Monday, April 2, 2012

fasting from my excess vs. fasting from my need

This is not the kind of fast I would normally do.

That's what I told my husband last night, at the end of day 1 of the Hungry for Change fast we are doing with our church. It took me a while to figure out what I meant by that, but what it comes down to is this: I'm willing to fast from my excess, but not from my need.

In terms of money, it's nothing new to talk about giving sacrificially (from our need) vs. giving from our excess. Jesus himself laid the groundwork for this with the story of the poor woman who gives her two coins at the temple (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4):

"Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

To be honest, I am not a good money-giver. I do not give money sacrificially to the Church (or anywhere else, separately or combined). I don't even give that famed 10% figure. I do give a greater fraction than I did 2 years ago, which was more than I was giving 2 years before that. I am not worried yet about giving sacrificially because I'm still working on giving from my excess, and I can tell myself I am consistently improving.

Fasting is different. I consider myself a pretty hard-core Lenten faster/"abstainer". While I've had some cop-out years, I've also given up some pretty challenging things for Lent. Meat. Dessert. Once I gave up everything with discernible sugar added -- desserts, sugared drinks, baked beans, almost anything anyone ever puts out at a "continental breakfast"...

However, as I think back on it, I have never fasted from my need. I have always fasted from my excess.

So. This will be good for me. I won't just be trying to teach myself some good habit, some way that I should always be living but seems more manageable if I only have to do it for 40 days. It won't just be an abstention. It'll be my first real sacrificial fast. I'm excited to see where it takes me spiritually.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Traditional Lentil Pancakes (Addai)

My husband decided to "practice" for the Hungry for Change fast we are doing with our church by modifying the recipe below to use regular beans instead of lentils. (The fast is: 1 lb rice, 1lb beans, and some oatmeal, per person, for 5 days.)

Modifications for the fast:
  • replace all lentils with beans
  • 2nd soak step = ~8 hours instead of 3 (ie all day or overnight)
They were a little less crispy but still delicious.

This recipe comes from 1,000 Indian Recipes, by Neelam Batra. (Side note: it's also vegan and gluten-free.) If you don't have asafoetida, throw in some cumin or something.

Traditional Lentil Pancakes (Addai)
Makes 12-16 pancakes

  • 2/3 cup long grain rice
  • 3 tbsp each: dried white urad beans (ural dal), dried yellow mung beans (mung dal), dried yellow split peas (channa dal), dried split pigeon peas (toor dal) (Note: any substitution of other lentils is ok, just make it a total of ~2/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cup water, plus more for soaking dals
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 fresh green chile peppers (e.g. serrano), stemmed
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground asafoetida
  • 3-4 tbsp peanut oil
  1. Wash rice and dals in 3-4 changes of water. Then place together in a bowl and soak overnight in water to cover by about 2 inches.
  2. Drain and transfer to a blender (or food processor), add remaining ingredients except oil, and blend until smooth, adding up to 1 3/4 cups water, as needed, to make a thick and smooth batter. Whip with a fork a few seconds to make the batter fluffy. Set aside for 3-4 hours. If the batter is too thick, add more water, as needed, to make a semi-thick batter of pouring consistency.
  3. Heat a cast-iron tava or a nonstick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat until a sprinkling of water sizzles immediately. Wipe the tava and put about 1 tsp oil in the center. Then, using a metal soup ladle, pour about 1/2 cup batter onto the hot tava and spread it evenly into a 5- to 6-inch circle by lightly pushing the batter outward in round, circular motions with the back of the ladle.
  4. As the pancake sets and turns lightly golden on the bottom (which happens very quickly), drizzle 1/2 to 1 tsp oil around the edges and a few drops on top and cook until the bottom turns a rich golden hue, about 1 min. Turn over once and cook until the other side takes on a similar color, about 1 min. Transfer to a serving platter, repeat with the remaining batter, and serve hot.
Serve with yogurt and brown sugar, ghee/butter and mulagai podi, and/or tomato or coconut chutney.