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The Ultimate Guide to Ayurvedic Cooking

Everything You Need To Know


The Ultimate Guide
to Ayurvedic Cooking

Everything You Need To Know

Food plays a big role in the Ayurvedic lifestyle. Ayurveda teaches us that food is basically medicine. It says:

“When diet is poor, medicine is of no use. When diet is good, there is no need of medicine.”

Foods should be prepared for efficient digestion. When our digestion is efficient, the rest follows more easily, we get the optimal benefit from our food and we are more in balance.

There is a Vedic expression that basically says that if our digestion is strong, our bodies can turn poison into nectar, but if our digestion is weak, the body can turn nectar into poison.

This Ultimate Guide to Ayurvedic Cooking will cover the following aspects:

1. A brief introduction to the doshas
2. Sustaining prana or life-giving energy
3. The six tastes
4. The properties of foods
5. The quantity and timing of food
6. The eating environment
7. Incompatible foods
8. Ayurvedic Cooking For Your Dosha
9. The Vata Diet (How To Balance Vata Dosha)
10. The Pitta Diet (How To Balance Pitta Dosha)
11. The Kapha Diet (How To Balance Kapha Dosha)
12. Cooking utensils
13. Staples for the Ayurvedic pantry
14. Ayurvedic cooking for groups
15. An Ayurvedic meal recipe
16. Cooking with Ghee

A Brief Introduction to the Doshas

Ayurvedic Cooking focuses on eating the right food for your dosha.

But what is a dosha?


The ancient Indian science of life called Ayurveda explains that human beings, like the universe, are made up of each of the five elements (air, space, fire, water and earth) and
the soul. 

How are these elements expressed in our bodies?

The Elements

Air is inhaled during breathing, it pumps the blood through our system to keep us alive.
Space is in the hollow cavities of the body, and we require space to move around.
Fire is a part of our digestive system that helps to break down the food we eat and burn calories to give us energy.
Water comprises about two-thirds of our body, and we need water to survive.
Earth is in our bones and the vital minerals that keep us healthy.

These elements, in their biological form, are known as doshas:
Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The doshas and the elements

Vata is made up of a combination of Air and Space.
Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water.
Kapha is made up of a combination of Earth and Water.

Because we all have all of the elements in our bodies, we have each of the doshas as
well. But every one of us is born with a unique, individual balance of these doshas. So, no two of us are alike!

The idea is to find what our own special combination of doshas is, and to work to keep it in balance so that we stay in radiant health mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Through learning about our doshas, we learn to recognize our strengths and work on our weaknesses.

Vata-type people are generally thin and find it hard to gain weight. Because of this, Vatas
have very little energy reserve and can tire easily and get themselves out of balance. Vatas need to get sufficient rest and not overdo things, stay warm, and keep a regular
lifestyle routine. Vatas are creative, and get bored easily. Think about a hummingbird as a very Vata-like creature, very light and airy, going from one thing to the next quickly and unpredictably.

Pitta-type people are generally of medium size and well-proportioned. They have a medium
amount of physical energy and stamina. They also tend to be intelligent and have a sharp wit and a good ability to concentrate. Fire is a characteristic of Pitta, whether it shows up as fiery red hair or a short temper. They are ambitious by nature but can also be demanding and abrasive.

Pitta types are known for their strong digestion but should be careful not to abuse it. Their heat makes them particularly thirsty, and they should take care not to douse their agni, or
digestive fire, with too much liquid during meals. An eagle is representative of Pitta in nature. Strong, powerful, and goal-oriented.

Kapha-type people tend to have sturdy, heavy frames, providing a good reserve of physical strength and stamina. This strength gives Kaphas a natural resistance to disease and a generally positive outlook about life. The Kapha dosha is slow, and Kapha types tend to be slow eaters with slow digestion. They also speak slowly. They are calm and affectionate but, when out of balance, can become stubborn and lazy. They learn slowly, with a methodical approach, but also retain information well with a good understanding of it.

Kapha types need to progress to stay in balance. They should not dwell in the past or resist change. They need lots of exercise and need to be careful not to overeat. Kaphas need stimulation to bring out their vitality. Kapha dosha teaches us steadiness and a sense of well-being. The swan is a very Kapha-like animal. Heavy, serene, and family-oriented.

Wondering what your unique dosha is? Take our free dosha quiz here.

Prana or life-giving energy

Food is the sustainer of living beings and the cause for their strength, complexion and vigor. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to prepare food in a way that does not destroy its prana or life-giving energy.

Overcooking, deep-frying, or burning not only destroys prana, but also the food’s taste.

Food should have
color (varna), taste (rasa), aroma (gandha) and touch (sparsha).

It should be
pleasing to the mind, and prepared and processed properly with pure consciousness and love. This provides and supports life energy. Food supports the life force.2

The strength, complexion and immunity of a living system is under the control of diet, which, in turn, is under the control of the six tastes.1

The Six Tastes

Ayurveda recognizes that foods can have six different tastes. Each taste has its own elemental composition and unique properties through which it affects the doshas and the tissue systems.

Ayurveda says that
all the six tastes are to be judiciously used in our meals so as to keep all the tissue systems, body channels and doshas in balance and to ameliorate the diseased conditions.

1) Sweet
The sweet taste is dominated by the earth and water elements. Its qualities are unctuous, cooling and heavy. (Keep reading to learn more about the qualities or properties of foods)

It nourishes  all the seven tissue systems, and is good for the hair, skin and throat. The sweet taste increases strength, vitality and satisfaction. 

If the sweet taste is consumed in excess quantities, then it causes obesity, lethargy, lack of appetite, cough, cold and asthma, diabetes and more.

Examples of the sweet taste include: sugar and sugary foods, milk, sweet fruits, rice, wheat, licorice, asparagus, almonds and more.

2) Sour
The sour taste is predominantly composed of earth and fire elements.It is light, hot and unctuous. 

If taken in moderation, it acts as an appetizer and kindles the digestive fire.
It strengthens the heart, aids in passing accumulated gases in the intestines, aids digestion, and stimulates salivation.

If taken in excess, the sour taste causes sensitive teeth, involuntary closure of eyelids, hyperacidity, heartburn, edema especially in emaciated individuals, and also aggravates the blood, causing skin diseases, like boils, eczema, and dermatitis, and it promotes infection
in wounds.

Examples of foods rich in sour taste include citrus fruits, tamarind, raw mango, vinegar, sour cream, grapes, lemon and more.

3) Salty
The salty taste is predominantly composed of water and fire elements. It is a bit heavy, unctuous and hot in properties.

In moderation, it relieves accumulated gases in the colon, relieving pain and spasm. It aids in expulsion of mucous from the respiratory tract and stools from large intestine. It purifies the fluid channels of the body, and is important for the electrolyte balance of the body. It relieves spasm of the muscles and body pains and makes body parts supple. It induces salivation and makes the food tasty, is an appetizer and digestive.

It dominates all other tastes and makes them palatable.

If taken in excess, the salt taste causes wrinkling, premature graying of hair and hair loss. It depletes the reproductive tissue, weakens the sense organs, causes burning, excessive thirst, acidity, aggravates the blood, causing bleeding tendencies, hypertension, gout and skin diseases.

Examples of the salty taste: any kind of salt, as well as kelp and some tofu.

4) Pungent
The pungent taste is dominated by the fire and air elements. It has properties of lightness, heat and dryness. 

In moderation, it promotes salivation, nasal secretions and tears and thereby helps in cleansing of mouth cavity, sinuses, and eyes. It aids circulation, clears blockages,
helps sense organs to perceive better, relieves severe flatulence, edema, and excessive oiliness. The pungent taste can also help with weight loss.

In case of overuse, the pungent taste can deplete and destroy the reproductive tissue causing ovulation failure, low sperm count and sexual debility. It can cause vertigo, fainting episodes, thirst, burning, peptic ulcers, nausea, tremors, pricking and tearing pains in extremities, flanks and back.

Examples of pungent foods include peppers, ginger, onion, garlic, mustard, rye and more.

5) Bitter
The bitter taste has dominance of the air and space elements. It is dry, cold and light by nature.

Though by nature it is sometimes unpalatable, if taken in moderation, it can cure anorexia, remove toxins, parasites, itching, skin diseases, thirst and fainting. The bitter taste also purifies the milk of lactating mothers. It brings down fever, makes the skin firm by working on excessive oiliness and fat. It cuts down on excessive fat and is drying in nature and thus reduces lymphatic edema, and pus formation.

