Tag Archives: vegetarian

India Journal: Visit to Pure Ghee Textile Designs

Ghee, clarified buffalo or cow butter, is the essential cooking and flavoring oil in India. Ghee also has religious significance and is used at life cycle celebrations throughout the country. It is highly nutritious and is part of the ayurvedic system, which forms the basis of spirituality, food, and health.

Eating with one's hands, to become one with the food.

Eating with one’s hands, to become one with the food.

One could say that ghee is the foundation of Indian life and culture, just as the tortilla is elemental to Mexico. I would venture to say that Aditi Prakash carefully chose the brand name Pure Ghee for the textile design company she started seven years ago to connect what she makes to what is second nature here. Elemental. Essential. Necessary.

Trademark cloth flowers embellish zipper pulls on scrap fabric bag

Trademark cloth flowers embellish zipper pulls on scrap fabric bag

Aditi employs women who are migrants, takes them off the street, trains them in sewing skills and gives them employment. Women sew. Men complete the finish work, led by a master tailor from the neighborhood, who supervises the apprentices. There are two levels of quality control and each product is nearly perfect, just like ghee.

Pure Ghee staff member who oversees quality control

Pure Ghee staff member who oversees quality control

Aditi invited Nidhi and me to her home for a simple Indian vegetarian lunch, to see her workshop studio, so I could learn about the processes and products, and meet the staff who make the bags and accessories that make their way to shops and boutiques throughout the country.

Master tailor finishes edges of new bag design.

Master tailor finishes edges of new bag design.

First, let’s talk about lunch.

Aditi says she uses turmeric in everything. Nidhi echoes this. Turmeric has antiseptic healing powers they say. They add it to yellow lentils with salt and cook the lentils in a stove top pressure cooker for about 30 minutes.

Ghee, chili mustard and curry leaves simmer on stovetop

Ghee, chili mustard and curry leaves simmer on stovetop

In a separate spoon with very large bowl, Aditi combines about 1/4 c. ghee, fresh curry leaves, red chilis from her home state of Hyderabad, cumin and mustard seed. The bowl of the spoon goes over the gas burner until the mixture simmers and cooks, coming to a low boil.

Aditi serves lentil soup in small bowls, a garnish to rice and vegetables

Aditi serves lentil soup in small bowls, a garnish to rice and vegetables

This is added to the lentils, that now has the consistency of a thick soup.

In another cooking pot is potatoes, cauliflower and peas.

Food is ayurvedic, Aditi says. Nidhi adds that cooking is not written down but passed through the generations as part of the cultural tradition. She learned from her mother. Both are independent, creative women who prepare vegetarian meals in the Hindu tradition daily for their husbands.

Silk-cotton draw string bags worn with the sari

Silk-cotton draw string bags worn with the sari for evenings, weddings

Homemade roti, a whole grain flat bread that looks like a tortilla (they both make this from scratch), and brown rice are served as a base for the lentils and vegetable medley. Everyone uses shallow metal plates that look like a cake pan.

Aditi Prakash in her showroom. People find us, she says.

Aditi Prakash in her showroom. People find us, she says.

We eat with the fingers of our right hand, important to bring the five elements from table to body, in complete circle of life and sustenance.

Traditional plaque in Aditi's home.

Traditional plaque in Aditi’s home.

Aditi’s husband is a filmmaker. Both work from home and they built a three-level workspace where each has dominion. Aditi supports craft artisans from throughout India and as an industrial designer, has helped many refine their products to bring to the marketplace.

Bag patterns hang in small workshop space

Bag patterns hang in small workshop space

After lunch and a modest shopping spree (thank goodness Pure Ghee accepts credit cards), the three of us went off to the Nature Bazaar, a cooperative of crafts-people and textile artists from throughout the country.

Artist Nidhi Khurana, New Delhi, November 2016

Artist Nidhi Khurana, New Delhi, November 2016

Aditi says this has one of the best selections in all of Delhi, with very fair prices. It is off-the-beaten-path for tourists but well worth the visit. For me, it will need several hours. There are textiles, lengths of cloth by the meter, paintings and drawings, folk art, brass bells, sari, indigo and Khadi clothing, jewelry from Afghanistan.

