Spices and Recipes
Ayurveda is a way of healing and a way of life that takes into consideration the whole person. According to the teachings of Ayurveda, every aspect of life contributes to overall health. Poor health seldom has a simple or single cause. Some factors will respond to changes, like diet and some are beyond individual control, like the weather, With the latter, there are actions that can be taken to reduce or eliminate the impact. Of course it is not possible or wise to try to change everything at once. Ayurvedic literature states slow and steady are the best route to successful change. Most people find that diet is the best place to begin an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Optimum health is a balancing act – taking into account the weather – the time of day – your age, lifestyle – eating habits, sensory stimulation exercise, rest and sleep.
Every act you perform around food should be in a loving honoring and sacred manner, Whether you are growing the food, selecting it in the supermarket or preparing it for cooking, the amount of loving awareness and respect you give it transfers exactly to the food and to the hungry stomachs. Food that is prepared in a loving manner can bring truly healing results to everyone.
|ajwan||May stimulate pita – it is an excellent pain killer and heart tonic. It also helps get rid of gas in the intestine.|
|bay leaf||(increases pita) promotes sweating is a digestant and stimulant, kindles gastric fire and can be a diuretic|
|Basmati rice||Very digestible and nutritious|
|Cardamom||(Increases pita) good for cough, breathlessness, burning urination and hemorrhoids. It is a digestant and improves the flavour of food.|
|charole nuts||Small nut from India – taste like almonds – used in deserts|
|cumin seed||Cumin is a vital part of Ayurvedic cooking, because of its distinctive taste and wonderful medicinal qualities. For any digestive complaints, one might almost say “just close your eyes and use cumin!” Cumin kindles the gastric fire and improves th absorption of minerals in the intestines. It helps relive problems of gas and can also act a s a mild pain reliever. Stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea can be relieved by cumin. Cumin is also very restorative to the tissues.|
|Coriander or Cilantro||has good digestive properties, can reduce fever and its diuretic –( increased excretion of water) – the plant has less strong effects than the seed|
|cinnamon||may stimulate pita if used in excess) is an effective in enhancing digestion, toxic (ama) conditions and improves circulation., it helps to prevent heart attacks owing to its blood thinning properties.|
|cloves||(increases pita) it is a good digestive stimulant and acts on sinus and bronchial congestion|
|Dal||Any type of dried bean, pea or lentil is called dal. Most dal is husked and split for quick cooking & digestibility. Sometimes dal is oiled to help preserve it.|
|garlic||is a good tonic for the heart lungs and muscles and helps to prevent gas and breathlessness., it can be used as a pain killer and as an aphrodisiac (provokes pita)|
|ginger Fresh||Pita use in moderation – both types of ginger kindles digestive fire and improve digestion, absorption and assimilation of foodstuff. Ginger can improve circulation, relieve congestion, help break down blood clots and may aid in preventing heart attacks. It is a good domestic remedy for the common cold, cough and breathlessness.ginger Powdered – (may stimulate pita)|
|ghee||Pacifies pita and vata – A digestive helping to improve absorption and assimilation. It nourishes and is good for improving memory and lubricates the connective tissue. Ghee makes the body flexible and in small doses is tridoshic.|
|HIng or Asafoetida||Strong smell – excellent digestive, helps reduce gas caused b beans, Use in small quantities and use only the compound type.|
|Mustard seed brown or black||(can provoke pita in excess) the most powerful action of mustard seeds is to assist in healing the bronchial system. Mustard seeds are very helpful with sprains and pains or to help get rid of intestinal worms. Mustard is also a digestive. Mustard oil is strongly aromatic and heating – so it is best to use it in cold climates. It will cover up all other tastes when you cook with it. Yellow mustard seeds have similar properties but are milder|
|Nutmeg powder||Increases pita) improves the flavour of food. It is good for digestion, helps relive cough, induces sleep and can reduce pain|
|rock salt||(Increases pita & kapha) salt is a digestant and improves the flavour of food. It is a laxative and antiseptic and can be used to induce vomiting. Rock salt is a mineral salt that is very digestive. Rock salt has a special flavour and it does not retain water in the body|
|Poha||Basmati rice that has been pounded or rolled. Can be thick or thin. Doesn’t require much cooking.|
