Saturday, 17 January 2015

Chicken in a Karhi Sauce

Karhi, according to curry doyenne Madhur Jaffrey, is “one of the glories of India”. It is really a soupy sauce made with chickpea or gram flour (called Besan in Hindi and Urdu) and yoghurt. If the yoghurt is old and sour she says, so much the better. Sometimes karhi has dumplings (pakoras or vegetable fritters) in it (as in the Delhi- style karhi), sometimes it has vegetables in it (as in the karhi from Western India) and here, in this desert dish from Rajasthan, it has been transformed into a wonderfully unctuous sauce for meat. It is enjoyed with plain rice but you could also serve it with Indian flatbreads.

Traditionally, it is sweeter than the other variants, because sugar or jaggery is added to it, but it can be made without sugar for a more sour taste. This recipe does not use sugar but is not too sour in its overall taste. If it is eaten without pakoras its consistency is slightly thinner. The Gujarati kadhi is made preferably from buttermilk as it gives a more smooth texture compared to yogurt. Variations on this basic dish includes the addition of certain vegetables, notably bhindi (okra) in which case it is known as bhinda ni kadhi. Lamb may be used & slow cooked (Karhi Gosht) in place of chicken. The spices are the same in this recipe. 

This recipe makes use of black & fragrant kalonji (nigella) or onion seeds. I find this ingredient above all others is an excellent gentle tonic for the lungs, and whenever I have a cough, the beginnings of a cold, or a tight chest, this dish works wonders in clearing phlegm & rebalancing the respiratory membranes. The ginger helps too. The overall temperature of the dish is warm so its ideal for winter evenings.

2 tablespoons chickpea flour

250 ml/8 fl oz natural yoghurt. the sourer the better

Put the chickpea flour in a bowl. Slowly add 450 ml/15 fl oz water, mixing as you go. Whisk in the yoghurt with gusto!

Whole Spices:

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole kalonji (nigella)
1 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds

Combine the cumin seeds, /kolonji, fenugreek and Fennel in a small dish.

4 tablespoons corn, peanut or olive oil
OR 4 Tbsp Ghee

140g/ 5 oz onions, peeled and finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp

Pour the oil into a wide, preferably non-stick, lidded pan and set it over a medium- high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they pop, which will be within a matter of seconds, add the cumin seeds, kalonji, fenugreek and fennel seeds. A second later, add the onions, and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes, until they turn brown at the edges. Then add the garlic and stir for a minute.

Powdered herbs:

1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1- 1.5  teaspoons salt

Assemble the powdered herbs & salt in a small bowl or dish.
1 Whole chicken, washed, cut & diced

OR… (for Karhi Gosht):

675 g/ 1.5 lb boneless lamb,
cut into 2cm/1-inch cubes

Put in the meat, ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, cayenne and salt, and stir for a minute. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes, lifting the lid now and then to stir. Stir the yoghurt mixture and add it to the meat. Stir and bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook For about 1 hour.

Guest vegetable
(e.g. okra, courgette, or as pictured red/ sweet pepper)
Adding a vegetable is optional. I have added red (sweet) pepper here to provide some natural sweetness rather than jaggery or sugar. Put it in shortly after the meat had bedded in, is stirred & is simmering away.

a handful of fresh curry leaves, if available

4-5 fresh, hot green chillies, either bird‘s eye or the cayenne variety

Crush the curry leaves lightly with your fingers and throw them into the pot. throw in the whole chillies as well. Cover and simmer gently for another 5 minutes or until the meat is tender.

Serves 4-6

North Utsire

Friday, 16 January 2015

Pooh Bear Soup

In his early years, my nephew coined the name “Pooh Bear Soup” for this simple Broccoli & Stilton creation. I had no idea why for years, until this Christmas when I made it for him again for old time’s sake & discovered the soup spoon in the old house had a Pooh Bear design on it. That was a bit of a revelation because before I knew that my head was full of sentiment derived from the classic book of Zen wisdom The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Silly me misunderstanding the mind of a child.

This is a very satisfying meal in its own right or a knockout starter if you don’t use bread. Despite the caloric content of the cheese (don’t skimp) I find it is very forgiving on the digestive tract and the next day I am always at least a pound or two lighter.

3 x 250g packs Stilton Cheese
2 Large heads Broccoli

Chop the cheese & broccoli into small (circa 1cm) pieces. This is the most tedious aspect of this recipe so be thankful it gets easier from this point on!

2 x Red Onion sliced & diced
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Heat the oil in a VERY LARGE pan & chuck in the onions. Fry off on a high heat, then reduce to medium, adding in a wee bit of water to prevent burning. Stew the onions in their own steam for a good 5 minutes using the lid (the aim is to make them disappear into the soup as if by magic).

