My Favorite Things

Fig Almond Pie

Fig Almond Pie

Sorry: nothing on this page will bring balance to Kapha. Kapha is already sweet enough.

If you're trying to balance Kapha and are suffering from craving for sweets, be sure that you are getting all 6 tastes with your main meal - particularly bitter and astringent.

These sweet treats are suitable adjuncts to a Vata balancing diet, but only if digestion is good. To better balance Pitta, reduce/eliminate nuts or substitute pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Instant Granola Pudding

You don't need any cooking skills to whip up this simple, delicious dessert. Warning: since it's made with cheese, it's best avoided in the evening.

  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Granola
  • Cinnamon or Cardamom
  • (Optional) walnuts, toasted almond or toasted hazelnuts

Simply mix the ingredients using roughly equal proportion of cheese and granola, dust with more cinnamon if you like, and serve. I like this best with Nature's Organic Path Pumpkin Flax Granola and imported Italian mascarpone, but go with your own preferences. I do advise, however, that you avoid any granola made with honey, which became toxic when the manufacturer baked the product.

Cashew Coconut Granola

Cashew Coconut Granola

Easy Granola

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup nuts or seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and/or cardamom
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Mix the oil and sucanat together first, then mix in everything else adding the water last.

Bake in a shallow roasting pan at 325° for 40-45 minutes until nicely browned.

Options

Substitute 1/4 maple syrup for water and sucanat

Marc's Carrot Cake

I've been a sucker for carrot cake ever since I did my residency on Philadelphia and lived blocks from the original Frog Commissary Restaurant. Their version, also done with cream cheese frosting, was made with eggs and had multiple layers separated with a praline cream. My recipe is easy to make and will delight both palate and stomach even without the frosting. The grated apple is not orthodox, but adds a little je ne sais quoi that I love. If you work with a consistent proportion of flour and leavener to liquid, you can vary the adjunctive ingredients over a considerable range and still have a good outcome. In other words, you don't have to obsess about the exact quantity of carrots, nuts, raisins, etc. I typically use my hand & eye in lieu of a measuring cup. If you like your walnuts whole, leave them that way. Otherwise, you might want to break them up a bit.

Here in the Triangle we have many Indian grocery stores that carry a good range of organically-grown staples. Powdered jaggery (the original whole cane sugar) is cheaper than sucanat and has a finer texture. I've started using it as my goto sweetener.

To go over the top in Vata season, cover the cream cheese frosting with crushed sesame brittle (chikki). In summer (Pitta-season), forget the sesame and use maple syrup instead of honey in the frosting.

Carrot Cake
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup powdered jaggery
  • 2 carrots + some apple grated
  • 1/3-1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Cream the jaggery into the oil. Then mix in the remaining ingredients.

In a separate smaller bowl mix the following together and then stir into the carrot-nut mixture.

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs. tapioca powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger

Add 1/4 cup yogurt diluted with 1/4 cup water to the dry ingredients. Press into a buttered 6" x 8" Pyrex dish. Bake at 350° for about 50 minutes until nicely browned. Do not underbake. Let it cool an hour or so before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Whip these softened ingredients together until smooth. Lower mixing speed and slowly add 3 Tbs. of raw honey or maple syrup. Once well-blended, whip until light & fluffy.

Sesame Brittle (Chikki)

Sesame chikki is a popular treat in India during winter—Vata season. Rightly so as sesame is among the most Vata-balancing substances.

Sugar candies can be a challenge to make if you're trying to achieve the exact degree of hardness without burning or creating a mess. Moreover, the usual temperature thresholds for candy-making apply to granulated refined sugar, not to whole cane sugars. Don't worry. Just stay attuned to your nose. It will tell you when it's ready. As long as you don't go further beyond and scorch it, it will taste great.

This recipe makes more than you'll need for the cake. Aren't you lucky? Just be careful—it's addictive!

  • 1/2 cup unhulled sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup powdered jaggery or sucanat
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 1 tsp. ghee or unsalted butter
  • pinch baking soda

Dry pan roast the sesame seeds. Set aside.

Bring the jaggery and water to a boil. Stir constantly and moderate the heat as it begins to thicken. Remove immediately when it starts to smell carmelized.

