This whole salad obsession of mine that I’ve shared these past few weeks started with me testing recipes for a very special project I was working on. If you live in Holland, and not under any kind of rock, you know Happinez magazine. Without any doubt the number one spiritual lifestyle glossy around. It has been my dream to be featured in the magazine for years now, but so far it never happened. Regardless of oh so many emails and pleas I sent to the editors over the years. I used to feel really bumped out about this, thinking to myself ,,But what I do fits so well with everything the magazine stands for. Embracing a conscious and spiritual lifestyle while still enjoying some glitter and glamour along the way. Plus increasing your happiness while you do so.” See bringing joy and happiness to people through my modern take on Ayurvedic food to this day is what I live for. So to me it seemed like a match made in Happinez heaven. Well I guess the Universe had something even better in mind for me… For today 200 Happinez readers will be munching on my food and experience the love first hand (well, first bite that is!). How did I get this lucky?
The magazine organised another one of their famous Happinez readers days, this time themed Ayurveda. The founder of the School where I enjoyed my Ayurveda training, The Academy of Ayurvedic Studies, Coen van der Kroon is one of the key lecturers. The other speaker, Marielle Glorie, was a participant in a yoga retreat I catered over 3 years ago and the one who recommended me to the organisers of this event! You know what they say about planting a seed… Thank you Marielle, I am really grateful.
Now for todays menu. Thinking up this menu was like being in Ayurveda walhalla for me. And the hardest part about this catering was not the cooking, packaging and delivering 200 lunches at all. What was really difficult was deciding what to make! I wanted something that hinted at Ayurveda but wasn’t too traditionally Indian. I also wanted something that would be filling but not too heavy since the readers would still have to sit through 2 more hours of lectures after lunch without falling asleep. ( I sure hope you guys stayed awake, Happinez readers!). Furthermore, since I had no way of finding out all of the 200 guests their personal constitutions, I wanted the different elements of the menu to be balancing to one of the three types, Kapha, Pitta, Vata. But most importantly I wanted the food to be vibrant, taste delicious and bring a smile to everyone who ate it. So here’s what I came up with.
Morning tea snack
Bliss balls with figs, dates, sunflowerseeds, cardamom,
ginger and cinnamon
Bye bye winter blues salad with bulghur, pumpkin, kale and tri-dosha spices
Not your granny’s chips or Yellow Plantain chips
Lucky red raita with beetroot, yoghurt, sesame seeds and curry leaves
Keep it cool chutney with coconut, mint and koriander
Today I am sharing the recipe for the bulghur salad so those of you who enjoyed it at the event have a change to make it again for a loved one. If you are your own loved one, even better! See, I didn’t name this salad bye bye winter blues for nothing! We are smack in the middle of winter and I am guessing that you, like me, could use some TLC (Tender Loving Care) plus a good helping of sunshine on your plate. This salad delivers both. The vibrant green kale in combination with the sunny orange of the pumpkin give me good vibrations just looking at them. They represent the bitter, astringent and sweet tastes in this salad.
Health foodies around the globe have been raving about kale but I must admit it took me some time to get on the kale bandwagon. As in Holland people have the tendency to way overcook the poor vegetable which brings out the stinky sulphury odor specific for all veggies in the cabbage family. But there is this fantastic recipe by Sarah Raven from her Seasonal Cooking cookbook, that finally won me over. In this recipe the kale and pumpkin are marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, almost cooking the veggies in the sourness of the lemon while still keeping their crunch. Much like you would do to make ceviche of fish for example. I decided to stir fry the kale really fast to coat it in the spices, but did marinate fine shreds of pumpkin in this manner, because I like the difference in texture this brings to the dish.
Another one of my culinary heros Anjam Anand, who to me is the goddess of modern Ayurvedic cuisine, inspired the rest of the salad and brought the Ayurvedic oomph to it through the use of spices. If you’ve been following this blog you know by now they are the love of my life! I used Kapha balancing mustard seeds, Pitta balancing cumin seeds (these are actually balancing for all three types) and Vata balancing fennel seeds. Plus of course the king of all Ayurvedic spices, ginger. And plenty of it. The spices supply the spicy and bitter tastes in this dish.
For the bulghur you can either use wheat or spelt bulghur, as long as it is whole grain. You can find three different types of bulghur; coarsely ground, medium coarse and fine. I used finely ground bulghur in this salad. Finally to seal the deal in go some giant astringent lima or butter beans which are best for Kapha and Pitta types. The spices in the dressing should help Vata’s to digest them more easily. Also soaking them overnight before cooking and adding a pinch of asafoetida when cooking them helps the digestive process of Vata’s along.
Generally speaking this salad is three dosha because all 6 tastes are represented in it, but it is probably best suited for Pitta and Kapha. Vata’s with a Vata imbalance may want to also fry the pumpkin together with the kale instead of marinating it. They could also substitute mung beans for the lima beans as these are easier to digest. Pitta’s with a Pitta imbalance can use lime instead of lemon juice as this is sweeter. And they can also leave out the chillie and or ginger. Imbalanced Kapha’s can substitute barley for the bulghur or leave it out all together. I bit a warm welcome to those of you who are here visiting after eating my food today. I hope you enjoyed it and had a great day. Welcome to the soul foodie clan!
Finally, as always, I’d like to thank my fantastic girlfriends and family who helped me pull of this wonderful lunch. Patty, Francis, Marcia, Farida, Iris, Cynthia and uncle Louis. Thank you so much! And a special thanks to Vanja, for not only cooking like a Etruscan princess, but also photographing like one. All pictures in this post, except the last one, were taken by her as I was too busy running around, shouting orders and changing cd’s. (Yes, I am old fashioned that way!)
Bye bye winter blues salad
For 3 to 4 portions
- 65 grams finely shredded pumpkin (you can leave the skin on if organic)
- 50 grams finely shredded organic kale, hard veines removed
- juice of half a lemon or a bit more to taste
- 150 grams whole wheat spelt bulghur
- 200 ml boiled water
- pinch of salt
- 50 ml olive oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- dash of chilli flakes
- 30 grams red onion thinly sliced
- 1\2 clove of garlic fineley chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 100 grams cooked lima or butter beans
Cook the bulghur by having the boiled water with some salt ready on the stove on a very low flame. Add the bulghur, give a good stir. Now put the lid on top and cook on very low heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Take off the heat and transfer to a bowl to stop the bulghur from cooking any further. Let cool to room temperature.
While the bulghur is cooking, in another bowl, mix the shredded pumpkin and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Let stand to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a shallow frying pan to medium hot. Before it starts smoking (very important!) add the mustard seeds and as soon as 1 or two start popping add the other spices. Lower the heat immediatly. Now add the red onion, garlic and ginger and fry until golden brown. Mix in the kale and stir fry for 5 minutes until the kale isn’t raw anymore but still retains some bite. Finally add the beans and coat them with the spices somewhat. Season with salt and black pepper and take off the heat.
Mix the kale, beans and spice mixture through the marinated pumpkin. Than mix this through the bulghur. Add the rest of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper and if so desired some more lemon juice.