|safron||is balancing and is good for improving skin colour and complexion. Some of its many uses are as a blood cleanser, liver detoxifier, nerve tonic, blood thinner and as a heart tonic. It has aphrodisiac and can help increase sperm count. It can also be used for cough cold congestion and hemorrhoids.|
|Sucanat or jaggary||Jaggary – Unrefined sugar made from the juice of crushed sugar cane stalks – Sucanat – a granulated natural sugar made from the pure sugar cane juice|
|turmeric||is the best medicine in Ayurveda. It cures the whole person. Turmeric can be used by all doshas. Turmeric helps digestion, maintains the flora of the intestine, reduces gas, has tonic properties and is an antibiotic. Turmeric can be used for cough, sty, diabetes, hemorrhoids, cuts, wounds, burns and skin problems. It helps reduce anxiety and stress. Note: people with hypoglycemia can use small amounts of turmeric in cooking but should not take it in quantity. The yellow colour of turmeric tends to stain clothes and skin.|
|tulsi||Indian basil or holy basil it has a refreshing pleasant smell so keeping a plant in your house can purify the air. It is good for fever, cough and breathlessness.|
Cardamom in coffee or ghee and black pepper with potatoes can often help alleviated some of the negative side effects (coffee is stimulating & ultimately depressing to the system, and potatoes cause gas)
if our bodies have become accustomed to a certain food combination through many years of use, such as eating cheese with apples, the it is likely that our body has made some adaption or become accustomed to this. Which is not to say that we should continue this practice, but to explain why the newcomer to apple as and cheese may experience a strong case of indigestion whilst the old timer digests It adequately.
A cup of lassi at the end of a meal also aids the digestive process. Make by blending ¼ cup yoghurt with 2 pinches of ginger & cumin powder in 1 cup water
Tomatoes are okay once in a while if cooked with spices such as cumin, turmeric and mustard seeds. They are not good for acidity arthritis, sciatica kidney and gallstones
Improper eating habits
Eating too soon after a full meal
Too much water r no water during a meal
Drinking very chilled water during a meal or indeed any time
Eating when constipated
Eating at the wrong time of day – either too early or too late
Eating too much heavy food or too little light food
Drinking fruit juice or eating fruit with a meal
Eating without real hunger
Eating incompatible food combinations
Snacking between meals
Useful tips to aid digestion
Eat ½ tsp fresh grated ginger with a pinch of rock salt before each meal to stimulate agni (digestive fire)
Salt also aids digestion, and helps to retain water
Ghee stimulates Agni and improves digestion
Small sips of warm water during a meal will aid digestion and absorption of food. Do not drink iced water as it slows Agni and digestion. Indeed ice water should not be taken under most circumstances as it is too shocking for the system.
Proper chewing is essential to good digestion; ensuring good gets thoroughly mixed with saliva.
Ideally one should fill the stomach with one third food, one third water and one third should be empty.
Incompatible food combining
|Beans||Fruit, cheese, eggs, fish ,m milk, meat, yoghurt|
|Eggs||Fruit, especially melons, beans, cheese, fish, milk, meat yoghurt|
|Fruit||As a rule with any other food. There are exceptions, such as certain cooked combinations, as well as dates, and milk.|
|Honey||When mixed with an equal amount of ghee by weight ie 1tsp honey with 3 tsp ghee boiled or cooked honey|
|Hot drinks||Mangos, cheese fish meat starch yoghurt|
|Lemon||Cucumbers milk tomatoes yoghurt|
|Melons||EVERYTHING – especially dairy, eggs, fried foods, grains, starches. Melons more than most fruit should be eaten alone or left alone.|
|Milk||BANANAS, cherries, melons, sour fruits; breads containing yeast, fish, meat yoghurt|
|Nightshades (potato, tomato, eggplant)||Melon, cucumber, dairy products|
|Radishes||Bananas raisins milk|
|Tapioca||Fruit especially banana & mango; beans, raisins, jiggery|
|Yoghurt||Fruit, cheese, eggs, fish, hot drinks, meat, MILK, nightshades|
|According to ancient Ayurvedic literature, honey should never be cooked. If cooked, the molecules become a non-harmonogenized glue that adheres to mucous membranes’ and clogs subtle channels, producing toxins. Uncooked honey is nectar. Cooked honey is considered a poison.|
Mung Dal Kitchari (Tridoshic) serves 6
1 cup yellow mung dal
1 cup basmati rice
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup water
3 tbsp ghee
1 ½ inc piece of cinnamon bark
5 whole cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
3 bay eaves
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp salt
6 cups water
Wash the mung dal and rice until water is clear. Soaking the dal for a few hours helps with digestibility.
