Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cleansing Sunday Dinner


  1. Mixed Heirloom Tomato & Carrot Peel Chutney w/ Braised Tofu on Rice Crackers (Appetizer)
  2. Cauliflower and Garbanzo Bean Flour Kefta in Tomato and Onion Sauce (Main Course)

The Diet Direction: Cleansing

  • % Calories from Fat = 20%
  • % Calories from Carbohydrates = 63%
  • % Calories from Protein = 17%

The Experience:

Learning from last cooking experience, I decided to get an early start this time – and it really paid off well! I arranged to go to the grocery store in the early afternoon and get the shopping experience out of the way. That left me several hours to do a slow and careful “mise en place” preparation. Given that the main dish would require two separate preparations that would need to be combined later on, I started putting together all the kefta ingredients together in a bowl, while getting the sauce going on the stove as well. The idea was, I might as well get the sauce and other items done first and set them aside and warm, increasing the heat just slightly before serving.

I wanted to make kefta balls, but I didn’t want to use anything too heavy. So the sauce became the heavier part of the dish, and the keftas light and moist. I had some challenges getting the right consistency, but after some careful trial and error, and adding water slowly (that was the trick!), I got the consistency I wanted.

After preparing the sauce and chutney and setting it aside, I started putting the appetizer together. After that was plated, I went ahead and served that right away. The guests got to munch on something while I worked on the main dish.

Mixed Heirloom Tomato & Carrot Peel Chutney
w/ Braised Tofu on Rice Crackers

Often, I will get everything done and serve, but that means people have to wait, and sometimes feel hungry. This way, I make sure they’re not restless, and while they are milling about and munching, I get to escape and finish off the main item.

The keftas turned out very well. It was interesting that the sauce was not that well received – I actually thought it was good. But the feedback was they thought it was not the right kind of sauce or thickness for this dish.

Cauliflower and Garbanzo Bean Flour Kefta

Keftas in Tomato & Onion Sauce

Plated and Garnished w/
Cilantro & Dried Coconut Flakes

So it looks like I will have to experiment with another type of sauce, something lighter perhaps? Something with less spice? Maybe next time I will get the right balance for this dish!

Health Benefits


The root of the word asafoetida, “asa” comes from the Persian “aza” which stands for “resin”. It is the sap or “resin” from the root of a giant fennel that dates back to before the 4th Century BC, when Alexander the Great was to have carried this westward to Rome. It carries a “vile odour” that has garnered English names such as “Devil’s Dung”, and “Devil’s Durt”.

Plated and Garnished w/
Cilantro & Dried Coconut Flakes

But in reality, it has some rather interesting and useful properties. For example, used primarily in South Indian vegetarian food, it reduces flatulence caused by beans and spicy foods, and overall, aids in the easy digestion of most foods. It is also known as one of the world’s best natural insect repellants --- mixed with garlic, it will repel mosquitoes, gnats, and most other insects without fail. During the Mughal era in India, it was used to improve singing voices – court singers were known to have eaten one spoonful with butter while practicing for their royal patrons on the banks of the Yamuna river! It serves as a critical release vehicle for rich flavours in South Indian food, acting as an enzyme for most ingredients that are mixed with it after a sauté process. It’s taste, although reviled, has magical qualities that have made it a staple of ancient Ayurvedic medicines for millennia! Clearly, sometimes taste is not the best indicator of quality or utility!


This cruciferous vegetable in its most common form is white in colour – the large green leaves prevent it from getting any chlorophyll, which in this particular case is a good thing, because if it does, it doesn’t taste very good. It is high in Vitamin C and has a good source of Vitamin K.
Research has shown that eating Cauliflower, along with sibling vegetables cabbage, brocooli, mustard greens, etc., can prevent cancer of the colon, stomach, and possibly the breast. The high-levels of indoles are the positive culprit here! Eating these vegetables over time can also significantly reduce bladder and prostate cancers. Mark Twain summed it up when he said about cauliflower: “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education”.


Arugula is actually a cruciferous vegetable as well (surprise!), and it contains large amounts of folate and calcium. In fact, it contains more than eight times as much calcium as iceberg lettuce (which is odd for a salad green). The dark green colour and bitter-tasting flavour come from the high levels of beta-carotene and Vitamin C (no other salad green has much Vitamin C as does arugula).
An interesting historical anecdote about Arugula --- the Romans treasured it for its apparent aphrodisiac properties, and used it in such concoctions as early as the 1 century AD! A typical Roman meal apparently contained a salad made from greens, Arugola (Arugula), romaine lettuce, chicory, mallow and lavender, with some seasoning. Those Romans, I tell you.


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