Balancing act... recipes from Jasmine Hemsley
Inspired by the ancient Ayurvedic philosophy of eating to nourish, sustain and repair, Jasmine Hemsley's recipes are made for the ultimate mind-body balance
Tarka Dal with grated courgette
Dal is an absolute Indian classic - it's cooked every day in most households. Everyone needs a good dal recipe up his or her sleeve; often my go-to dish, this one is nourishing, easy to make and gentle on a stressed digestive system. Make sure the lentils are cooked very well - old chana dal doesn't cook well, so make sure your packet is fresh. If you didn't soak the lentils overnight, use split red lentils or split mung dal that can be cooked straight away.
I love my dal with something green and fresh - if I'm eating this for supper, I usually sauté the courgettes to gently cook them, but for lunch I sometimes enjoy them raw. Feel free to add your choice of greens, remembering to cook them for evening meals.
Tarka refers to the technique of adding spices to hot oil, which helps to bring out their flavour (as well as their properties). Everyone has their favourite way of serving tarka - it can either become the base of the dal, or for a really fresh flavour you can pour the tarka over the freshly cooked dal, top with a lid and then leave to infuse for 5 minutes before serving.
200g (1 cup) chana dal, soaked in water overnight
750ml (3 cups) water
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1 large spring onion or 1 medium onion, sliced
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1 medium tomato, skinned and deseeded, finely chopped
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp sea salt
2 garlic cloves (use wild garlic leaves in summer), crushed
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 large courgette, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 Simmer the chana dal in the water for about 45 minutes until very soft. Adjust the consistency to your taste, adding more water if you like it more soupy and lighter to digest.
2 To make the tarka, melt the ghee in a pan and fry the cumin and mustard seeds on a medium heat until they start to pop. Add the curry leaves, spring onion and chilli and stir for a few minutes.
3 When the chana dal is cooked, stir in the tomato, turmeric, salt, garlic and asafoetida. Add the tarka to the dal and remove from the heat, placing a lid on top.
4 Meanwhile, in the same pan that was used for the tarka, sauté the grated courgette for a couple of minutes with a pinch of salt.
5 Garnish the dal with freshly ground black pepper and a scattering of coriander leaves, then serve with a handful of sautéed courgette.
Pink pepper lamb hotpot with sautéed red cabbage and mint
Inspired by the English classic of Lancashire hotpot, this dish celebrates one-pot low and slow cooking. The recipe renders a medley of ingredients, including tougher cuts of meat, into a melt-in-the-mouth, easy-to-digest dish. I've added pink peppercorns, which are one of my new favourite flavours in the spice pantry. From a medicinal perspective the pink berries are a diuretic, which helps with bloating, and have antiseptic and disinfectant properties so are said to act as a simple remedy for coughs and colds. Slightly sweet and reminiscent of juniper berries, they are often paired with mild-flavoured white fish and asparagus, but here they shine with sweet squash, turnips and lamb.
Because lamb is often fatty, I like to serve hotpot with a sautéed red cabbage salad, its pink colour offering a nod to the pink peppercorns that have disappeared into the layers of the hotpot. It's also perfect with mint for freshness and a chutney or two (my friend Alex from Lancashire swears by a pickle hotpot pairing!).
500g diced lamb, mutton neck fillet or shoulder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tbsp butter, melted, plus extra to grease
½ large butternut squash (about 600g), peeled and cut into 5mm (¼ in) slices
150g turnips, cut into 5mm (¼ in) slices
1 ½-2 tbsp crushed pink peppercorns
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
2 bay leaves
1 large leek, sliced into 5mm (¼ in) rounds
500ml (2 cups) bouillon stock
For the red cabbage:
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp black mustard seeds
300g (3 cups) thinly shredded red cabbage
15-20g (¼-½ cup) mint leaves, chopped
½-1 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste
1 Preheat the oven to 170˚C (fan 150˚C/gas mark 3). Season the meat lightly with salt and pepper.
2 Butter a 24cm (9½in) high-sided casserole dish and arrange one third of the sliced butternut squash and turnips in the bottom. Season with a little of the pink peppercorns and sprinkle with thyme. Top with the meat and bay leaves and season in the same way, followed by the leek, also seasoned in the same way.