1.5 Litres boiled filtered water (or, a full kettle).
Add in the broccoli a handful at a time, stir into the fried onions then carefully add the kettle of boiled water. Simmer. It takes a good half hour to make the broccoli adequately soft so start timing.

1 vegetable stock cube
¾ tsp garlic granules
1/3 tsp nutmeg powder

Mix these goodies together. DO NOT ADD SALT. There’s plenty in the cheese. Add to the simmering broccoli by sprinkling in.
Adding the Stilton
After 30 minutes or so, the broccoli will soften considerably & alter the consistency of the pan contents. It will become more yielding with more space in it. You can therefore begin to add in, stirring all the way, the 750g stilton. Don’t rush this stage. It takes a few minutes for each handful of stilton to melt & dissolve into the mix.  

Once you are confident the cheese is melted in (keep it moving) transfer the soup into a blender using a ladle. Beware its well hot, including the steam, so be safe & don’t over- reach or take risks in moving it from such a large pan. You can leave a proportion of the pan ingredients un- blended to add texture to the soup. It also helps when you get down to the bottom of the pan so you don’t have to scoop up every last bit. Relax! Take the pan off the heat whilst blending the soup up to avoid burning.

Single Cream &
Return the soup to the pan & reheat it gently, stirring constantly. Try not to boil it at this stage. Add in 200ml or so of single cream. Serve with a nice rustic bread & butter. You can add a bit of pepper if desired but you’ll find it’s salty enough.

Serves 6

North Utsire

The Tao of Pooh

“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you've got.”

“Lots of people talk to animals...Not very many listen though...that's the problem.”

“The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard - one that thinks too much.”

“Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, 'This isn't supposed to be happening this way,' and trying harder to make it happen some other way.”

“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can't save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”

“There are things about ourselves that we need to get rid of; there are things we need to change. But at the same time, we do not need to be too desperate, too ruthless, too combative. Along the way to usefulness and happiness, many of those things will change themselves, and the others can be worked on as we go. The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it.”

“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.”

North Utsire

The Four Aspects of Love

ACCORDING TO BUDDHISM, THERE ARE four elements of true love. The first is maitri, which can be translated as loving kindness or benevolence. Loving- kindness is not only the desire to make someone happy, to bring joy to a beloved person; it is the ability to bring joy and happiness to the person you love, because even if your intention is to love this person, your love might make him or her suffer.

Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking directed toward the person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha. If a husband, for example, does not understand his wife’s deepest troubles, her deepest aspirations, if he does not understand her suffering, he will not be able to love her in the right way. Without understanding, love is an impossible thing.

What must we do in order to understand a person? We must have time; we must practice looking deeply into this person. We must be there, attentive; we must observe, we must look deeply. And the fruit of this looking deeply is called understanding. Love is a true thing if it is made up of a substance called understanding.

The second element of true love is compassion, karuna. This is not only the desire to ease the pain of another person, but the ability to do so. You must practice deep looking in order to gain a good understanding of the nature of the suffering of this person, in order to be able to help him or her to change. Knowledge and understanding are always at the root of the practice. The practice of understanding is the practice of meditation. To meditate is to look deeply into the heart of things.

The third element of true love is joy, mudita. If there is no joy in love, it is not true love. If you are suffering all the time, if you cry all the time, and if you make the person you love cry, this is not really 1ove; it is even the opposite. If there is no joy in your love, you can be sure that it is not true love.

The fourth element is upeksha, equanimity or freedom. In true love, you attain freedom.

When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love. If the opposite is true, it is not true love. You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside. "Dear one, do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?” This is an intelligent question for testing out Whether your love is something real.

From True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart, by Thich Nhat Hanh

The cover art is a detail from White Lotus (Nelumbo odorata), c1800 Bengal from the Arthur M Sackler Museum, part of the Harvard University Art Museums. 

By North Utsire

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Gorsedd of Gentle Hippy Pixiefolk: Album Artwork

 Album artwork for a 6 CD psych- folk compilation I did. I will upload the artwork for the outer box & covers when I get the chance. Sadly, not possible to upload the music on Blogger. Hope you're good at humming.

Illustrations: Dan Hillier
North Utsire

Scenes from Ivan's Childhood (1962)

Ivan's Childhood was one of Tarkovsky's most commercially successful films, selling 16.7 million tickets in the Soviet Union. Tarkovsky himself was displeased with some aspects of the film; in his book Sculpting in Time, he writes at length about subtle changes to certain scenes that he regrets not implementing. However, the film received numerous awards and international acclaim on its release, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It attracted the attention of many intellectuals, including Ingmar Bergman who said, "My discovery of Tarkovsky's first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease.