In excess, the bitter taste depletes all the tissue systems, produces dryness in all the body channels, reduces strength, causes emaciation, weakens the heart, produces dryness
and roughness.

Examples of the bitter taste include bitter gourd, bitter melon, neem, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, aloe vera, coffee, and more.

6) Astringent 
The astringent taste is dominated by the air and earth elements. It is cooling, dry and heavy by nature. 

It helps in the healing of wounds and promotes clotting. By its nature, it depletes all the tissues and produces roughness of channels. It absorbs water and causes dryness of mouth and throat. It is a blood purifier.

In excess, the astringent taste may cause choking, absolute constipation, severe flatulence, heart spasm, stagnation of body fluid. It can cause excessive thirst, lack of virility due
to aggravation of Vata and may also cause Bell’s Palsy, Hemiplegia or paralysis, lock jaw and other neuro-muscular disorders.

Examples of the astringent taste include: unripe banana, tamarind and mango seeds, betel nut, colocasia, black plum and more.

The Properties of Foods

Ayurveda has a very unique way of treating food just like medicine. It describes in detail the properties of various food items and their effects on the doshas.

Generally, when the quality of a food is
similar to the quality of a dosha, it will result in the increase in the activity of that particular dosha. Conversely, if the attributes of a food are opposite to the quality of a dosha, then it will reduce the activity of that particular dosha.

So a food which is beneficial for an individual considering the state of doshas in his/her body, can be harmful for another person as per the state of doshas in his/her body.

Knowing which food is most likely to suit our body and which won't, will help us choose the right food for our unique body. 

The 20 properties or attributes
Every food item imbibes fractions of the five basic elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth), with the domination of one or more of the elements, and in turn the three Doshasalso have different proportions of the five basic elements with dominance of certain elements in each.

These 20 properties are classified in opposing pairs of 10: 

1. Heavy - Light
2. Cold - Hot
3. Unctuous – Dry
4. Slow - Sharp
5. Stable - Mobile
6. Soft - Hard
7. Slimy - Rough
8. Viscous - Liquid
9. Gross - Subtle
10. Cloudy - Clear

Here are some examples of how the 20 properties exhibit themselves in various foods:

1. Heavy: Cream, cheese, kidney beans, rice flakes.
2. Light: Puffed rice, popcorn, wild rice.
3.Cold: Mint, coconut water, water melon, rice.
4.Hot: Peppers, nutmeg, turkey meat.
5.Oily: Nuts, fats and oils, black lentil.  
6.Dry: Millets, rye, corn, gram flour.
7.Slow: Yogurt, pork, beef, condensed milk.
8. Sharp: Onion, ginger, garlic, bell peppers, mustard greens.
9. Stable: Ghee, wheat.
10. Mobile: alcohol, sprouts, tobacco.
11. Soft: Puffed rice, tapioca, pasta.
12. Hard: Nuts, bones (small bony fish is eaten in many parts of Asia), jack fruit.
13. Slimy: Colocasia, ladyfinger, full cream yogurt.
14. Rough: Most millets, broccoli, cauliflower, oats.
15. Dense: Cream, tubers.
16. Liquid: All water based beverages, soups, milk.
17. Gross: Roots and tubers, dates, minerals.
18. Subtle: Spices, saffron, oils (oils penetrate in pores by virtue of subtleness).
19. Cloudy: Mayonnaise, butter, sea food.
20. Clear: Clarified butter milk, black eyed peas, bitters.

As stated earlier, every element has specific properties. Foods
can be classified on the basis of five elements and thus can be used to balance/nourish these elements in the body.

Foods and their elements


As per their constituent elements, different foods will show the actions as attributed to the respective element. A brief list of these actions of elements is as follows:

Foods and their elements


If you'd like to learn more about the different foods' qualities, tastes, attributes, and their effects on the doshas, check out our comprehensive educational video course "The Ayurveda Experience"

The Quantity and Timing of Food

The time of day that you eat your meals also affects your digestion.

Have you ever gone out for a late dinner and found that it was harder to wake up the next morning or that it was difficult to be efficient the next day? These are often the side effects of improperly digested food.

The best way to avoid these problems is to follow nature’s prescription of suitable times to eat.  

When the sun is strongest, between 12 and 2 pm, is when the digestive fire is also strongest. Ayurveda recommends that lunch be the largest meal of the day since that is the time the digestive fire is working at its maximum potency. As the sun goes down, so does our digestive fire.

Dinner should be lighter than lunch and should ideally be eaten before 8 pm.

Ayurveda recommends that the
amount of a meal should be no more than one-half the stomach capacity, and up to 1/4th part warm water sipped between mouthfuls to lubricate the food.

Late night meals interfere with sleep and after 10 pm, the body is working to burn off toxins and
continue to digest food from the day. If you eat after 10 pm, the food may cause toxins to accumulate in the system, and as a result the next day you wake up tired.

If you are not able to wake up fresh and clear, then it is important to analyze the quantity of food and the time you are eating dinner.

If you'd like to learn more about the healing wisdom of foods, the traditional and intelligent or nutritious methods of cooking and storing food,
 check out our educational video course 'Holistic Nutrition' by Todd Caldecott.

Holistic Nutrition

The Eating Environment

It’s also important to note that food should be consumed in a proper place. You should be equipped with all the necessary amenities. 

Be mindful of yourself and your food and enjoy the process of eating.

Ayurveda offers the following guidelines to those who want to boostagni and improve our digestion:

Sit down while you eat.
Eat in a
quiet atmosphere.
Focus on the food; do not read or watch TV as you eat.
Don’t rush through meals or linger over them for too long.
Eat meals at approximately
the same times every day.
Stop eating
before you are completely full. Ayurveda recommends eating until you're about 75% full.
Allow approximately
3 to 6 hours between meals for digestion.
Eat when you are hungry, when the stomach is empty.
Sip warm water or juice with meals.
Drink milk separately from meals, either alone or with other sweet foods.
Avoid ice-cold food and beverages.
Sit quietly for a few minutes after eating.

Incompatible Foods

There are three factors that make up the properties of a food.

We've already discussed the
taste, or rasa. We know that there are six tastes in Ayurveda, and foods can have one or more of these tastes.

We've also covered if a food has either
heating or cooling energies, this is known as virya. This helps us to know if a food is balancing to our personal dosha, and if it is good to
eat within the current season as well.

Now, we also need
to consider the food's effect on the body after it is digested – or vipak.

In the western diet, foods are often served together
with different tastes, energies and post-digestive effects. The problem with this is that our agni, the digestive fire, can get overloaded trying to do too many things at the same time. This results in the production of toxins in the body.

So it is important
for us to pay attention to the foods that we consume together to make sure that our digestion stays strong. There are many foods that, when eaten separately, stimulate agni and are digested easily. But some of those same foods, when eaten together, slow down agni and cause digestive distress.

Here are a few basic rules for combining food:

FRUIT
Eat fruit on its own, preferably two hours before or after you have eaten something else.

Fruit should never be combined with any dairy product, like milk or yogurt. And yet we see
this happening all the time! Yogurt with fruit and granola is considered a healthy breakfast – but it is one of the worst things you can eat, it can wreak havoc on digestion. While the
fruit and milk process in the stomach, the fruit can curdle the milk causing excess acid.

Having a
banana smoothie, where banana is blended with milk and/or yogurt, can change the bacterial mix in the intestines, and may even cause sinus congestion or allergies. (Try making your smoothie with a plant-based milk instead!)

Milk and melon are particularly to be avoided together because milk has laxative properties, and melon is a diuretic. Melon combined with carbohydrates or starchy foods is also bad
for digestion. Melon is digested very quickly, and carbs tend to take more time. So the fructose in the melon ends up not getting digested properly.

Fruit and cheese are also often served together as an appetizer or a dessert - bad idea! Cheese is a dairy product, and will have the same effect on digestion as milk does in combo with fruit. Cheese is difficult to digest and can cause constipation, so cheese in general is to be avoided.

And fruit, even on its
own, is not good for dessert. It's better to eat fruit before a meal, waiting a bit to digest, or as a snack in between meals.  

Ice cream is not great for you anyway, it’s cold and hard to digest. But add fruit to it and it’s even worse. For dessert, it’s downright awful. Ice cream will totally put out that digestive fire that is so needed to help digest your meal.

