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April 24, 2008

Nuts about nuts

It all started with palaver, an African stew made with ground egusi seeds, leafy greens and vegies, served with chunks of meat or fish. Then I realised every country in the world makes food from toasted and ground nuts or seeds. Think satay from Indonesia or pesto from Italy or chestnut paste from France.

One of my favourite variations in an almond casserole my mum used to cook. Soak almonds overnight, slip off their skins then grind them. Make almond milk and then use the almond milk to make a bechamel sauce. Pour this sauce over steamed vegies, which you can then bake for awhile, or just serve straight up with rice or bread.

So back to the palaver. Roast and grind pumpkin seeds (assuming you can't get egusi seeds) with some raw onion, coriander powder and cumin powder to make a paste. Fry the paste in some ghee, then add some chunky vegies. Cover the base of the saucepan with water and simmer, covered till the vegies are soft. Add finely chopped spinach and more water if needed. Traditionally served with yam.

So, get creative, thicken sauces with flour, mashed vegies or eggplant. Try using walnuts, sesame seeds, pine nuts or hazelnuts. Add different vegies, and serve with different grains. Nuts are quite heavy, so a closed handful should be enough for one person, and spice them well. All nuts and seeds are good for Vata. Pita does best with skinned almonds, and should avoid cashews and peanuts because they are too hot. Kapha suits lighter sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.


Kumudha said...

Great post!

I love nuts. Nuts are brimming with loads of nutrition.

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia,
Do you have any info on the doshic qualities of the essential minerals (iron, magnesium, etc)? I am asking this because I always find it very problematic to consume the daily prescribed amount of iron (for ex. molasses) because I'm a pitta person. I usually break out with pimples on my face after regular consumption of iron rich foods. So how should each person manage the intake of various minerals based on his/her constitution?
Thank you very much.

Julia said...

Your absolutely right, some good sources of iron like molasses, spinach and tahini are much too hot and heavy for pita. Pita most commonly suffers from anemia due to it's presence in the liver.

Almonds (soaked and peeled), dates, figs, sultanas, red grapes, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are all pita friendly and iron-rich foods. But tonification of the liver must accompany an iron rich diet or the liver will not be able to absorb the iron. Iron is very difficult to digest and vegetarian sources are even more difficult.

If you are interested, Amadea Morningstar has studies both western and Ayurvedic nutrition. "The Ayurvedic Cookbook" has a appendix which lists various vitamins and minerals and their affects on the dosha.