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Langar: Sharing Food with Others
One beautiful tradition of service comes in the form of serving food to other people. In the Sikh tradition, this is called "langar." Yogi Bhajan brought this tradition with him from India. He inspired his students to practice it on a personal and community level.
Sat Jivan Kaur, a senior Kundalini Yoga teacher from New York, wrote a wonderful article about this, sharing a few great recipes.
Langar: A Sacred Tradition of Sharing Food with Others
- Sat Jivan Kaur Khalsa, New York, USA
Langar is a tool to build, nurture, and sustain community in the Aquarian Age. Yogi Bhajan was culturally a Sikh from India and langar is a tradition of the Sikh and Indian way of life. This tradition makes any person who comes to your home a special guest to be welcomed, fed, and housed. For the householder, it teaches us tolerance, generosity, freedom from fear of want, the equality of all, the humility of eating with one another, community, sharing, abundance, gratitude, and a sense of family beyond blood ties.
Yogi Bhajan shared this tradition as a cornerstone of his teachings because everywhere he traveled or taught there was always food, eating, preparing, cooking, and it was considered an honor and a joy to share, serve, feed everyone, clean up, and to get ready for the next meal! With Yogi Bhajan the kitchen was the heartbeat of his home and environments. He taught us to meditate while we cooked and prepared food, pray over each meal by chanting Sat Nam together before we ate, and to feel humbled and joyful that we could serve each other food prepared with prayer, love, and fresh ingredients that were tasty, delicious, and healthy.
Langar is the vegetarian meal that is served at the end of the traditional Sikh Gurdwara. At the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, and at all Gurdwaras in the world, langar is open to everyone and thousands of people are fed daily through this sacred and generous tradition. All of the food and preparation is donated. Everyone sits together in rows on the floor facing each other with an aisle down the middle. Those who serve the meal walk down the center aisle and serve everyone a portion of the meal.
People prepare langar to commemorate many occasions in their lives: the birth of a child, a marriage, a birthday, an engagement, a death, when prosperity is needed, or whenever a miracle is required. We follow this tradition at our Summer and Winter Solstice Celebrations, the European Yoga Festival, and on special occasions, our homes.
Keep this simple supply list for your pantry and refrigerator shelves and try these easy recipes so you can easily reach out and share food and the warm tradition of langar with your family, friends, colleagues, or those in need.
Whole organic Mung Beans
White organic Basmati Rice
Yogurt, regular or low-fat
Mix of 5-6 different colored fresh vegetables (zucchini, red radish, carrots, parsnips, fennel, yams, sweet potatoes, butternut squash)
Bragg’s Aminos (available at health food stores)
Whole cumin seeds and cumin powder
Ghee (clarified butter, or you can find it at Indian/Oriental grocery stores)
Fresh coriander leaves, parsley, dill or basil
Mung Bean Dahl
2 cups of mung beans, cleaned, picked through, and washed
1 bulb of peeled garlic, diced fine
1 onion, diced fine
2 tablespoons of ghee
6 cups of water
2 teaspoons of powdered or whole cumin
Sauté the diced garlic and the cumin seeds in the ghee until the garlic softens and the cumin seeds smell toasty, being careful not to burn either the garlic or the cumin seeds. Then add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes or more, stirring often (adding water as needed) until the mung beans are super soft and the whole mixture becomes thickened like gravy.
1 ½ cups of rice, cleaned, picked through, and washed
3 ¼ cups of water
Bring the water to a boil and add the rice. Bring to a boil again and reduce the heat to a low simmer until all the water is absorbed. Don’t stir, watch closely, and remove from the heat as soon as it is finished cooking. Add 2 Tablespoons of ghee to the pot and cover lightly with the lid.
In a bowl combine 3 cups of plain yogurt (regular or low fat), one grated cucumber (squeeze out the excess liquid), a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a dash of black pepper, a squirt of Bragg’s Aminos, and some finely diced parsley, and/or coriander leaves, and/or dill
Steam or sauté your favorite mixture of vegetables until tender. Season with Bragg’s Aminos, ghee, and black pepper.
Raisin Chutney (spicy sweet condiment)
Soak 1 cup of raisins over night in 2 cups of water until soft. Blend the soft raisins with 2-3 inches of peeled and diced fresh ginger in a food processor or blender, adding more water if needed until the mixture has the texture of thick jam. Serve as a condiment with your langarmeal.
Serve yourlangar all on one plate, with a serving of rice topped by the mung bean dahl, a raita salad of yogurt with cucumber and herbs, a side scoop of steamed or sautéed veggies, and a small spoonful of chutney. Offer your love and prayers as you prepare and cook the food, chant before you eat, and you can raise your Kundalini, heal yourself or others, and have your prayers answered with langar!
Sat Jivan Kaur Khalsa is the Founder of Kundalini Yoga East in New York, New York. She was the co-director of Guru Ram Das Ashram in Brooklyn, NY, from 1971-1998. One of Yogi Bhajan’s personal chefs, she was in charge of kitchens and cooking at many Summer Solstices, Women’s Camps, Children’s Camps, and other events. She is also a KRI Teacher Trainer. Visit her at www.kundaliniyogaeast.com or contact her at [email protected].