South Indian Pongal

A great South Indian breakfast treat usually prepared for the festival 'Sankranti' (meaning a harvest festival). Easy and fun to make.  Here's what you need to get started and how to make it.

1 cup basmati rice
1- 1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
10-12 cashews halved
salt to taste
1 tbs coconut, grated

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
4 Tbs ghee
2 Tbs oil
2 1/2 cm fresh ginger, grated
curry powder (optional)
coriander powder (optional)

In a small pan roast the rice until brown. Set aside.

Add water and rice with the turmeric powder and bring to a slow boil.

Roast without oil the cashew nuts. Set aside.

For the tempering grind and prepare the cumin seeds and peppercorns. fry in ghee the peppercorns and cumin seeds along with the ginger as well as the curry and coriander powder.

Add to the boiled rice and salt (to taste). Stir in the coconut and cashew nuts.

My Homemade Bread

This is a no-knead bread recipe that is incredibly simple to make. The recipe and process is from Bryan Russo (a chef) and also a yoga student. There are 2 versions (one with, and without, honey). I found using honey was the nicest.  The crust was harder and the inside chewy; just like it ought to be.

3 cups of flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 1/4 teaspoon of salt (I used table salt)
1 1/2 cup of filtered water
1/4 teaspoon of dry yeast
1/3 cup honey (optional)

Large spoon
2 mixing bowls
Large cotton cloth
Virgin olive oil
Pan or pizza stone
Plastic wrap and elastic

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add water.
    When using honey do it after the water.
2. Coat generously a bowl with olive oil.
    Place dough in it.
3. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap.
    Use elastic to keep it air tight.
4. Let ferment for 12-18 hours.
    Fold the dough over twice.
5. On a cotton towel coat generously with flour and place the dough in it.
6. Cover light the dough and gently fold over the cotton cloth.
7. Let sit for 1-2 hours in order to rise.
8. Pre-heat your oven at 250 C or 400 F. Use a pot or pizza stone.
9. When ready place on pizza stone or pot. Let bake for 30 mins.


Anti New Year’s Resolutions

On the eve before New Year’s Day my father will check himself into the hospital. He will be undergoing 2 relatively standard heart procedures. These are, however, precursors to finding out if a heart bypass is necessary. Needless to say no operation is fun especially on the very last day of the year. When my dad asked me what I would be doing it struck me that the whole end of the year thing is over-rated and commercialized like Christmas. I replied with something like, “I don’t believe in the new Year hype. I think it’s more important what you do every day during the whole year rather than focusing on one particular night.”

That said, there is a lot of pressure around this time of year to clean up your act and set new goals. I wonder how many people have achieved them or fell short and gradually let the rest of the year slide. Any resolution we make should be made for the whole year and not a well intended ‘to do’ list that gets stuck in first gear.  

Instead of creating another list here are 4 things for the entire year. Because when we talk about a resolution for the year we should be talking about a resolution for life.

1. Smile

The first time I brought my newborn baby to the mirror was during an intense fussy period.  I was amazed when he took a moment to recognize himself and after a brief pause actually smiled.  It wasn’t a shy grin either but a real ear to ear “hey, that’s me and I like me.” As frustrating as it was for me (a new mom) to figure out how to handle a fussy baby, it reminded me of how we each have the power and the ability to look at ourselves and say, ‘hey, that’s me and I like me.” If a baby can do this I am positive we can do the same and learn from this shining example of built-in self-esteem, as well as self-approval.  

2. Reflect

Modern life certainly has left this out of the packaging. Everything appears like a quick-fix with the underlying message, “you need to move faster.” There are practices both in Yoga and Buddhism that stress the importance of regular reflection. Thai Forest Monk Ajahn Chah said there were 30 days in the month and 2 of these days should be used for retreat from your daily routine. It shouldn’t be that you don’t have time or cannot afford to do so. Isn’t that you can’t afford ‘not’ to do it? Perhaps the better question is how. How to reflect? Read on.

3. Be Calm

If you don’t know how to meditate, breathe or concentrate now is a good time to find out how. You don’t have to pay a lot of money to learn these skills. In fact, all teachers will tell you meditation cannot be 'taught'; it is an experience. You can, however, learn the skill of sitting, hand positions, a mantra and other techniques to enhance your knowledge and ability. Swami Veda Bharati (a disciple of the late Swami Rama) advises a 2-minute daily session. Whether you are sitting at a desk, behind a steering wheel or pushing a baby cart you can take 2 minutes to breathe, close your eyes and go within.

