What do you do to reduce stress?
When life has me feeling a little bit overwhelmed, I exercise, I close my eyes and pretend I am in a happier place, I take some deep breaths, I drink some soothing herbal tea, I listen to some relaxing music or sometimes I tell myself I need to take an attitude break and get on with life.
All of these things work very nicely to reduce stress, but I have a little secret. My all time favorite way to blow off some steam and put life back into perspective is to have fun in Bam's Kitchen. Bam's Kitchen is my little resort away from everything. Bam's Kitchen is a place where I can be creative and have fun and experiment and forget about all life's little worries. Bam's Kitchen becomes even a more interesting "foodie spa and resort" when my dear friends can join me for an afternoon of fun.
My dear friend, Anu, and I had a great day of stress reduction and fun in Bam's Kitchen. We laughed together and laughed even harder when something did not turn out as expected in the kitchen. We were creative. We were food photography stylists. We were team players and most of all very good friends enjoying the time making delicious food together.
So you may ask, why were Anu and I stressed to begin with...
My dear friend, Anu, and I just completed a course in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture Certification. In addition to memorizing a tremendous amount of theory we also had to practice our clinical skills. You build a whole new kind of trust in someone when you allow them to put a needles in you, just for practice. Anu was my study buddy and pin cushion this year.
Then there was the final exam....!!! Do you know why we sometimes write "Etc" on our essay exams? It means... E (End Of) T (Thinking) C (Capacity)... I think my brain matter was leaking out of my ear by the end of the exam.
I know that many of you know that I am a western medically trained professional but I wanted to bridge the gap between Asian and Western Medicine and have a better understanding of where East really does meet West.
Switching from learning Western Medicine to Eastern Medicine requires a complete brain transplant as absolutely everything that I was learning in TCM was different from what I had learned in Western Medicine. It took me some time to get over the culture shock and to assimilate. However, soon thereafter, I was warning my family members not to eat or drink excessive hot or cold foods as not to get their ying or yang out of balance. I started running around and checking my kids pulses and looking at their tongues for assessment. My kids started to come to me with small ailments such as sore throat and common cold and I would treat them with acupuncture instead of tylenol. On the other end of the spectrum, Mr. Anonymous would go running in the other direction any time I took out my acupuncture needles from my bag.
I started noticing things in life from a very different perspective. I started to look at life, health and wellness from both a Western and Asian perspective at all times. At first, I though this would never be possible to do. However, now I feel like a stronger clinician understanding both sides to the equation.
Anu is a very sweet gentle friend from India and is a fantastic little cook and foodie. Anu and I celebrated the freedom from acupuncture exams and needles with a little stress reduction and fun in Bam's Kitchen making Dosas, Aloo Masala, Cilantro and Coconut Chutney and Sambhar. Please follow Anu and I along to learn how to make these delicious Indian dishes...
Have you ever had a dosa? Dosa are one of the most delightful things I have ever tried. A Dosa is a fermented crepe or pancake made from rice batter and black lentils. It is indigenous to and is a staple dish in the southern India. They are traditionally served as part of the breakfast meal. They are light, crispy and delicious huge flat disks that are usually filled with a little savory Aloo Masala (potatoes and spices) and dipped in lovely chutneys. Dosa's are gluten-free, vegan friendly and our version is very low-fat. (Accidentally healthy- you have to love that)
I saved some of the dosa batter and made them for a snack for my teenage boys and they devoured them in nano seconds. (A Masala Dosa has all of the teenage basic food groups; potatoes, spices and a tortilla looking thing to wrap it all up in)
Enclosed are recipe for the plain dosa, Aloo Masala, Cilantro and Coconut Chutney and sambhar. You will need to complete the fermentation of the Dosa a day or two before you plan to prepare them.
Recipe from Anu and some help from the sweet little man at the Indian Provisions store in Wanchai
Makes about 15 or so dosa's depending on the size of your pan
Step 1: Wash the rice, dal and fenugreek seed and soak in a tupperware with just enough water to cover for at least 6 hours
Step 2: Grind the rice ,split black garam lentil, and fengreek seeds until a fine thin batter by adding just a little water (Hint it is better to be thicker as you can always add more water later to get it to the consistency you need) I used my heavy-duty Blender/smoothie maker that also works to crush ice or if you have a spice grinder that would work as well.
Step 3: Add salt to mixture and leave it covered for at least 12 hours of fermentation. (I put mine in the refrigerator overnight to ferment)
Step 4: Make your Aloo Masala, Cilantro and Coconut Chutney and Sambhar before you start to cook your dosas. (Recipe follows below)
Step 5: When you are ready to eat, add water to the dosa batter so that it just covers the back of the spoon. (Getting the consistency correct is imperative to making a good dosa)
Step 6: Pre-heat a large non stick pan and place a tiny bit of oil on the bottom and spread around with a half of an onion pierced with a fork. (This little trick that Anu taught me works really great)
Step 7: Use a ladle and pour slowly in a circular motion the dosa batter in the pan. Use the back of the ladle to thin the dosa. (We were trying to cut down on fat but if you want a really crispy dosa then take little extra oil and drizzle on top of dosa- we omitted this step)
Step 8: When you see the dosa batter start to get gently golden on the bottom flip over and continue to cook until golden brown and crispy.
Step 9: Continue this process for making the rest of the dosas. I would suggest you clean the pan between each one you make for best results.
Step 10: Serve hot crispy light dosas with Aloo Masala, hot sambhar and cool and delightful cilantro and coconut chutney.
Aloo Masala for Dosa
Recipe adapted from Majula's Kitchen
Step 1 Boil the potatoes until they are soft and set aside to cool.
Step 2: Peel and chop potatoes into small pieces. (To prevent oxidation, I sprinkled a little lemon juice on potatoes)
Step 3: Heat the oil into the pan and check temperature with chopsticks. Put the seeds in the oil and they should crack and pop. Once you smell the yummy fragrance from the spices coming to your nose add the potatoes, green chili and salt.
Step 4: Fry the potato mixture for a few minutes and then add lemon juice and cilantro. (You could at this point add shredded carrots, peas or any other vegetable your little heart desires)
Step 5: The potatoes should be slightly moist.
Step 6: Serve Aloo Marsala hot inside the wrapped dosas.
Cilantro and Coconut Chutney
Recipe adapted from the cookingchanneltv.com recipes by Bal Arneson
Step 1: Saunter out to your Indian provision store and to the wet markets to get your spices and ingredients. Tell the strong confident man at the wet market what "great strong muscles he has" and kindly as him to please break open your coconut. (If all else fails, you can buy the pre-shredded kind in the supermarket)
Step 2: Put all your items into the blender and whizz until very smooth and creamy.
Step 3: Serve yummy Cilantro and coconut chutney with dosas. (This chutney is fantastic and it has so many other possible uses, like as a topping on grilled fish or as a dip for fresh vegetables or maybe as a body scrub. It is so yummy you may want to double your recipe)
My dear friend Anu brought to my home some delicious Sambhar, so I did not get a chance to make any yet. However , I found a great little quick sambhar on-line. Please visit http://myrecipes-aditi.blogspot.hk/2009/01/quick-sambar.html.
Here is another version of Sambhar. http://www.food.com/recipe/sambhar-115127
Have a happy and stress free week!