Cashew Rice with Peas – Meatless Mondays #10

This is a simple and easy to make recipe for lunch or dinner.

Start by steaming rice, Basmati rice is traditional rice from India. Basmati is imported from the east and available at all Indian grocery stores and many health food stores. Substitute with white or brown rice if needed, however, basmati rice is extra special in that it is nutritious and has very good flavor.
cashew rice

What is Needed:

2 to 3 cups steamed basmati rice
½ cup roasted cashew pieces
½ cup of peas
2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
pinch of turmeric powder
pinch of hing (a spice used in many Indian dishes)
½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Fresh tomatoes diced, for garnish
Freshly chopped coriander leaves or dry spice

Once the rice is steamed, the dish is ready to assemble…

Add the ghee to a clean pot, and then add the steamed rice.
Add turmeric, hing, coriander, and salt. Stir ingredients together until well mixed, making sure not to crush/over work the rice.
Add cashews and peas, blend into rice mixture and heat through.

Garnish with the tomatoes and more coriander.
Serve with chapatis or flat bread if desired.

Hint: Replace the ghee with extra virgin olive oil to make a vegan dish.
Serves 4

~ pH Readings for Kombucha & Fermented Food Cultures ~

Why Check pH Levels in the Kombucha Tea Beverage & Other Ferments?

Though pH readings is not always needed, adding pH checks to the culturing process helps to maintain proper viable and healthy culture strains/starter. Each type of starter culture will produce different amounts of acid as part of the fermentation process. Checking these levels, insure that your cultured foods and ferments are safe to consume. For the safety factor, all ferments should measure below 4.6 on the pH scale, as per FDA regulations. This insures that the cultured food is free of human pathogens, safe to consume, and that the desired bacteria/yeast cultures are viable and does not become overrun by foreign yeasts or bacteria.

pH test strip,
How Does Fermentation/Culturing Work?

Fermented foods, which are foods produced or preserved by the action of microorganisms, are great for health and well-being of the body systems (especially the intestinal/gut system). In this context, fermentation typically refers to the fermentation of sugar to alcohol using yeast, but other fermentation processes involve the use of bacteria such as lactobacillus, including the making of foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.
The art and knowledge of fermentation had been around for 1000’s of years and the scientific community calls it zymology. We call it wild fermentation or raw cultured foods.

It all starts by choosing the culture starter medium, such as kombucha tea culture or kefir grains, then ‘feeding’ the culture with the correct food source. After the recommended fermentation time the cultured food is ready to consume or used for making other cultured food products. An example would be making milk kefir and then using the ready cultured milk to make RAW living cheeses. Testing the pH before and after the process insures that the finished product is safe for consumption.
Many pickled or soured foods ferment, thus dropping the pH levels, as part of the pickling or souring process, like Japanese pickles. However, many preserved/fermented food stores go through a process of brining, vinegar induction, or the addition of other acidic foods sources such as lemon juice.

How to Test pH Correctly

Correct procedures when checking the pH levels allows for the most accurate readings. A short-range strip (o-6 pH) works the best over a broad range strip (0-14 pH). Human or saliva testing strips will not work due to the range of the product, from 5 – 8 pH. If you have purchased testing strips from us then the process is very easy. Simply open the roll of kombucha ‘test strip papers’ (0-6 pH range) and remove about an inch long piece of testing paper. Make sure the hands are clean and dry.

Check the pH reading by pulling a small sample of the ferment vs. placing the test paper in the ferment. Use a straw, spoon, or ‘wine thief’ to pull a sample to test. Dip the kombucha/culture test strip into the liquid to check. Then with a flick of the wrist, remove any excess liquid and immediately check the pH against the color-coded chart. The check should be within the desired range for the ferment tested, see below.

pH and Dairy Cultures

dairy kefir grains
With dairy type cultures, such as milk kefir or yogurt starters, the pH is high to start with a drop in pH as the milk is cultured. There is not a starting point to check pH with dairy cultures. At the end of the process, the pH should read 4.5 or lower on a
color-coded pH chart.

pH and Water Kefir Strains

Water Kefir Grains
Water kefir grains act somewhat like the dairy kefir in that the initial pH test will be on the alkaline side of the scale. Depending on the strength of the old starter liquid, the test may fall within the correct range. Why we recommend use a slice of lemon to lower the pH and keep it below 4.5 pH.