MEAT
Though Ayurveda does not recommend meat, if you cannot do without it, meat and dairy should never be eaten together. Well, there go the cheeseburgers!

Meat is heating and milk is
cooling so this is a bad combo. They contradict one another, upsetting agni and producing toxins, or ama.

Fish counts as meat – and is not good to eat with dairy products. Think of all those cream sauces that are served over fish. And Tartar sauce is dairy based – we see this served alongside fish and chips all the time. Avoid this combination!
 
HONEY
Uncooked honey, or raw honey, can be beneficial in Ayurveda for many conditions. But cook it, and you get the opposite effect. When cooked, honey digests very slowly and it becomes this sticky gunk that clings to membranes and clogs channels producing toxins. Yuck.

So
don’t put honey in your hot tea, or have a hot drink while you’re eating something with honey on it.

Ghee and honey are a delicious combo – but they should not be served in equal  proportions. Ghee is cooling and honey is heating – so pick which one you want more of.

WATER
During a meal, water should be served warm or at room temperature. Small sips can help with digestion.

Iced water,
as is often served in restaurants, puts that digestive fire right out. You can ask for water, no ice, with lemon - or even hot water with lemon. 

LEFTOVERS
When food is fresh, it has a certain intelligence, it knows where to go and what to do in the body. The longer food sits, the more it loses that intelligence or vital energy. Plus it gets cold in the refrigerator, then you end up heating it up in the microwave, and it’s a pale shadow of what it was when you started out. So avoid eating leftovers if you can. And if you must eat leftovers, heat them up on the stove and add in some ghee and spices.

Here’s a list of some of the more common incompatible food combos:

Avoid DAIRY products combined with:
- fruit
- meat, including fish
- starchy foods
- yeasty breads

Avoid EGGS combined with:
- dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- meat, including fish
- melons
- bananas
- starches

Avoid CORN combined with:
- bananas
- dates
- raisins

Avoid LEMON combined with:
- cucumber
- tomato
- dairy products

Avoid NIGHTSHADES  (tomato, potato, eggplant, chilies) combined with:
- dairy products
- melon
- cucumber

If you'd like to learn more about the healing wisdom of foods, the traditional and intelligent or nutritious methods of cooking and storing food, check out our educational video course 'Holistic Nutrition' by Todd Caldecott.

Ayurvedic Cooking For Your Dosha

As we mentioned above, the Ayurvedic diet identifies six tastes that each have different energetic effects on the mind and body. They either aggravate or pacify particular doshas.

For example, consider Ayurveda’s theory of
‘like increases like’. Someone with excess Pitta (the "fiery" dosha) may add fuel to the fire by consuming hot, spicy foods.

The tastes can either alleviate or aggravate the doshas.

For example, a diet of sweet, sour and salty tastes alleviates or reduces
Vata. Those having an astringent, bitter and pungent taste would aggravate Vata.

Similarly,
Pitta is aggravated by a pungent, sour and salty taste.

Kapha is aggravated by a sweet, sour and salty taste.2

If you want to balance Vata dosha, you have to understand that
Vata dosha is a combination of the space and air element, as explained in the first section of this article. These elements are predominant in foods tasting bitter, astringent and pungent. So if you indulge in bitter, astringent and pungent foods, you will aggravate Vata dosha.

To balance Vata, you need to eat foods consisting of the remaining three elements – earth, water and fire. These are foods which are sweet, sour and salty in taste.

Along with the taste of food, other properties of the food like whether it is heavy or light, oily or dry, liquid or solid are also taken into account. The potency of the food, whether it is heating or cooling, and the post digestive effect of the food is also considered.

Foods for the Doshas


Rules For The Vata Diet (How To Balance Vata Dosha)

Since Vata is composed of air and space, it is easy for Vatas to get gas. So, naturally, with
all these things going on, Vatas need to watch what they eat.

The Vata appetite, like everything else about this dosha, is variable. To stay in balance, Vatas need to keep a regular routine when it comes to meals. Even when you don’t feel
like eating a lot, you should eat something at regular intervals.

Vatas tend to like to snack, but then they don’t get the nourishment that they really need from their food. It’s best to establish good eating habits to promote proper, healthy digestion.

A Vata breakfast might be oatmeal (rather than cold cereal) sweetened with some brown sugar and soy milk. Many Vatas are lactose-intolerant, so soy milk (or rice milk or almond milk) is a good alternative.

Caffeine is particularly aggravating to Vata. So, instead of regular coffee, serve up some herb tea or decaffeinated coffee. Coffee substitutes are often better than coffee because of coffee’s acid content, which may disturb Vata’s digestion.

Include sweet, salty, and sour tasting foods in your diet.
Avoid bitter, astringent and pungent tasting foods.
Eat warm, cooked (rather than raw), oily or heavy foods.
Avoid cold foods.
Avoid dry foods.
Best oils to be used are
almond, ghee and sesame.
Avoid ice cream and frozen yogurt.
Eat boiled or steamed starchy vegetables.
Eat
ripe fruits.
Use
mild spices like cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, salt, cloves, mustard and black pepper.
Herbal teas of chamomile, fennel, ginger and lemon are good.
Raw honey, jaggery (raw sugar), maple syrup and molasses are good sweeteners.
Avoid using brown sugar and white sugar.

Rules For The Pitta Diet (How To Balance Pitta)

Pittas do best on cool, uncooked foods. So the Pitta couple can have lots of salads, raw vegetables, and fresh fruits and be very healthy.

Pitta’s digestion is very good, and especially so at midday when Pitta is at its peak. It is favorable for the largest meal of the day to be eaten around noontime.

Pittas should
never skip meals. Because their digestive fire is so strong, skipping a meal would be like putting an empty pot over a flame.

The foods that Pittas should avoid are the ones that are too spicy or too salty. Pittas can be at risk for ulcers, and should avoid anything too acidic.

Alcohol and smoking are two of the most Pitta-aggravating things and should be
avoided at all costs.

Pittas are frequently thirsty and should always have
water or fruit juice handy. Cool drinks are good, especially during the summer.

Include sweet, bitter and astringent tastes in your diet.
Avoid pungent (hot), sour and salty foods.
Eat
boiled, steamed and raw vegetables.
Eat sweet foods to reduce Pitta.
Drink
warm milk with a small amount of cardamom and ginger in it.
Avoid buttermilk, salted cheeses, sour cream and yogurt.
Ghee and olive oil are best to use for cooking.
Use
mild, cooling spices like coriander, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cumin, curry leaves and mint.
Avoid jaggery (raw sugar) and molasses if your Pitta is aggravated. Use
honey instead.

Rules For The Kapha Diet (How To Balance Kapha)

Food is Kapha’s biggest weakness. Kaphas love food and love to eat.

They have a
strong, constant appetite and especially love sweet foods, though these are the worst for them. One of the big reasons that sweets are so bad for Kaphas is that they tend to be the higher calorie foods, and Kapha is prone to weight gain.

The Kapha digestion is slow and heavy.

Include pungent, bitter and astringent tasting foods into your diet.
Avoid sweet, sour and salty foods.
Eat
warm foods rather than cold foods.
Eat more
boiled, steamed and raw vegetables.
Eating
ripe fruits will be good to balance Kapha, except for banana.
Minimize the intake of heavy foods, salt and dairy products.
Eat
smaller portions of food.
Do not eat in between meals.
Do not eat because of your emotional state, whether to celebrate or to soothe.
Use raw honey instead of other sweeteners like sugar, brown sugar and maple syrup.
Use oils in small amounts only. Even the best oil, if overused, will aggravate Kapha.
Strong spices like pepper, paprika, garlic, basil, cloves, fennel, mustard, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper will stimulate digestion, improve appetite, clear sinuses and stimulate blood circulation. This is very helpful for balancing Kapha dosha.

Cooking Utensils

Before starting with Ayurvedic cooking, you will need to have some basic foods, spices and utensils on hand.

Use the list below as a guideline to slowly establish an Ayurvedic kitchen. Most of the ingredients you will use in your Ayurvedic kitchen are dried and can be stored in your kitchen shelves or counter top.

Every act you perform around food should be loving, honoring and sacred in manner. Whether it is growing your food or buying it from the supermarket, selecting and preparing the food should be in a loving, mindful way.
Food that is cooked with love and pure consciousness brings healing.13

Utensils that will be useful for Ayurvedic cooking:

A heavy cast iron frying pan

A flat skillet without high borders
2-3 medium sized pots with lids (stainless steel)
A soup pot with lid
A deep pot for frying (preferably cast iron)
2-3 mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons
Hand egg beater
A large metal spoon with soup ladle
A blender
A rolling pin
A chopping board

If you'd like to learn more about cooking utensils for optimal nutrition preservation, or nutritious methods of cooking and storing food, check out our educational video course 'Holistic Nutrition' by Todd Caldecott.

Stocking Your Pantry For Ayurvedic Cooking

An Ayurvedic kitchen must have a few staples.

The first is a
high-quality cooking oil. Ayurveda suggests cooking with pure ghee instead of cooking with canola oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil. During warmer seasons, coconut oil is a good option for cooking because it is cooling in nature.

Next, a very important ingredient of your Ayurvedic kitchen is
basmati rice. Basmati rice is easier to digest than other grains.

Stock up on
spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

Ayurvedic Cooking For Groups

So how do you create a meal for a group of people or your whole family, everyone having different doshas?

Here, the key is to have a
moderately spicy main dish, and then ingredients or spices that people can add on top.

Avocado, yogurt or a chutney sauce like coriander chutney work well.

Individual small dishes can contain extra powdered spices to sprinkle on top. Lime wedges, freshly grated coconut and salt and pepper are also nice to have on hand.

Kitchari made with rice and lentils and anti-inflammatory spices is the one moderately spicy main meal recipe every single member of your family can relish. This staple of Ayurvedic cooking is important to know how to make. It’s healthy, delicious and can feed a whole family. Plus, it’s a complete meal!

Ayurvedic Cooking: Making Kitchari

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp clarified butter (or a blend of ghee and oil)
½ tsp each of turmeric, cumin, cardamom and black pepper
1/4 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup split mung beans (or any lentil)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Small knob of freshly grated ginger
3 cups water or stock
2 cups of your favorite vegetables
Topping Ideas: sliced avocado, spinach or chard, cilantro, onion slices, Greek yogurt
Thoroughly wash the basmati rice and split mung beans or other lentil substitutes.

In a heavy pot or deep saucepan, melt two tablespoons of clarified butter or your homemade blend of ghee and oil. Add a half-cup of chopped cilantro, carrots, celery, and freshly grated ginger, covering all in the melted ghee. Sauté this veggie mixture for two minutes.

Add washed rice and mung beans into the veggie mixture, continuing to evenly coat all the ingredients in the ghee or oil blend. Saute this for another couple of minutes. Next add in the water, vegetable stock or bone broth.

Let the ingredients come to a soft simmer, then turn down and cook on low for 30 to 40 minutes with the lid off, stirring occasionally. Once cooking is done, turn off the heat and stir in another tablespoon of ghee and a handful of greens. Cover with a lid and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings.

Ayurvedic Cooking With Ghee

You can prepare ghee in your kitchen or you can purchase it in many supermarkets.

Ghee is clarified butter. This means the butter has been processed to remove the milk solids. It is basically butter oil.

There are many splendid uses for ghee. You can use it in place of almost any cooking oil and it will add that beautiful butter flavor without the fear of burning.

Here’s how to prepare ghee at home.

How To Make Ghee

Place butter in a heavy-bottomed pan.
Melt over medium-low heat.
While melting, the whey will float to the top. Skim it off and reserve for future use or compost the whey.
When the milk fat sinks to the bottom and the butter turns clear, you’ve made clarified butter. The milk fat will brown and become fragrant.
Allow to cool slightly and strain through cheesecloth into a very clean jar.
Store at room temperature.
Ghee making is a simple process. It requires very little equipment and the results are fantastic with a wide range of health benefits.

Health Benefits Of Ghee

Ghee refers to cow’s ghee. Ghee is also called clarified butter in the U.S.

Ghee is ideal in people with Vata and Pitta body types and those suffering from Vata and/or Pitta dosha imbalance. Ghee balances Pitta dosha and improves digestion. It is perhaps the most beneficial of all the types of fats, according to Ayurvedic cooking.

Good digestion is the key to good health. If you’re dealing with any sort of digestive issues, healing your gut lining is an important first step. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines.

The ancient Ayurvedic sage Charaka mentioned the qualities of ghee. He said that ghee balances Pitta and Vata. It is conducive (hitakara) to rasa dhatu (the first nutrient formed after proper digestion of food), Shukra dhatu (the reproductive system) and ojas (immunity).

It relieves burning sensations of the body, brings softness to the body parts and gives clarity to the complexion and voice.14

Vagbhata, another ancient Ayurvedic scholar, described ghee to be the best among all the fats. It is a coolant, postpones the onset of old age and possesses a thousand good qualities when used in a proper way.15

Ayurvedic Properties Of Ghee

According to the Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India (Part 1, Vol IV), the Ayurvedic properties of cow’s ghee are as follows.

Taste (Rasa): Sweet (Madhura)
Quality (Guna): heavy (guru), unctuous (snigdha), soft (mrdu)
Potency (Veerya): Cold (sita)
Post Digestive Effect (Vipaka): Sweet (Madhura)
Action (Karma): Agni Deepana, Anabhisyyandi, Ayushya, Balya, Cakshushya, Deepana, Hidya, Kaantiprada, Medhya, Ojovardhaka, Rasayana, Ruchya, Shleshma Vardhana, Snehana, Shukravardhaka, Tejobalakara, Tvacya, Vatapittaprashamana, Vayaasthapna, Vishahara, Virsya.

Cow’s ghee is known to be digested 96% which is the highest compared to all other vegetable or animal sources of fats. It contains antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene (600IU) and other nutrients like phospholipids, diglycerides and triglycerides.16

Cow’s ghee is an integral part of Ayurvedic cooking. It is considered a premier rasayana, a food that helps maintain good health, vitality and longevity. Cow’s ghee is excellent for balancing Vata (air) and Pitta (fire) related doshas. It is a sattvic food, which has a pure influence on mind, body and spirit.

Vata type people can enjoy more ghee than Pitta types who in turn can enjoy more ghee than Kapha types.

Cow’s ghee brings out the aroma and flavor of many foods. It contains no water so it does not spoil easily. It preserves the original freshness and potency of the herbs and foods it is cooked in. No refrigeration is required.16

In the wise world of Ayurveda, you really are what you eat - so eat for your dosha to restore your health.

Use Ayurvedic Cooking to to create equilibrium in your doshas.

References

1. Susruta Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 1, verse 28 (54).
2. Dr. Shashi Rekha H.K., Dr. Bargela SushantSukumarr, Charaka Samhita, vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publication, 2017, chapter-27, Verse 3, pg-473]3. C. Hotz, R.S. Gibson Traditional food-processing and preparation practices to enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients in plant-based diets J Nutr, 137 (2007), pp. 1097-1100
4. K.R. Srikanth Murthy, Sushruta Samhita, Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2017, Verse-41, pg no. 110
5. Prof. P.V. Sharma, Astanga Samgraha of Vagbhata, Vol 1 Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2017chapter 9, verse 18, pg 203.
6. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K., Charaka Samhita Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, chapter 5, verse 3, pg 86
7. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K., Charaka Samhita Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, chapter 5, verse 4, pg 86
8. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K, Charaka Samhita, Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, verse 32-35, pg 390-391
9. K.R. Srikantha Murthy Vagbhata’s Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed (Vol. 1). Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; (2001). p. 53–7.
10. Tripathi B. Pathya Apathya Nirnaya. Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan; (1998). p. 2–4,39.
11. Sharma PV, editor. , editor. Charaka Samhita. (Vol. 1). Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; (2001). p. 5–9,190,228,375–6. ] Charaka Samhita Vimana Sthana
12. Dr Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K., Charaka Samhita, Vol 2, Vimana Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, Chapter 1, verse 2 page-166
13. Ayurvedic Cooking For Self Healing, Usha Lad, Vasant Lad, 2nd edition.
14. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashi rekha H.K, Charaka Samhita, Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, Chapter 13, Verse- 14, page 207
15. K.R. Srikantha Murthy, Astanga Samgraha of Vagbhata, Vol 1 Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba orientalia, Varanasi, 2017, chapter 6, verse-68-71, page 98-99
16. http://www.imedpub.com/articles/the-versatility-of-cow-ghee-an-ayurvedaperspective.pdf

Food plays a big role in the Ayurvedic lifestyle. Ayurveda teaches us that food is basically medicine. It says:

“When diet is poor, medicine is of no use. When diet is good, there is no need of medicine.”

Foods should be prepared for efficient digestion. When our digestion is efficient, the rest follows more easily, we get the optimal benefit from our food and we are more in balance.

There is a Vedic expression that basically says that if our digestion is strong, our bodies can turn poison into nectar, but if our digestion is weak, the body can turn nectar into poison.

This Ultimate Guide to Ayurvedic Cooking will cover the following aspects:

1. A brief introduction to the doshas
2. Sustaining prana or life-giving energy
3. The six tastes
4. The properties of foods
5. The quantity and timing of food
6. The eating environment
7. Incompatible foods
8. Ayurvedic Cooking For Your Dosha
9. The Vata Diet (How To Balance Vata Dosha)
10. The Pitta Diet (How To Balance Pitta Dosha)
11. The Kapha Diet (How To Balance Kapha Dosha)
12. Cooking utensils
13. Staples for the Ayurvedic pantry
14. Ayurvedic cooking for groups
15. An Ayurvedic meal recipe
16. Cooking with Ghee 

A Brief Introduction to the Doshas

Ayurvedic Cooking focuses on eating the right food for your dosha.

But what is a dosha?


The ancient Indian science of life called Ayurveda explains that human beings, like the universe, are made up of each of the five elements (air, space, fire, water and earth) and
the soul. 

How are these elements expressed in our bodies?

The Elements

Air is inhaled during breathing, it pumps the blood through our system to keep us alive.
Space is in the hollow cavities of the body, and we require space to move around.
Fire is a part of our digestive system that helps to break down the food we eat and burn calories to give us energy.
Water comprises about two-thirds of our body, and we need water to survive.
Earth is in our bones and the vital minerals that keep us healthy.

These elements, in their biological form, are known as doshas:
Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The doshas and the elements

Vata is made up of a combination of Air and Space.
Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water.
Kapha is made up of a combination of Earth and Water.

Because we all have all of the elements in our bodies, we have each of the doshas as
well. But every one of us is born with a unique, individual balance of these doshas. So, no two of us are alike!

The idea is to find what our own special combination of doshas is, and to work to keep it in balance so that we stay in radiant health mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Through learning about our doshas, we learn to recognize our strengths and work on our weaknesses.

Vata-type people are generally thin and find it hard to gain weight. Because of this, Vatas
have very little energy reserve and can tire easily and get themselves out of balance. Vatas need to get sufficient rest and not overdo things, stay warm, and keep a regular
lifestyle routine. Vatas are creative, and get bored easily. Think about a hummingbird as a very Vata-like creature, very light and airy, going from one thing to the next quickly and unpredictably.

Pitta-type people are generally of medium size and well-proportioned. They have a medium
amount of physical energy and stamina. They also tend to be intelligent and have a sharp wit and a good ability to concentrate. Fire is a characteristic of Pitta, whether it shows up as fiery red hair or a short temper. They are ambitious by nature but can also be demanding and abrasive.

Pitta types are known for their strong digestion but should be careful not to abuse it. Their heat makes them particularly thirsty, and they should take care not to douse their agni, or
digestive fire, with too much liquid during meals. An eagle is representative of Pitta in nature. Strong, powerful, and goal-oriented.

Kapha-type people tend to have sturdy, heavy frames, providing a good reserve of physical strength and stamina. This strength gives Kaphas a natural resistance to disease and a generally positive outlook about life. The Kapha dosha is slow, and Kapha types tend to be slow eaters with slow digestion. They also speak slowly. They are calm and affectionate but, when out of balance, can become stubborn and lazy. They learn slowly, with a methodical approach, but also retain information well with a good understanding of it.

Kapha types need to progress to stay in balance. They should not dwell in the past or resist change. They need lots of exercise and need to be careful not to overeat. Kaphas need stimulation to bring out their vitality. Kapha dosha teaches us steadiness and a sense of well-being. The swan is a very Kapha-like animal. Heavy, serene, and family-oriented.

Wondering what your unique dosha is? Take our free dosha quiz here.

Day & Night

Prana or life-giving energy

Food is the sustainer of living beings and the cause for their strength, complexion and vigor. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to prepare food in a way that does not destroy its prana or life-giving energy.

Overcooking, deep-frying, or burning not only destroys prana, but also the food’s taste.

Food should have
color (varna), taste (rasa),aroma (gandha) and touch (sparsha).

It should be
pleasing to the mind and prepared and processed properly with pure consciousness and love. This provides and supports life energy. Food supports the life force.2

The strength, complexion and immunity of a living system is under the control of diet, which, in turn, is under the control of the six tastes.1

The Ayurveda Experience

The Six Tastes

Ayurveda recognizes that foods can have six different tastes. Each taste has its own elemental composition and unique properties through which it affects the doshas and the tissue systems.

Ayurveda says that
all the six tastes are to be judiciously used in our meals so as to keep all the tissue systems, body channels and doshas in balance and to ameliorate the diseased conditions.

1) Sweet
The sweet taste is dominated by the earth and water elements. Its qualities are unctuous, cooling and heavy. (Keep reading to learn more about the qualities or properties of foods)

It nourishes  all the seven tissue systems, and is good for the hair, skin and throat. The sweet taste increases strength, vitality and satisfaction. 

If the sweet taste is consumed in excess quantities, then it causes obesity, lethargy, lack of appetite, cough, cold and asthma, diabetes and more.

Examples of the sweet taste include: sugar and sugary foods, milk, sweet fruits, rice, wheat, licorice, asparagus, almonds and more.

2) Sour
The sour taste is predominantly composed of earth and fire elements.It is light, hot and unctuous. 

If taken in moderation, it acts as an appetizer and kindles the digestive fire.
It strengthens the heart, aids in passing accumulated gases in the intestines, aids digestion, and stimulates salivation.

If taken in excess, the sour taste causes sensitive teeth, involuntary closure of eyelids, hyperacidity, heartburn, edema especially in emaciated individuals, and also aggravates the blood, causing skin diseases, like boils, eczema, and dermatitis, and it promotes infection
in wounds.

Examples of foods rich in sour taste include citrus fruits, tamarind, raw mango, vinegar, sour cream, grapes, lemon and more.

3) Salty
The salty taste is predominantly composed of water and fire elements. It is a bit heavy, unctuous and hot in properties.

In moderation, it relieves accumulated gases in the colon, relieving pain and spasm. It aids in expulsion of mucous from the respiratory tract and stools from large intestine. It purifies the fluid channels of the body, and is important for the electrolyte balance of the body. It relieves spasm of the muscles and body pains and makes body parts supple. It induces salivation and makes the food tasty, is an appetizer and digestive.

It dominates all other tastes and makes them palatable.

If taken in excess, the salt taste causes wrinkling, premature graying of hair and hair loss. It depletes the reproductive tissue, weakens the sense organs, causes burning, excessive thirst, acidity, aggravates the blood, causing bleeding tendencies, hypertension, gout and skin diseases.

Examples of the salty taste: any kind of salt, as well as kelp and some tofu.

4) Pungent
The pungent taste is dominated by the fire and air elements. It has properties of lightness, heat and dryness. 

In moderation, it promotes salivation, nasal secretions and tears and thereby helps in cleansing of mouth cavity, sinuses, and eyes. It aids circulation, clears blockages,
helps sense organs to perceive better, relieves severe flatulence, edema, and excessive oiliness. The pungent taste can also help with weight loss.

In case of overuse, the pungent taste can deplete and destroy the reproductive tissue causing ovulation failure, low sperm count and sexual debility. It can cause vertigo, fainting episodes, thirst, burning, peptic ulcers, nausea, tremors, pricking and tearing pains in extremities, flanks and back.

Examples of pungent foods include peppers, ginger, onion, garlic, mustard, rye and more.

5) Bitter
The bitter taste has dominance of the air and space elements. It is dry, cold and light by nature.

Though by nature it is sometimes unpalatable, if taken in moderation, it can cure anorexia, remove toxins, parasites, itching, skin diseases, thirst and fainting. The bitter taste also purifies the milk of lactating mothers. It brings down fever, makes the skin firm by working on excessive oiliness and fat. It cuts down on excessive fat and is drying in nature and thus reduces lymphatic edema, and pus formation.

In excess, the bitter taste depletes all the tissue systems, produces dryness in all the body channels, reduces strength, causes emaciation, weakens the heart, produces dryness
and roughness.

Examples of the bitter taste include bitter gourd, bitter melon, neem, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, aloe vera, coffee, and more.

6) Astringent 
The astringent taste is dominated by the air and earth elements. It is cooling, dry and heavy by nature. 

It helps in the healing of wounds and promotes clotting. By its nature, it depletes all the tissues and produces roughness of channels. It absorbs water and causes dryness of mouth and throat. It is a blood purifier.

In excess, the astringent taste may cause choking, absolute constipation, severe flatulence, heart spasm, stagnation of body fluid. It can cause excessive thirst, lack of virility due
to aggravation of Vata and may also cause Bell’s Palsy, Hemiplegia or paralysis, lock jaw and other neuro-muscular disorders.

Examples of the astringent taste include: unripe banana, tamarind and mango seeds, betel nut, colocasia, black plum and more.

Kesaradi Oil

The Properties of Foods

Ayurveda has a very unique way of treating food just like medicine. It describes in detail the properties of various food items and their effects on the doshas.

Generally, when the quality of a food is
similar to the quality of a dosha, it will result in the increase in the activity of that particular dosha. Conversely, if the attributes of a food are opposite to the quality of a dosha, then it will reduce the activity of that particular dosha.

So a food which is beneficial for an individual considering the state of doshas in his/her body, can be harmful for another person as per the state of doshas in his/her body.

Knowing which food is most likely to suit our body and which won't, will help us choose the right food for our unique body. 

The 20 properties or attributes
Every food item imbibes fractions of the five basic elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth), with the domination of one or more of the elements, and in turn the three Doshasalso have different proportions of the five basic elements with dominance of certain elements in each.

These 20 properties are classified in opposing pairs of 10: 

1. Heavy - Light
2. Cold - Hot
3. Unctuous – Dry
4. Slow - Sharp
5. Stable - Mobile
6. Soft - Hard
7. Slimy - Rough
8. Viscous - Liquid
9. Gross - Subtle
10. Cloudy - Clear

Here are some examples of how the 20 properties exhibit themselves in various foods:

1. Heavy: Cream, cheese, kidney beans, rice flakes.
2. Light: Puffed rice, popcorn, wild rice.
3.Cold: Mint, coconut water, water melon, rice.
4.Hot: Peppers, nutmeg, turkey meat.
5.Oily: Nuts, fats and oils, black lentil.  
6.Dry: Millets, rye, corn, gram flour.
7.Slow: Yogurt, pork, beef, condensed milk.
8. Sharp: Onion, ginger, garlic, bell peppers, mustard greens.
9. Stable: Ghee, wheat.
10. Mobile: alcohol, sprouts, tobacco.
11. Soft: Puffed rice, tapioca, pasta.
12. Hard: Nuts, bones (small bony fish is eaten in many parts of Asia), jack fruit.
13. Slimy: Colocasia, ladyfinger, full cream yogurt.
14. Rough: Most millets, broccoli, cauliflower, oats.
15. Dense: Cream, tubers.
16. Liquid: All water based beverages, soups, milk.
17. Gross: Roots and tubers, dates, minerals.
18. Subtle: Spices, saffron, oils (oils penetrate in pores by virtue of subtleness).
19. Cloudy: Mayonnaise, butter, sea food.
20. Clear: Clarified butter milk, black eyed peas, bitters.

As stated earlier, every element has specific properties. Foods
can be classified on the basis of five elements and thus can be used to balance/nourish these elements in the body .

Foods and their elements


As per their constituent elements, different foods will show the actions as attributed to the respective element. A brief list of these actions of elements is as follows:

Foods and their elements


If you'd like to learn more about the different foods' qualities, tastes, attributes, and their effects on the doshas, check out our comprehensive educational video course "The Ayurveda Experience"

The Ayurveda Experience

The Quantity and Timing of Food

The time of day that you eat your meals also affects your digestion.

Have you ever gone out for a late dinner and found that it was harder to wake up the next morning or that it was difficult to be efficient the next day? These are often the side effects of improperly digested food.

The best way to avoid these problems is to follow nature’s prescription of suitable times to eat.  

When the sun is strongest, between 12 and 2 pm, is when the digestive fire is also strongest. Ayurveda recommends that lunch be the largest meal of the day since that is the time the digestive fire is working at its maximum potency. As the sun goes down, so does our digestive fire.

Dinner should be lighter than lunch and should ideally be eaten before 8 pm.

Ayurveda recommends that the
amount of a meal should be no more than one-half the stomach capacity, and up to 1/4th part warm water sipped between mouthfuls to lubricate the food.

Late night meals interfere with sleep and after 10 pm, the body is working to burn off toxins and
continue to digest food from the day. If you eat after 10 pm, the food may cause toxins to accumulate in the system, and as a result the next day you wake up tired.

If you are not able to wake up fresh and clear, then it is important to analyze the quantity of food and the time you are eating dinner.

If you'd like to learn more about the healing wisdom of foods, the traditional and intelligent or nutritious methods of cooking and storing food,
 check out our educational video course 'Holistic Nutrition' by Todd Caldecott.

Holistic Nutrition

The Eating Environment

It’s also important to note that food should be consumed in a proper place. You should be equipped with all the necessary amenities. 

Be mindful of yourself and your food and enjoy the process of eating.

Ayurveda offers the following guidelines to those who want to boostagni and improve our digestion:

Sit down while you eat.
Eat in a
quiet atmosphere.
Focus on the food; do not read or watch TV as you eat.
Don’t rush through meals or linger over them for too long.
Eat meals at approximately
the same times every day.
Stop eating
before you are completely full. Ayurveda recommends eating until you're about 75% full.
Allow approximately
3 to 6 hours between meals for digestion.
Eat when you are hungry, when the stomach is empty.
Sip warm water or juice with meals.
Drink milk separately from meals, either alone or with other sweet foods.
Avoid ice-cold food and beverages.
Sit quietly for a few minutes after eating.

Day & Night

Incompatible Foods

There are three factors that make up the properties of a food.

We've already discussed the
taste, or rasa. We know that there are six tastes in Ayurveda, and foods can have one or more of these tastes.

We've also covered if a food has either
heating or cooling energies, this is known as virya. This helps us to know if a food is balancing to our personal dosha, and if it is good to
eat within the current season as well.

Now, we also need
to consider the food's effect on the body after it is digested – or vipak.

In the western diet, foods are often served together
with different tastes, energies and post-digestive effects. The problem with this is that our agni, the digestive fire, can get overloaded trying to do too many things at the same time. This results in the production of toxins in the body.

So it is important
for us to pay attention to the foods that we consume together to make sure that our digestion stays strong. There are many foods that, when eaten separately, stimulate agni and are digested easily. But some of those same foods, when eaten together, slow down agni and cause digestive distress.

Here are a few basic rules for combining food:

FRUIT
Eat fruit on its own, preferably two hours before or after you have eaten something else.

Fruit should never be combined with any dairy product, like milk or yogurt. And yet we see
this happening all the time! Yogurt with fruit and granola is considered a healthy breakfast – but it is one of the worst things you can eat, it can wreak havoc on digestion. While the
fruit and milk process in the stomach, the fruit can curdle the milk causing excess acid.

Having a
banana smoothie, where banana is blended with milk and/or yogurt, can change the bacterial mix in the intestines, and may even cause sinus congestion or allergies. (Try making your smoothie with a plant-based milk instead!)

Milk and melon are particularly to be avoided together because milk has laxative properties, and melon is a diuretic. Melon combined with carbohydrates or starchy foods is also bad
for digestion. Melon is digested very quickly, and carbs tend to take more time. So the fructose in the melon ends up not getting digested properly.

Fruit and cheese are also often served together as an appetizer or a dessert - bad idea! Cheese is a dairy product, and will have the same effect on digestion as milk does in combo with fruit. Cheese is difficult to digest and can cause constipation, so cheese in general is to be avoided.

And fruit, even on its
own, is not good for dessert. It's better to eat fruit before a meal, waiting a bit to digest, or as a snack in between meals.  

Ice cream is not great for you anyway, it’s cold and hard to digest. But add fruit to it and it’s even worse. For dessert, it’s downright awful. Ice cream will totally put out that digestive fire that is so needed to help digest your meal.

MEAT
Though Ayurveda does not recommend meat, if you cannot do without it, meat and dairy should never be eaten together. Well, there go the cheeseburgers!

Meat is heating and milk is
cooling so this is a bad combo. They contradict one another, upsetting agni and producing toxins, or ama.

