Soothing Golden-Coconut Dhal
Hi everyone! Happy FRIDAY!
I’m here with a very special recipe today. If you’re like me, weekend is a welcome pump on the breaks: a time to let go, eat good food, catch up with good friends and to do things that truly bring pleasure to my heart. So, I figured, what better way to bring in the weekend ‘slowing-down & nurture’ focus than with an immensely soothing Dhal recipe.
This recipe symbolizes a lot for me. It symbolizes a great turning point in my healing journey within (and without). I have never been a big fan of curries or foods that are so “dense” – I’ve always leaned more towards the lighter, raw foods. However, this past Winter was a very cold one for me. Emotionally and physically.
I have never felt so imbalanced in all of my life: from light-headedness, chronic stomach problems that often left me in total pain and without any appetite (which consequently resulted in quite a steady and big weight loss experience this year which resulted in very little energy for expending energy beyond ‘survival’ mode), constantly being/feeling cold and immense mental imbalance (anxiety, depression, immense stress, fatigue, brain fog, etc.) Essentially, all of the classic symptoms of a Vata imbalance for those Ayurvedic bunnies out there. ALAS, through all this struggle and challenge I have LEARNT SO MUCH. It has re-ignited my faith & trust in the beautiful process and unfolding of ones’ life journey. And so a deep trust in me has re-emerged that when one is faced with challenges, to meet them with a curious and open heart (even if it doesn’t feel so open sometimes!), allows the challenges to become the channel through which a deep expansion, growth, healing and unfolding occurs. In this way, challenge can become one of the best ways to bring you onto a clearer engagement with your individual dharma path or life journey/purpose.
The last few years, but particularly the last few months have been an immense, deep and truly intricate healing journey for me. What I have noticed now however, is that it has moved from a more gross/macro healing to a very subtle, deeply penetrating healing. Hence why the last few months have been so intense for me: I have confronted limiting beliefs, I have begun to let go of conditioned ways of engaging with my reality and I have truly faced and worked with some of the patterns and parts of myself that have been shouting for some loving attentiveness. This, to me, is the “internal work”. The work that comes with a deep commitment and dedication to growth and expansion of consciousness. It’s not always pretty. In fact, a lot of the time (especially when you are in the midst of the confrontation process between the self and the Self) it is quite messy, uncomfortable, hard, challenging, isolating and very exposing. You feel vulnerable and weak. Doubts, insecurities and major scrutiny comes along for the ride. However, when you push through and connect to that deep healed reality that is yours by the very nature of your aliveness, you begin to soften. I began to soften. All of my rigid edges of addictive patterns and voices within started to slowly melt away (and are still melting away). When you realize that you are totally worthy of caring for yourself – not only as a means of caring deeper for others, but simply to truly care for yourself as a thing in and of itself allows you to unfold to life in new and glorious ways through becoming fully receptive to yourself.
I’ve often heard people say, “with healing, it often gets worse before it gets better” and I never really understood or resonated with this. However, through my experiences of the last few years, and especially the last few months, I must concur. But often, it is through those darkest moments that you are faced so brutally with that which is limiting you from living your fullest, most authentic Self and reality. It is in those moments, where the fork in the road decisions to either crumble more or begin committing 100% to piecing back the pieces of the puzzle that is your being to become a new and expanded whole, become absolutely paramount. Those big fork in the road moments between life or death then melt into smaller everyday fork in the road moments where you navigate your agency in either feeding the “LIFE” road or the “MIFF” road (are you going to take the action that supports an expansion of and positive growth in your life or are you going to take the action in this moment that contributes to the crumbling?).
What is strength? To me, strength is courageously navigating your own vulnerabilities with a willingness and openness to consciously work with them and then to consequently move through them – realizing that your truest nature is more infinite and powerful than what the insecurities and vulnerabilities lead you to believe.
Ironically, one of the biggest turning points in my healing this year has been: releasing resistance. Releasing resistance to the addictive patterns and voices. I don’t know if you have ever dealt with an addiction, but it can be one of the most crippling things in the world. Paralyzing because there is a complete SPLIT: the you that is rational and wants to heal and shuns the addictive parts of you because it realizes that the addiction is not good and then the part of you that is totally blind and identified to the addiction. This year, I connected to a deeper part of me that suddenly held space for BOTH of those parts of myself. Instead of rejecting the addictive me, this deeper part of me suddenly said, “okay, you are here. And that is fine. I am not going to encourage you, but I will give you space and time to run your course. I will give you space and time to teach me what you need to teach me.” This was truly profound. I found that as soon as I stopped rejecting or resisting any part of myself that part (that I had been rejecting) no longer needed to fight for space or attention. It no longer felt threatened in its’ existence and so because of that I was able to move through it instead of trying to push it down and jump over it. There is that saying that goes something like, “what you resist persists”. I resonate so deeply with this. Because as soon as I stopped this rejecting of a part of my life journey and self, it began to subside. I kept in mind the importance of giving this part of myself space but with the explicit background intention of healing. The space-giving was initially hard because often I felt I was slipping back into old patterns because I wasn’t actively shunning those moments, but after a while because I gave it space, I found my need for it dissipated totally.