pH and Kombucha Tea Cultures

kombucha tea culture
For kombucha tea beverage, you should take two pH readings. One check is done when adding the starter tea to the new batch of tea/sugar solution and the second at the end of the brewing cycle.
This first pH test reading should be 4.5 pH or below, if it is too high then keep adding starter tea from your old batch
until the desired pH is reached.
Many kombucha recipes found online have a certain generic amount of starter tea added to a new batch. However, depending on the acidic strength of the old starter tea the amount added will vary from batch to batch. One may find that only a small amount is needed from a strong sour batch and much more required from a sweet batch of tea.
Adding the correct amount of starter, by reading pH, insures that the fresh tea solution is acidic enough to combat any human pathogens, foreign molds, or yeast.

Measure the second pH test at the finish of the brewing/culturing process. After your tea has brewed for the required amount for time,  7 to 14 days in most cases, then it is recommended to test the pH until it is at, or close, to 3 pH.
The desired range of the complete kombucha tea
is between 3.2 and 2.8 pH.
This reading tells you that the brewing cycle is complete and the tea is at the correct pH point to drink. Of course, this can very a bit to suit your needs and taste. If this final pH is too far on the alkaline side of the pH scale, then the tea will need a few more days to complete the brewing cycle.

pH and JUN Honey Culture

jun honey culture
Many people now have access to the JUN honey culture. JUN is much like kombucha culture, yet a different strain and results. The ingredients in JUN are different from kombucha tea culture. Kombucha is made with black tea and cane sugar, whereas, JUN is created using honey and a lighter tea,  such as white or green tea.
For checking pH levels, the steps and range is the same as kombucha tea.

We hope this post on checking kombucha pH levels in kombucha and other ferment will help in producing healthy and safe fermented beverages.  See all our products at our culture store.

Happy Culturing!
Live, Grow, and Share Cultured Foods

Trinity Rice with Spiced Chapatis & Cultured Yogurt – Meatless Mondays #09

Trinity Rice with Spiced Chapatis

Here are two easy to make dishes from India, which works with Ayurvedic medicine system.  Chapatis are Indian flat breads that do not require resting or yeast.  In the Ayurvedic system, onions, garlic, and ginger are the ‘trinity of roots’.
The rice and flat breads make a nice simple meal.
Serve with fresh cultured yogurt on the side.

Trinity Rice

India trinity rice

What is needed…
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 inch ginger root, peeled and grated
1 cup basmati rice or a short grain white rice
½ to ¾ cup ghee (known in the West as clarified butter, buy or make your own)
1 tomato, peeled
4 to 5 cups assorted vegetables

Directions…

Rinse the rice thoroughly.  Sauté any spices desired and then add the trinity roots of onion and ginger until onions are cooked through.  Then add garlic and cook another minute.
Add tomato, assorted vegetables, and rice along with 4 cups of water.
Cover and let simmer on low heat, checking frequently. Add more water if necessary.
Cook until vegetables are soft and rice is done.

Yields 4 servings. Serve with spiced chapatis, recipe below.

Spiced Chapatis

Chapati flat breads

What is needed…
2 cups whole-wheat flour
Ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom seeds, pods removed
1 tsp fennel seeds

Directions…

Place flour in a bowl.  Mix in spices. Stir in enough water to make a soft dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Add more flour if needed.  Remove dough from bowl and knead on a floured surface until it becomes smooth, soft and springy.  The dough should not be sticky at all.

Heat an iron skillet over a medium-high heat.  Form dough into ping pong size balls.  Flatten balls into squat patties.
Flour patties on both sides and roll out on flour covered board into 6-inch diameter circle and 1/8 inch thickness.

Place in hot skillet.  Cook on the first side until lightly crusted, but not browned.  Flip over and cook second side the same way.  Next, place the chapati directly over a gas flame, flipping it once or twice so that it puffs up, or flip it over in the skillet and lightly press to make it puff up.  Then flip and puff the other side.

chapati puffed

Note: When properly done, there should be only a small amount of browning on either side.  If the chapati browns too rapidly, the heat is to high.
As each chapati is done and still hot, spread ghee (or melted butter) on top of each one and stack.

Yields 8-12 chapatis

Enjoy this great light and easy meatless dish for lunch or dinner…enjoy!