Kale with Pomegranate Molasses and Cumin
One of my favorite ways to cook Kale is inspired by the classic Linguine with Broccoli that you find at Southern Italian restaurants.
Their method is really simple–olive oil, garlic, lemon, parmesan.
I take the olive oil and garlic and add to it cumin and pomegranate molasses.
Pomegranate Molasses in Cooking and in Ayurveda
I used to use a little bit of balsamic vinegar or lemon when cooking kale this way, but then I discovered pomegranate molasses and have never turned back. Cooking your green leafies with something sour is said to make the minerals in the greens like calcium more absorbable.
Vinegar, even mild balsamic, can be a little too sour for my taste. In Ayurvedic food therapy sour pacifies Vatta, but aggravates Pitta, that may be the problem, as I am a Vatta Pitta whose Pitta gets aggravated more easily than his Vatta.
Pomegranate molasses, which is used in Ottoman, Turkish, Georgian, Armenian, Iranian and Lebanese cooking is wonderful, because it is sour and astringent, but also sweet and imparts a lovely complex aroma to vegetable or meat dishes. And it puts a lovely glaze on things.
So, in Ayurveda, pomegranate molasses, because it is sweet and sour, pacifies Vatta, while its sour and astringent properties pacify Pitta. Its astringency pacifies Kapha, but Kapha types have to use a bit less than the other two doshas.
Where to Buy Pomegranate Molasses
The best quality is Cortas, from Lebanon. It can be had at any Middle Eastern market. Don’t pay more than $4.00 a bottle and you can find it for 2.50 sometimes. Here is Cortas’ retail website on the pomegranate molasses page
Kale in Western Nutrition, Ayurveda, and Chinese Medicine
Kale and the entire Brassica family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, turnip, Chinese cabbage, and many others are true super foods.
Forget about spending your hard earned pay on super expensive super foods imported from afar on giant greenhouse gas ships, Actually, have your Goji berries and Acai, sure, but don’t think they or a multi-vitamin pill are a substitute for eating fresh green cruciferous vegetables. (Brassica are also known as cruciferous, from the Latin, caulis, meaning stem)
The Science: Paraphrased from and courtesy of a footnoted Wiki article.
Because when you eat your kale and cabbage, besides their high levels of vitamin C and water soluble fiber (also a great treatment for constipation), veggies from this family contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties such as 3,3′-diindolylmethane, sulforaphane and selenium.
Brassica vegetables are also rich in indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. They are also a good source of carotenoids, with broccoli having especially high levels. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3′-diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer activity.
Key Point: And here is a nice key point, while boiling reduces the level of anticancer compounds, steaming and stir frying do not result in significant loss.
Kale in Ayurveda: Great for Kapha and Pitta, potentially aggravating to Vatta.
Some people do not eat brassica veggies because they give them too much gas. This means it is elevating their Vatta too much. Cabbages, kale, collards, can really aggravate Vatta, and excess gas is one symptom. It is worse when they are eaten raw, as all raw veggies elevate Vatta.
But you can make them much less aggravating to Vatta by countering their bitter, dry nature with warming spices, moistening oil, and the salty, sweet and sour tastes. Even just garlic, cumin, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Or Chinese style with ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce. In miso soup. In chicken soup. etc. And also don’t eat them with beans, but with things like rice or pasta or flesh foods that also pacify Vatta.
P.S. The book, The Chinese Study, http://www.amazon.com/China-Study-Comprehensive-Nutrition-Implications/dp/1932100660 goes into great detail about the value of a diet rich in plants.
In Chinese Medicine we say, “Eat rice for energy, meat for strength, and vegetables to keep your body clean.”
All you have to do is go to a Chinese restaurant and see that even the fried pork is served with bok choy. The key point this book, which is large epidemiological study, makes is about the link between low meat/high vegetable consumption and low rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. And, by the way, these are people who eat white rice, not brown.
Kale with Pomegranate Molasses and Cumin
1 small head of Kale, washed and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, more or less to taste
3/4 tsp cumin powder
A dash of salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil, less if you want
3/4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1) Place the kale in a bowl of water, shake a bit, and pull out. This way the dirt falls off into the water. Drain and chop.
2) Crush the garlic and keep the spices handy.
3) In a wok or heavy pan, heat the oil to medium high. That means it is pretty hot, but well before smoking.
4) Drop in the garlic and stir for about 20 seconds, until the garlic smell rises off the pan, but you are not about to burn it. Add the cumin, pepper and salt and stir for 15 seconds. Add the molasses, stir 10 seconds.
5) Add the kale and stir well till the leaves are well coated. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes or a little more; keep checking. You want the kale cooked, starting to shrivel, but still bright green, and well coated with the spices and molasses.
6) Serve over whole wheat pasta, soba, or rice.
Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine
This dish is warming, moist, but not damp producing, has all 6 tastes in it with an excellent amount of bitter, and is slightly heavy, but not very heavy at all.
The vegetable part is essentially Tri-Doshic and very good for all three doshas, but
especially noteworthy is how you can take a Vatta increasing vegetable and make it less so by your preparation method–warming it, softening it, moistening it, and balancing bitter with sweet and sour.
Also, as most Vattas will be either Vatta Pitta or Vatta Kapha, this dish is excellent for the other two doshas. Use less molasses for an unbalanced Kapha, drop the pepper for an unbalanced Pitta.
Having it with wheat pasta is good for Vatta and Pitta, but not Kapha. Kapha might choose a more bitter less glutinous grain if they are to be good, like Quinoa.
In Chinese medicine this is a cleansing balanced dish that nourishes the blood and builds the Qi. It is aromatic and strengthens the Spleen Qi.
copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego