In Winter the air is dry, cold, clear and light. Most vegetation is storing energy in its roots, protected from the harsh winds of the season.
We put on hats, boots and gloves to keep our extremities warm. The digestive fire accumulates in our core in cold weather, and this furnace is at it’s best to digest and metabolize healthy fates and proteins to generate heat.
Ayurveda suggests enjoying hearty, nutrient dense foods that draw energy in and down like oily nuts, sweet root vegetables, cooked fruits, warming spices and ghee. All to keep you feeling centered and bright!
Warming Tomato Dal
While red lentils and tomatoes together are primarily a heating combo, this dish also satisfies the pungent, sour qualities we crave in winter. The bright colors—yellow, green, and red—are a welcome sight in deep winter. Balance the heating qualities of the dal by serving it over a sweet grain, such as basmati rice, or with a sprouted wheat tortilla.
4 cups water
1 cup red lentils
1 tbsp Winter Spice Mix (see below)
2 whole fresh tomatoes or one
16-oz can whole tomatoes, chopped (reserve juice)
2 leaves lacinato kale
1 tbsp ghee
½ tsp cumin seeds (optional)
½ tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp salt
In a large saucepan, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear. Add the lentils to the water along with the spice mix.
In a separate, small pot, parboil the whole fresh tomatoes, stem and all, in water for 4–5 minutes. Pull out with a slotted spoon and cool them until you can slide the skins off. Discard the skins, coarsely chop the tomatoes, and add to the dal. If you are using canned tomatoes, add the tomatoes and their juice to the dal. Bring to a boil again, then turn heat down to low and simmer, uncovered until dal is tender. Set a timer for 30 minutes, then slice the kale leaves into thin ribbons and add to the pot. Continue to simmer, partially covered, until the timer hits 30 minutes. Let the dal simmer on low while you warm the ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat and sauté the cumin and mustard seeds until you can smell them, just 2–3 minutes. If the mustard seeds are jumping out, cover the pan.
Add the spiced ghee and the salt to the lentils and boil, uncovered, 5 minutes more.
Stir and serve in 4 wide bowls with rice or tortillas.
NOTE: This recipe also works great in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Red lentils don’t need to be soaked overnight, although any dal will be creamier if you do soak the legumes.
Winter Spice Mix:
1tbsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dehydrated sugarcane
1tsp ginger powder
1tsp black pepper
Mix and store in a small, sealed container. Can use coriander and cumin seeds, pan toasted and ground.
Tomato skins are difficult for some people to digest and contain more acid than the inside of the tomato—making skins a potential irritant. Parboiling tomatoes to remove their skins is the traditional method in India, where there are many tomato dishes. Removal of skin creates a milder dish, one that’s easier on the gut and also nicer to look at, as there will be no floating pieces of skin.
Canned tomatoes, though convenient, will not have the vitality of fresh ones. However, if you put the energy into growing and canning your own, you are likely to feel great eating them, thanks to the prana and sattva fresh food provides.
From The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook by Kate O’Donnell, © 2015 by Kate O’Donnell. Photographs © 2015 by Cara Brostrom. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, MA. shambhala.com