Wednesday, November 17, 2010

South Indian Lemon Rice

South Indian Lemon Rice
Category Main course accompaniment
Region Southern India
Served Hot, accompanied with curry or vegetables
Serves 3
Cooking Time 25 minutes

This is a highly aromatic rice preparation with a distinct lemony flavor. Lemon rice is easy to whip up when you are short on time.

1 1/2 cups of rice (the Indian variety, like basmati)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or as per taste)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
A pinch of asafetida
2 dried red chili peppers
1 tablespoon urad dal (split black gram)
1 tablespoon chana dal (split gram)
1/2 teaspoon methi (fenugreek) seeds
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
12 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon haldi (turmeric) powder
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated coconut (optional)

- Clean and soak the rice for about thirty minutes. Drain the water and boil the rice in salted water (3 pinches of salt) until almost done. Rice gets cooked in its own steam when left covered. So it is best to leave it slightly uncooked. Drain and keep aside.

- Heat some oil in a nonstick pan and throw in the asafetida. Break the red chili peppers into large pieces and toss them in the pan along with the urad dal, chana dal, and methi seeds. Fry for about thirty seconds till the lentils turn light brown.

- Toss in the peanuts and mustard seeds. When you hear the mustard seeds crackle, throw in the curry leaves and stir in the turmeric powder. Stir-fry for another thirty seconds. Now you can add the cooked rice. Toss the rice in the pan so that the spices mix evenly in the rice. Ensure that the rice is evenly yellow. Now add salt and lemon juice and toss the rice again. As a finishing touch, garnish with grated coconut.

Monday, November 15, 2010


“Deep down, beneath all our insecurities, beneath all our hopes for and beliefs in equality, each of us believes we're better than anyone else. Because it's our beliefs that are right, our doubts that are allowable ones, our fears which are legitimate” - Audrey Beth Stein

Do you believe the above statement?
What's your take on the meaning of equality? It's in our constitution, but do we see it applied in the practical situations of our daily social and economic lives? Do we demonstrate in our own lives the principle of equality towards others? Is it a practical way to live, considering all of our obvious differences? On what level are we actually equal? These were a few of the intriguing questions tossed around during our most recent Reflections, as we ventured to find the thread that ties all of us together as living beings.

“The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved.” -Emma Goldmas

Special speaker

Check out the website below to see and hear about the guest speaker we had at out Tuesday cooking classes. It wasn't about cooking, but it did provide food for the , explaining how by diving deeper into the river of life and discovering our inner essence, we can unearth the happiness, fulfillment, and compassion that is inherent to each of us.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Death and Dying

Depending on how you look at it, death can be a somber topic that puts everyone in an unpleasant mood, or it can be an opportunity to ponder the mysterious gift of life. A few interesting questions asked at our last Reflections were "Does life continue after the time of death?", "How can the thought of death increase the quality of our life?", and "Am I living a life that I find meaningful and satisfying?" Below are a few quotes that we looked at during our discussion.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life.
A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
-Mark Twain

“... almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
- Steve Jobs

“Today my soul spoke to my temporary self and said, ‘death removes everything that is false; death reveals to us our true friends; death exposes our true priorities; death brings forth wisdom; death educates us on our fears and weaknesses; but, most importantly, death reminds us that these material bodies and material universes are not our homes….”
-B.T. Swami – “Die Before Dying”

Living in the Matrix

All the great spiritual traditions of the world have something to say about the nature of reality, and the possibility of illusion. Popular examples such as the film The Matrix have brought to our attention the idea that the world around us may not be what it seems. Indeed, it may not be at all. In last week's discussion we read a series of verses from the Gita which told us two things: that our material realm is a temporary place, and that there is another deeper realm, a spiritual realm, where we exist beyond the miseries of the reality we know know.

Why miserable? After all we don't want our spiritual path to make us gloomy, but we discussed that we all experience a certain sense of uncertainty in our lives, sometimes feeling even in the midst of our happiest times that something undesirable is lurking around the corner. We all want a happiness and security and a sense of self-knowledge that is enduring, and the Gita explains that this is the natural condition of our soul, beyond our temporary bodily state. While many descriptions of the spiritual reality where we can find this real happiness and life seem quite ethereal, we discussed that the teachings of the bhakti tradition laid out in the Gita for us help to access this spiritual reality through the nature of selfless love and relationships. By giving ourselves to others in a mood of compassion and brotherhood/sisterhood, we can begin to experience within ourselves, the spiritual realm the Gita speaks to us about, and we can find the lasting well-being beyond the flickering waves of this material reality.