Fish counts as meat – and is not good to eat with dairy products. Think of all those cream sauces that are served over fish. And Tartar sauce is dairy based – we see this served alongside fish and chips all the time. Avoid this combination!
 
HONEY
Uncooked honey, or raw honey, can be beneficial in Ayurveda for many conditions. But cook it, and you get the opposite effect. When cooked, honey digests very slowly and it becomes this sticky gunk that clings to membranes and clogs channels producing toxins. Yuck.

So
don’t put honey in your hot tea, or have a hot drink while you’re eating something with honey on it.

Ghee and honey are a delicious combo – but they should not be served in equal  proportions. Ghee is cooling and honey is heating – so pick which one you want more of.

WATER
During a meal, water should be served warm or at room temperature. Small sips can help with digestion.

Iced water,
as is often served in restaurants, puts that digestive fire right out. You can ask for water, no ice, with lemon - or even hot water with lemon. 

LEFTOVERS
When food is fresh, it has a certain intelligence, it knows where to go and what to do in the body. The longer food sits, the more it loses that intelligence or vital energy. Plus it gets cold in the refrigerator, then you end up heating it up in the microwave, and it’s a pale shadow of what it was when you started out. So avoid eating leftovers if you can. And if you must eat leftovers, heat them up on the stove and add in some ghee and spices.

Here’s a list of some of the more common incompatible food combos:

Avoid DAIRY products combined with:
- fruit
- meat, including fish
- starchy foods
- yeasty breads

Avoid EGGS combined with:
- dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- meat, including fish
- melons
- bananas
- starches

Avoid CORN combined with:
- bananas
- dates
- raisins

Avoid LEMON combined with:
- cucumber
- tomato
- dairy products

Avoid NIGHTSHADES  (tomato, potato, eggplant, chilies) combined with:
- dairy products
- melon
- cucumber

If you'd like to learn more about the healing wisdom of foods, the traditional and intelligent or nutritious methods of cooking and storing food, check out our educational video course 'Holistic Nutrition' by Todd Caldecott.

Holistic Nutrition

Ayurvedic Cooking For Your Dosha

As we mentioned above, the Ayurvedic diet identifies six tastes that each have different energetic effects on the mind and body. They either aggravate or pacify particular doshas.

For example, consider Ayurveda’s theory of
‘like increases like’. Someone with excess Pitta (the "fiery" dosha) may add fuel to the fire by consuming hot, spicy foods.

The tastes can either alleviates or aggravate the doshas.

For example, a diet of sweet, sour and salty tastes alleviate or reduces
Vata. Those having an astringent, bitter and pungent taste would aggravate Vata.

Similarly,
Pitta is aggravated by a pungent, sour and salty taste.

Kapha is aggravated by a sweet, sour and salty taste.2

If you want to balance Vata dosha, you have to understand that
Vata dosha is a combination of the space and air element, as explained in the first section of this article. These elements are predominant in foods tasting bitter, astringent and pungent. So if you indulge in bitter, astringent and pungent foods, you will aggravate Vata dosha.

To balance Vata, you need to eat foods consisting of the remaining three elements – earth, water and fire. These are foods which are sweet, sour and salty in taste.

Along with the taste of food, other properties of the food like whether it is heavy or light, oily or dry, liquid or solid are also taken into account. The potency of the food, whether it is heating or cooling, and the post digestive effect of the food is also considered.

Foods for the Doshas


Rules For The Vata Diet (How To Balance Vata Dosha)

Since Vata is composed of air and space, it is easy for Vatas to get gas. So, naturally, with
all these things going on, Vatas need to watch what they eat.

The Vata appetite, like everything else about this dosha, is variable. To stay in balance, Vatas need to keep a regular routine when it comes to meals. Even when you don’t feel
like eating a lot, you should eat something at regular intervals.

Vatas tend to like to snack, but then they don’t get the nourishment that they really need from their food. It’s best to establish good eating habits to promote proper, healthy digestion.

A Vata breakfast might be oatmeal (rather than cold cereal) sweetened with some brown sugar and soy milk. Many Vatas are lactose-intolerant, so soy milk (or rice milk or almond milk) is a good alternative.

Caffeine is particularly aggravating to Vata. So, instead of regular coffee, serve up some herb tea or decaffeinated coffee. Coffee substitutes are often better than coffee because of coffee’s acid content, which may disturb Vata’s digestion.

Include sweet, salty, and sour tasting foods in your diet.
Avoid bitter, astringent and pungent tasting foods.
Eat warm, cooked (rather than raw), oily or heavy foods.
Avoid cold foods.
Avoid dry foods.
Best oils to be used are
almond, ghee and sesame.
Avoid ice cream and frozen yogurt.
Eat boiled or steamed starchy vegetables.
Eat
ripe fruits.
Use
mild spices like cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, salt, cloves, mustard and black pepper.
Herbal teas of chamomile, fennel, ginger and lemon are good.
Raw honey, jaggery (raw sugar), maple syrup and molasses are good sweeteners.
Avoid using brown sugar and white sugar.

Manjish Glow Elixir

Rules For The Pitta Diet (How To Balance Pitta)

Pittas do best on cool, uncooked foods. So the Pitta couple can have lots of salads, raw vegetables, and fresh fruits and be very healthy.

Pitta’s digestion is very good, and especially so at midday when Pitta is at its peak. It is favorable for the largest meal of the day to be eaten around noontime.

Pittas should
never skip meals. Because their digestive fire is so strong, skipping a meal would be like putting an empty pot over a flame.

The foods that Pittas should avoid are the ones that are too spicy or too salty. Pittas can be at risk for ulcers, and should avoid anything too acidic.

Alcohol and smoking are two of the most Pitta-aggravating things and should be
avoided at all costs.

Pittas are frequently thirsty and should always have
water or fruit juice handy. Cool drinks are good, especially during the summer.

Include sweet, bitter and astringent tastes in your diet.
Avoid pungent (hot), sour and salty foods.
Eat
boiled, steamed and raw vegetables.
Eat sweet foods to reduce Pitta.
Drink
warm milk with a small amount of cardamom and ginger in it.
Avoid buttermilk, salted cheeses, sour cream and yogurt.
Ghee and olive oil are best to use for cooking.
Use
mild, cooling spices like coriander, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cumin, curry leaves and mint.
Avoid jaggery (raw sugar) and molasses if your Pitta is aggravated. Use
honey instead.

Kesaradi Oil

Rules For The Kapha Diet (How To Balance Kapha)

Food is Kapha’s biggest weakness. Kaphas love food and love to eat.

They have a
strong, constant appetite and especially love sweet foods, though these are the worst for them. One of the big reasons that sweets are so bad for Kaphas is that they tend to be the higher calorie foods, and Kapha is prone to weight gain.

The Kapha digestion is slow and heavy.

Include pungent, bitter and astringent tasting foods into your diet.
Avoid sweet, sour and salty foods.
Eat
warm foods rather than cold foods.
Eat more
boiled, steamed and raw vegetables.
Eating
ripe fruits will be good to balance Kapha, except for banana.
Minimize the intake of heavy foods, salt and dairy products.
Eat
smaller portions of food.
Do not eat in between meals.
Do not eat because of your emotional state, whether to celebrate or to soothe.
Use raw honey instead of other sweeteners like sugar, brown sugar and maple syrup.
Use oils in small amounts only. Even the best oil, if overused, will aggravate Kapha.
Strong spices like pepper, paprika, garlic, basil, cloves, fennel, mustard, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper will stimulate digestion, improve appetite, clear sinuses and stimulate blood circulation. This is very helpful for balancing Kapha dosha.

Saromyas

Cooking Utensils

Before starting with Ayurvedic cooking, you will need to have some basic foods, spices and utensils on hand.

Use the list below as a guideline to slowly establish an Ayurvedic kitchen. Most of the ingredients you will use in your Ayurvedic kitchen are dried and can be stored in your kitchen shelves or counter top.

Every act you perform around food should be loving, honoring and sacred in manner. Whether it is growing your food or buying it from the supermarket, selecting and preparing the food should be in a loving, mindful way.
Food that is cooked with love and pure consciousness brings healing.13

Utensils that will be useful for Ayurvedic cooking:

A heavy cast iron frying pan

A flat skillet without high borders
2-3 medium sized pots with lids (stainless steel)
A soup pot with lid
A deep pot for frying (preferably cast iron)
2-3 mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons
Hand egg beater
A large metal spoon with soup ladle
A blender
A rolling pin
A chopping board

If you'd like to learn more about cooking utensils for optimal nutrition preservation, or nutritious methods of cooking and storing food, check out our educational video course 'Holistic Nutrition' by Todd Caldecott.

