As part of our series The Way We Heal, we sat down with vegan chef Priyanka Naik, who shared a classic old-school dish inspired by her Maharashtrian roots. For Priyanka, healing is rooted in time: taking time, exercising patience, and embracing the wisdom of those who came before her…
What does healing mean to you?
Healing means taking the time to listen to your mind, body, and feelings and to better serve them. This can be through food, meditation, prayer, exercise — anything that you deem as healing. Healing is individual and should make one feel rejuvenated and healthy.
What’s the best advice you have received from an elder?
To have patience, because the things we cannot control are time and other people’s reactions or lack thereof. Having patience allows me to help navigate this world with a more clear mind.
What food rituals help center you?
Eating foods that energize me and make me feel good, doing my Hindu prayer everyday (lighting incense and making sure it touches every part of my home), disciplined daily habits, and hot showers.
What foods, spices, herbs are especially healing to you?
Anything green, fruits high in antioxidants, turmeric, chilies, coriander, cumin, and dark chocolate.
How is your relationship to food different from your parents’ or grandparents’ relationship to food?
I am very cognizant of what I put into my body and read nutrition labels on everything — not for the purposes of calories or dieting, but to ensure I know what I’m putting into my body. Also, I am all about balance and moderation, not just eating till I’m stuffed (which we all know elders LOVE to do).
What is one food or ritual from your culture that has been appropriated / under-acknowledged / commercialized:
Turmeric! People don’t even pronounce it properly and don’t even give credit to its origins. Turmeric is an extremely powerful natural remedy, spice, and is ayurvedic. It dates back thousands of years in Indian culture and is the basis for nearly all Indian cooking. If I have to see or hear of a “golden milk latte” anywhere I will lose my mind! Turmeric is mixed with warm milk and given many-a-times to anyone feeling under the weather and is sometimes mixed with almond and saffron and given to pregnant women before bedtime.
Wellness is not…
Priyanka’s Wagharni (Yellow Daal Tadka)
1 cup yellow toor daal (split pigeon peas), rinsed and soaked for 30 mins
2 1/2 cups water
2 cloves garlic peeled
1 in. piece ginger peeled and cut into rough cubes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 stem of curry leaves
3-4 Indian green chilies, sliced lengthwise
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. hing
3-4 tbsp. neutral oil
1/2 fresh lime
1/2 cup fresh coriander roughly chopped
1/2 cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for 30 mins
1 1/2 cups water
Pinch of salt (for rice)
- Pour rinsed and soaked daal in the Perfect Pot. Add in the water, garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a bowl.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 45 minutes, occasionally opening to stir and skim off any foam.
- Once the daal is tender, creamy and cooked through, add in the chickpea and cook for 5 minutes.
- While the daal is simmering away, make the rice using the Always Pan. Add in the rinsed and soaked rice, water and salt. Stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Ensure the lid is pointed so steam can release. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until water has evaporated and rice is fluffy.
- To make the wagharni (which just means tempered spices) pour a neutral oil into a small saucepan and set over medium heat.
- After about 30-60 seconds, once the oil is hot and shimmering, add in the cumin seeds, allow to sizzle for 15-30 seconds. Then carefully add in the sliced green chilies, swirl around. Next, stand back and add in the curry leaves. Be CAREFUL because these will pop! Once popping has subsided, add in the hing, swirl and immediately add the hot tempered spices to the daal and stir to combine.
- Finish off by squeezing 1/4 of lime into the daal and half of the fresh coriander. Taste and adjust for salt if necessary.
- Place rice onto a Main Plate and top with daal. Garnish with more fresh coriander and a lime wedge. Pro tip: This dish is meant to be eaten with your hands!