You can find plenty of Ayurvedic recipes, Ayurvedic cookbooks and Ayurvedic chefs, but as much as you look, you’ll never find Ayurvedic cuisine. That’s because Ayurveda is more than just a way of cooking -- it is a way of looking at food and life as a whole through the lens of nature’s rhythms.
Nature is always changing. If you study what is happening outside your home, you’ll notice that not a single day is the same as another. Your body and mind are a reflection of nature, so they are always changing too. In fact, the Sanskrit word for body is sharira, which translates to “that which is always changing.”
To become an Ayurvedic cook is to follow nature’s lead. That is to say, you should learn to cook with a flexible attitude based on your dosha balance, condition of agni (digestive fire), what’s seasonally available and the changes in the environment.
How to cook for the doshas (and agni)
We recommend everyone do weekly meal planning. Outlining the grain, vegetables, and legumes you will eat at each meal in the week puts your mind at ease. However, the purpose of a meal plan is to create a container for your creativity to flow. Rather than rigidly sticking to what you wrote, check your meal plan each night and make adjustments for the next day as needed.
For instance, you may find that one of the vegetables you had planned to cook wasn’t available. Perhaps the weather suddenly turned cold and you need more warming spices. Or maybe your agni has weakened and you need a simpler meal to restore the flames.
The chart below offers several modifications you can make to your meals based on your state of balance. However, in order to use the chart, you have to first make a commitment to studying your body and mind. Filling out a daily wellness journal is a great way to begin. Once you understand how cause and effect work in your life, you’ll be able to tune in to how you are feeling and what is happening in your environment. Then you can modify your meal plans quite easily.
The recipes we’ve posted for this month are templates (actually, all the recipes we post are templates). We’ve offered many variations in the recipes themselves and the chart below so you can adjust easily. As you modify these or any other recipes, remember that there is a difference between cravings and what your body actually needs. When dosha is significantly imbalanced, you will often experience cravings for foods that will cause the dosha to continue to increase (e.g., imbalanced pitta will want to add more spices, high vata will crave dry or crunchy foods, excess kapha will only want the sweet taste). But when dosha is just starting to increase, you will find you have more subtle preferences for foods that will bring you back to balance. As you are deciding what to cook each day, be sure you’re taking guidance from the right voice.
How to modify your cooking for doshas and agni
Recipe for flexibility: A Hale Pule bowl
Grain (we used white basmati rice)
1 cup grain (ex: white rice, sweet brown rice, millet, barley, etc., or a combination. If you use brown rice, soak for 1-8 hours for better digestibility and faster cooking.)
2 cups water
2 tsp. oil (ex: ghee, sunflower, coconut, olive)
¼ tsp. mineral salt
Rice cooker method: Place all ingredients into a rice cooker. Cover and press start.
Stovetop method: Place all ingredients into a pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then turn to low to maintain a simmer. Cook for 15 to 40 minutes, depending on the grain.
Legume (we used adzukis)
½ cup legumes, soaked overnight (ex: split or whole mung beans, adzukis, black-eyed peas, chickpeas)
1 Tbsp. oil (ex: ghee, sunflower, coconut, olive)
½ tsp. mineral salt
1 ½ tsp. coriander powder
¾ tsp. cumin powder (reduce if pitta is high)
1 tsp. fresh ginger, diced or grated (reduce if pitta is high)
¾ tsp. turmeric (reduce if pitta is high)
2 tsp. chopped kombu (reduce if kapha is high)
¼ tsp. asafoetida (omit if pitta is high)
Warm the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the salt, spices and kombu, cooking until the aroma comes up (1 to 2 minutes). Add the legume and stir to coat. Cover with water by about ⅛ inch. Place the lid on the cooker, turn the heat up and bring to pressure. Turn the heat down to low and cook at pressure for 18 to 25 minutes, depending on the legume you’ve chosen.
Baked augmenting vegetable (we used sweet potatoes)
5 cups sweet vegetable, chopped into wedges (ex: sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, squash)
2 Tbsp. oil (ex: ghee, sunflower, coconut, olive)
¼ tsp. salt
½ Tbsp. cardamom powder
1 Tbsp. fresh herbs, chopped (ex: mint, basil, dill, cilantro, rose petals)
Warm the oil in a small pan. Add the salt and spices and cook until fragrant (1 to 2 minutes). Add the fresh herbs and cook for a minute longer. Place the augmenting vegetable into a baking dish and pour the oil mixture over, stirring to coat well. Add water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of vegetable and the size of the pieces.
Sauteed extractive vegetable (we used collard greens)
4 cups greens, chopped into thin strips (ex: kale, collards, beet greens, bok choy, cabbage)
1 ½ Tbsp. oil (ex: ghee, sunflower, coconut, olive)
⅓ tsp. salt
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. fennel powder
Warm the oil in a large saute pan. Add salt and spices and cook until the aroma comes up. Add the chopped greens and stir to coat in oil and spices. Add water to cover the bottom of the pan to about ¼ the height of the greens. Turn heat to low, cover and cook until the greens are soft (about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the type of greens).
What did you create using this recipe template? Tag us with your creations on Instagram @hale_pule.