pepper seeds
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. ground ginger
1 T. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cloves

Place all ingredients in a spice grinder or Vitamix dry container. Blend on high until a very fine powder is achieved. Transfer to an glass container with tight-fitting lid.

Place the rice and mung dhal in a fine mesh strainer. Place under cold, running water and rinse until the water runs clear. Let all the water drain out and then place in large stainless steel pot. Add water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Once water boils, cover and reduce heat to low for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile peel and cut sweet potatoes, celeriac, and leeks. Once the rice and mung have been cooking for 10 minutes, layer the sweet potatoes and celeriac on top of the rice-mung mixture. Reserve the leeks for later. Cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add a little more water if, after 20 minutes, the water has evaporated but the vegetables aren't tender if poked with a fork.

While the rice and vegetables are cooking, warm ghee in medium size cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium heat. When melted, add the leeks and saute until soft. Add the pumpkin seeds and saute until the seeds are beginning to brown. Stir in the korma powder. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, syrup, milk, and about 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

When the vegetables are tender to touch and water has been evaporated, remove from heat and stir in the pumpkin seed mixture. Add additional sea salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.

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