In a blender, put the ginger, coconut, cilantro & ½ cup water & blend until liquefied.
Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and add the ghee, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns & bay leaves. Stir for a moment until fragrant.
Add the blended items to the spices, then the turmeric & salt. Stir until lightly browned. Stir in the mung dal and rice & mix very well.
Pour in the 6 cups of water, cover & bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to very low and cook, lightly covered, until the dal and rice are soft, about 25-30 minutes.
Chai (serves 4)
3 cups of water
2 pinches ground nutmeg
2 pinches ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground cardamom
½ inch piece of fresh ginger
1 tsp black tea (or dandelion root or lemon grass)
1 cup milk
2 tsp sweetener of your choice
Boil the water with the spices for 2 minutes
Add the tea and simmer for two minutes
Add the milk and heat until hot but not boiling.
Add sweetener and serve
You may vary the amounts of milk and sugar according to taste and dosha. Of course, increasing the milk and or sugar can provoke kapha. If you use caffeinated tea, the cardamom will help neutralize the effects of the caffeine
Spicy sautéed asparagus
2 cups of asparagus
1 tbsp ghee
1 pinch black mustard seeds
1 pinch cumin seeds
1 pinch cayenne
1 pinch salt
Clean the asparagus well and remove the tough ends. Cut across the spears once, cutting them in half.
Heat a shallow saucepan and put in the ghee, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and cayenne. Let the seeds pop and add the asparagus and salt. Sauté, stirring gently, for 4-5 minutes.
Cover, take off the heat and let it sit on the back of the stove for a few minutes.
Asparagus is astringent, sweet, cooling and diuretic. It is balancing, tridoshic and mildly laxative. Vata can add a little more cayenne, pitta more cumin seeds & kapha more mustard seeds.
Mixed vegetable soup (serves 4)
4 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, green beans, squash etc)
8 cups water
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 whole peppercorns
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods
2 tbsp ghee
½ tsp salt
Wash & cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Put the vegetables & water in a large pot, cover & cook on medium heat until just tender. Set aside in a bowl.
Meanwhile grind to a fine powder the cumin seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves in a mortar and pestle or use a blender.
Heat a soup pot on medium heat and add the ghee, then the ground spices.
Sauté a moment, being careful not to burn them.
Add the vegetables and 4 cups of the broth. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and serve
Each vegetable ha a specific calming or stimulating effect on the doshas when eaten alone. For instance, carrots pacify vata and kapha but may aggravate pitta because of their heating quality. Cooking vegetables together and with these seasonings makes a soup that is tridoshic, good for all constitutions.
Poha (serves 4-5)
3 cups Poha (the thick kind)
1/3 cup safflower oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 curry leaves, fresh or dried
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
1 pinch hing
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 small green chili, chopped fine
Coconut, cilantro and lime for garnish
Wash the rice flakes twice, drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and over medium heat, and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves/
Stir until the seeds pop and put in the turmeric salt and hing.
Next add the cilantro, onions and chili and cook until soft and slightly brown.
Stir in the rice flakes, cover and turn off heat. Serve after a few minutes, garnished with coconut and cilantro. Give each serving a squeeze of fresh lime.
Poha is uncooked basmati rice that has been rolled thin in the same way that rolled oats are made. It cooks quickly and does not need water, other than what is absorbed in rinsing. Poha is easy to digest and quite balancing for tridosha. It is a good breakfast food or can be used to accompany the main meal.