Stocking Your Pantry For Ayurvedic Cooking

An Ayurvedic kitchen must have a few staples.

The first is a
high-quality cooking oil. Ayurveda suggests cooking with pure ghee instead of cooking with canola oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil. During warmer seasons, coconut oil is a good option for cooking because it is cooling in nature.

Next, a very important ingredient of your Ayurvedic kitchen is
basmati rice. Basmati rice is easier to digest than other grains.

Stock up on
spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

Rukshadi

Ayurvedic Cooking For Groups

So how do you create a meal for a group of people or your whole family, everyone having different doshas?

Here, the key is to have a
moderately spicy main dish, and then ingredients or spices that people can add on top.

Avocado, yogurt or a chutney sauce like coriander chutney work well.

Individual small dishes can contain extra powdered spices to sprinkle on top. Lime wedges, freshly grated coconut and salt and pepper are also nice to have on hand.

Kitchari made with rice and lentils and anti-inflammatory spices is the one moderately spicy main meal recipe every single member of your family can relish. This staple of Ayurvedic cooking is important to know how to make. It’s healthy, delicious and can feed a whole family. Plus, it’s a complete meal!

Nidradi

Ayurvedic Cooking: Making Kitchari

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp clarified butter (or a blend of ghee and oil)
½ tsp each of turmeric, cumin, cardamom and black pepper
1/4 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup split mung beans (or any lentil)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Small knob of freshly grated ginger
3 cups water or stock
2 cups of your favorite vegetables
Topping Ideas: sliced avocado, spinach or chard, cilantro, onion slices, Greek yogurt
Thoroughly wash the basmati rice and split mung beans or other lentil substitutes.

In a heavy pot or deep saucepan, melt two tablespoons of clarified butter or your homemade blend of ghee and oil. Add a half-cup of chopped cilantro, carrots, celery, and freshly grated ginger, covering all in the melted ghee. Sauté this veggie mixture for two minutes.

Add washed rice and mung beans into the veggie mixture, continuing to evenly coat all the ingredients in the ghee or oil blend. Saute this for another couple of minutes. Next add in the water, vegetable stock or bone broth.

Let the ingredients come to a soft simmer, then turn down and cook on low for 30 to 40 minutes with the lid off, stirring occasionally. Once cooking is done, turn off the heat and stir in another tablespoon of ghee and a handful of greens. Cover with a lid and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings.

Trahnna

Ayurvedic Cooking With Ghee

You can prepare ghee in your kitchen or you can purchase it in many supermarkets.

Ghee is clarified butter. This means the butter has been processed to remove the milk solids. It is basically butter oil.

There are many splendid uses for ghee. You can use it in place of almost any cooking oil and it will add that beautiful butter flavor without the fear of burning.

Here’s how to prepare ghee at home.

How To Make Ghee

Place butter in a heavy-bottomed pan.
Melt over medium-low heat.
While melting, the whey will float to the top. Skim it off and reserve for future use or compost the whey.
When the milk fat sinks to the bottom and the butter turns clear, you’ve made clarified butter. The milk fat will brown and become fragrant.
Allow to cool slightly and strain through cheesecloth into a very clean jar.
Store at room temperature.
Ghee making is a simple process. It requires very little equipment and the results are fantastic with a wide range of health benefits.

Eye Butter

Health Benefits Of Ghee

Ghee refers to cow’s ghee. Ghee is also called clarified butter in the U.S.

Ghee is ideal in people with Vata and Pitta body types and those suffering from Vata and/or Pitta dosha imbalance. Ghee balances Pitta dosha and improves digestion. It is perhaps the most beneficial of all the types of fats, according to Ayurvedic cooking.

Good digestion is the key to good health. If you’re dealing with any sort of digestive issues, healing your gut lining is an important first step. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines.

The ancient Ayurvedic sage Charaka mentioned the qualities of ghee. He said that ghee balances Pitta and Vata. It is conducive (hitakara) to rasa dhatu (the first nutrient formed after proper digestion of food), Shukra dhatu (the reproductive system) and ojas (immunity).

It relieves burning sensations of the body, brings softness to the body parts and gives clarity to the complexion and voice.14

Vagbhata, another ancient Ayurvedic scholar, described ghee to be the best among all the fats. It is a coolant, postpones the onset of old age and possesses a thousand good qualities when used in a proper way.15

Ayurvedic Properties Of Ghee

According to the Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India (Part 1, Vol IV), the Ayurvedic properties of cow’s ghee are as follows.

Taste (Rasa): Sweet (Madhura)
Quality (Guna): heavy (guru), unctuous (snigdha), soft (mrdu)
Potency (Veerya): Cold (sita)
Post Digestive Effect (Vipaka): Sweet (Madhura)
Action (Karma): Agni Deepana, Anabhisyyandi, Ayushya, Balya, Cakshushya, Deepana, Hidya, Kaantiprada, Medhya, Ojovardhaka, Rasayana, Ruchya, Shleshma Vardhana, Snehana, Shukravardhaka, Tejobalakara, Tvacya, Vatapittaprashamana, Vayaasthapna, Vishahara, Virsya.

Cow’s ghee is known to be digested 96% which is the highest compared to all other vegetable or animal sources of fats. It contains antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene (600IU) and other nutrients like phospholipids, diglycerides and triglycerides.16

Cow’s ghee is an integral part of Ayurvedic cooking. It is considered a premier rasayana, a food that helps maintain good health, vitality and longevity. Cow’s ghee is excellent for balancing Vata (air) and Pitta (fire) related doshas. It is a sattvic food, which has a pure influence on mind, body and spirit.

Vata type people can enjoy more ghee than Pitta types who in turn can enjoy more ghee than Kapha types.

Cow’s ghee brings out the aroma and flavor of many foods. It contains no water so it does not spoil easily. It preserves the original freshness and potency of the herbs and foods it is cooked in. No refrigeration is required.16

In the wise world of Ayurveda, you really are what you eat - so eat for your dosha to restore your health.

Use Ayurvedic Cooking to to create equilibrium in your doshas.

References

1. Susruta Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 1, verse 28 (54).
2. Dr. Shashi Rekha H.K., Dr. Bargela SushantSukumarr, Charaka Samhita, vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publication, 2017, chapter-27, Verse 3, pg-473]3. C. Hotz, R.S. Gibson Traditional food-processing and preparation practices to enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients in plant-based diets J Nutr, 137 (2007), pp. 1097-1100
4. K.R. Srikanth Murthy, Sushruta Samhita, Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2017, Verse-41, pg no. 110
5. Prof. P.V. Sharma, Astanga Samgraha of Vagbhata, Vol 1 Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2017chapter 9, verse 18, pg 203.
6. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K., Charaka Samhita Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, chapter 5, verse 3, pg 86
7. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K., Charaka Samhita Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, chapter 5, verse 4, pg 86
8. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K, Charaka Samhita, Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, verse 32-35, pg 390-391
9. K.R. Srikantha Murthy Vagbhata’s Astanga Hrdayam. 5th ed (Vol. 1). Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; (2001). p. 53–7.
10. Tripathi B. Pathya Apathya Nirnaya. Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan; (1998). p. 2–4,39.
11. Sharma PV, editor. , editor. Charaka Samhita. (Vol. 1). Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; (2001). p. 5–9,190,228,375–6. ] Charaka Samhita Vimana Sthana
12. Dr Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashirekha H.K., Charaka Samhita, Vol 2, Vimana Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, Chapter 1, verse 2 page-166
13. Ayurvedic Cooking For Self Healing, Usha Lad, Vasant Lad, 2nd edition.
14. Dr. Bargale Sushant Sukumar, Dr. Shashi rekha H.K, Charaka Samhita, Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba Publications, New Delhi, 2017, Chapter 13, Verse- 14, page 207
15. K.R. Srikantha Murthy, Astanga Samgraha of Vagbhata, Vol 1 Sutra Sthana, Chaukhamba orientalia, Varanasi, 2017, chapter 6, verse-68-71, page 98-99
16. http://www.imedpub.com/articles/the-versatility-of-cow-ghee-an-ayurvedaperspective.pdf

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