Some more of what I have learnt over the last few months which eventually brought me to creating this recipe:
“You teach what you must learn”. Someone once said this to me. And I frowned and said, surely that’s the other way around? Surely you teach what you have learnt? Now, I see. After being a long-time health & healing advocate who literally works with encouraging people to “listen to your intuition, eat intuitively, eat seasonally, listen to your body, go beyond mental identification, allow yourself to heal, face what needs facing etc.” I have only now started to really LIVE by this myself. And so, “you teach what you must learn”.
It has been an ongoing and beautiful unfolding process of me learning more and more about these subtle aspects of being and listening. But I finally feel I am in a really good space regarding actually embodying these principles and living by them. For example: this Winter I tried to keep eating a high raw diet because it has been the way of eating that has brought me the most vibrancy & mental space/health – it played a big role in my initial recovery from an eating disorder. However, by trying to follow this I was not listening to my body: it was mid-Winter and I needed more grounding, hearty, nourishing, “building foods”. This is one of the ways I was not supporting myself to live my most balanced state. As a result, this contributed greatly to my state of imbalance. We are very sensitive and ever dynamic creatures that need to recognize the intimate and interconnected relationship to our changing external environments and adjust how we listen and respond to our internal needs accordingly. I realized I often attached so heavily to eating a high raw diet because it was the one way of eating that made me feel the least burdened by mental addictive patterns regarding my past, so in that way it was easy because it pacified the addictive voices but didn’t truly let me connect deeply to what my body is truly asking or needing in a given moment. This then lead me to re-discovered Ayurveda – one of the healing modalities I studied at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas. I started reading more into it and making some of the recipes. Which eventually lead me to the creation of this Dhal. THIS WAS the turning point. The point where I recognized the power of this modality of healing, the power of truly listening to your body and your individual constitution and your individual and ever-changing needs in any given moment. I realized the importance of not identifying with any one way of eating or being: but to evolve with the ever evolving needs of your own being. I will be doing a separate more in-depth post about Ayurveda as I explore more into it myself. But for now, if anyone is interested in delving deeper into this ancient science of life and healing I highly recommend the book Eat Taste Heal.
I cannot explain to you the magic that happened as I ate this. My entire system responded like a puppy that had been left on the side walk had just been scooped up by a generous bystander and taken into a loving home for the first time in its’ life. My entire nervous system relaxed, my stomach issues became non-existent, my mind calmed and I felt like I was in total bliss. In that moment I realized what it means to take care and nurture yourself deeply. In that moment I realized the profundity of creating food with love and how that translates: the food becomes receptive to that love and gives it back to you ten-fold when you consume it. I felt like every single cell in my body came alive and felt WHOLE again. This sounds very dramatic, I know. But this is all 100% for real. My vata (my particular dosha) was suddenly becoming soothed and balanced, all from one meal. Food really is medicine. Food is magic. Food is a very unique and underrated healing tool, one that is so multi-dimensional.
For now, without further delay, the recipe …
- 2 yellow onions
- 2 cups red lentils
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 tin of full-fat coconut milk
- 1 heaped teaspoon of freshly ginger grated
- 2 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 600ml of water (1 and a half tins measured with the coconut milk tin)
- ½ vegetable stock cube
- 1.5 teaspoons of Himalayan salt
- 2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup of curry leaves
- 1.5-2 tsp garam masala
- Roasted cashews (optional)
1. Place a big pot on the stove with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and bring to heat. Now add in one chopped onion along with 2 chopped tomatoes. Cook it down until fragrant and the onion is translucent. Add in the fresh ginger, chili & turmeric.
2. Wash and rinse the red lentils and then add those to the pot along with the coconut milk, water & stock.
3. Bring everything to the boil and then reduce the heat to let it simmer for 15 minutes (I cooked it with the lid on for the first 10 minutes and then took the lid off for the last five minutes). After the fifteen minutes turn the heat off and move on to the next step.
4. In a small pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the other chopped onion (this time thinly sliced) and cook on high until the onion starts to really brown and caramelize. Add in the curry leaves and continue cooking. About 1-2 minutes before the onions are done, make a little well (or circle of onion-free space) in the center of the pan and add in your black mustard seeds, letting them cook and pop. Now add in the garam masala and stir. Cook for another 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Turn off the heat and now add this entire mixture into the dhal, stirring well to combine.
5. Serve with freshly cooked basmati rice for a truly soothing, nourishing bowl of goodness. Relish in its’ healing beauty. Serving suggestion: delicious topped with roasted cashews or coconut “bacon”.
I truly hope this recipe brings you as much joy & satisfaction as it did to me and my family. <3