Tomato Rasam—Indian Tomato Soup

Rasam is a light soup from South India. There are many different types of rasams, such as tomato rasam, lemon rasam and garlic rasam. It usually has a sour taste, either from tamarind or lemon juice. Many rasam recipes have tomatoes, and common spices include roasted cumin seeds, fried mustard seeds and curry leaves, lentils, and chili, of course. Rasam is my child’s new favorite Indian dish. We love the sour taste of the tamarind balanced with the sweetness of a few dates instead of the usual white sugar or jaggery sugar.  As a light meal, we like it with papaR, Indian lentil chips.

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Ingredients–serves 3

  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lime sized ball of tamarind with seeds, or 2 T tamarind pulp
  • 3 dates (optional)
  • 1 t cumin
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 T ghee/oil
  • ¼ t black mustard seeds
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 t red chili powder (optional)
  • ¼ t turmeric
  • Pinch or 2 of hing
  • Curry leaves, 1 stem

Make the concentrate

  1.  Soak pitted dates in a bowl of 1 cup warm water. With hands submerged in the same water, remove the seeds and any hard material from the tamarind. Most of a sticky ball of tamarind is seed with very little pulp leftover.
  2. Blend tamarind and date mixture. Add tomatoes and blend.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on about medium to medium-high. Dry roast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns. Remove from heat before turning completely brown. Grind to a powder in a spice/coffee grinder, with a mortar and pestle, or with a rolling pin.

Make the soup

Heat tamarind, date and tomato blend in a medium sauce pan. Add roasted cumin, black pepper, salt and 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a simmer.

Add the spices

While soup is just heating up, in a small pan heat the ghee/oil on medium to medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds. When most seeds have popped, add garlic, turmeric and red chili powder (if using). Turn down the heat and cook garlic pieces. Then add hing and curry leaves and turn off heat. Add spices to soup.

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PapaR – a GAPS chip!

on top: papaRdum. left to right: tomato thakkali chutney, mint coriander chutney, tamarind chutney

on top: papaRdum. left to right: tomato thakkali chutney, mint coriander chutney, tamarind chutney

Yes, us GAPS people can eat chips! PapaR is a deep-fried wafer made of urad lentils. You can purchase them in a rawish state in a package at the Indian food store. Some papaRdum are made of channa (chickpea) lentils and some are just made of urad lentils, also called black gram. So make sure you buy the kind that is made of only black gram.

PapaRdum (plural for papaR)

  1. Heat half inch of coconut oil on medium to medium high heat. The oil should not be so hot it’s smoking. Drop a piece of papaR in the oil to test for readiness. If it sizzles a lot, it is hot enough. Remove this piece immediately, as burnt pieces will leave burnt residue in the oil.
  2. Using your tongs, take hold of the tip of the papaR and submerge into the oil until it curls up. Depending on how hot the oil is and the depth of the oil, submerge it  for 2 to 10 seconds. You may have to flip over to cook both sides. Remove. Wafer can get slightly brown or not at all.

You can eat plain, with coconut chutney, tamarind chutney,  tomato chutney, mint coriander chutney, or fermented salsa!

If you live in a humid environment, papaRdum should be eaten right away; otherwise they will get soggy.

papaR about to be fried

papaR about to be fried

fried papaR

fried papaR

Dahi Vada

Dahi Vada topped with mint coriander chutney, tamarind chutney & chat masala powder

Dahi Vada topped with mint coriander chutney, tamarind chutney & chat masala powder

Dahi vada was always my favorite Indian dish when I first lived in India in the 90s. I would have it for breakfast and snack. That’s why I was really excited to learn that it is allowed on the GAPS diet! Vada refers to the sponge-like and bread-like deep-fried lentil balls. You can find the lentils at your local Indian food store. Dahi refers to the curd with which the vadas are eaten. This dish is traditionally eaten with tamarind chutney, which you can make sweetened with dates and/or honey instead of sugar. Chat masala is a delicious mix of Indian spices which you can buy ready-made at the Indian food store. Chat masala is sprinkled over the dahi vada, producing a sweet and savory dish.

My friend, Satyapriya Pillai, taught me how to make this dish.