4. Recharge

With heavy work schedules, family obligations, personal goals, plans and business pursuits, it is definitely hard to fit it all in. And then there is supposed to be time to relax? One of the wisest things I ever read was by author Robert Sharma who said when people believe they don’t have time to smell the roses it’s like driving your car and never stopping for gas.  Obviously no one does this, but we often neglect ourselves. Take the time to exercise, go for a walk, hang out with friends or do something you love or like as a way to recharge yourself. It’s the same as stopping at the station to fill up.   

In 2014, throw away your 'to-do-it' list and instead make these 4 things your everyday plan for a happier and more balanced life. 


Eggplant Chutney

Fast, easy and fantastic. Here's a recipe I made (a combination from two Indian women I took lessons from). It came out great and acts like a meal onto itself. You can eat this with any bread or rice rather than the traditional chappati.

You need
1 eggplant
2 tbsp coriander spice
1 1/4 tsp tamarind paste
1 chopped small ginger
1 cup grated coconut
salt to taste

For tempering
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
2 tbsp mustard seed

1. Bake the eggplant for 15-20 minutes. Prick with a fork before baking. Add oil to the skin.
2. Once the eggplant is baked (a knife will enter the skin smoothly) peel and chop.
3. Add to a blender the coconut, coriander, salt and tamarind paste. * I also added chopped ginger.
4. Blend together with the eggplant and add a little filtered water. Be careful not to overblend.

1. In a pan add the oil and mustard seeds. Cook until they pop.
2. Gently add the chutney and stir.

30 minutes

The Cream of the Carrot

Here's a delicious and hearty soup I made after changing a bit of the original recipe.  Instead of making a separate broth I used the water from boiling the carrots. I also added white wine that added a slightly different flavour.  It turns out thick (if you like thick) and very tasty.

Preparation time is about 20 minutes.
Cook time 15-20 minutes.

You need:

~ 7-8 medium sized carrots
~ 4 tablespoons of butter or ghee
~ 2 teaspoons of sugar
~ 1 cup of white wine
~ 1 cup of cream
~ 1 cup of basmati rice
~ fresh thyme
~ salt/pepper
~ 1/2 teaspoon ginger


Peel, slice and boil the carrots until semi-tender with 4 cups of water.
Wash and boil the rice in a separate pot. Let sit when ready.
Drain and simmer the carrots  in a saucepan with the sugar and ghee.
I usually cook with ghee and not butter. Add also the rice.
Add salt and thyme as desired.

Using the boiled water for the carrots as the broth add the wine. Stir and let sit.

Once the carrots are soft, add these to the water and blend or puree.
Add pepper as desired along with more thyme. Add ginger.
Whisk in the cream using a half or full cup.

Serve it hot. See my receipt for homemade bread.

Summer Seeded Yogurt

A great dressing, which is easy to make and tasty. Great for a summer dinner. I revamped a recipe I found from a Sivananda-Yoga cook-book (based on many of the meals they serve at their international ashrams). The effect was pretty good.

You need

~ Plain yogurt (2-3 generous tablespoons)
~ sunflower seeds (1 teaspoon)
~ cumin seeds (1 teaspoon)
~ fresh lemon juice (1- 1/2 teaspoons)
~ black mustard seed (1 teaspoon)
~ mustard powder (1/2 teaspoon)

* Original recipe calls for caraway seeds and no mustard or sunflower seed. You can also use fennel instead of the cumin, however.


In a frying pan heat with fresh olive oil (1 tablespoon). Add the mustard seeds and let 'pop'. Once done add the cumin and sunflowers seeds and fry until golden brown. Or, cook until you smell the aroma from the seeds.

In a bowl stir together (you can also blend) the yogurt, lemon juice and the seeds along with the mustard powder. Mix until blended and place in the fridge for 1-1/2 hours.

Serve over raw or cooked veggies. I used baby corn, fried zucchini, cold beets and chick peas.

The Vegan Pancake

Being home from India has given me more time to start up again with home cooking. This time I am experimenting with vegan-style pancakes. Not as difficult as it sounds and pretty good on a Sunday morning or even for dinner.

You need

1 cup of flour
1 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1 cup of soy milk
2 tbsp of vegetable oil or coconut oil


Mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder.

Slowly mix together the soy and oil added to the above.

Once it is blended add it to a frying pan (pre-heated for better results).

Use coconut oil or extra virgin oil on the pan.


Depending on the size of the pancake it can take up to 3-4 minutes to cook on one side.
Flip and allow it cook on the opposite side. For fun, add apple or banana slices (or choose another fruit).


The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


My Photo
Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
View my complete profile



Must Reads

  • Eleven Minutes
  • Illusions: Handbook for Advanced Souls
  • Le Petit Prince
  • Letters to a Young Poet
  • The Philsopher and the Wolf
  • The Witch of Portobello