“It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.” —Dorothy on The Golden Girls
I was fortunate to have had two moms growing up, one mom who I spent my evenings with and another one who was my day-time mom, my grandma, who I called “Baa”! My mom had a full-time job, working six days a week, so it was my Baa who influenced me more during my early years. She even gave me my first self-defense lessons, showing me how I could bring a boy down to his knees by twisting his arm if he made advances at me!
My grandma was a tough cookie. She was widowed while still in her early thirties and she took it upon herself to raise her five young children. Back in those days, women in India weren’t supposed to go to school and my grandma was barely able to read or write. She made ends meet by working in a school kitchen and taking up small labor jobs when she could. Even her young children contributed in their own ways, working odd jobs while still going to school. By any standards, my grandma had a pretty rough life. But if you met her, you would think that she had won the lottery! I never saw her complaining about how tough she had it in her life; on the contrary, she always found ways to make life easier for us.
Once I was old enough to understand the sacrifices this woman had made throughout her life, I started asking her about her younger years, and how she found the strength and courage to survive and thrive against all odds. While she preferred to explain things by telling me about the events of her life, one of the most important lessons she taught me was a simple one – there are only two ways to live life – with a sense of entitlement or with a sense of gratitude. She would explain to me that no person, no task, or no work was little. Everything and everyone has a purpose in this world, if you have a positive attitude, amazing things can be created from nothing.
You couldn’t miss her sense of gratitude if you spent an hour with her! Years of living on prayers and hanging by a thread had made her appreciate even the littlest things in her life. If there was any single place where her gratitude was most visible, it was the kitchen! Some of her favorite recipes made use of the things we toss in the trash without thinking twice – Banana Peel Sabji, Radish Greens cooked with Garbanzo Flour, Leftover Rotis cooked in Yogurt sauce, Sweets made out scraps leftover from making Ghee! My grandma passed away a couple of years back, but the life lessons and recipes she has taught me will be with me no matter what corner of the world I end up in!
To celebrate Mother’s Day, I wanted to make something that would make my grandma proud! I decided to use a whole carrot, including the greens. When I went to whole foods to buy my carrots, I was surprised to find that they removed the greens before putting the carrots out for customers. I had to request the staff at whole foods to find me carrots with the greens intact!
I have prepared pesto with carrot greens and coconut flakes, to be used as my salad dressing. This hearty salad has black rice and pickled carrots, and you can use your favorite raw vegetables for crunch and texture. Black rice offers all of the health benefits of brown rice, but it also packs some serious antioxidants. Because of its dark color, black rice bran contains the same antioxidants found in blueberries or blackberries! This citrusy salad can be eaten as your main meal, or pairs well with any seafood. You can prepare this salad in advance so you can spend more time with your mother. Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there! Enjoy!
Black Rice and Carrot Salad
Carrot Greens Pesto
1 cup carrot greens
1/2 cup mint/basil leaves
1/2 cup shredded coconut flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey/agave
juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper
Put all the ingredients in the food processor, mix until smooth. You can add extra tbsp of water or olive oil to get the desired consistency.
1 cup black rice
2 cups of water/vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp salt
Rinse and drain the rice. Put rice in a saucepan, add water, salt and cinnamon stick, bring to boil. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 30 minutes until the water gets absorbed.
1/2 cup white wine vinegar/rice vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
1 cup carrots – thinly sliced
(or mix of thinly sliced vegetables – radish, cauliflower, green beans, turnips, beets)
1/2 cup shallots – thinly sliced
1 avocado – pit removed, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup hazelnuts/almonds – toasted and roughly chopped
carrot greens for garnish
Mix vinegar, wine, honey and salt in a saucepan, bring to boil. Remove from heat and add sliced carrots & shallots. Marinate the vegetables at room temperature for about 1 hour.
To assemble the salad, put black rice in a big bowl. Add 4 tbsp of pesto, mix well with your hands. Now add pickled vegetables, avocado and hazelnuts, mix gently. Garnish with carrot greens and serve.