Pure, natural, flavorful, colorful, exciting and rich are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about my food experience in India.
All of the ingredients were straight from the source, you could taste the purity.
Flavor combinations I had never dreamed of, danced on my tongue and brought an instant smile to my face.
Chutneys, banana leaves, and curries livened up the color of every dish.
The variety was vast. I had no issue staying intrigued and curious at all times.
Dairy was unpasteurized and in it’s most purest form, making it easy to digest and added incredible richness to everything. Butter and ghee were consumed in excess and enjoyed thoroughly.
As the days of my visit continued, I developed a new-found respect for my body and a fresh perspective on the principles of nourishment. I only ate when I was hungry, sat in silence while I enjoyed my meals, chose foods with intuition over logic, and in turn, came home with a healthier relationship with food.
Oh yes, and a strong urge to eat Indian inspired meals at least twice a day.
Thankfully, I foresaw missing the curries, puddings, and samosas, so on the last day of my trip, Jody; a fellow yogi and dear friend, and I signed up for a 2 hour cooking class with a local kitchen.
Seriously, it was the best idea ever.
Although I annoyed the teacher to no end when I chose to sub out milk for water, butter for cashew paste, and wheat flour for chickpea flour, I learned how to make authentic Indian food, Healthful Pursuit style – limited dairy, gluten-free, healthy, and delicious.
What more could a girl ask for?
Over the next 6 weeks, we’ll be exploring the techniques, spices and recipes I was introduced to on what was easily my favorite day in India. And heck, who knows… if you all like Indian food as much as I have come to love it, then maybe we’ll just continue with weekly Indian recipes?
First up, aloo palak.
It’s easy, quick, delicious, vegan, and will pretty much rock your world.
Healthy Aloo Palak (Potato + Spinach Curry)
Vegan, Gluten free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free, Grain free
Aloo palak is a curry dish popular in North India and made up of tomatoes and potatoes smothered in a spinach based sauce. It’s best served with rice, naan, or chapati. There are many other aloo dishes. Some with cheese (palak paneer), lentils (palak daal), or mixed vegetables (palak bahar). Generally it’s loaded with dairy, but I’ve made a dairy-free aloo palak that everyone can enjoy!
Yield: 1 cup
- 1 small potato, quartered
- 1/2 tomato, quartered
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup red onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan rock salt
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp Earth Balance or ghee *see note
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, diced
- 1 tsp fresh garlic, diced
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chat masala
- 2 tbsp cashew paste *see note
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups cooked rice
- Steam the potato for 15 minutes, or until crisp-tender. When complete, set aside with fresh tomato.
- Add vegetable oil, onion, and salt to a preheated frying pan on medium-high heat and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat and blend with water until smooth. Set aside.
- Place earth balance, cumin seeds, ginger, and garlic in a pre-heated frying pan on medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add spinach puree and remaining masalas, coriander, cumin, cashew paste and water.
- Add tomato and potato and cook until just heated.
- Serve on a bed of rice.
note: if ghee is used, recipe is no longer vegan
note2: to make cashew paste, grind 1 tbsp raw cashews in a coffee grinder. Drop into a bowl and add 1 tbsp water.
Also, speaking of ingredients… many of you have been inquiring about the possibility of me setting up an ingredients page, a list of items I use most frequently here on the blog. After a bit of planning, I’m happy to report that the page is up and running! You can go to it here, or find it on the main navigation menu at the top of the blog.
Would love to know what you think of it, or if you feel I’ve missed any items.
Now that I have 6 recipes behind my belt, I’d love to know – what are your favorite Indian dishes?