Stir in the baking soda and ghee. Then add sesame seeds and spread thinly on parchment paper or an oiled surface.

Break into small pieces once cool (10-20 minutes).

Sesame Halvah

Sesame Halvah

What could be better than sesame chikki?

Sesame halvah! I've loved it since childhood, but never imagined it could be so easy to make with all organic ingredients. All you need is a candy thermometer. I think it would also help to have a high-quality saucepan, which distributes heat evenly across the bottom and does not directly heat the sides. I used my little Demeyer Atlantis saucepan on my Samsung induction range to try this recipe. I was stunned that I didn't have to stir the sugar to prevent scorching and didn't have trouble with crystalization on the sides.

  • 1 cup jaggery or sucanat
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup unsalted sesame tahini

Heat the jaggery and water over medium or medium-low heat until it reaches 250°. Then remove from the stove, stir in the tahini and pour into a 5" x 7" glass container. Allow to cool and cut as desired.

Options

I added some unhulled sesame seeds while cooking the syrup and cardamom at the end. It might be good with rosewater. Next time, I plan to grind my own sesame seeds to see if I like it with a coarser and less oily texture.

Marzipan Tart

Marzipan Tart

Fresh pastry crust is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The secret to flaky crust is cold dough and a very hot oven. I love using whole wheat pastry flour. It's healthier than white flour, has a richer taste, and is just as delicate. Even if you've never baked before, try it. It's not difficult.

The Dough

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 Tbs. water

Cut butter into flour. Mix in water first with a fork, then gently knead into a ball with your hand. Flatten to a disk, cover, and refrigerate about 1/2 hour

The Marzipan

It easy enough to buy marzipan premade, but it's fun to make your own.

  • 1/4 cup ground blanched almonds or almond meal
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs. tapioca powder
  • 2 Tbs. brown rice syrup

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the syrup, mix with your hand to form a ball. Then knead until you have a smooth consistency.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic into a circle or rectangle. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Roll out the marzipan in a similar fashion to a bit less than 1/2 the size and shape of the dough. Place the marzipan on 1/2 of the dough allowing a 3/4" margin to seal when you fold the dough over. Smear 1 Tbs. apricot jam over the marzipan. Then, fold over the free side of the dough and press the edges with a fork to seal.

Bake 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° and bake for another 10 minutes.

Options

I vary this recipe according to my mood. I might soak raw almonds overnight, rub off the skins and grind them with some organic fig preserves and cardamom to make the filling. Alternatively, I might toast hazelnuts and mix with chopped dried apricots cooked for about 15 minutes in a little water with some tapioca granules and 1/4 cup whole cane sugar. The possibilities are endless.

Pecan Bars

This recipe is adapted from the pecan pie in Heaven's Banquet. These bars much more wholesome than your typical pecan pie and not so sickeningly sweet. Whole wheat gives them substance. The recipe will work with virtually any unsalted raw or dry roasted nut. Hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds are particularly good substitutes for pecans.

Pecan Bars

This is another recipe that you can play with to your heart’s content. Once on a whim I made this as an apple-cherry-pecan pie using soaked dried cherries, Granny Smith apples and whole wheat pastry flour-butter crust in a deep dish. I spiced it with ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. It was great with a dollop of sour cream. It needed an extra 5 minutes to cook in the deep dish and was still runny when cut warm. It easily could have baked another 5 minutes.

I recently did fresh fig bars this way using half the filling with coconut and cashews. Yum! Even better was the version I made with walnuts with all the filling, but only 1/3 cup water. The figs were almost gone so I substituted some organic red grapes cut in half and a cherry in the center. I used pastry crust and baked it for 45 minutes. Next time I might make it with pears and hazelnuts with the cookie-dough crust.

