I’ve been feeling just plain happy lately. One of the reasons must surely be the sunshine that has finally come to Paris. Another reason dawned on me yesterday morning in yoga. It was the first time I’d taken an official class from my younger sister (living-room yoga during her training doesn’t count). The experience itself was quite exciting, seeing someone I know so well take on another role. What moved me the most though, and helped me realize why I’m feeling so joyful lately, was the story Kira told during meditation.
She spoke about the musk deer. The story goes that the deer did not realize he himself was secreting the fragrance musk. He ran and ran in search of it. Of course, the deer could not find the source because he was not looking at himself. I spent the rest of the practice thinking about this and the simple happiness I have been feeling lately.
It all really started a few months ago. I have been practicing yoga for nearly ten years now. I started taking regular classes just after college and today I pretty much can’t live without. But, the way I practice has changed significantly just this year. It started while taking a class down in Australia in February. Probably the most empowering yoga class I have ever taken was at The Living Room yoga and health center at Coogee, Sydney. The class itself was dynamic and full of happy energy – I was sweating and smiling. The added touch, though, was the sound of the ocean waves coming in through the open windows. I felt this beautiful, steady (natural) rhythm throughout the entire session. That is what yoga is meant to be.
Ever since, I’ve sought to bring pieces of this unique experience into my yoga practice here in Paris (or wherever I happen to be). This is where it all relates back to the musk deer. When I first started yoga, the initial minutes of meditation were torturous – I couldn’t concentrate. Then, I finally started getting the hang of it – and would imagine a beautiful scene in my head. This was progress, but I understand now that I was searching for a place (like a forest or a lake) that I had never seen. I was trying to meditate using my imagination and transport myself to some perfect spot, where I would never actually go because it wasn’t real. Since Australia, I’ve been meditating to the image (and also the sound, the smell, the feeling) of special places I’ve actually been to. This makes me happy.
Recipes are kind of like my approach to yoga. They’re attached to memories and each time I make them those memories come back. This soup, which I’ve baptized Happy Curry Chowder, is one of them. My mom and I first made it together over the last Christmas holidays. She had the original recipe, torn out of Delicious Living, waiting for me. We made it a few days after my long flight back to New Mexico and I have since recreated it at least a dozen times. I snagged the magazine recipe and keep promising to put our version on my blog so Mom can make it again too – sorry for the delay; I’ve been meditating on it.
For four people, this is a meal in itself.
1 chopped onion (white works, but red brings more flavor)
2 large cloves garlic (minced)
2 carrots (chopped)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
6 mushrooms (sliced)
2 tablespoons ginger (fresh is best, but ground works)
Fresh lime juice (lemon also works)
About a pound of fish (cod, salmon… cut into large pieces)
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh hatch green chili (if you’re lucky enough to have it!)
Chili flakes or powder (these work, too)
2 cups quinoa (cooked)
A few handfuls of baby spinach (optional)
Sesame oil (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
1. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, red pepper, and mushrooms.
2. Add the ginger, curry spices and lime juice.
3. Cover with water and let simmer until the veggies are tender.
4. Add the fish, coconut milk and chili (to taste if using flakes or powder). Cook slowly until the fish is ready.
5. Taste. Add some sesame oil if desired, more spices or salt…
6. Dish the cooked quinoa into separate bowls and cover with some fresh baby spinach (no need to cook beforehand).
7. Ladle the soup over the quinoa and top with some cilantro.