Recreating What We Ate In India

Sitting on the floor in an ashram in Rishikesh taught me more about food and mindful eating than I have ever learned from the many books I’ve read. It’s quite simple when you think about it, you say your thank you’s, you acknowledge the food on your plate for a few minutes and then you eat. But living it is powerful. Chanting mantras while your food is being served in honour and reverence for all the work that went into bringing it to your plate is something we need to start integrating in Western cultures. It can take any form you feel comfortable with, whether its chanting to the gods above, or saying a silent prayer to the universe, or appreciating the farmers, the drivers and all those involved, it is all the same, it is all gratitude, it is all positive energy. 


If that is not enough, from a completely scientific point, taking time before having your first bite gets your digestive system going through the yummy smells and colours you see on your plate. The time spent showing gratitude puts you in a calm and positive mindset, which allows for a more effective digestive system (remember, it’s all linked!). When you’re calm, relaxed and present, inhaling your food is less likely, and actually paying attention to your body and how it is always communicating with you is more likely.


With all that said I want to share a few recipes that I was eager to make more my own when I got back from India with a little less oil and a little more veg. I hope you love them and if you do decide to make them I hope you give yourself a thank you for taking the time to make a yummy meal, and everyone else involved for making it possible. Namaste! 


Breakfast Cheela

We had this a few times for breakfast and it quickly became our favourite. The flavours and the veggies snuck into each cheela made it quite a healthy option to start off the day! You could definitely make this your own by adding different veggies and spices. They served it with a bowl of fruit, which I would eat first for some much needed hydration after a sweaty morning yoga class.

2 cups of water

1 chopped onion

1 chopped tomato

1 shredded carrot

Salt and pepper to taste

What you need:

2 cups besan (chickpea) flour

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp garam masala


What you do:

In a big bowl mix flour and spices.  Add water and whisk until it forms a slightly thicker pancake batter.

Fold in all other ingredients.

Heat pan to medium heat and ladle mixture on to the pan like you would a pancake.

Cook for a few minutes on both sides.

Serve with chutney and greens and anything else you desire.


Sweet Beetroot Chutney

What you need:

2 cups shredded beetroot

1 onion sliced

½- 1 green chilli (seeds removed if you want it less spicy)

3 cloves of garlic

1 large knob of ginger

2 tsp chana dal

1 ½ tsp urad dal (can replace with beluga lentils like we did)

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp fennel

1 large bunch of mint and coriander


What you do:

In a pot heat up about a tsp of coconut oil and add both chana and urad dal and let fry.

Add a bit of water after they get golden so that it doesn’t burn and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add ginger, onion and garlic, coriander and fennel and sauté until golden.

Add beetroot and cook for 20-25 minutes on low heat.

Once beetroot has softened and dal is cooked, remove from heat and add chopped mint and coriander.

Place in fridge to add to all of your meals.


Dal Mahkani

I had never thought of mixing lentils with kidney beans but it actually makes for fab combo that I might experiment with more as it packs so much good fibre and protein that will keep you full for an eternity, kind of. There is a subtle sweetness from the cinnamon and cardamom, which I love, and a nice heartiness from the tomato puree compliments it quite well.

1 large knob of ginger grated

5 cloves of garlic

2 cinnamon sticks

4 bay leaf

2 cups tomato puree

1 cup of veggie stock

1/3 cup of coconut milk (or any plant milk of your choice)

Salt and pepper to taste

What you need:

2 cups of cooked urad dal (or beluga lentils like we used)

1 cup cooked kidney beans

3 green cardamom, smashed with back of knife

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp coriander seed

1 tsp mustard seed

1 chopped onion


What you do:

Fry mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cardamom until they begin to pop and become fragrant.

Add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté.

Add pureed tomato, veggie stock, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf and legumes and bring to a boil.

Let simmer for 20-25 minutes before adding coconut milk.

Serve on quinoa, brown rice or just alongside some cheela or roti, YUM!


Tofu Palak Paneer

Ok, so we never really had palak paneer in India because well, it’s made with paneer and we never saw a tofu option on the menu. So this is a tiny act of revenge against Rishikesh and their lack of tofu. I’m not quite sure what it’s meant to taste like but this tasted quite nice so hopefully it will do for you paneer fans! I decided to use cauliflower as the main ingredient to make it nice and creamy rather than a whole can of coconut milk, making it a lighter and healthier option. But by all means, if you're not feeling the cauliflower, go ahead and add all the coconut milk you desire.

For the curry:

1 chopped onion

5 chopped garlic cloves

1 tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp turmeric

½-1 tsp garam masala

½ cup veggie stock, adding more if necessary

½ cup coconut cream

1 lemon

250g tofu, cubed*

For the puree:

250g spinach (you could also use a mixture of spinach and rocket for an extra kick)

1 green chilli

3 cloves of garlic

1 large knob of ginger

¼ cauliflower

½- 1 cup of vegetable stock




* You could marinate the tofu overnight for extra flavour with some lemon, garlic, garam masala, nooch and a splash of tamari. This will give it a yummy cheesy taste, but for the sake of keeping it as simple as possible we skipped this step in the video

What you do for the puree:

Sauté in a tiny bit of coconut oil the garlic, chilli, ginger and spinach until the spinach has begun to wilt. Don’t overcook it!

Remove from pan and add it to a blender or a nutribullet alongside the cauliflower starting with ½ a cup of veggie stock. Add more if needed, until it becomes a thick but smooth puree.

What you do for the curry:

Sauté onion and garlic until softened.

Add ginger and seeds and fry until they begin to pop and become fragrant.

Add puree to the pan alongside veggie stock, turmeric and garam masala and bring to a slight boil.

Add cubed tofu and let cook for 20 minutes before adding coconut cream.

Finish off with the juice of one lemon and serve on rice or cheela and enjoy!

Nina Montagne5 Comments