Fig Walnut Pie

Fig Grape & Walnut Pie

The Dough

  • 4 Tbs. softened unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. turbinado sugar or sucanat
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbs. water (optional: substitute 1 Tbs. orange blossom water for half the water)
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

The Filling

  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar or sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. dry ginger
  • 1 Tbs. tapioca starch (can substitute arrowroot or cornstarch as a binder; with guar gum, 1/2 tsp. is plenty)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 Tbs. softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coarsely ground pecans
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup brown rice or barley malt syrup
Apple Cherry Pecan pie

Apple cherry pecan pie

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven on convection mode to 350°.
  2. Prepare the dough by creaming the butter with the sugar. Add spice, water then the flour.
  3. Press into a buttered and lightly floured 5"x9" or 10" round glass baking dish.
  4. Prepare the filling by mixing the dry ingredients except nuts and then mix or rub in the butter.
  5. Add the nuts.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix the water into the rice syrup.
  7. Mix the diluted syrup into the filling, pour over the dough and level with a rubber spatula.
  8. Decorate the surface with pecan halves according to your fancy.
  9. Bake about 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Tamara's Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies

This dairy-free, gluten-free recipe makes about 1 dozen cookies and is also open to wide variation. Follow your imagination and tastes. Experiment with different flours. It's pretty hard to screw up.

For conventional oatmeal raisin cookies, replace the coconut oil with melted butter and use whole wheat flour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

  • 3 Tbs. warmed coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 1 Tbs. tapioca powder
  • Handful of raisins
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/8 tsp. dry ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered vanilla
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 Tbs. sorghum flour
  • 2 Tbs. quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup ground blanched almonds or almond meal
  • Juice of 1 sweet orange (Valencia or Hamlin recommended)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Mix coconut oil and sucanat. Then add and mix ingredients in order given.

Spoon out 10-12 balls on to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten gently with a fork while shaping to a circle.

Bake 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tamara's Maple Syrup Cookies

Here's another gluten-free recipe that makes about 1 dozen cookies. Play with modifications that tickle your fancy.

Preheat oven to 350°.

  • 2 Tbs. chia seeds soaked for 5-10 minutes in 2-3 Tbs. warm water.
  • 4 Tbs. cultured, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. dry ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. anise seeds
  • 3/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Mix butter and maple syrup. Stir in the chia seeds and their liquid. Then add and mix the other ingredients in order given.

Spoon out 12-16 balls on to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten gently with your hands to form a domed circle.

Bake 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Namoura

Namoura

This is a great Middle Eastern sweet that's easy to make. You need semolina, which is coarsely ground Durum wheat, to get the authentic texture, but I typically use whole wheat flour. It's delicious no matter what.

Preheat oven to 350°.

  • 4 Tbs. soft butter
  • 2 Tbs. whole cane sugar
  • Orange zest
  • 1 Tbs. tapioca powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground star anise
  • 1/8 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered vanilla
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup water

Cream butter and sugar together. Then add and mix ingredients in order given. The dough will be fairly stiff, but thoroughly wetted. Add a tiny bit of extra water if necessary to get a spreadable consistency.

Grease a 9" x 4" glass baking pan with either butter or 1 tsp. sesame tahini. Pour dough into pan and spread evenly. Decorate the top with 12 blanched whole almonds, hazelnuts, or walnut halves.

Bake 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. After 5-10 minutes, slowly drizzle on the syrup of your choice: simple syrup (see below), maple syrup, or agave syrup.

When cool, cut into 12 rectangular bars.

Simple Syrup

Simmer 2 Tbs. water, 1.5 tsp. lemon juice and 1/4 cup whole cane sugar for 5 minutes. After removing from the heat, add 1 tsp. each orange blossom water and rose water.

Variations

Substitute 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom for the other spices

Use fresh squeezed orange juice in place of orange blossom and rose water

Helbeh (Fenugreek Cake)

Fenugreek cake

This yeast-free recipe is adapted from the Jerusalem cookbook. Fenugreek (Methi) is a bitter-tasting Vata and Kapha balancing spice. It's novel to find it in a savory sweet since fenugreek is used in the Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes. Helbeh is certainly not intended for diabetics! It is, however, traditionally served to new mothers to enhance breast milk production.

