This moment will not last. The zucchini and fresh basil around us will last a little longer. It’s August, they surround us, time to eat them. I’m writing from what some friends kindly call a “rustic” place in the woods. It’s become a great place to retreat to, with all the amenities of your average Tibetan hut. As a dwelling place in winter for the typical North American, it‘s not quite there yet. It’s a work in progress. Yet good stuff is happening here.
In many sacred traditions, including the Hindu, Judaic, Christian, and Islamic ones, food is offered as part of some special rite. There are special days where special foods are eaten, sometimes at special times. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition is no different. There are special days each month for practice in which food is offered as a feast, a tsok, for the divine forces, the elements of nature, and everyone else. I happened to be out here in the woods on a silent retreat when the opportunity for a Dakini Day tsok arose. Dakini Days celebrate the sacred feminine, the sky goers, the goddesses. In this tradition, tsok food offerings need to be whole and fresh. If they come in a box or jar, the container needs to not have been opened or used before. Often fresh fruit, flowers, and/or sweets are offered. Yet something savoury is also fine as an offering.
Being in the woods with a one-burner stove and a small garden patch and no prior planning, one makes do for a tsok. I had no flashy fruit to offer. Yet there was – you have it – generous amounts of summer squash and fresh herbs. Hence, the recipe that follows. Being in a somewhat pleasantly altered state from having practiced for several days, as I was serving the Dakini Day Zucchini up on the altar, I was delighted to notice it had all the colors of a Tibetan prayer flag – yellow, green, red, white, and blue, for the five elements and the five Buddhas and their consorts. This was thanks to the last minute addition of a few edible flowers on top of the saffron-rich yellow and green squash. It felt like a serendipitous coincidence. Feel free to enjoy in your next celebration of the sacred!
DAKINI DAY ZUCCHINI
Time: 10 minutes
Wash and slice: 2 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash. They can be festive shapes. Set aside for the moment.
Put in a medium skillet: 2 Tablespooons ghee or butter or your favorite plant-based oil.
Place immediately on top of the ghee while it is melting: 1/8 teaspoon saffron
Add (I just cut them in with kitchen scissors): ½ cup fresh basil
2 Tbsps. fresh oregano
¼ cup fresh cilantro
Add: 1 pinch ground cumin to the pan.
Then put in: the sliced zukes. If you’ve got some fresh squash blossoms, feel free to add 3 – 4 of those too.
Stir to coat the veggies well in the aromas and ghee. Cover and cook until tender, about five minutes.
Salt to taste (I used a pinch).
Garnish (optional) with fresh edible flowers.
Effects: VPK = , tridoshic, calms all doshas.
If you ate gallons of this, it could conceivably increase Kapha. Otherwise, no problem.