Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to make Paneer (Indian Cheese)

Some of you have been asking for this recipe for a while. Finally I am getting to it...
Fresh Paneer is a cross between cheese and cottage cheese. It can be used by itself or in dishes. Make sure to use organic dairy ingredients. If you plan to use any sour dairy ingredient in place of the lemon juice (like yogurt, kefir, buttermilk or even sour cream), make sure that it's at the room temperature.

Paneer - Home Style Indian Cheese

10 cups of milk
5 Tbsp of lemon juice or 1.5 cup of yogurt or 2.5 cups of buttermilk

Bring milk in a boil in a very large pot. Meanwhile get a strainer ready: line it up with 2 layers of cheese cloth, place it over a large pot. When the milk starts to rise, add the lemon juice (yogurt, or buttermilk). You'll see the separation right away. Curds will separate from the clear yellowish-green liquid. Remove the pot from the heat. If the liquid is not clear, return to the heat and add more lemon juice (acid). Do not overcook or the texture will be ruined. Unfortunately, the milk that we buy in the stores is processed. Which prevents it from forming the curds. If that is the case, then before draining, leave the mix for a couple of hours, until all the curds rise up to the surface, creating a firm cheesy layer.

Now you can make the cheese:

Drain the mix into the strainer and place it under press. The longer it sits, the harder it becomes.
If you need cottage cheese consistency, simply drain and squeeze all the liquid.

You'll get about 350 grams of Paneer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Baked Eggplant Dip or the Upside of Natural Disasters

I suspect my family members pray for various natural disasters...When that collective prayer is answered, I am forced to close the studio and come home after work or better yet - stay home altogether. That usually means a five course dinner and baked goodies. Last night, instead of fixing knees in Warrior 2 in my Iyengar class I've got to experiment with a whole baked eggplant. As the flood waters crept to my studio, the blender was going... It resulted in a tasty dip, that could also replace ketchup for your home baked fires or your veggie burger. It can served as a side dish too, which it did last night.

Backed Eggplant Dip

1 large eggplant

2-3 Tbsp of tomato paste

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp of coriander powder (or your favorite spice mix)

About 1 tsp of olive oil (optional)

Small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt, pepper to taste

Cut several slits on the eggplant. Place it on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 500F for 45 minutes. Let it cool, then peel the skin off. Transfer all that soft, gooey, baked goodness into a frying pan, add tomato paste and garlic and cook on medium heat until the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat, add coriander, olive oil, salt, pepper, cilantro and pulse in a food processer/blender/chopper until smooth. Cool to room temperature and enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Obstacles on the path are stepping stones to your growth...

"Be the change you want to see in the world" --- Mahatma Gandhi

How, here is something heartfelt. I am sure anyone who is on any path of self improvement and/ or spiritual development has come across this at least once.

You live your yoga, read all the great books, go to seminars, workshops, satsangs, meditate, work on yourself, control your mind and reactions, trying to cultivate positive thinking- whatever it is that you do. But... you're only human. You slip, you make mistakes, you go back to your old ways - even if it's for a split second. You're not an enlightened being- you just want to become one. Simply being a better person is already a great intention!

It all goes well until you slip. Have you noticed how those around you are quick to turn around and point out your fall?

"You read all those books and still do things like that?",

"Yoga is not really helping, huh?",

"That's a strange thing to say for a yogi!"

"I wouldn't expect that from a yoga teacher!"


You know what's interesting? Those comments come from people who are not on ANY path themselves. Because the ones that are on the path know how hard it is to stay on and to keep going. Plus they are busy working on themselves, because they know that you cannot expect anyone to change in order to please you- you need to change yourself. Certain people are not on any path for various reasons. Sometimes it means that they not ready - the time just hasn't come yet. Sometimes it means that they just prefer to watch other people improve and change (and notice their falls in the process), since they believe that the World owes to them to be in a certain way, the way they expect. The latter also means that they are just not ready. No one can be blamed for that.

So, it all comes back to us - those who are on any path of self discovery. It's our responsibility to be vigilant. Even the greatest spiritual seekers where provoked and tempted (Jesus was tempted by demons in the desert, Buddha was tested by Mara). It is just a part of the process. The higher you climb the harder it may get. You will be provoked and poked again and again, until the day when none of this will have any power to affect you anymore. Until then simply take every poke as a lesson, as an opportunity to burn one more veil, and as an opportunity to grow.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ode to Potatoes

If I have to be stuck on a proverbial deserted island, then please drop me off with a few bags of potatoes. I love them mashed and boiled, roasted and fried. Ok, I'll even admit that sometimes I zoom by a Wendy's drive through window to get French fries....

Potatoes are tasty, versatile and, according to the Gerson Therapy Diet, very healing and nutritious.

My rosemary plant moves in with me for the winter and there is nothing like fresh rosemary roasted along with potatoes! How about a yummy, cozy variation of good old roasted potatoes, which can be a perfect main course or a side dish at a family gathering? Here we go!

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes Mix

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1"-2" cubes
4-5 white or yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1"-2" cubes
1 large onion, cut in half, then sliced into 1/2 rings
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
2-3 Tbsp of unrefined sunflower oil (you can use olive oil instead)
Few springs of fresh rosemary
Salt, pepper to taste
Your favorite spices: anything from red pepper to paprika - be creative!

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes, onion, garlic, and rosemary into a roasting pan, sprinkle with oil, salt, pepper and spices if using. Mix well. Bake for... I dunno... until done... about 20 minutes, stirring at least once in the process. Enjoy!