Once you’ve discovered the nourishment that comes by including the right proportions of grains and other augmenting foods in your meals, you can begin to explore the many varieties of grain that are available. Each one brings new tastes and textures and allows you to access your creativity and tastebuds.
This month, we’re sharing an Ayurvedic recipe for Millet with the Spices of Life. You might have seen millet in the health food store, but perhaps you have overlooked it in favor of the more familiar rice or barley. Millet has a light texture, making it a great choice for breaking up the density of kapha season or whenever you are feeling sluggish, heavy or looking to connect to the lighter subtle realms. We often mix millet with rice (long grain brown rice and millet is a favorite), but this month’s recipe highlights millet on its own with a few spices for balanced agni, digestive fire.
How to use Ayurvedic spices
Spices are one of the reasons Ayurvedic cooking tastes so delicious and heals all levels of being. Moderate use of spices, such as cardamom, cumin, black pepper or fennel, not only make food tasty, they keep your agni balanced. With balanced agni comes the ability to digest food and experiences in life.
The key to using spices is to add just enough to support the taste of the food itself. Our recipe below uses just a bit of black pepper and fennel. It’s enough so that you can taste it, but not too much that it overwhelms the palate or increases pitta. That “just right” amount of spices tastes harmonious, with nothing standing out too prominently.
If you are new to cooking with digestive spices, use with them in small amounts to learn how they can work together and to see how your body responds. If your pitta is high, substitute a little cumin instead. If you’re feeling the ungrounding effects of vata, try a bit of mustard seed (it’s good for kapha too). Even if you’re well “seasoned” in using spices, work with just 2 to 3 spices per dish -- a simple approach is better for digestion.
Before you start cooking, take a moment to connect with the spices you want to use for each part of your dish. Close your eyes and inhale the aromas. Ask your intellect to take a rest and tune in to your creative energies.
Recipe for spiced millet
We sell organic Ayurvedic spice kits that allow you to try out a range of digestive spices. Powdered spices are often simpler if you’re new to cooking. Try the whole spices when you’re ready to start grinding your own or if you are looking for a deep, complex flavor.
1 cup hulled millet (optional: soak for 2 to 4 hours for easier digestibility)
2 Tbsp. ghee
⅛ tsp. mineral salt
⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. fennel seeds, freshly ground or whole
2 cups water
Awaken the prana of the spices by heating the ghee in a saucepan and simmering the spices for 1 to 2 minutes until the aroma comes up to meet you. Otherwise, you can combine everything into a rice cooker. If you are using a pot, cover and bring to a boil first, then lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (about 30 to 45 minutes). Stir well after it has cooked, replace the cover and let it sit for five minutes before serving.