Winter makes me want to cook, and brings out my love of warming spices.
Today I wanted rice and vegetables, and all I had in the house was a large red beet-root, and a daikon radish. So I made Beetroot and Radish Pulao, a really simple and delicious dish.
Vegetables are both medicine and food. Each and every vegetable has some kind of medicinal property, from anti-oxidant to digestive to just the value of the fiber content.
Daikon is famous in Japan for its properties as a digestive, especially raw. Beets are high in anti-oxidants.
One of the things my Indian mothers and grandmothers have taught me about mixing vegetables with rice or lentils is not to overdo it. A dish should have a particular look, and part of the aesthetic here is to complement the rice, rather than overwhelm it.
Please keep that in mind when adding vegetables like beans, peas, carrots, daikon, etc to a rice dish. I don’t use measuring cups, but I would estimate that in the end there are two to three parts rice for each part veggie.
The other thing is that Indians, especially South Indians, like to chop their veggies into small bits so that they blend well with the rice. I am a bit lazy, so I don’t tend to go as small as they do, but I still cut the beet and daikon into roughly 1/2 inch chunks, some a bit larger some a bit smaller. Another issue is that if you don’t cut them small enough in dish like this they won’t cook through by the time the rice is done.
The other two ingredients are Cinnamon bark, and Cumin seed. I like to use the dark brown rough cinnamon stick/bark from the Indian market for a dish like this, though you could use cinnamon powder. I am pretty sure what I am using is actually Cassia, not actual Cinnamon. (please see note at bottom).This dark stuff has a more intense flavor/aroma that holds up better with spices and veggies. It is different from the lighter colored smooth cinnamon you see around, which has a more subtle light flavor and aroma, great in hot cocoa. Either way both are sweet, warming, and promotes digestion.
Cumin is of course a famous digestive spice and goes so well with rice. It’s a bit “sharp” or rough, so it balances well the sweetness of the cinnamon and beet.
This dish ends up being a lovely Red colored rice from the beets. The smell of cinnamon will fill your kitchen and it was shocking just how good the cinnamon was with the beet. I guess it makes sense since beets are sweet and cinnamon goes well in sweets. Along with the cumin it keeps the beets from being cloying. And beets are a bit spicy too, not just sweet. (Just try drinking plain beet juice to see) It’s wonderful with a side dish of beans or green veggies. I had mine with Fava beans and Fenugreek Leaf Subji. and some Plain Yogurt on the side, Indian style.
White Basmati Rice around a cup
Water 2 and 1/2 cups or more
Cinnamon Bark around 4 pieces, around an inch long
Cumin Seed 1-2 tsp
Beet root chunks around 1/2 cup, maybe more.
Daikon radish chunks around 1/2 cup.
Wash the rice well. (Until the wash water runs clear) Boil water. Add all the ingredients at once. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the flame to low-medium.
I find the larger the pot I use, relative to the rice, the more fluffy the result. Pretty simple, huh?
This is a real simple home dish. No fat. No salt. (There was salt in the side dish, but when I had the left-over by itself I added a little good sea salt).
If you want to make this for guests you could sauté the spices with some onion in ghee, to bring out the flavor of the spices more.
Namaskaram and Bon Appetit!
This is a pretty Tridoshic dish, meaning it will not aggravate any of the doshas.
Vata It is certainly a Vata pacifying dish with the warm sweet spice, sweetness of rice and sweet and warm vegetables.
Pitta It could also pacify pitta as there is nothing hot here and Pitta benefits from its sweet taste. A pitta in an aggravated state might want to avoid the daikon, however, and add some cooling Cilantro on top or cooked in.
Kapha: The only issue here for Kaphas is to not overeat. Too much rice and too much sweetness aggravates the already sweet earthy watery Kapha. Though the dish is slightly sweet it is also slightly spicy, balanced by the pungency of the beet and daikon, and daikon in particular pacifies Kapha, so Kapha can enjoy it in moderation, and might want to add some black pepper. A Kapha might also cook this dish with less rice and the addition of some kidney or green beans. Good weight loss strategy, too.
Warning: It seems Cassia is high in natural Coumarin, which is a blood thinner. While small amounts could be good for some of us, if you are on blood thinning drugs, like Coumarin, please use real cinnamon, which comes from Sri Lanka (Ceylon).
Obviously, no one should eat large amounts of Cassia, but who could?
copyright eyton shalom, december 2009 all rights reserved, reprint with permission.
For more information on Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego
please go to http://new.bodymindwellnesscenter.com