Seeking Balance with Ambition

I hope you all had a holiday that suited your needs. For those that needed to travel and get away, I hope that you were able to honor that. For those that needed to spend time at home, in quiet and rest, I wish that you were able to fulfill that need. In a world of near-constant outside stimulation from multiple media devices and crowded work settings, it can be challenging to recognize your own rhythms and needs. Even when you identify what you are needing or wanting, it can be extra challenging to give to yourself, if you are prone to be a people-pleaser, like I am. It is all about that elusive thing called balance. :-)

I am happy to report that I had a small victory in the realm of practicing balance. I was all set to have an out of town adventure, then rush back into town, enter a whirl of cooking activity, and show up to your deliveries with bags under my eyes like badges of honor. And yet, maybe it is that wisdom with getting older that is starting to set in, or maybe it was a lucky strike, I listened to my body and realized that I needed to stay home. It was a durn good thing that I did, too, because I caught the cold that my son had had the week before. I did some major pacing in my activity level, hit the herbal wellness formula hard, and voila!, the cold passed by me quickly and with minimum suffering.

And that dear friends, affects you because this week's menu is far more ambitious and elaborate than I was originally planning. Read on to see this all-Indian, not-what-is-leftover-in-your-fridge menu. I can hardly wait! (Note that I have quickly reverted to my usual habit of over-achieving, now that I am feeling better... Balance, I am coming to you in baby steps.)

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Panch Phoran Cauliflower Dal

My, it has been a while since we last made this dal. Panch Phoran is a spice blend of the five seeds that you see pictured below. Used in pretty much equal proportions, they add a medley of flavors to any dish. The cumin, mustard, and kalonji are all savory, yet distinct. The fennel adds sweetness, while the fenugreek counters it with a hint of bitterness. Imagine that symphony of flavors permeating succulent cualiflower and lentils, and... BAZINGA!, you have a new best friend. *GF, soy-free

(photo fatfreevegan.com)

Entree #2 - Green Split Pea Dal with Spinach and Coconut Milk

I wish that I had a photo that better represented the little slice of heaven that is this dal. Hey there's a hint for you photographers out there who might be reading this... There could be some serious food coming your way in exchange for a photoshoot. ;-) Back to the dal. This is a wonderful, creamy, rich combination of everything you see in the title. The result is pure magic in your mouth! And for those of you who are monitoring your spice, this recipe has very little heat to it. *GF, soy-free

(photo steamingpot.com)

Entree #3 - Zucchini Kofta in Coconut Tomato Sauce

Okay, so the idea was that since I would be traveling for the holiday, I would make up a simple menu that I could just "whip" together when I rolled back into town. For a variety of reasons, I didn't actually travel. And for another variety of reasons, I felt that the simple menu was, well, a little boring. Koftas are labor & ingredient-intensive, but OMG are they worth it! I once had a customer tell me that she could eat "those little fried balls in the sauce" 3 times a day, every day. Yep. Koftas are like that. They suck you in and make you forget about all other foods (until you reach the inevitable satiation point). Even though short-lived, eating kofta is still an all-consuming romance not to be missed. *GF, soy-free

(photo journeykitchen)

Side Dishes:

Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)

Lemon Rice - $3/serving. This rice is a standard offering on my big event catering menu because it is extremely tasty, exotic, and yet relatively simple to put together. This was the prettiest photo that I found in my Google searching, yet it is not quite true to my recipe. Those of you with peanut allergies, rest easy, I use cashews instead. I also use either basmati or brown rice depending on the clientele preference. *GF, soy-free

(photo sailusfood.com)

Dhokla - $3/ea. or 2 for $5. Dhokla, oh Sponge Bread Square Shape, how delicious thou art! We just made you a month ago, and yet it seems like time to bring you back already. If you haven't had these little squares of yumminess yet, you are missing out! Made from chickpea flour and spices, and then steamed rather than baked, dhokla is a guilt-free, gotta-have-more savory snack.*GF, soy-free

(photo kitchenpops)

Love Your Body Bites - $1/ea. or 6 for $5. We had a special request for these oh-so-healthy, star-of-my-dreams sweet. Am I exaggerating the good qualities of these simple-looking balls? You might think so, but ask anyone who has had them, and you may receive a variety of grunts, squeals of delight, moans of pleasure, etc. in response. I am not joking. People seem to really love these little balls of yum. What's the secret? I will give you a hint - dried fruit, nuts, and omega juicer, and a whole lot of love! *GF, soy-free

(photo paleogrubs.com)

Oatmeal Raisin and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Giant Cookies - $3/ea. or 2 for $5. As if we didn't have enough delectableness to choose from right? Now there are more options, I know. So a word about these cookies - they are egg-free, but do contain dairy and wheat. Every December the Krishna Temple in Hillsborough makes 1000's of these beautiful, chewy cookies to sell for their annual fundraiser. Govinda's will be offering them to you through the New Year. All proceeds go to the center. Quantity pricing available. These are lovely to bring to that office holiday party that you just didn't have time to bake anything for. Hint hint...

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