Another dish to die for from Wisdom Fishing’s in-house chef ZAHID MAKHDOOM

The inspiration of this recipe comes from the reflections of a great 12th century Sufi saint Khawaja Muinuddin Chishti (pictured below), who is widely and rightfully credited for establishing the Chishtiya order of Sufi thought in the Sub-Continent of India.

Deeply suspicious of inequality and of any dogmatic thought, which he considered antithetical to the spiritual living, Chishti exhorted his associates to “develop river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality.” In his view, the most formidable and pithy form of devotion was “to redress the misery of those in distress – to fulfill the needs of the helpless and to feed the hungry.” In his famous “rubai-i” he expressed devotion to the acts of resistance to all forms of tyranny as the ultimately sublime human experience. He promoted collective meditation and transcendence through music (sama’a) in the form of trance inducing qawwali.

Of many of Chishti’s renowned disciples was Nizamuddin Auliya, a 13th-century Sufi and poet who was the inspiration for a great poet and musician Amir Khusrau, who is credited for inventing percussion instrument tabla and formalizing the qawwali genre of singing. To this day, during his birth celebrations the devotees of Chishti bring offerings of uncooked provisions including goat and sheep meat, lentils, beans, vegetables spices, and all kind of grains. A gigantic cauldron is buried in ground with room under it for wood fire. All of the provisions are washed and dumped in the cauldron and cooked overnight. So large is the pot that several people are needed to stir it with gigantic steel spoons.

The “fruit” of this labour of love is called Haleem, an Arabic adjective with a variety of meanings in the the South Asian parlance such as modest, soft, humble, mild, forbearing.

Dry Provisions

One-quarter cup each of:

  • Pot barley
  • White quinoa
  • Wheat (husked seeds)
  • Split chana (pea) dal

2 tablespoons each of:

  • Dark quinoa
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Chia seeds
  • Oat seeds
  • Moong dal
  • Urad split dal
  • Red lentils
  • Dried small black and white beans
  • Dried peas
  • Brown Basmati rice or red Himalayan rice
Spices

1 teaspoon each:

  • Nutmeg
  • Mace
  • Cloves
  • Green cardamom seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Black pepper

and:

  • 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder)
  • 4 brown cardamoms
  • Half teaspoon crushed red chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 dry whole red chillies
Fresh Provisions
  • 2 cups organic kale
  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 2 cups any variety of chard or broccoli
  • 2 table spoons of organic cilantro leaves
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 4 fresh green chillies
  • 2 table spoons of thinly sliced pieces of ginger root.
  • 1 table spoon of thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 cups of fat-reduced or zero-fat plain yogurt
  • 4 table spoons of coconut oil.
Pre-Cooking Prep
  • With the exception of the Chia seeds, place all dry provisions in a large bowl and rinse a few times until the water runs fairly clear. Soak overnight or four to five hours (do not soak the Chia seeds).
  • Coarse grind all spices (excepting dry whole red chillies, cumin and coriander, you need to grind only 1 tsp each and set aside the other tsp for the final step) in a spice grinder or use mortar and pestle.
  • Wash kale, spinach and cilantro together.
You need
  • A heavy-base large stainless steel pot.
  • Stainless steel spoon.
  • A hand-held blender.
  • A medium-sized frying pan.
Preparation

Pour yourself a chilled glass of prosecco or bubbly of your choice. Find a stool or something that affords you elevated seating because you are probably going to be around your stove for a while.

Drain the soaked provisions and place these along with chia seeds in the pot. Add 5 to 6 cups of water. Bring the pot to boil, ideally on a medium heat. Once boiling begins, reduce heat to somewhere between low and medium. Keep stirring. Remember: You need to stir it to the point at which you’ll feel no need to further stir anything else at home or at work for the rest of the week. This will keep you out of trouble.

When the ingredients have become fairly soft, add Hemp Hearts, all ground-up spices, kale, spinach, chopped onions, 1 tablespoon of freshly and thinly sliced ginger, chopped tomatoes and yogurt. Cook for few minutes. When the vegetables have wilted and are covered in the mixture, use a hand-held blender to blend the mixture into a very coarse consistency. Once it’s blended, reduce the heat to low and continue stirring, ensuring nothing is sticking to the bottom of your pot. Cook at low heat for another hour (If you are temperamentally an anti-stirring-the-pot-type you may choose to transfer the blended mixture into a slow cooker and let it cook for four to five hours.)

Final Step

When you are close to finishing cooking, in a frying pan add coconut oil, a tablespoon of thinly sliced ginger root, garlic, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fresh red chillies (uncut). Fry these until the garlic has turned golden brown, add dry red chillies. Fry for a minute or so. Pour the everything from the frying pan into the mash mixture, mixing it thoroughly and removing the pot from the heat.

Garnish (optional)

If you want to be fancy, find a medium sized onion, thinly slice it and caramelize it in grape seed oil or coconut oil. Add a pinch of cumin seeds. Transfer your Mystic Mash into a serving bowl and pour caramelized onions and oil on on top. You may also squeeze in a fresh lime, and throw few fresh cilantro leaves and chopped ginger as well.

Pour yourself another glass of prosecco and bask in the sunshine of thought that you have enough “super-food” to eat all week, that cost you next to nothing and that you’ll feel no need to stir anything up during the week. Mystic, eh? And that no other sentient beings were hurt in your pursuit of tasty food.

Serve hot with slightly crisped naan bread or naan chips, available in organic grocery stores and Costco. You may serve as a “dip” with optional garnish. It pairs very well with sweeter white wines such as riesling or gewurztraminer.