  1. Simmer 1 tsp. fenugreek (methi) seeds in 1/2 cup water until volume reduced by half and substitute for water in the batter
  2. Cream 1 Tbs. butter with 2 Tbs. each olive and sesame oils
  3. Stir in 1 Tbs. arrowroot or tapioca powder and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. Mix in 1 cup whole wheat flour
  5. Add 2 Tbs. lightly toasted sesame seeds or coarsely chopped pine nuts or almonds
  6. Add 1/4 cup yogurt mixed with the fenugreek seeds and their water to make a thick batter (1/2 cup total liquid)
  7. Press down the batter in a buttered or tahini-greased small Pyrex baking dish (e.g. 7" x 9" or 6" round)
  8. Lightly score in a diamond pattern (cross the first set of parallel lines at 45 degrees)
  9. Put a soaked, blanched almond in the center of each diamond (about 12 pieces)
  10. Bake at 375° for about 45 minutes until nicely browned
  11. Remove to a wire rack and slowly drizzle all the warm simple syrup (see above) on top
  12. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting

Walnut Krantz Cake (Babka)

babka dough

Babka Dough Ready for Rollup

This recipe is also adapted from the Jerusalem cookbook and is a lot simpler and quicker than the yeasted version. You'll end up with a yummy, fancy cinnamon bun. In fact, you can make cinnamon buns if you want. Reduce the cooking time.

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 1.5 Tbs. whole cane sugar
  • 1/2 Tbs. arrowroot or tapioca powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 2 Tbs. yogurt mixed with 2 Tbs. water (1/4 cup total liquid)
  • Filling: cinnamon, sugar and chopped walnuts
Krantz cake

Braided Krantz Cake

Krantz cake

Babka Dough Cut for Buns

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns

  1. Mix the dry ingredients, then rub in the melted butter and add the liquid to form a dough
  2. Kneed to a uniform consistency
  3. Roll out to 7" x 11" with the long edge parallel to the edge of your work surface
  4. Brush the dough with some melted butter (no more than 1 Tbs. is needed) leaving a 1/2" dry strip at the top
  5. Sprinkle whole cane sugar, then cinnamon and finally the walnuts over the buttered surface
  6. Now, roll up from bottom to top and brush a little water on the top edge to help seal the dough to itself
  7. Transfer your log to a buttered 7" x 11" glass baking dish
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut through the dough lengthwise to create two half-cylinders
  9. Braid the two halves around each other as best you can. Perfection is not required here since the dough will expand in the oven. Just sprinkle any filling that falls out back on top.
  10. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes until lightly browned - don't overbake!
  11. After you remove the cake from the oven to a wire rack, slowly brush or drizzle all of the warm simple syrup (see above) on top
  12. Force yourself to let the cake cool before eating

Coconut Cashew Burfi

This is a wonderful Indian version of fudge. I can never get it as finely textured as the original, but it is so succulent I really don't care. Brush your teeth after eating.

  • 1 cup ground cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground coconut
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • Few saffron threads
  1. Soak together overnight in refrigerator
  2. Heat in skillet to a boil
  3. Stir in 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  4. Slowly stir in 1/4 cup ghee
  5. Stir more frequently and reduce heat as mixture thickens
  6. Add ground cardamom (1/8-1/4 tsp.) and rosewater (1/2-1 tsp.) when mixture starts to pull away from sides of pan
  7. At soft ball stage, spread on buttered pan (e.g., 9” x 5” glass baking dish)
  8. Cut into squares

Fig Almond Pie

This is a delightful way to enjoy fresh figs. I decided to try this when were deluged with brown Turkey figs from the garden. I rolled out the dough warm and chilled it in the baking dish before final preparation and baking. The crust wasn't quite as flaky as when you obsessively keep everything cold, but it was a lot easier than trying to roll out cold dough.

You could play with this recipe according to the occasion. For example, leave out the cottage cheese for an evening treat. Accentuate the savory element with salt, pepper, fresh chopped ginger, ground coriander, turmeric powder, etc. Make it sweeter by sprinkling sucanat over the figs before baking.

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Roll out pastry dough (see Marzipan Tart recipe above) for a butttered and chilled glass pie dish
  3. Coat the inside of the dough with some olive oil
  4. Sprinkle on fennel seeds and some chopped blanched almonds
  5. Spread a thin layer of cottage cheese
  6. Arrange your halved figs on top
  7. Bake 40-45 minutes until nicely browned