Pure Ghee workshop in action

Pure Ghee workshop in action

If you haven’t noticed, India is about color, texture and sound. It is about silk, cotton and the resurgence of tradition. Both Nidhi and Aditi say that the sari is standard daily dress for women.

Lunch preparation, a vegetarian Hindu meal accompanied by Hyerabad mango pickle.

Lunch preparation, a vegetarian Hindu meal with Hyderabad mango pickle.

I’m going back to Nature Bazaar today. There are over 100 vendors with central payment stations. And, yes, credit cards accepted. Perfect for the cash crisis in play now. I’ll be writing more about this. Perhaps tomorrow.

Sneak preview of Nature Bazaar: piles of indigo and block prints

Sneak preview of Nature Bazaar: piles of indigo and block prints




Higadito, Oaxaca Scrambled Egg Soup — Vegetarian Recipe

A traditional fiesta breakfast dish here in Oaxaca, Mexico is called Higadito — scrambled egg soup. It is always served at banquet breakfasts for weddings, baptisms, birthday parties and any other big family celebration. On Sundays, when I go to the Tlacolula Market and have lunch at Comedor Mary, it is a staple on the menu. (If you are here for the Oaxaca Film Festival, today is market day.)

MushroomEggSoupTraditionally in Oaxaca, the base is chicken soup with bits of chicken mixed into the scrambled egg. It is flavored with salt, chiles, onion and garlic.

Sound familiar? A variation of egg drop soup, perhaps.

Last week I was having breakfast with my friend Janet at Boulanc, the European-style bakery on Calle Porfirio Diaz (between Morelos and Matamoros), when a woman from the campo walked in carrying a big bag of wild mushrooms, offering them for sale.

The wild mushrooms here are called hongos and are different from cultivated mushrooms, called champiñones. The bag she was carrying was huge and she was selling a pint size container for 20 pesos, three for 50 pesos. At the current exchange rate 50 pesos equals about $3 USD. (It’s a very good time to visit Mexico!) So, I loaded up with the idea I’d figure out what to do with them. And, I did.

Vegetarian Wild Mushroom-Garbanzo Scrambled Egg Soup

  • Soak 1-2 pints of whole, small wild mushrooms in warm water for 10 minutes. Rinse.
  • Put into 4 qt. saucepan, cover with 6 cups water, bring to simmer.
  • Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes until mushrooms are soft.
  • In a separate bowl, add 1/2 c. roasted, ground garbanzo bean flour to 1-2 c. water. Stir until dissolved. Add to mushroom water.
  • Bring back to simmer.
  • In a frying pan, sautée 1 medium size onion, chopped, 4 cloves of garlic, chopped in 3 T. olive oil until glazed
  • Scramble 4-6 eggs in onion-garlic mix, adding oil as needed.
  • Add mixture to soup.
  • The garbanzo bean paste will thicken as it cooks. Add water for the consistency you prefer.
  • Season to taste with sea salt and Chile Pasilla paste.
  • Serve hot with tortillas or crusty whole grain bread.

Optional: I had a lot of matzo leftover from Passover, so I crumbled one whole cracker into the soup to thicken it. Mexican-Jewish Food Fusion.  You could use crispy tortillas, too. Do you know about restaurant Toloache?

Enjoy! Buen provecho!

Wild Blue Hongos from Estado de Mexico

Wild Blue Hongos from Estado de Mexico

Soup Kitchen With a Bite: Vegetarian Leek and Potato Soup

Friends are coming to dinner tonight.  The pond is frozen and it’s a chilly 23 degrees in North Carolina.  In four weeks, I’ll be back in Oaxaca.  Meantime, it’s supposed to snow on Tuesday!  I wanted to prepare a delicious, healthy, warming soup tonight to serve in mugs, no spoons needed, as a first course while we sit in front of the fire, sip wine and catch up.

I looked around the kitchen and in the mud room.  Stephen has stored the organic Yukon Gold potatoes he dug up in the fall in a galvanized bin tucked under the laundry tub.  There, I found the last of them.  Along with the potatoes I had two aging leeks.  From that, I went to the cutting block.