Jean-Paul Sartre wrote an article on the film, defending it against a highly critical article in the Italian newspaper L'Unita and saying that it is one of the most beautiful films he had ever seen. Filmmakers Sergei Parajanov and Krzysztof Kieślowski praised the film and cited it as an influence on their work.

North Utsire

Monday, 12 January 2015

Camphill Communities: Candle On The Hill

The Camphill Movement is a worldwide initiative for social change inspired by Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy. Camphill communities are residential life-sharing communities and schools for adults and children with developmental disabilities (called "learning disabilities" in the UK), mental health problems and other special needs, and they provide services and support for work, learning and daily living.

Camphill in England and Wales has 23 centres including independent residential and day schools, specialist colleges of further education and adult communities where individual abilities and qualities are recognised and nurtured as the foundation for a fulfilling life.

The holistic integration of food production, horticulture & animal husbandry, community living, education and therapy is a shining light leading the way for the top- down impersonal & fragmented systems of care currently on offer through state provision.

Pennine Camphill Community
Camphill England & Wales
Camphill Worldwide

UPDATE 4th Feb 2015

Just over 2 weeks after posting this blog Channel 4 did an article on Camphill Communities called Unique learning disabled community at war over modernization. In particular it focused on Botton Village Camphill Community in North Yorkshire and the disagreements there over implementation of new Health & Social Care legislation. The video is worth watching (follow the link). Apart from the wranglings over mishandling of money, shared living & new management protocols, it struck me that the holistic model of care, exemplified by Camphill, is fundamentally being eroded by the encroachment of legislation. Its not all bad. Some workers say they now get paid for unrecognized labour; some residents feel more appreciated by individualized care plans with greater focus. But it seems to me the situation is not one of “either/ or” but “as well as” and the best of the individualized care plans can be incorporated into the Camhill model. For as the bean counters surely will atomise, scrutinize and subject every aspect of care to work- time studies in a never ending aspiration to “efficiency” (in reality reducing expenditure on human beings), the holistic aspects of care, which is far more than the sum of its parts, will suffer. Imagine a continuum with Camphill at one end representing Holistic models of community care and empowerment, and traditional Social Care institutions at the other representing the will of the bean counters. Which would you prefer to be reliant upon?

Some more Camphill resources: A 15 minute extract on Vimeo from Jonathan Stedall's trilogy Candle on the Hill, made in 1989 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Camphill movement (well worth sourcing the full videos if you can).


A Candle on the Hill: Images of Camphill Life (1990), a survey, in words and pictures, of Camphill life throughout the world, helps to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Camphill movement by Cornelius Pietzner (Editor)

By North Utsire

Arthur Rackham #3

By North Utsire

The Kukeri of Bulgaria

Each year, on a day soon after New Years and before Lent, the festival of Kukeri is celebrated in Bulgaria. It is a tradition that may date back as far as 4,000 years to the ancient Thracians – and to Dionysus, the Thracian and Greek god associated with wine, fertility, and rebirth. The festival is replete with mystical symbolism, steeped as it is in a tradition representing the cycle of life, death and rebirth.

At the beginning of the festival, the participants assemble to pick out a leader who will play the most significant part in the ceremonies. This Kuker’s costume consists of the hides of seven animals, beasts from which he is believed to draw strength. Unlike his fellow Kukeri, he puts on black face paint instead of a mask, and the horns are stuck straight to his head. The wooden phallus hanging from his belt leaves no doubt as to the powerful underlying symbolism of this festival: fertility.

During the carnival, the head Kuker will be required to perform various rituals to impart health, fecundity and good fortune to the people of his village. This includes visiting their various homes, where he will be offered bread and wine, symbols of blood and flesh sacrifice even in pre-Christian times. The Kuker then performs several mimes, including rubbing himself on the homeowner’s floor. And as he and the other Kukeri make their way through the village, they will also mimic duels and other demonstrations of their masculinity – including sexual acts. Still, all of this serves to bless the villages with prosperity and, of course, the all-important fertility.

From: The Kukeri Ritual: Bulgaria's Sinister Day of Monsters

By North Utsire

New Year's Day

Good to be back in 2015, by your Earth year reckonings. Now the festive season has harrumped off into the distance and the energies of the New Year are brought into focus, I reveal my only abiding New Years Day ritual, which has outlasted any well intended resolution I have mustered; that is to play U2's track New Year's Day.

Released on U2's 1983 album War, New Year's Day was written about the Polish Solidarity movement. It was the band's first UK hit single, peaking at  #10. The lyric had its origins in a love song from Bono to his wife, but was subsequently reshaped. The bass part stemmed from bassist Adam Clayton trying to figure out what the chords to the Visage song "Fade to Grey" were. So it would be remiss not to post that fine tunement.

By North Utsire