potato

wake up tea

Alu Paratha with Lemon Achar

Every morning that we were trekking in the Himalaya, we were woken up with hot tea brought to our tent; if that one action doesn’t set the scene for how much we loved being in India, I don’t know what could. Beyond stating over and over again how extraordinary the magnitude of the Himalayas is, and how I tried to find new spaces in my head and heart to cram it all in, I really can’t find a way to wrap words around the experience. It was as though every spiritual teaching I have ever happened upon, all the beautiful passages of poetry, every minute of yoga practice, and all the meditation I have ever sat in, all met in a point of singularity, and what really, really blew my mind was how they all just fell away, in an instant. And there I was breathing and walking. Breathing and walking became the most incredible things. Stuff I’d be doing, let’s face it,  for quite sometime now, these everyday things, all of a sudden became truly sacred. And that’s pretty much how it played out, from one moment to the next, so overwhelmed with the beauty of breathing and walking in surroundings that asked nothing more or less of me. Insane levels of peace right there. Wake up tea indeed. And that’s before we found ourselves sitting in the kitchen of an 1100 year old Buddhist monastery. Crazy beautiful.

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And of course there’s so much more, there always is. And it’s still coming, even now that we’re home. I love that. And Alu Paratha, I love Alu Paratha. If there was a quintessential meal for me while we were in India, it was Alu Paratha, with Achar (pickle) and chai. So good. It’s our new Sunday brunch now that we’re back, and if the Gayatri Mantra is loud enough in the background, it just about tastes like the real thing – only with Spelt Flour, Vegan Butter and Almond Milk. Here’s our rendition of the originals if you’d like to create your own Little (Vegan) India.

Lemon Achar (Pickle)

The lemon achar will need to be made a few weeks before hand to allow the skins of the lemon quarters to soften, this is when you’ll know it’s ready.

1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds

1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3-4 strands of saffron

1 small dried chilli

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt 

4 organic lemons

300 ml mustard seed oil

Lightly dry roast the spices in a pan until fragrant and popping, then add the salt and saffron and roughly crush in a mortar and pestle.

Cut the lemons in quarters and remove the pips. Put in a bowl and stir the spices through to coat the lemon quarters. Put the quarters into sterilised jars, stacking the fruit as you would for preserved lemons.

Gently heat the mustard oil in a pan until it is hot, but not smoking. Add the small chilli into the jar and pour the hot oil over the lemons. Make the jar airtight and leave for at least a week until the lemon skins have softened, again in the same way preserved lemons do.

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 Alu Paratha

For the paratha:

1 cup organic spelt flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

2 tablespoons organic coconut oil

For the alu:

2 organic potatoes

1 tablespoon organic coconut oil

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Boil the potatoes, drain and cool. Mash together with the spices, salt and lemon juice.

Mix the spelt flour with the salt and rub in the coconut oil. Slowly add the water until you have a workable dough.

 Split the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece out to about 1/2 cm thick. Place a tablespoon of the potato mix in the centre of each and fold the edges of the dough over the potato like you were wrapping a present.  Turn the dough over and gently roll out as thinly as possible to spread the potato mix throughout the bread, but trying not to break the dough and let the potato bust through. This can take a little practice!

Heat a flat grill plate and cook each paratha until golden, flipping halfway through the cooking time to cook both sides evenly.

Serve with lemon achar and chai.

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all season garden pass

Cavolo Nero, Potato, Leek & Tarragon Soup

At this time of year, we’re pretty much living on the bounty between our garden and the Farmer’s Market, which when I think about it is in essence the same as our garden. Isn’t that the brilliant thing about Farmer’s Markets? They’re essentially like having an AAA pass to lots of different veggie patches beyond your own; patches that grow produce as you would, and provide produce that tastes like you’ve just picked it yourself. I really love that, because not all of us can grow everything at the same time in our own gardens, but all together we can grow everything at the same time. Oh God, someone save me sounding like a tourism ad!

It’s just that I never want to fall into the trap of comparing the Farmer’s Market to a supermarket. It’s an entirely different creature, made up of gardeners who are willing to share a portion of the 6-8 organic broccoli they may have in their garden, some of the season’s first pick of tarragon, or olive oil that has been pressed only 1 day ago –  pack it in their car, drive it to a shed somewhere, unpack it, put a beautiful handwritten sign with it and stand behind a trestle waiting to tell you about it should you ask. If I think about it too deeply it makes me want to pay $45 per head of broccoli and even then I’d feel like I came out the victor in the exchange.

My brain’s been fairly firmly entrenched in market-land of late, with our ongoing Saturday morning ‘shop’ at the Barossa Farmer’s Market being joined by a stint at the very first Full Moon Farm Gate last Saturday night. Just when you think your appreciation for those masters of the handmade and homegrown couldn’t be any greater, a hot mug of locally wildcrafted saffron soup is being placed into your hands, and you’re well aware your belly’s not the only thing feeling full from the offer. It’s an incredible thing to be able to give thanks in person to those who sustain the community you live in. Full hearted thanks.

This soup is a combination of Syd’s potatoes, Thatch’s tarragon, Al’s leeks, Amelie’s limes and our cavalo nero. And there you have another reason to love Farmer’s Markets – first name basis with those who are busy growing food for you. Love it.

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Cavolo Nero, Potato, Leek & Tarragon Soup

serves 4

 

1 bunch organic cavalo nero, roughly chopped

4-5 russet potatoes, cut into 1.5cm cubes

3-4 organic pencil leeks, chopped into 1cm rounds

1 generous handful organic tarragon, chopped

1 litre organic vegetable stock

2 tbsp organic virgin coconut oil

Squeeze of fresh organic lime

Himalayan salt

Freshly ground white pepper

 

Super simple. Heat a large saucepan, add the coconut oil, leeks and potatoes. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the leeks are golden, add the cavalo nero, stir for a further 2 minutes and then cover with the vegetable stock. Let the soup come to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat, season to taste and add the tarragon and lime juice just before serving.

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arrrggghh. busy!

Potato Bake with Fennel Seeds & Black Salt

Running a small business can seem really large sometimes!

Thank goodness for a garden stocked with potatoes, onions and fennel seeds, and Caroline Marie Dupont’s beautiful book ‘Enlightened Eating’. Life saving combination. And comfort food to boot… Potato bake gets healthy.

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Potato Bake with Fennel Seeds & Black Salt

completely inspired by Enlightened Eating

 

1 cup organic raw cashews

4 cups water

2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes

1 medium organic onion

1 Tbs fennel seeds, lightly toasted

1 Tbs arrowroot powder

1 Tbs black salt flakes

1 organic bay leaf

5-6 large organic potatoes, sliced (I used red russet because that’s what I dug up!)

 

Pre heat oven to 180C.

 

Make the ‘white sauce’ by blending the cashews in a food processor until smooth. Add the water and blitz to mix. Then add the onion, fennel seeds and arrowroot, and blend one last time.

 

Pour the cashew mix into a saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens. Remove from heat.

 

Spread a layer of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish, then alternate the sliced potatoes and sauce until you fill the casserole, finishing with the cashew mix on top. Tuck the bay leaf under the top layer of sauce.

 

Sprinkle with black salt flakes (or any other salt you like) and a few extra fennel seeds, cover and bake for 35-40 minutes then remove the cover and continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on top. The final cooking time will depend on what type of potato you use.

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