There is always a beginning…

The thought has been there for a long time. It needed execution. Travel to India brought the inspiration. Welcome to my discoveries. A collection of thoughts, inspiration, experiences and more.

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Divine Keralan Prawn Curry

Divine Kerala prawn curry:

This very easy to make dish will take you about 15 min to prepare and approx 10 min to cook.

You will need:

  • 2 red chillies split, seeded and cut into quarters length
  • 1 small red onion
  • 5 cm root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 14 curry leafs (fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cracked back pepper
  • 150 ml coconut milk
  • a squeeze of lime and fresh coriander to serve

And then comes the cookery bit!

  • Blitz the red chillies, red onion and ginger to a paste.
  • Heat oil in pan, toss mustard and fenugreek seeds with the curry leaves. They will crackle and pop. Fry for 10 seconds.Add the paste, cook for 5 min (add water if needed)
  • Add turmeric and cracked black peppercorns. Stir well before adding the prawns. Pour than the coconut milk and simmer for another couple of minutes.
  • Add some lime juice and fresh coriander to serve. Lovely with basmati rice!

Delicious! Bon appetite

 

DOSHAS: THE BIOLOGICAL ENERGIES

Today I found out about my Dosha.  A dosha, according to Ayurveda, is one of three bodily Bioelements that make up one’s constitution.  The three bioelements are always fluctuating in the body. They are highly unstable and can change with day and night, and with food. Most individuals have a dominant Dosha and to keep yourself balanced it is good to know your Dosha.  According to the theory of Ayurvedic medicine, health exists when there is a balance between three fundamental bodily bioelements or doshas called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas derive from the five elements of nature being: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The Doshas represent movement, transformation, and structure. Movement is also known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind). Transformation is known as Pitta (Fire) and structure is translated into Sanskrit as Kapha (Earth).

These forces are responsible for the characteristics of body and mind. And just like everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a unique pattern of energy that shapes his or her nature. This constitution is determined at conception by various factors and remains the same throughout life. And although each person has all three energies present in their system, we all have one or two forces that tend to be more predominant.

VATA | PITTA | KAPHA

  • Vata (airy element): It is characterised by properties of dry, cold, light, minute, and movement. All movement in the body is due to property of vata. If Vata is dominant in your system, you are most likely thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable.
  • Pitta (fiery element): It is characterised by hotness, moist, liquid, sharp and sour, its chief quality is heat. It is the energy principle which uses bile to direct digestion and enhance metabolism. It is primarily characterised by body heat or burning sensation and redness. If Pitta predominates in your nature, you tend to be intelligent, tense focused on reaching your goals and you probably feel enthusiasm towards life.
  • Kapha (watery element): it is characterised by heaviness, cold ,tenderness, softness, slowness, lubrication, and the carrier of nutrients. It is nourishing element of the body. All the soft organs are made by kapha, it plays an important role in taste perception, Joint nourishment and lubrication.  When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing.

For each form of energy there is a positive (outperforming) and negative (underperforming) nature. When Vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, on the contrary when there is an excess of Vata or movement in your system, you tend to experience anxiety, insomnia, constipation, dry skin and your mind focuses with difficulty.

When Pitta is perfectly balanced a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, an initiator, leader, and a good speaker. When Pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or inflammatory illness. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, yet out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, and sinus congestion.

Find out what your DOSHA is? Follow this link: Find your DOSHA

Mountains: On top of the World

I just returned from a wonderful holiday in the Alps. What better place to get some activity and fresh air than a mountaintop? The cool, crisp mountain air, beautiful view, and preserved nature make mountains an ideal destination for enjoying activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snow show walking or hiking.

Have you ever heard of people who say that they feel refreshed after skiing or hiking? What they are saying is true. Along with the benefits of exercise, the mountain air has some unexpected health benefits as well, known as climatotherapy. Spending time in a different, cleaner, more suitable climate, has helped millions of people around the world. Mountains are also filled with good negative ions which make us feel refreshed.
Air is also filled with these ions right after thunderstorm, which is the reason why you feel so good what this happens.The mountain air helps in strengthening the nervous and immune system, as well as improving your metabolism.

