The practices of Ayurveda allow us to prevent illness, but the science also has a lot to say about what to do in those times when you do get sick.
Illness is a time to take care of your body. It is a signal to slow down, rest and come back to balance. It is important to allow time for full recovery -- nothing else is more important. What you do during this time matters greatly in how fast you will heal and the level of health you will reach afterward. Until symptoms subside, let go of your daily responsibilities, stay in bed, avoid looking at computers or screens and, most importantly, eat only very simple foods.
Agni, digestive fire, is weak during illness, so you cannot digest the same kinds of foods you enjoyed before. Yet as you are healing, your body needs nourishment. Kunyi, a soupy rice cooked with mineral salt and ghee, offers a meal that is very easy to digest and perfect for times of illness.
You may have heard of the easy-to-digest meal called kitchadi, but kunyi is even easier on agni. Eat kunyi for the first few days of an illness. As you begin to recover, you may add a small amount of split mung to the rice to work your way back up to easily digesting a full meal.
Kunyi is also a good option for breakfast (we enjoy it about once or twice a week for agni support) or to calm the sense of taste after a meal out with overpowering spices. You can make this simple Ayurvedic recipe any time agni’s fire is smoldering.
There are many variations of kunyi. In this month’s post, we offer three that come from the Ayurvedic texts. Vilepi is the heartiest version, followed by peya and then manda. For someone who is very ill or recovering from surgery, a thinner version will be best. For breakfast on a regular day, a hearty version will serve you best.
We like to add fresh ginger and turmeric to our kunyi to support agni and make it taste delicious, but it’s also effective cooked with just ghee and mineral salt.
Simple Ayurvedic Recipe: Kunyi
For illness that involves fever, pair thin kunyi with rehydration drink to restore balance.
½ cup white basmati rice
2 tsp. ghee
¾ tsp. grated fresh turmeric (or ¼ tsp. powder)
¾ tsp. grated fresh ginger (fresh is best, ginger powder is more heating and drying)
¼ tsp. mineral salt
Vilepi: Use 1 cup water
Peya: Use 2 cups water
Manda: Use 3 cups water
Warm ghee in saucepan or pressure cooker. Add salt, ginger and turmeric and let simmer until fragrant. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the water and cover. If using a pressure cooker, bring to pressure and lower heat to cook for 12-15 minutes at pressure. If using a regular pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes. It is ready when the rice is very soft.