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Organic in India

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Oh, the problems I run into. India seems to have some fantastic things that I’m going to be sad I can’t easily get when I return home, but at the same time, most things I’m used to are difficult to find or non-existent.

Modern conveniences, such as solid deodorants seem to be non-existent (or, at the very least, difficult to find). These people love some aerosols, and I don’t know how to politely say that they don’t work as well as solids especially when I’m stuck on a crowded bus in the hot and humid monsoon season.  I almost bought an aerosol, but the environmentalist in me wouldn’t let me do it. That got me thinking, I usually purchase an anti-perspirant anyway, and that has toxic chemicals that I absorb through my skin. I’m doing other healthy things, like eating a varied, vegetarian, diet (see recipes below) and staying away from too much alcohol, why should I continue to put chemicals on my skin? Why would I put something on my body that I wouldn’t put in my mouth… it is all ending up absorbed either way? With this, I decided to make my own homemade deodorant! It came out fantastically, and it is incredibly simple to make:

5ish drops of tea tree oil  6-8 table spoons of Coconut oil. This will be solid(ish) at room temperature, so warm it up to mix 1/4 Cup Baking Soda 1/4 Cup Corn Starch (if you can find arrow root powder, it is preferred!)

Once I was happily wearing home made deodorant, I realized that I was still slathering my face and body with sunscreen… yet another culprit on the list of shit they’re not sure is making skin protected or cancerous. I found an amazing blog on how the balance of Omega 3 & 6 in your diet has a lot to do with skin damage in the sun. Which emphasizes my new diet, which I briefly mention below, and also using home made sunscreen:

1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4). 1/4 cup beeswax. 2 Tablespoons Fuller's Earth (multani mitti)

 If given the opportunity I would like to use the 3 ingredients below, but we'll see.

Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil. Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5) Optional: Carrot seed oil (SPF 30)

In the end, it has been a blessing in disguise that I couldn't find some of the modern conveniences I'm used to. Not to mention, finding the ingredients wasn't as hard as I thought! There are a ton of ingredients for food and juice that I feel like I'll miss once I leave India. The abundance of fresh food and fruit juice has made me a happy, healthy vegetarian. I’m not big into eating meat anymore, and that’s not just because I see it sitting dead in the cages on the side of the road before I know they sell it to restaurants that cook it! It is simple to get tons of nutrients and protein in my new vegetarian diet, and I just avoid the big carbs with a high glycemic index like rice.

Here are two recipes for my super-easy favorites:

Palak Paneer •Spinach 2 large bunches •Cottage cheese (paneer) 200 grams •Green chillies 2-3 •Garlic 8-10 cloves •Oil 3 tablespoons•Cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon•Salt to taste•Lemon juice 1 tablespoon•Fresh cream 4 tablespoons

Method Remove stems, wash spinach thoroughly in running water. Blanch in salted boiling water for two minutes. Refresh in chilled water. Squeeze out excess water. Remove stems, wash and roughly chop green chillies. Grind spinach into a fine paste along with green chillies. Dice paneer into one inch by one inch by half inch pieces. Peel, wash and chop garlic. Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds. When they begin to change colour, add chopped garlic and sauté for half a minute. Add the spinach puree and stir. Check seasoning. Add water if required. When the gravy comes to a boil, add the paneer and mix well. Stir in lemon juice. Finally add fresh cream. Serve hot.

Dal Makahni •Whole black gram (black dal/lentils) 1/2 cup •Red kidney beans 2 tablespoons •Salt, to taste •Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon •Ginger, chopped 2 inch piece •Butter 3 tablespoons •Oil 1 tablespoon •Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon •Garlic, chopped 6 cloves •Onion, chopped 1 large •Green chillies,   slit 2 •Tomatoes, chopped 2 medium •Masala powder/seasoning 1 teaspoon Method Pick, wash and soak sabut urad and rajma overnight in three cups of water. Drain. Pressure cook sabut urad and rajma in three cups of water with salt and half the red chilli powder (you can add half the ginger too if you wish) for three whistles. Open the lid and see if the rajma is totally soft. If not cook on low heat till the rajma becomes totally soft. Heat butter and oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds. When they begin to change colour, add ginger, garlic and onion and sauté till golden. Add slit green chillies, tomatoes and sauté on high heat. Add the remaining red chilli powder and sauté till the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp. Add the cooked dal and kidney beans along with the cooking liquour. Add some water if the mixture is too thick. Add garam masala powder and adjust salt. Simmer on low heat till the dals are totally soft and well blended. Serve hot.
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