I use the readymade MTR brand Vaangi Bhaat powder (easily available in the Indian store) for this dish. I change the vegetable depending on what is available in the fridge it could be capsicum, cabbage, eggplant, potato or even carrots. After the urad daal is very lightly cooked add the peanuts and roast until it becomes crispy. This entry was posted in Easy Vegetarian Recipes, Light Vegetarian Lunches, Low Fat Recipes, Rice, Kichidi Pulao Varieties.
Do not copy, alter, reproduce or publish the content, post, recipes or images without prior permission from the author. In these recessionary times, the “Bring a Friend” 50% discount was an extra enticement especially since at a destination spa like Rancho, the price includes lodging, activities, meals, classes, programs, and scheduled transportation—everything but spa services. Our group flew into San Diego Airport and headed to the historical Old Town State Historic Park for a quick lunch and tour before the hour-long, 45-mile bus trip through San Diego County on U.S. We easily crossed the border into Mexico and were driven to the Ranch, four miles away, far from Tijuana both physically and spiritually. Rancho La Puerta –“The Ranch,” to initiates—was a pioneering force in the spa and fitness movement.
In 1958, she founded the exclusive Golden Door Spa, in Escondido, California, which set a new standard for luxury spas. I met her when I moved to La Jolla (San Diego) in the 1980s as a bride and was impressed by her energy.
After a failed Congressional run in the l980s, at age 65, she went to Washington anyway to run the Inter-American Foundation, which supports self-help efforts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In the 1990s, she founded Eureka Communities, a national leadership-training program for CEOs of nonprofit organizations. The Szekely family still owns and operates the Ranch, with 400 longtime local staff members like concierge Manuelita China, a 50-year veteran, providing the service it has become famous for. Like an adult summer camp, but far more comfortable, it offers myriad activities for every taste.


There are usually about 125 guests a varied group, mostly over 35, some with a companion and some solo. I stay in touch with many of the interesting people I’ve met in the course of the 30 years I’ve been going there.
During my recent visit, the New York group included Central Park Conservancy board member Robyn Joseph, an enthusiastic first-time visitor and interior designer Stephanie Stokes, on her 14th trip to recharge her batteries and climb the mountain, sometimes twice a day. Lined with olive groves, cactus, fragrant sage, lavender, lemon verbena, and rosemary, winding paths meander past swimming pools, tennis courts, gymnasiums, and a meditation labyrinth and offer a glimpse of quail, cottontails and birds.
Scattered amid the gardens are the guestrooms: 83 cozy yet spacious, rustic “casitas” (little houses). There are several home-like choices, each with a private garden entrance and a patio, and many with a wood-stocked fireplace requiring only the touch of a match to provide welcome glow. Szekely’s eye for detail and individual touches are evident, from the original, indigenous art in the guestrooms to the commissioned works in public areas, some by Mexican sculptor Francisco Zuniga. In 19 light-filled studios, Rancho La Puerta offers over 75 mind, body, and spirit classes such as yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, strength training, NIA, aerobic dancing (giggling included), plus tennis and more.
The four pools (including a heated outdoor pool cleaned by oxygen instead of chlorine) are appealing for water aerobics, swimming lessons, or relaxing with a good book by the pool.
Instead of exercising, you might choose a class in sculpting, painting, sketching, improvisational comedy, photography, or Spanish. Or you could go to the Health Center to enjoy the whirlpool, sauna, or steam, or to indulge in a treatment. The appeal of the Ranch is that it offers myriad opportunities to do your own thing during the day plus the conviviality of sharing dinner and stories in the evening. There are also nightly after-dinner movies and one-hour lectures by visiting luminaries such as Bill Moyers, Madeline Albright, and Ruth Wertheimer.
Each morning a breakfast buffet is served in the large, rustic Spanish colonial dining hall.
You’re offered low-fat, high-flavor vegetarian selections or “modified vegetarian cuisine” that includes fish.


The food is tempting and memorable, yet most people managed to stick to 1200 to 1400 calories a day, and thanks to being physically active, lose a couple of pounds or more. For a change of venue at lunch or dinner midweek, you can go to the 4,500-square-foot La Cocina Que Canta (The Kitchen That Sings), the Ranch cooking school that opened in 2007 and is under Brightwood’s wing. Salvador Tinajero, a 30-year employee, is in charge of the organic gardens, where you begin by picking the produce you’ll be preparing. Desperate for sun, a group of friends from New York and San Francisco and I fled to Tecate, Mexico and the legendary destination spa Rancho La Puerta (San Diego region), where we found perfect 70- and 80-degree days. It was founded in 1940 by Deborah Szekely (pronounced Say-kay) and her late husband Edmond Szekely, the Eastern European philosopher. Today the octogenarian Szekely, whose motto is “Siempre major” (always better), remains a powerhouse, putting younger people to shame with her energy and her schedule.
Manager of several thriving business, she was also a local cultural and political activist. Kuchuma, with 3,000 majestic acres, many preserved— a mystical spot for the Kumeyaay Indians. They’re Spanish Colonial design, made of brick and stucco with tile roofs and terracotta floors, wood-beamed ceilings, and arched windows. The options include a simple meadow stroll and a silent Woodlands Meditation Hike as well as more challenging choices, such as a 5.5-mile trek or half-day hike on the lower slopes of the mountain.
What better cardio exercise than following the beautiful trails in glorious surroundings, and how better to justify the relaxing massage that followed? Resident chef Ana Lorena Najar directed our group in creating the French Flavors menu: Onion Soup, Endive and Grape Salad, Asparagus Salad, Roasted Vegetables with Honey and Balsamic, Poached Wild Salmon, Exotic Mushrooms and Spinach Beggars, finished with Orange Sorbet with Honey Yogurt and Pistachios — accompanied by wine.



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