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  • Rosalind Daws

Monks Porridge


A rather strange start to my journey with blogs perhaps but it works in some way (my way!)

I learnt to make this porridge in the jungle in India from a Buddhist monk called Gosh Pos. We ate it every morning and he delighted to tell stories of how it had gained him entry to see Masters when everyone else was being turned away. We made it with a sort of semolina in India as oats are rare there, but it works it's magic with oats too - and I have a feeling with food that that grows easily around you has the medicine within it that you need more of in that environment. That said, living in Wales, I have no desire to eat tatws and rhudan (swede) all winter! A middle path in all things is my way if possible.

So Monks Porridge, as it is known here, came about from Gosh's desire to fill his body with good things at every opportunity. He was a great believer in the healing power of spices and so threw them all in to have all bases covered. Experiment with your proportions and make it your own - we all have slightly different needs and tastes for good reason. Hence the recipe is a loose guide rather than a prescriptive set of rules, be creative.

Enough porridge oats to fill your belly - we have different appetites - I am part hobbit and so will not embarrass myself by writing down in public what that amount maybe for me! It does depend if I've just got out of a cold river quite a lot.

Spices in a rough descending order of amounts

Turmeric

Cinnamon

Cardamon

Ginger powder

Cloves

Star Anise

Coriander powder

Fennel seeds

Cumin powder

Mustard seeds

Fenugreek

Nigella seeds

I grind the cloves, fenugreek, cardamon, cinnamon, fennel, nigella and mustard. I tend to make up a pot of the spices ready to be used each morning - it saves a lot of time. You can use fresh ginger instead of powdered if you prefer that.

Put the oats in a heavy bottomed pan on a low heat with water - you can add more so err on the side of caution I would but about the same volume of water as you have oats to start with. Add a spoonful of the spice mix. If you haven't made up a pot of the mix I guess a pinch of this and 1/4 of teaspoon of that works well - starting at the top with a half teaspoon of turmeric and work your way down.

Add to your taste

raisins,

chopped dates,

chopped (sulphur free) apricots,

dried cranberries,

pumpkin seeds,

sunflower seeds,

sesame seeds,

shelled hemp seed,

pecans,

brazil nuts - whatever dried fruit or nut takes your fancy or is available really.

Also some chopped up banana.

Fresh blueberries are good, grapes if you fancy that. Gosh put carrot in sometimes, and even once or twice stirred a beaten egg in though I have never repeated that since coming home. He used to put jaggery in - a kind of solid, unrefined sugar. It is available here in Asian stores and also sold as panela from South America. I don't tend to add sweetness these days as I find it's sweet enough and I like to avoid too much sugar.

Let the porridge heat slowly, stirring from time to time. Add water if it gets too sticky. The oats cook and loose structure. If you need to speed it up start with boiling water or have it on a high heat to start and turn it turn once steaming. This doesn't work too well with large amounts though - it sticks and burns at the bottom of the pan. That burnt oats taste stays with you for a long time! I once had to decant a whole big pan of porridge into a varied array of vessels (including teapots) in order to save it from that very aftertaste. A ridiculous sight I was! So slowly does it. Or as a friend used to say in India "slowly slowly catchy monkey".

I serve the porridge with a spoonful of coconut oil now - which I love, but you can use yoghurt or milk/milk substitutes if you prefer. My friend adds peanut butter and raspberries - works well. I think there as many versions of monks porridge as there are people.

Good luck with your porridge adventures - let me know if you discover a new addition that has to be tried!


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