Dahi Vada–serves 3-4

  • 1 cup white whole urad lentils, rinsed, soaked overnight
  • 1 ¼ t salt
  • Coconut oil
  • Yogurt or kefir
  • Sweet chutney, such as tamarind chutney, apple butter or fruit-based syrup appropriate for adding to pancakes (optional)
  • Chat masala (optional)

Prepare the batter

Strain most excess water from the lentils. Blend lentils and salt in blender or food processor, adding just enough water to assist the machine to blend the lentils into a paste. Transfer pasty batter to a bowl.

Fry the vadas

  1. Heat up about 3 cups pure water in a pot and set near the pot where you will be frying the vadas.
  2. Heat on medium to medium-high one inch of coconut oil in a small pot. Alternatively, you can heat up a shallow pan with little oil if you make them in the shape of little pancakes. The oil should not be so hot that it smokes. Add a small drop of the batter to the oil. The oil is hot enough if the paste sizzles. To make them in the shape of balls, wet your hand in a bowl of water to prevent it from sticking to the paste. Pick up 2 T of paste in your hand and drop into the oil. Alternatively, you can try dipping a spoon in water and using the spoon to handle the paste. Flip the vadas over to get light brown and crispy on both sides. If the vadas stick to the pot, the oil is too hot. When done, transfer vadas to pot of hot water. This fluffs up and softens the vadas to later add the yogurt. This step is optional but I like my vadas soft.
  3. The vadas can soak in the water for 10 minutes or longer. Remove vadas from water and place on towel.

Top itFeb14 036

Top about four vadas with yogurt or kefir. Add the sweet chutney and sprinkle with chat masala.

The vadas taste best on the same day, but you can also eat them the next day too.

As long as you’re going to the Indian food store and are heating up the coconut oil, I recommend also making papaRdum, which are like large chips made of urad lentils, the same type of lentils which make up vadas. These are really easy to make. They come in a package and you only deep fry them for one second! Check out this post for making papaRdum.

 

Egg and Mixed Vegetable Curry

My very good friend, Satyapriya Pillai, is an egg-celent cook. This is like an Indian vegetable curry with hard-boiled eggs added.

Egg Vegetable Curry

Feb14 007

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cashews
  • Cooking fat of choice
  • ½ cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1 carrot, sliced or cut into sticks
  • 4 mini eggplant, quartered length-wise with  tops intact, or 1 small regular-sized eggplant, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • ¼ t turmeric
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup stock or brothFeb14 001
  • 3-6 hard-boiled eggs
  1. Saute onion, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cashews. Grind in blender to make a paste.
  2. Saute the vegetables until start to soften. Add turmeric, salt, paste and stock/broth and mix.
  3. Add hard-boiled eggs. Insert a few shallow slices into each egg to allow the sauce to enter. Cover and cook on medium high for five minutes.

Eggnog

I LOVE nutmeg! If you like it fresh like I do, you can buy bags of nutmeg balls (deshelled) from IMG_0419an Indian food store. I always grate my nutmeg using a fine grater. When I made this eggnog the first time, I got a little carried away and grated more than half a seed of nutmeg. Hours later, I curiously felt slightly stoned. It turns out that nutmeg has a chemical called myristin which does, indeed, cause psychedelic effects. So, use nutmeg sparingly!

Eggnog

  • 3 cups homemade almond milk
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg—start with 1/8 t

Blend milk, bananas and nutmeg.

Eating chocolate on the GAPS diet

It is true that Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s list of foods prohibited on the GAPS list includes chocolate. However, Certified GAPS Practitioner, Ellen Dart from Colorado, stated that

If someone is doing really well I generally say introduce it at the six-month mark. On the other hand, if you have a birthday or truly special celebration I would say treat yourself, knowing it is a legal indulgence.

I consume this “chocolate” in the form of raw cacao powder, but I’m sure regular cocoa powder would be ok. Neither have added sugar or milk powder. Raw cacao powder is a superfood, with multiple times more anti-oxidants than blueberries and the highest source of magnesium among all foods.

Almond milk and milkshake

making almond milkI have been making almond milk for many years, and never tire of it! When I drink it, it feels clean in my body, similar to the feeling I get when drinking juice of dark leafy greens. It also serves as a base for milkshakes.

