We love making Ayurvedic versions of familiar foods. And we also love sharing ideas for lunches away from home. That’s why these empanadas are such a wonderful treat to share with you this month (and just in time for back to school season!). This handheld meal is grounding and nourishing, perfect for the transition to vata season and great to include in a child’s lunchbox or to bring to the office.
Think of these Ayurvedic empanadas as a blank canvas and vary what you put inside. Try these empanadas with a mix of cooked augmenting and extractive vegetables or split mung inside. As you enjoy this lunch, remember how easy it is to incorporate Ayurveda into every aspect of your life. All it takes is a little planning and you’ll enjoy much greater health.
Eating cheese wisely
In our post about how to make paneer, we talked about the difference of freshly made cheese, which is easier to digest than aged cheese. But it’s important to exercise moderation even with fresh cheese because dairy is heavy. For most people, eating cheese about once a week is enough. It’s a good idea to avoid combining cheese with other heavy foods, such as nuts, and, like all things you eat, be sure to chew well. To improve digestibility, try adding a bit of cumin, fennel or mustard seeds.
Empanadas with cheese
Makes 6 to 8, depending on size
This recipe uses the basic chapati recipe that so many of you have enjoyed. The only difference is in the process.
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. mineral salt
1 to 2 Tbsp. ghee (plus a little more for cooking)
¼ to ½ cup water (the amount depends on the climate and humidity)
½ to ¾ cup fresh goat cheese or paneer
½ tsp. cumin, mustard seed or fennel (optional)
To make the dough, stir flour and mineral salt together. Fold in the ghee and add water, ¼ cup at a time, and combine well until the dough is consistent and just slightly sticky (use your hands for the best results).
Break off golf-ball-sized pieces and roll them into balls with the palms of your hands. Sprinkle a bit of flour on a cutting board, rolling mat or clean countertop. Place the first ball in the middle of the flour and flatten the ball with your palm to make an even surface. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a thin pancake, spinning it in a clockwise motion as you go. If it gets sticky while you’re rolling, just sprinkle more flour on top.
If you would like to add spices to increase the digestibility, warm a bit of ghee in a pan and add your desired spices to cook for about a minute, or until the aroma comes up to meet you (or simply mix the spices into the dough).
In each round of dough, place 1 to 2 tablespoons (make this decision based on your current state of health and agni) of cheese and spices (if using) in the center. Fold the round in half and gently press the edges with a fork to close.
Heat a pan with a teaspoon of ghee and place as many empanadas as will fit comfortably. After about 1 to 3 minutes, the dough will become lightly golden. Flip the empanada and cook the other side for the same amount of time.
Enjoy warm or at room temperature.