3 Arrange the remaining slices of squash and turnips on top of the leek like overlapping fish scales, and season with salt and pepper. Pour enough stock over the top to come just up to the base of the topping (lift up a piece to check), then brush with the melted butter.
4 Cover and bake for 2 hours, then uncover and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp.
5 Around 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, make the sautéed red cabbage. Heat the ghee in a large frying pan and add the mustard seeds. Sauté until they pop and are fragrant. Add the cabbage and sauté for 10-15 minutes until just tender, adding one or two tablespoons of water if needed. Toss through the other ingredients and serve immediately with the hotpot.
Gorgeously bright, rich and caffeine-free, Golden Milk is the ultimate Ayurvedic recipe and can help improve digestion and circulation. Versions of the drink, known as turmeric latte, have hit the hip cafes, meaning that non-coffee drinkers can enjoy something different from herbal tea!
Turmeric is a joy to drink when you mix it with a little sweetness and spices and it is a lovely way to start and end the day. I choose this if I wake up early and want something small and warming. It is also calming for the mind and healing to the body, so helps me wind down - if I've had a huge lunch, been snacking or get home late then this becomes my dinner. If I get to bed late and suddenly become peckish, this is my go-to recipe. It is more beneficial to cook turmeric with black pepper, and as dairy milk is simmered for a while to make it more digestible it's the perfect time to get everything cooking together. The spices still need the simmering time even if you use almond milk, so add a little water to allow for evaporation.
175ml (¾ cup) whole milk or 250ml (1 cup) almond milk
Water, for simmering
3 cardamom pods, cracked
½ tsp ground turmeric
2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh ginger, grated (around ½ tsp), or 1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tbsp jaggery
1 Place the milk in a small pot or milk pan. If you are using dairy milk, add 120ml (½ cup) of water. If you are using almond milk, add 60ml (¼ cup) of water. Add the remaining ingredients, apart from the jaggery, and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes.
2 Add a splash more hot water if needed. Stir through the jaggery to taste, strain and serve.
This is very calming, especially in autumn and winter. Try increasing the spices, and break up your routine by enjoying this a few days on and then one day off
For an extra boost in the summer, add a tiny pinch of saffron - this is beneficial to all Doshas, but especially cooling to Pitta types, who can also use it instead of ginger.
Go for a light almond milk or rice milk. Ground ginger is even better than fresh as it's more heating. Up the spices if you like and avoid adding the jaggery.
Lemon, turmeric and black-pepper salmon with spring greens
Melt-in-the-mouth chunks of delicately spiced salmon started off as an addition to any dish on the menu at my pop-up cafe. It was so popular that it soon made a weekly appearance. This recipe is a delicious way to show off the subtle flavours of turmeric without making a curry or Golden Milk (see overleaf). I always team black pepper and turmeric where I can, to improve the bioavailability of turmeric's nutrients. Here, the sharp pungency of the pepper cuts through the rich fatty sweetness of the salmon. This dish is a great one for feeding a crowd - the salmon looks impressive, yet all you need to do is dust it with some spices, pop it in the oven and serve over some sautéed seasonal veg. Yum.
850g side of salmon or 6 salmon fillets
Zest of 3 lemons
1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
For the vegetables:
1½ tbsp ghee
3 garlic cloves, chopped
200g (2 cups) spring greens, chopped
½ Savoy cabbage, finely sliced
3 bay leaves
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 The day before you wish to serve, line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the salmon on it, skin-side down. Mix together the lemon zest, black pepper and turmeric. Spread it all over the fish and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
2 Preheat the oven to 200˚C (fan 180˚C/gas mark 6). Season the marinated salmon with sea salt and then bake for 22 minutes. If you're using fillets, reduce the cooking time slightly.