How does this work?

  • The biggest benefit of fresh air is that your entire body works better. If you know how the human body works, you know that our blood transfers oxygen to all our cells.
    If you improve the quality of air that you breathe, you are literally giving your body and organs better “fuel”. This means that all your body functions will improve, and all your organs will perform better.
  • Immune system: have you ever wondered why people who tend to go skiing almost never get colds or flu? This is because the quality of mountain air directly affects our immune system. You are also avoiding any kind of germs or dust particles.
  • Less stress: combination of fresh mountain air, the smell of nature and the scenery will always reduce your stress levels and you will feel happier.
  • More energy: although being in the mountains can be really tiring, it can actually increase your energy levels.
    Many doctors recommend going to the nature if you want to replenish your energy.

Other health benefits:

  • Mountain air will efficiently clean your lungs
  • It is good for cardiovascular system
  • Controls blood pressure
  • You won’t have problems with falling asleep
  • You will feel calmer
  • Improved digestion

It’s no wonder top world athletes train at high altitudes! The mountains offer a nice getaway, and can really help you put life in perspective and your thoughts in order. It is a very humbling and gratifying experience climbing to the top of a mountain and taking a look down.

You feel on top of the world!

 

 

 

 

Ideas….

Today I attended a lunch with the previous Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Interestingly he quoted Gandhi’s famous quote about original ideas. Reading his book recently during my India travels this specific quote had stayed with me and like to dig a bit deeper in it.

In philosophy, ideas are usually construed as mental representational images of some object or concept. Many philosophers have considered ideas to be a fundamental part of our being and our existence. As per wikipedia: “The capacity to create and understand the meaning of ideas is considered to be an essential and defining feature of human beings. In a popular sense, an idea arises in a reflexive, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection, for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or a place. A new or original idea can often lead to innovation.”

Original thinking and creativity are important for our continuous innovation, for helping resolve old and new challenges that arise. There is lots of thought on how ideas are actually spreading. Diffusion of innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, wrote about this in his book Diffusion of Innovations. Rogers argues that diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the participants in a social system.  Rogers proposes that four main elements influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation itself, communication channels, time, and a social system. Ideas must be widely adopted in order to self-sustain and there is a point at which the idea or innovation reaches critical mass. Another well known book about spreading of ideas is Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. He explains  the spreading of ideas through epidemiology, comparable to how virus spreads.

Most consistently in all, innovators and their new ideas are often first thought of as crazy or unreal. It needs a strong mind to bring them to fruition.

Sweet Keralan veggie curry

Amazing vegetarian dish!

You will need:
1/2 cauliflower
2 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed oil
1 big tsp black mustard seeds
1 big tsp fenugreek seeds
1 big tsp turmeric
About 12-14 curry leaves
1 thumb size piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves
6 spring onions
1 fresh red chilli
1 large bunch of coriander
2 ripe tomatoes
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 a juicy pineapple or a small tin of pineapple chunks and juice
1 lemon

Now for the cooking:

In a dry pan roast the cauliflower. Put to side when slightly charred.
Than put oil in pan and add mustard and fenugreek seeds, turmeric and curry leaves.
Blender ginger, garlic, spring onions, chilli and coriander and then add to the pan. (Should give a lovely smell!)
Chop tomatoes and add to pan, pour coconut milk and drained chickpeas, pineapple chunks and their juices. Add the cauliflower and bring to boil. Once cauliflower is cooked add a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with fresh coriander.

Yum yum….

Savasana

Savasana comes from the Sanskrit words Shava (शव, Śava) meaning “corpse”, and Asana (आसन, Āsana) meaning “posture”.

After the exertions of a yoga practice, savasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself. After a balanced practice, the entire body will have been stretched, contracted, twisted and inverted. This means that even the deepest muscles will have the opportunity to let go and shed their regular habits, if only for a few minutes.

Lie down on your mat facing up, hands apart, with some distance of your body, palms facing up and relax your whole body.