After pureeing the almonds with the water, it is ideal to use a nutbag to separate the almond meal (pureed almonds) from the newly made almond milk. A nutbag is a finely meshed cloth bag. (I’m sure you can find nutbags online). Alternatively, you could use a towel or cheesecloth, which you can buy at the natural food store. Or you can keep the almond meal in the newly pureed almond milk—it just settles to the bottom of the blender. It is ideal to separate out the almond meal for those who have a hard time digesting foods  because the skins are believed to be hard to digest and best removed before consumption.almond milk

Unsweetened Almond Milk—makes 3 cups

  • ½ cup almonds, soaked at least 4 hours but ideally overnight, rinsed
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 t vanilla extract (optional)*

Blend soaked almonds and water. Pour mixture through nutbag or cloth to separate the milk from the almonds. Pour the milk back into the blender, add vanilla and blend.

milkshakeVanilla & cacao almond milkshake—makes 3 cups

My favorite is Cacao Almond Milkshake. Cacao is raw chocolate. You can find the latter at the natural food store. It costs $20 a pound. See this post for more information about eating chocolate/cacao on the GAPS diet. (Interestingly, being on the GAPS diet for some time, I have no craving for chocolate like I used to…).

You can also make nut milk with any other nut or seed, including sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, cashews, pecans and walnuts.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, the creator of the GAPS program, has stated that tropical fruits should not be combined with non-tropical fruits or other foods. Thus, this almond milk does not exactly comply with the GAPS diet. However, I am ok with this.

  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 t vanilla extract* or 2 T raw cacao powder

Make the almond milk. Blend milk with bananas and vanilla or cacao powder.

* I buy my vanilla extract at the natural food store and the only ingredients are vanilla and bourbon or whiskey so I think it’s ok to use store-bought instead of making my own—but I could be wrong!

“Chai, hot chai!”

Men drink chai from biodegradable clay cups on the street in Calcutta

Men drink chai from biodegradable clay cups on the street in Calcutta

I always loved chai in my pre-GAPS days. Chai is a daily part of Indian life here. It is black tea most often made with just milk and sugar. Living in India, I am surrounded by round-the-clock chai-making—on every block, morning and afternoon chai at my office, chai at meetings, chai at the train station. But being on the GAPS diet, I have to politely decline this delicious concoction of water buffalo milk and white sugar. So I created my own GAPS-friendly chai so I won’t be excluded from the daily joy of partaking in this national custom.

This recipe is based on the raw almond milk I have been drinking for many years before starting the GAPS program. I like to make a double recipe of the concentrate at night, make one batch of chai the next day and the second batch the day after. Like almond milk, the chai should be consumed within 36 hours of making.

You can use your favorite tea—green tea, roibois or maté—or no tea at all, but I prefer black tea because it gives chai its unique taste (and dark color).

Simple chai with just black tea, milk and sugar is delicious, but I prefer to add some spices. Some may call this Masala Chai.

CHAI—makes 4 cupsFeb132013 004

  • 4 Cardamom pods (cracked open or ground in spice grinder for 5-10 seconds)*
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 4 Cloves (optional)
  • 2-inch stick cinnamon (optional)
  • 4 black peppercorns (optional)
  • 4-5 t loose black tea or 4-5 tea bags
  • 2/3 cup almonds, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • raw honey

1. CONCENTRATE

Bring to a boil 2 cups of pure water and add cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns (if using). Lower heat, cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add black tea, cover and let sit.

2. ALMOND MILK

Blend 2 cups water with almonds. Pour milk through nutbag or cloth. (You can reserve the almond meal for GAPS baking or pancakes. Look online for recipes!).

After pureeing the almonds with water, it is ideal to use a nutbag to separate the almond meal (pureed almonds) from the newly made almond milk. (I’m sure you can find nutbags online). A nutbag is a finely meshed cloth bag. Alternatively, you could use a towel or cheesecloth, which you can buy at the natural food store. Or you can keep the almond meal in the newly pureed almond milk—it just settles to the bottom of the blender. ItFeb14 009 is ideal to separate out the almond meal for those who have a hard time digesting foods because the skins are believed to be hard to digest and best removed before consumption.

3. PUT IT TOGETHER

Add almond milk to hot concentrate. Gently heat chai to no higher than 120 degrees to preserve its nutrition, or chill in your fridge. Add honey to taste.

* If you don’t have a spice grinder, just break open the cardamom pods by laying the flat side of your knife on top of them and slamming the side of your fist onto the knife (like you would with garlic pods)