The purpose of a main course is to be the highlight of any meal—just like my wife was at our wedding. Her eight bridesmaids were like the side dishes, they complemented the bride but in no way outshone her.
In French dining the main course follows an entrée or starter. In the USA and parts of Canada, however, the entrée is the main course, so it can get a bit confusing. Hors d’oeuvre is another name for a starter, meaning literally ‘apart from the main’.
At the Dru Centre we’ve unintentionally mimicked French dining and combined it with Ayurvedic principles.
I call it ‘A-la-vedic’.
Our entrée is usually a seasonal vegetable soup, fortified with lentils or barley. This is followed by the main course: a substantial high protein vegetarian dish which includes pulses, with nuts and seeds for extra protein. This is served with vegetables and a carbohydrate such as potatoes or rice.
We are one of the few British institutions that have truly embraced our European cousin’s dining habits by taking at least one hour over lunch and not feeling guilty about it. I think it has even become part of our yoga philosophy!
We also encourage the enjoyment of good company, eating slowly and really savouring the tastes.
The only thing missing is good wine. My answer to that is fresh vegetable juice. It even looks like wine if you include beetroot! It livens me up, not with inebriation, but with its natural, living, vibrant energy. It really helps to top up my feel-good hormones much better than alcohol!
The easiest way to make a main dish which contains enough protein is to simply mix pulses and grains together. In India this type of dish is called kitcheri and it is one of the staple foods in northern parts of India.
Kitcheri is a generic term for rice and pulses cooked together—cleverly making them more nutritious and easy-to-digest while providing a complete protein dish. In Ayurvedic medicine, kitcheri is used as a convalescent food.
Here are some of my great Keith-cheri recipes, so-called because they are my own variations of these classic dishes.
Mung Bean & Brown Rice Keith-cheri
This recipe involves soaking whole mung beans overnight to start them germinating—thus allowing them to cook more quickly and making them easier to digest. Both mung beans and short grain brown rice are soothing to the digestive system when well cooked, making this the most nurturing of recipes.
100 g short grain brown rice
100 g whole mung beans soaked overnight
100 ml vegetable stock or water
1 carrot diced
1 small potato peeled & diced
1 celery stick sliced
1 small leek sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 red onion finely chopped
½ tsp whole cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp ginger root grated
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated jaggery optional
salt & pepper to taste
handful fresh coriander chopped
- Drain the pre-soaked beans and place in a large pan with a good lid.
- Add the stock/water and rice, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Now add the vegetables, except for the onion. Reheat and cover.
- Simmer for another 20 minutes or until the beans, rice and vegetables are soft. Add more stock/water if it starts to dry out at any point. The consistency should be moist but not sloppy.
- In a separate saucepan, sauté the cumin and mustard seeds in the coconut oil. Once sizzling, cover the pan and wait for the mustard seeds to pop.
- Remove from the heat and wait for them to finish crackling.
- Carefully add the onion, ginger and all the powdered spices. Reheat and simmer for several minutes until the onion and spices are cooked.
- Allow it to cool. Stir the sautéed onion/spice mix into the cooked beans and rice.
- Reheat and season to taste. Add the lemon juice and jaggery.
- Garnish with the fresh coriander.
Categories: Plant-based Cooking & Recipes