Last Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited as a guest panelist on ‘Healing Our Earth’ (“Festive Vegetarian Kitchen”), a global platform designed to bring community together to heal our earth. Originating and produced in the UK, the program reaches viewers on multiple continents.
A ‘small world’ story; Seema Bhatia, an extremely talented and gifted lady from Hong Kong, now residing in UK, connected with me via Facebook and here I was!
I am extremely grateful to Seema (host), as I had an incredible time on the show watching, engaging, and learning from the very artistic ladies, Seema, Hasmita and Alisha, who were all dressed up in the festive colors of Christmas adorned with Santa hats, to bring us great joy and cheer!
The Healing Our Earth Team
Dr. Honey Kalaria, a celebrity artist, with a charismatic personality, a philanthropist with a contagious and charming smile, a woman with a heart called to serve by providing education and training for students in creative arts.
Dr. Kalaria indulged me the opportunity to share about my new book, Seva: The Art of Hospitality, my background, process, and unique experiences.
Nil Kumar, founder, producer and dedicated director, the genius behind the scenes, delivered yet another session, www.healingourearth.com , counting to 108 productions in the span of seventeen months.
Let’s Get Cooking
~ Seema Bhatia; Thai Mango Salad topped with Idlis, Tofu Basil Lettuce Wraps, Green Thai Curry, Kaffir Lime Infused Cranberry Rice.
Seema brought out her large platter laden with produce of the most vibrant colors stemming from limes, lettuce leaves, basil, kaffir, mint, lemon grass, lemons and finally the small, thin, pointy, red bird’s eye chili with a Scoville Heat that ranges from 50,000 to 1000,000 units!
The authentic influences of travel, trade, culture, and availability were all packed in here.
I closed my eyes for seconds and visualized the colorful, bustling, Floating Markets of Bangkok-Thailand, otherwise known as “Venice of the East”. Possibly a great novelty for tourists now.
I was mesmerized to watch how the ladies had collaborated, bringing in the holiday colors via Asian nuances and spices to complement and assimilate the traditional recipes with a touch of vegetarian/vegan genre to include a global audience.
To quote Seema from her article “Let’s talk about spice baby” :
“Spices are jam packed with healing power! Ayurveda celebrates them extensively as one of the most important ingredients to kindle our digestive fire, which is essential for proper digestion. Use them liberally…”
Hasmita Solanki, Festive Asian Fusion:
Mulled Wine, Idli, Spicy Tiramisu
Hasmita elaborated on the use of the mulling spices which are homogenous to those used for Chai, Indian Tea. Spices utilized and attributes; cloves and star anise (high in antioxidants), ginger (helps with indigestion, medicinal properties), whole black peppercorns (anti-inflammatory properties), organic cinnamon (reduces oxidative stress), garnished with cranberries (high nutrient, improves immune function), and sliced orange (protects cells, helps to absorb iron, high in vitamins and minerals).
A wintery, simmered infusion of flavors both aromatic and medicinal. A timeless holiday beverage that perfumes your home and welcomes your guests with great warmth.
Hasmita’s choice of introducing Idli’s made me beam with delight. The soft, white, pillowy steamed bun-like cakes made from a batter of lentil (urad dal) and rice. A traditional dish from Indian subcontinent.
These were conveyed to another level when Seema extracted them from the steaming mold with ease and mounded them on top of her Thai Mango Salad, drum roll……and the final garnish with the umami-flavored dressing, (soy, lime juice, jaggery which is packed with nutrients and offers the lowest glycemic index) drizzled on top of the cakes.
A true marvel, monumental and inspiring culmination of a global recipe! A complete meal by itself, Thai Mango Salad with Idlis.
Hasmita’s Tiramisu, dexterously assembled in minutes with chocolate and spice, oh so nice!
Green and red embellishment on top of the white fluffy whipped mascarpone with the addition of a Ladyfinger biscuit dipped in the spicy melted chocolate and propped into the final plating, completed the grand finale of a Global Christmas Dessert.
Cayenne and Chocolate:
– indigenous to Central America and Mexico, proven to be a perfect pairing
– addition of chili powder to chocolate imparts intensity to this fuse
– most satisfying indulgence when combining a rich dark chocolate and or semi-sweet cocoa powder
– Spices that work well with dark chocolate, pink peppercorns, paprika, cayenne pepper & black pepper, sea salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. Most of the these enhance the boldness and smokiness, accentuating the bitterness of the chocolate without silencing the sweetness.
It reminds me of my chocolate mole I developed some twenty years ago when I first moved to California. The ambrosial sweet and spicy scent would fill the kitchen on a cold winter day and usually bring my neighbor and her dog knocking at my door.
Mushroom & Leek Pie
Alisha showcased a classic French recipe with a delicate twist. She demonstrated her version of a much lighter and healthier recipe with a single top crust only and kept it vegan.
With just a handful of two varieties of the omnipresent mushrooms; creminis, and oyster with the inclusion of alliums, in this case leeks and shallots.
As the sautéed mixture cooked down to yield a creamy filling for her pie, Alisha spoke on “Food as Medicine”, “Mindfulness”, “Gut Health” and clearly articulated the attributes of the vegetative organisms of fungi.
The final outcome of this dish; a flaky pastry with a creamy filling. An easy vegan recipe to emulate especially with the elimination of the process of blind baking for the bottom crust.
The humble pie has been put on a pedestal!
The ultimate fungi:
– a rich wellspring of food
– an excellent origin of vitamins and minerals, substantial in dietary fiber
– identified to provide resplendent umami flavors due to the presence of glutamate, which is found in meat and fish
– often substituted for meat though it is neither meat nor plant
– has been used as medicine for healing and cleansing for many years
For recipes: www.healingourearth.com
Building a Global Community
From my book, Seva: The Art of Hospitality, ‘the person who seizes an opportunity to serve and performs it beyond the expectations of the recipient; this is who I refer to as a seva-leader. These are the people who separate themselves through selflessness, thoughtfulness, attentiveness. It is where the service performed transcends the act itself; where an authentic connection is made purely out of care for the other. They lead simply by the way in which they give.’
My experience with the team at Healing Our Earth was one of seva-community. Leaders coming around to serve in the area in which they were best equipped.
This energetic and hard working organization has set about seeking to make the world a better place, simply by taking part, sharing what they know; and for no immediate personal gain.
It is when we recognize that inclusivity and solidarity go hand-in-hand, then we attract like-minded people who are ready to serve alongside us. It is during these times that we learn to welcome and trust each other’s talents and gifts. We learn to collaborate and teamwork before we go out and deliver to our community.
This was my experience and it felt special. The joy we receive from seva, the people we can touch together is magnified and we want to deliver in excellence. Dedication, service, caring and giving without expecting anything in return.
Thank you to all the friends I met at Healing Our Earth. Your positive and motivating spirits, inspired me!
Merry Christmas to all my friends and family. May there be much cheer in your lives.
May God’s peace, joy and the true spirit of Christmas be with you all!