Cooking is my meditation — well, one of my many meditative practices. For me, meditation doesn’t necessarily require sitting quietly (though, that is most effective IMO). The whole purpose of meditation, in whatever form it takes, is to cultivate awareness and compassion.
Boston yogi, Rebecca Pacheco, describes it well:
It’s not possible to be bad at meditation. There’s doing it and not doing it. That’s all. If you want to try: try. And be assured that it doesn’t always look, sound, or feel Zen. Sometimes, it feels wretched or boring or like nothing much at all. It doesn’t matter how long or where you sit, whether roused by an antique Buddhist gong or iPhone.
All experiences of meditation are good and valuable because they cultivate the skill of being present, of strengthening the mind.
How often do you focus your attention on one thing or one task? When sitting in meditation, it’s about becoming still and maybe repeating a mantra to gain control of the mind and reach a heightened awareness. On your yoga mat, it’s a matter of staying present and keeping your physically body and attention in the room. In Zumba class, it’s about staying engulfed in the rhythm, the movement and how your body feels as you move with the beat. In the kitchen, it’s about paying attention to the task at hand — slicing carefully, stirring thoughtfully and paying attention to the ingredients going into your body.
The goal of meditation is to become more aware of your physical and mental body — while also developing compassion, patience, generosity and forgiveness. The intended outcome of all things you do should be the same — to develop compassion, patience, generosity and forgiveness. This is especially true for the foods you fuel your body with, which is something I’ve been reading about in my Japanese home cooking book by Elizabeth Andoh, “Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen.” Rhythm and flow in the kitchen is important — so is cooking with compassion.
Oh, you came here for a recipe?
The point of all of this is… I have found so much joy in cooking lately and I attribute that to the recent meditative nature of my work in the kitchen. I’m always attentive about what is going into my body (for many reasons), but I didn’t always engulf myself in the process. This recipe is based off of one from VeganSandra.
Chickpea Coconut Curry
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 leek, just the whites sliced thin (or 1/2 white onion sliced thin)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes
1, 14 oz can of coconut milk (I buy organic, light coconut milk from Trader Joe’s)
- In your soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat.
- Add thinly sliced leeks/onions and salt. Cook for one minute. Add curry, cumin and and bay leaves. Stir and cook for one minute. Add drained chickpeas and cook for another minute. Add the entire can of tomatoes and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Open the can of coconut milk stir vigorously. Add about 1/2 of the can to your pot and simmer for at least 5 minutes.
- Final step: Taste test your curry and add more coconut milk if it’s not coconut-y for you. Mine was plenty coconut-y without the rest of the can — but, everyone’s taste buds are different.