3 About 7 minutes before the end of the cooking time, melt the ghee in a medium saucepan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes. Add the spring greens, Savoy cabbage, bay leaves, vinegar and asparagus, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and steam for 4-5 minutes.
4 Remove the salmon from the oven, then flake or cut it into chunks. Divide the veggies between your plates and serve with the baked salmon arranged over the top.
You can easily adapt this dish for the different seasons. In winter, simply substitute the spring greens with 3 medium turnips, cut into cubes, and 500g (5 cups) kale leaves, chopped.
Chicken soup for the soul with gram dumplings
All over the world, chicken soup is known for its healing properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of a good bone broth is said to be excellent for the gut and packed with immune-supporting minerals. Both restorative and therapeutic, this one-pot meal with aromatic vegetables and herbs is slow-cooked so that it can deliver the nutrients in an easy-to-absorb form. And then, of course, there's that comforting taste of nostalgia ...
This is a great recipe for an easy Sunday lunch - all you need is a really big pan or pot to fit the whole chicken, veggies and extras. The recipe is inspired by the 'Jewish penicillin' way of making this classic feel-better soup, complete with dill, dumplings and noodles. Rather than matzo crackers, I'm using gram flour to make my 'matzo balls' - lovely egg and gram flour dumplings that bob about in the soup. If you have any digestive problems, it is best to eat the chicken and the dumplings at separate meals. Unless I'm entertaining and want to serve the complete works, I usually make the chicken soup and enjoy the chicken and vegetables, then pop the carcass into my slow cooker for 24 hours, adding a fresh batch of vegetables and aromatics half way through to make a second batch of chicken soup cooked with dumplings - it makes for a week of delicious food.
For the soup:
1 x 1.8kg chicken
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled, but left whole
4 bay leaves few sprigs of thyme
2 handfuls of Jewish fine egg noodles or spaghetti, broken into bits (I also like quinoa, corn and rice spaghetti), optional
Small bunch each of flat-leaf parsley and dill, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the gram dumplings: 90g (¾ cup) gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black or white pepper
2 medium eggs
1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, ghee or chicken fat
2 tbsp chopped dill
1 Rinse the chicken and place in a very large saucepan.
Cover with water until it reaches at least 8cm (3in) above the surface of the chicken. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim off any froth that comes to the surface.
2 Add the rest of the soup ingredients (apart from the parsley, dill and noodles, if using) and bring everything back to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 1 hour. If you want to make your gram dumplings with chicken fat, then reserve 1½ tablespoons of the fat by skimming the surface regularly into a bowl - the fat will start to solidify at the top as it cools.
3 Meanwhile, to make your gram dumplings, whisk together the gram flour and baking powder in a bowl. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the olive oil or ghee (or your reserved cooked chicken fat), dill and the salt and pepper. Slowly stir in your gram flour until well blended to make a thick, sticky batter. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes, covered with cling film, then wet your hands with cold water and roll the dough into about 12 small balls (roughly 1 teaspoonful each) - or make them slightly bigger, if you like. Don't roll them too large, though, because they double in size when cooked.
4 Carefully remove the chicken to a large dish and leave to cool slightly. Using two forks, shred the chicken from the bones and set aside, reserving the skin and bones to make another stock.
5 Bring the soup back to the boil and gently drop in the dumplings. When they rise to the surface, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until the dumplings are cooked through and the centres are light. Cut one open to check - if the centre is hard and dark, cook for another 3-5 minutes, until cooked through.
6 About half way through the dumpling cooking time, add in the noodles, if using, to the pan and cook gently for the final 10 minutes.
7 Add all your shredded chicken meat to the soup, along with the parsley, and warm through for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the dill and serve.
If you find it hard to shape your dumplings, then chilling the batter for about 3 hours will help. Don’t worry if you can’t get the hang of shaping them, though, as you can simply use teaspoonfuls of the mixture — they might not be the perfect shape but will be lovely and rustic.