Norma's Spicy Leek & Potato Soup: Total Vegetarian!

The potatoes add body; the carrots add color; the garlic and leeks add a savory goodness; the cayenne and turmeric add bite; the honey adds sweetness.  Enjoy!


6 small white potatoes, skins on, cleaned and boiled whole until soft

2 medium leeks, cleaned, diced

3 carrots, peeled, thin sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled, whole

1/4 c. olive oil (EVOO)

2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. red cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. dried basil (we grow ours in summer, dry it and store it)

1/4 c. honey

6 cups water

Add olive oil to a 4 quart stainless steel or anodized aluminum sauce pan and heat until hot.  Add garlic, leeks and carrots.  Sautee until tender on medium heat until soft and glazed, stirring periodically so that veggies cook evenly.  Add whole cooked potatoes and stir.  Add 2 cups of water to the mixture and stir to deglaze the pan.  Put all ingredients into a food processor.  Add salt, pepper, herbs and spices.  Process on high heat until smooth.  Add honey.  Process for 30 seconds.  Add water slowly to thin to the consistency of heavy cream.  Taste.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.

Serves 6.


Soup Kitchen: Oaxaca Spicy Sopa de Garbanzo (Chickpea Soup)

We eat this delicious, rich and creamy soup at the home of our friends in Teotitlan del Valle.   Dolores, Federico’s wife, prepares it periodically for cena (late supper) accompanied by quesadillas.  With a cerveza (preferably Indio) we are in heaven.  At Las Granadas Bed and Breakfast, Josefina makes it for comida (lunch) as a first course served before the rice, beans and tamales.   I was reminded of it being one of my favorites this week when my friend and neighbor Kat brought a version to our women’s book club.  I’ve adapted here.

When finished, it should have the consistency of heavy cream.  But, no cream added!

Sopa de Garbanzo (Chickpea Soup)


2-1/2 lbs. dried organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

6 quarts water

1/4 cup olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, minced

1 T. dried red pepper flakes

1 large dried pasilla chile pepper, stemmed

1 stalk fresh rosemary or 2 t. dried whole rosemary

Juice of  2 large lemons

1 T. salt or more depending on taste

Optional:  1 cup chicken broth


8 quart stock pot, stainless steel (not aluminum)

10″ frying or sautee pan

Cuisinart or blender

Mixing bowl

Slotted spoon, long-handled wood spoon, soup ladle


Put dried garbanzo beans into stock pot.  Cover with water.  Bring to simmer, cover and continue cooking for 2-3 hours.  Note of caution: These beans take a LONG TIME to cook.  Leave yourself enough time.  I started cooking them in the evening, then turned by bean pot off and let them stand overnight.

Two-and-a-half pounds (+/-) of organic garbanzo beans cost me $1.79 per pound and the total cost came to $4.68.  If you are in a hurry, you can substitute pre-cooked and canned beans.

In a sautee pan, heat the olive oil over low heat.  Add pepper flakes, garlic, and dried pasilla chile pepper including seeds, breaking the chile into pieces as you add it.  I have fresh rosemary growing outside my kitchen door, so I just go out and snip off a stalk.  I added the whole stalk (about 8″ long).  You can use dried whole rosemary.  Turn burner up to medium.  Sautee peppery mixture until the garlic is just slightly browned and the pepper softens.

(Note about PASILLA: Also known as the chile negro. Literally “little raisin,” the pasilla is a dried chilaca chile. There is some confusion over the name of this chile in California and northern Mexico, the fresh poblano and its dried forms, the ancho and mulato, are referred to (mistakenly) as pasillas.)

In batches:  Remove cooked garbanzo beans with the slotted spoon and add to food processor or blender with enough of the liquid from the cooking broth to cover.  Add sauteed pepper mix.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into stock pot.  Continue procedure until all the beans and broth are blended.  Stir all mixture very well.  Add lemon juice and salt to taste.  Optional:  Add chicken broth for a richer flavor (of course, this alters the “vegetarian” state of the soup).

Yield:  8 quarts of soup.  Enough to eat all weekend, freeze, hold a potluck or give away!