Recipes

Recipes

By
Anjum Anand
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849494298
Photographer
Lisa Linder

A healthy Ayurvedic diet was traditionally centred around Indian food but as even I would get bored on a diet of solely Indian food, I have gone further afield for inspiration. This collection of recipes is as varied in taste as in ingredients, so you can cook from the book and eat a healthy varied diet without getting tired of the same tastes. Although some recipes will be better for you than others, all natural food will nourish you in some way, but it will also affect your doshas. As long as you are aware of this affect (and are not suffering from a serious imbalance) you can balance any meal with the food that you eat the rest of the day. On the whole, try to stick with recipes that will balance your own dosha and that you know you are able to digest.

Before you start

Foods work in subtle ways in the body and definitely add up to more than the sum of their parts (protein, fats, calories, etc.). Here are a few ingredients I wanted to highlight as Ayurveda has some really interesting views on them and in some cases, modern nutritionists are starting to agree.

Ghee

A certain amount of fat is vital to good health, both physically and mentally. But not all fats are created equal and one of the fats labelled ‘bad’ in the West is ghee. Ghee is butter that has been clarified of all milk solids and is one of Ayurveda’s prized ingredients. Ayurveda believes food cooked in ghee is easier to digest (compared to food cooked in oil), is cooling (oil is heating) and strengthens agni. It balances pitta and vata (oil only balances vata), is strengthening and nourishing and increases our longevity.

Research has found that ghee has antioxidant, antiviral and anti-carcinogenic properties and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It stimulates secretions of stomach acids which aid digestion and the saturated content of ghee is mainly made up of short-chain fatty acids which are easier to digest than the longer chains present in many oils. One of its components – conjugated linolenic acid – is even thought to help reduce body fat. Ghee has a high burning point so does not produce free radicals in cooking. Include a spoon or two of ghee in your cooking instead of oil to reap some of these benefits.

Animal protein

Ayurveda is wary of the consumption of animal protein as food for most people, although it was used medicinally for those who were undernourished. Meat is nourishing, strengthening and heating, but it is quite hard to digest. It was largely avoided by Indians because they believed that killing another being can have a negative impact on their spiritual development. Eating too much meat can also cause lethargy and dullness. Even modern scientists believe that eating too much meat is the root of many life-threatening diseases.

From a dosha point of view, animal proteins are sweet, heavy and heating. In kapha body types, eating too much meat will add heaviness and as kapha do not require the extra nutrition, they do not really need it. When they do eat it, stick to light, white meats. Pitta is aggravated by the heating and heavy properties of meat. Some meats are worse than others – red meats, pork and shellfish are the most heating so have been left out of this book; fish and chicken are comparatively less heating and are the best options for non-vegetarians. Those with a vata imbalance generally benefit from eating meat as it is known to restore their health, but some meats can be hard to digest so make sure you are able to do so or eat small portions. Choose free-range organic meat or meat from wild animals. I know it is hard to change old habits but it is definitely worth substituting some meats with vegetarian proteins.

Dairy and animal proteins do not combine well in the stomach so you won’t see any cream or cheese in any of the fish or chicken recipes.

Milk

Ayurveda believed raw milk was a fantastic, nourishing food. Traditionally in India, and even in many regions today, milk is delivered raw and then boiled at home to kill off the bacteria. The qualities of milk are sweet, cool, heavy, but many modern Ayurvedic doctors agree that pasteurising milk changes its energies, making it harder to digest. Milk is best taken alone and separate from salty and sour meals, although it can be cooked with grains into a sweet dish.

The best way of drinking milk is to boil it with a few sweet spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg which balance the cool and heavy nature of milk (sweeten to taste). In this guise, it is thought to increase ojas, our immunity and vitality. Warmed, it is a wonderful food for vata particularly, calming and grounding them. It is also cooling for pitta, but in kaphas it can cause congestion and mucus. Kapha should stick to goat’s milk as it is lighter or try rice or soya milk. If your digestive fire is feeling weak, or you are suffering with cough, cold, sinuses or mucus, milk is best avoided until the symptoms have cleared.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is deceptive as the sourness will heat rather than cool the body. It will increase kapha with its heaviness and pitta with its sourness. Yoghurt can clog body channels, blocking the flow of vata and causing stagnation and water retention. It also has a dampening quality so lowers the intensity of agni. It is best taken at lunchtime when agni is at its highest or diluted and drunk as a lassi which delivers the nutrients of yoghurt and is easy to digest. Avoid combining with meats, fruits and even other dairy products.

Fruit

Ayurveda believes ripe fruits eaten in season are nectar for the body. They are cleansing and increase ojas, the ‘happy’ energy in our body. But fresh fruits are best eaten alone at breakfast or as a snack; they do not combine well with other foods. Cooked and dried fruits go better with meals than fresh fruit.

Tomatoes

Many Ayurvedic doctors advise patients to steer away from tomatoes. Raw tomatoes can be hard to digest and the skin and seeds are quite indigestible. Even cooked tomatoes should mostly be avoided by pitta as they are sour, and also limited by kapha and vata.

Most of the evidence is undocumented but many Ayurvedic doctors find that tomatoes can increase stiffness and pain in the joints, are heating and damp in the gut and cause bloating and acidity. In fact, all the vegetables from the nightshade family are viewed with some caution and are always cooked with spices to help agni better digest them. I have included tomatoes in only a few recipes. See how you feel after eating them; if they don’t suit you, substitute, where possible, with lemon juice or spices like dried mango or pomegranate powder.

Wheat

According to Ayurveda, wheat is a fantastic grain; it is sweet, cold and astringent and was traditionally considered strengthening and nourishing. However, modern-day wheat has a higher gluten content which makes it more sticky, mucoid and congesting in our system. Gluten can aggravate arthritis, cause allergies, clog channels and can make you sluggish.

Avoid eating too many refined wheat products and breads. I often use spelt flour, a variety of wheat with a lower gluten content (I substitute like for like). Kamut is another wheat grain with a low gluten content. Include other grains such as barley, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and cornmeal in your diet.

Cooking beans

Apart from mung beans, all dried beans need to be soaked before cooking to render them digestible. Soaking them (and even lentils) also reduces cooking time. Wash beans well, checking for any stones. Soak in plenty of water overnight or for 4–6 hours. Once soaked, cook in plenty of simmering water (I like to use fresh water) until soft – this can take anywhere from 40 minutes for mung beans to 1 3⁄4 hours for chickpeas and kidney beans. Skim off any scum that forms. To calculate the quantity of beans to soak, divide the given cooked amount by 2.5 (so 100 g cooked equals 40 g dried).

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