Apologies for the lack of posting here lately. I enjoyed a slow summer this year as I wrote here, fully knowing that as soon as September arrived, I would be full-swing into work-mode again, busy preparing for my Yoga and wholefoods retreat and picking up on orders and products. It seems that as soon as September arrives, peoples paces seem to instantly pick up speed. It has a nostalgic feel to it, being associated with the ‘back to school’ feeling from childhood. Summer draws to an end and we all turn our minds back to work and routine. Or that’s how it feels around here lately. I’ve actually been working on a few things that I can’t wait to share with you soon, so watch this space for more news and exciting recipes soon.
I wanted to share this post with you before the retreat, but having a full schedule of planning, shopping and preparation meant I am sharing it with you now, as I reflect from the three days spent with 12 inspiring, enthusiastic women. I wish that you could have all been there! We had planned three days of yoga, meditation, relaxation, sacred sound and nourishment all wrapped up in a beautiful retreat centre in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. I had written, tweaked, tested and visulaised a holistic menu which would reflect the changing of the seasons and utilise the abundance of Autumnal produce. I wanted to incorporate warming ayurvedic dishes with some of my trademark raw foods to create a menu which was nourishing, vibrant and wholesome. It would be all vegan, gluten free and organic, and based around what is in season and local at this time. I wanted to offer our guests the highest nutrition and easiest digestion over the weekend, and also wanted to create dishes that were achievable to re-make at home. I taught a raw-cake making workshop and also held space for lots of discussion over the weekend. One theme which was raised alot was that people generally don’t have alot of time or money to spend on expensive ingredients, so I gave lots of tips on quick and easy healthy foods to make on a budget. I’ll be turning what we shared and learned on that in a whole new post!
So although you can’t all be there with me, I thought I’d tempt you with the menu and a few of the recipes I made over the weekend. The menu from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon looked like this:
On arrival: Almond milk chai, fresh fruits and mini raw treats.
Friday supper: Ayurvedic veggie dahl served with brown rice, Cashew ‘raita’ and indian chopped salad.
Dessert: Apple and blackberry crumble with coconut whipped cream.
Saturday breakfast: Green juice. Creamy buckwheat porridge with warming spices. Mixed berry chia-jam. Raw granola. Almond and sesame milks. Fresh fruit.
Lunch: Buffet of green salad, buckwheat tabbouleh, citrus bean salad, roots ‘slaw’, hummus, cashew-cheeze, sauerkraut, sprouted mung beans, avocado and salad dressings with super-seed crackers.
Supper: Kale, pumpkin and chickpea love-pot with quinoa, salads and home-made chimichurri.
Dessert: Chai cashew cheezecake.
Sunday breakfast: Green juice/ smoothie. Creamy lemon millet porridge, berry chia-jam, raw granola, fruit salad.
Sunday lunch: Lentil and vegetable soup served with nut and seed bread and coconut-turmeric ‘butter’
On leaving: Chocolate and beetroot cake and homemade almond milk chai.
I wanted to share a recipe that feeds a crowd for you today, so I have kept with my quantities for serving 12 people in the recipe below. When cooking for larger numbers, I like to make one-pot meals as they are simple and reqire less washing up, and can easily be ramped up or down if you suddenly have extra numbers to deal with! If you are making this for just a few people, simply divide the recipe by 2 or 4 to make a generous portion for 4 or 2 people plus some leftovers.
Veggie dahl with cashew raita and Indian chopped salad
Serves 12. Dahl recipe inspired by Emmas recipe in My darling lemon thyme.
For he dahl:
600g red lentils, rinsed
6 tbsp coconut oil
3 red onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped/ crushed
3″ fresh ginger, grated
4 long red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp asafoetida powder
4 tsp turmeric powder
6 tsp cumin powder
6 tsp garam masala powder
1 handful fresh or frozen curry leaves
4 cups chopped autumn squash (butternut/ kuri squash etc) or a mixture of seasonal vegetables
In a large saucepan, place the rinsed lentils plus 12 cups water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft and have absorbed most of the water. Skim off any foam which arrises during cooking.
Whilst the lentils are cooking, heat the coconut oil in another pan then add the onions, stirring to coat well in the oil. Turn the heat down low and cover the pan, leaving the onions to sweat and caramelize for about 10 minutes, checking and stirring frequently. Once the onions have turned a nice golden colour, add the chopped garlic, ginger and chilies, cook for a few more minutes then add the spices and curry leaves. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning the spices then add the chopped vegetables. Pour the cooked lentils with their cooking liquid over the spice and vegetable mix, and stir well. Leave the dahl to cook on low for a further 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and you have a thick-soup consistency. If you need to add more liquid at this stage, add some more water or you can add coconut milk to make it even creamier. Taste the dahl and add salt to taste (I added 1/2 a tsp). The dahl can be made up to three days in advance and re-heated as needed. Serve with brown basmati, and the raita and salad.
For the cashew raita
3 cups cashews, pre-soaked for at least 4 hours
Juice of 3 limes
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
1small bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 cucumber, finely chopped
Drain the cashews and place in a blender with the lime juice, salt and garlic. Blend until smooth, adding a drizzle of water at a time if you need it to get the mixture smooth. Once smooth, scrape into a bowl and add the finely chopped herbs and cucumber. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For the Indian chopped salad
6 medium tomatoes
1 red onion (optional)
1 small bunch coriander leaves
1 small bunch mint
1/2 tsp salt
Cut the cucumber into chunks about 2cm square, transfering to a bowl. Cut the tomatoes into similar sized chunks, and finely chop the red onion if using. Cut the mango down middle, on either side of the stone so that you have two halves of the flesh. Make cuts in a checked pattern across the flesh, before turning the skin inside out and peeling the flesh away from the skin. Finely chop the coriander and mint leaves, scattering over the chopped salad and give it all a good stir. Squeeze the lime juice over the salad and sprinkle the salt. Mix well and taste for salt, adding more to taste. keep refrigerated until ready to serve
To serve, make sure that the dahl is heated through and serve in small bowls with a serving of brown rice. Add the cashew raita and chopped salad to the table.
What are your favourite warming foods at this time of year? What are your tips for cooking for a crowd?! I’d love to hear your ideas. A huge thank you to all of the ladies who attended our retreat and I can’t wait to do another one in the future. Watch this space!