Exotic Vegetarian Cooking Class
These days we hear about a lot of young people being afflicted with chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes which earlier were seen at a much older age and in much less people.Our grandparents were far healthier and fitter than us and lived much longer lives.What then has changed? Our diet and exercise patterns! In the fast paced lives of today we have forgotten about BALANCE.We grab a quick bite here,a tasty bite there and eat at home much less often than our parents did.I believe the secret to good health lies in our traditional food....a harmony of carbohydrates,proteins and fat.Most people today have hardly any vegetables and dal and their diets are deficient in protein(of veg source) and fibre.
When I heard about Darshana Thacker's Ayurvedic Vegan class,I was interested to attend to learn new perspectives.After all Ayurveda is an ancient science based on balance.Darshana runs a class in Los Angeles,USA and teaches Westerners about organic cooking based on Dosha or one's body's constitution.There are three main doshas:Vata,Pita,Kapha and each person has one or two of these.Vapika Spirit,the name of Darshana's class is based on this.All five tastes sweet,sour,astringent,salty,bitter and pungent are incorporated together in a meal which then stimulates digestive enzymes adequately to provide energy to the body.She teaches recipes of food that are plant-based,non-refined and rich in protein and calcium.She believes in slow cooking.Like her food,Darshana is calm,collected and soothing.The picture above of two lovely ladies includes Darshana who is dressed in black.
What I liked about her class was that she introduced me to a host of new vegetarian ingredients and did not use preserved,refined or processed food.She taught sattvic food-simple,lightly spiced and with hardly any oil.The cooking medium of her choice was olive oil.Yes,her class was traditional with a modern twist.She also avoids dairy products,which personally I don't agree with.
The soup was Creamy Butternut Squash Soup.Butternut Squash is from the pumpkin family and has a flask shape and is thick skinned.It is a rich source of vitamin A,essential for good skin and vision.This can be made with pumpkin instead as this winter squash is not available locally.
This was ready in half an hour and was flavored with onion,garlic,salt and pepper.She used few ground cashews to make the "cream".It was delicious!
She taught us a salad: Quinoa Basil Salad.She explained that Quinoa looks like a grain but is actually from the weed family.It originates from South America and is the only vegetarian food that has all the essential amino acids.It is also rich in calcium,phosphorus,magnesium,iron,fibre,E and B vitamins.
It looks like Couscous or Dalia/Lapsi.Millet can be used in this recipe instead.Quinoa is gluten free.
Darshana brought life to this salad....she added broccoli,spring onions,peppers,carrots and tomatoes and dressed it with olive oil.I liked this the best.
Then she showed us Polenta or coarsely ground corn kernels.I have had this in Sonoma Valley,California at an Italian restaurant.
For dessert she made a Strawberry Lime Cake using spelt flour.Spelt flour is made from another variety of wheat than that we commonly use and has its origin in the Medieval times and is used instead of refined flour or maida.
This she decorated with strawberries and lime! No it didn't taste like usual cakes but the benefit is that it has lesser calories and is made from whole grain.
I was the only non vegetarian at her class that day and Darshana taught me novel ways of cooking vegetarian food,using ingredients from other cultures and based on the Ayurvedic principle of balance.