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By Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa, California, USA
Yogic cooking is based on a very simple truth: "We are what we eat." We are what we allow into our selves, whether it is food, sounds, the air we breathe, the thoughts we dwell on, the discipline we let into our lives, or the devotion we allow to grow in our hearts.
Even when the freshest organic vegetables, herbs, and ingredients are used in cooking, and the recipe is followed perfectly, sometimes, somehow that dish doesn’t come out quite right. It is on the table, looking fantastic; but no one has been uplifted, energized, or really satisfied by the meal. It tasted fine, it filled the belly, but something was missing.
What’s the missing ingredient? No matter how beautiful and fresh your produce may be, if the cook’s consciousness is not prayerful, loving, and joyful, that food will not be a healing food. Period. It is so important to have a state of mind free of anger when preparing food! Instead, be filled with heartfelt love for those (including the self!) who will be eating the food, joy in its preparation, and most importantly, a sense of the Divine coming into the food.
Sometimes though, there might be days when it is not so easy to rise above emotions. When that happens, and you must prepare food, then absolutely say a prayer. It might be something like this: “Okay God. This food has to be made. Please just come through me and flow into this food and keep all my emotional garbage out of it.” When we talk in a familiar and direct way to God, I think He/She/It enjoys that prayer very much and comes through in a beautiful way! So much so, that it’s a good idea to begin preparation of every meal with a prayer. It can be something as simple as asking for all those who will enjoy the food to also be healed, uplifted, and energized, and that with each bite they may remember God. Some of my fondest memories of the “early days” are when Bibiji, Yogiji’s wife, gave me daily lessons in the preparation of Indian food. She encouraged me to silently chant “Sat Nam” with each chop of the knife. It sounded just like Sat Kriya in my head. Chanting and singing while preparing a meal keeps the spirit very high! And, best of all, the food absorbs all of that vibration.
On the other side, if you are feeling angry, stressed, or mad at your spouse/partner, tired of making dinner every night, etc., and you are standing there cooking and putting all that emotion into the food, it will be like a poison. The food will not be exactly enjoyable (in fact, it will probably have poor taste, be burned, underdone, or otherwise not come out right) and those who eat it are likely to feel crabby or unhappy, have indigestion or constipation, or even become ill as a result.
So, think about these things the next time you prepare a meal. Play some uplifting music on your iPod. Sing a happy song while you cook, something that makes you feel love in your heart and the greatness of your spirit!
Summer Recipes for Yogis by Siri Ved K. Khalsa
2 cups cooked beets
3” gingerroot, sliced thinly, boiled for 20 minutes in 4 cups water; then strain for ginger tea
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp fresh mint, finely minced
salt or black salt
Blend the cooked beets in a blender until smooth. Add 1½ cups ginger tea, lemon juice, mint, and salt to taste. Serve chilled with garnish of chopped mint or cilantro.
Tomato, Cucumber, & Fennel Salad with Kalamata Olives
Yield: about 4 cups
3-4 medium size firm ripe tomatoes, cut in bite size wedges
4 Persian cucumbers, ends trimmed, and sliced in ¼” rounds
1 small jicama (about ½ pound) peeled and chopped in ½” dice
1 bulb fresh fennel/anise, cored and trimmed, sliced thinly (discard stalky parts, use some of the feathery greens for garnish)
3-4 green onions, sliced in thin rounds
7-8 basil leaves, torn in pieces
10-15 kalamata olives
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice or dash of balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3-4 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
Coarse salt and dash pepper, to taste
Combine chopped vegetables in a glass or ceramic bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon, garlic, and olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss with vegetables. Let stand for an hour for flavors to blend before serving.
Tofu “Egg” Salad
Yield: 4 servings
1 lb regular or firm Chinese style tofu (not extra firm)
½ cup finely diced celery
½ onion, finely diced
2 tbsp diced bell pepper (red or green)
1/8 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/8 tsp. turmeric
Dash of paprika
2 tsp crushed parsley flakes
2 tbsp chopped dill pickle or prepared sweet/dill relish
3-4 tbsp eggless mayonnaise
Salt or tamari soy sauce
Drain tofu, place in glass or ceramic mixing bowl, and mash to lumpy consistency with fork. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add salt or tamari to taste.
Siri Ved Kaur has been a part of the 3HO/Sikh Dharma community in Los Angeles since 1971, when she served as Yogi Bhajan’s personal cook for several years. She has authored two cookbooks (Conscious Cookery, 1978 and From Vegetables with Love, 1989) and written numerous columns for Beads of Truth, Aquarian Times, YogaMint, and HealthWorld Online. Mother of three grown daughters, she now resides in Bakersfield, California with her husband, Gurujodha Singh.