It has some incredible benefits:

  • it helps you to lower blood pressure and heart rate,
  • it helps you to reduce with nervous and muscle tension,
  • it helps you to reduce metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen,
  • it reduces headaches and relief from fatigue and insomnia
  • it reduces anxiety, and increases your energy levels and in general productivity,
  • it helps you with concentration and in memory,
  • an it helps you with confidence and focus,

Enjoy your savasana!

Sula

Sula is wine from Western India, North-East from Mumbai. Surprisingly good quality for such a young winemaker, the estate has lovely Chenin Blanc, Cabenet Sauvignon, Malbec and other well known varieties.  Sula’s grapes come from their vineyards as well as from other contract farmers across the region.

I was surprised to find such a good wine in a country were Hinduism is the predominant religion as most Hindi don’t drink alcohol. It is interesting to understand a little more about that.

There is no Hindu religious ban on the use of alcohol as there is in Islam, for example. Yet Hinduism recognizes that alcohol is a powerful substance that has dangers that should not be taken lightly.

Hinduism is a spiritual tradition that is based upon an understanding of dharma, the natural laws behind the universe. So the question for Hindus is how does the use of alcohol fit in with its sense of dharma and how does it effect us karmically?
Many monastic orders from India, both Hindu and non-Hindu, take various vows like celibacy. Refraining from alcohol is one of such vows that most of these monks swear to. Some Hindu Tantric groups, on the other hand, use alcohol in a sacred way, either as an offering to the deity or as taken individually during certain special rituals. Hindu merchants and aristocrats have used and use alcohol today, just as they have not practiced celibacy.
Ayurveda, the medical branch of Hindu dharma, contains clearly defined views on the use alcohol. Ayurveda uses alcohol as a solvent for extracting the active ingredients of certain herbs. Tinctures are used in western herbalism in the same way. Ayurveda also prepares special herbal wines called asavas and arishtas. Herbal wines are regarded as particularly good medicines to take for a weak digestion and as relaxants for stress. Ayurveda recognizes that certain alcoholic beverages (like wine) can have health benefits, like improving digestion or circulation, but only taken in moderation. Ayurveda also recognizes that excessive alcohol consumption can cause or contribute to physical or psychological diseases.

Sante!

Malabar

Most of us know “Malabar” from the chewing gum. Not many of us think immediately of the area in India between the Western Ghats and the Arabia sea. The area has a rich historic background. Frequented by many colonial discoveries, the Portugese, the English and the Dutch, the region features many well known towns. Part of the British East India Company, it’s chief importance was to produce pepper. The Dutch settled for over 100 years in Cochin and developed a florissant trade to Europe in pepper, cinnamon and other spices. Many traces of the rich colonial times are still found in today’s Malabar.

Colours….

Colours of the rainbow, colours of the wind. One of the vivid memories of my holiday is the  abundance of colours in India. “Colour” is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, blue, yellow, etc. Colour derives from the spectrum of light interacting in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of the light receptors. Colour categories and physical specifications of colour are also associated with objects or materials based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, or emission spectra.

The science of colour is called chromatics or colour science. Colours give meaning, red unmistakably associated with warm, and blue for example with cool or cold, green with pure and nature. Colours play an important part in how we perceive and interact with the world.

In hinduism colours play a very important role and have deep significance. The Hindu meaning of the different colours:

Red: sensuality and purity

Saffron: the most sacred colour for the hindu. It represents fire, and as impurities are burnt by fire, this symbolises purity.

Green: life and happiness

Yellow: knowledge and learning

White: is a mixture of colours, it therefore represents a bit of everything: purity, cleanliness, peace and knowledge. white is also the colour of mourning.

Blue: nature: sky, river, lake, ocean. the deity who has the quality of bravery, manliness, determination, ability to deal with difficult situations, stable mind and depth of character is pictured blue.

The abundance of colours in daily life deepens the experience.

 

 

 

Pranayama

Pranayama is “control of breath”. Prana is breath or  vital energy in the body. Prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life and ayama means control. There is different ways to control the breath, and each of these have a different way to bring energy into the body. Breathwork can deliver powerful mind and body benefits.