Just Breathe

Chana Masala and Indian-Style Mustard Greens

“Is there anything specific anyone would like to work on today? Mary? Stacey? Pam?”, my yoga teacher inquired at the beginning of a recent practice.

Up went my hand and out popped the words, “Yes, my shoulders.” I’d noticed my shoulders riding higher than usual, and a sort-of-but-not-quite pain radiating from the center of my back and shoulder blades through my neck and up to nearly my crown for several days.

As soon as the words left my lips, I became aware that it really wasn’t my shoulders that needed the work (though they did get it… I’d asked for it,) but that I simply needed to breathe. I had allowed the high-stress time I had been experiencing for several weeks at work to make me tense. I’d been so focused on the tasks at hand, I’d forgotten the most simple of self-care basics… to simply breathe fully and properly. Diaphramatically. Yogically. 
Me, Susan and David, In Side Angle Pose
The pressure at work hasn’t completely gone away, and I don’t anticipate that it will; we’re busier than ever with no end in sight. But I now have a greater awareness that to just take a moment for myself to breathe, on and off the mat. To remember the simple when everything seems so complex can make a big difference.

This meal is a shout out to my dear friend Alli Aruna, who happened to be my first yoga instructor before she became my dearly beloved friend. 

Flexy-Bendy Pays Off 
(I was moving and Alli needed a ride)
Yogis and yoginis tend to be people who are thoughtful about their food, and Alli Aruna certainly is. She is constantly learning and adapting her diet to her needs and knowledge. While she is currently a thoughtful omnivore, there have been times when she's a devout vegetarian. We've spilled our souls over a few really nice Indian meals together, and I thought of her when I made this vegetarian meal at home. Since India is the home of yoga, and my dear Alli made her pilgrimage there returning to us as Aruna, I would love to make this for her!
Fresh, Crisp Mustard Greens
The recipes for Chickpeas in Spicy Tomato Gravy (I personally resist the term "gravy" and would prefer to call this by the name I order it at the restaurant, Chana Masala) and Indian-Style Mustard Greens by chef Sanjeev Kapoor are once again from the March 2011 issue of Food and Wine magazine. I've been cooking from Food and Wine a lot lately, and am so pleased with their week-night friendly, delicious and interesting suggestions. 
Chopped Jalepeno, Ginger and Garlic
The only thing I did differently was to toast and grind my own cumin and coriander for the chickpeas instead of using the ground spices as suggested. It's an easy thing to do for such a big, authentic flavor payoff.

My Baby chose Hillcrest Vineyard's 2008 Riesling "Bone Dry" from Oregon's Umpqua Valley, which served this meal delightfully well. Made from Oregon's very first vineyard planting of Reisling, winemaker Dyson Demara makes this in the dry German style. 

I know, I know. It's tradition to pair Indian food with Gewurztraminer and Gewurztraminer alone. There is a terrific article in the San Francisco Chronicle about wine and Indian food pairing. It's quite complex (with a nod that perhaps beer is the easiest way to go), but a fascinating article that could send me on a month-long Indian food experiment just to internalize the nuances. All that to say, the Hillcrest Reisling was a pretty big hit.
Om, shanti, shanti, shanti.


  1. I love yoga! Sometimes when I'm having a really stressful day I just can't wait to get to class and make up for the breathing that I skipped out while at work. That's a great photo of your class.

    Your meal looks awesome! The only experience I've ever really had with mustard greens is from a csa package last year that was just filled to the brim with different kinds of greens (mustard, collard etc) and kales. I never even put a dent in it before it went bad and since then I've been a bit scared of them! But after seeing this I'd like to give it another go - not another csa box but i'll pick up some mustard greens at the farmers market tomorrow.

  2. This looks delicious!! Loving your blog :)

  3. Looks wonderful! Lovely post too!

  4. yumm yumm. looks super nice.

  5. We usually buy our chana masala in a package, but we do love it, may have to try your recipe! I'm just beginning yoga, but I think it is wonderful so far!

  6. I don't know anything about yoga, but I do know a bit about Indian food. While the big G is a commonly associated wine with spicy Asian food I have found others that also work well, and maybe better. My homemade plum and strawberry wines mix it up pretty well and even a Vouvray that was a little sweet surprised me in this space. Just think of all the fun you could have taking that month to explore the combinations...


  7. this was just fabulous! I LOVE that really cool yoga picture of you and your buddies! I also have an aversion to the word "gravy". Don't quite know what it is. Unless it's like a Southern white gravy over chicken fried steak, which I never eat. Hmmm.

    We had Indian food last night, but I regret to say that I did not make it. A dear friend of mine brought it to our house. It was simply amazing. It's really piqued my interest to try some new things. And now with this chickpea recipe, I've got some work to do.

    So happy to see you back. I hope you have a peaceful and restful weekend, dear. Hugs.

  8. Isn't it funny that if we give our bodies the chance, they will tell us exactly what to do? In your case- remembering to breathe! That's a biggie for me too, and I'm sitting here writing and really breathing for the first time today! I love your recipe- we've been enjoying a lot of curries lately, and I had one last week with a great South African White. knocked my socks off- vintner was MAN...initials of the 3 winemakers wives.. Thanks for reminding me to breathe- have a less stressful week!

  9. We often drink Reisling with Indian food.I didn't know I wasn't supposed to!

  10. Chana's my fav. Indian food and your version looks super tasty!

  11. Yummmm Pam! I'm inspired to try this recipe - I'm enjoying your blog - and just wanted to say hi and wishing you well. Glad you've found love and happiness - Namaste


Post a Comment

Popular Posts