The word Ayurveda literally means, the science or knowledge of life. Ayu in Sanskrit means ‘life’ and Veda means ‘knowledge.’ It is a 5000 year old teaching on health and holistic living and is considered the mother of all healing systems.
The purpose of Ayurveda is to fulfill our desire to live a long, disease – free life.
Ayurveda is comprised of 5 superior elements and a combination of the elements make up a Dosha. So the 5 elements are – Earth, Space, Air, Water & Fire. The three Doshas are:
Kapha = Water + Earth = Gives structure & stability to our body
Pitta = Water + Fire = Responsible for the transformation in our body
Vatta = Air + Space = Brings movement in our body
There are 6 body types in this universe and each one of us fit into either one.
Along with the Dosha, it is also important to study the Shadhrasha or the 6 prominent tastes in Ayurveda. Each Dosha has a dominant taste that helps enhance the dosha but we must have the opposite to balance the other doshas or reach a Tridosha state of being. The 6 tastes are:
Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Astringent & Pungent
Our diets should include a good balance of all tastes for optimal health and avoid any diseases or ill effects in our body.
Below are 3 ingredients that I feel are very relevant to include in our daily lives along with 3 recipes to go along with it. Each recipe is Shadhrasa in nature and a balance of all 6 tastes.
Ghee is a magical, heavenly substance that has developed a bad name due to its calorific value. The benefits of Ghee is immense. It is Shadhrsha in nature and Tridosha too which means it has all the 6 tastes as well as it is suitable for all doshas to consume. It contains good fats which help our brain functions and also kill other fat cells.
The lubricative properties line the digestive track for easy passage of food into the stomach and intestine avoiding any bruises in the tracks along the way.
Ghee is excellent for our skin as a moisturizer and event on the scalp for better hair growth. Applying ghee on hair & skin will give you a natural glow and healthy looking skin and hair.
Below is a recipe that is made in pure ghee and is a meal on its own. It is a popular South-Indian khichdi and the tastes & flavours reminds me of the Prasad we get at many temples in the south.
1cup – moong daal, washed & soaked
250 gms – short grain rice, washed & soaked
1/2 cup – tamarind juice
1tsp – mustard seeds
2 tbsp – cashewnuts, coarsely chopped
2-3 nos. – tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp – ghee
Salt to taste
A few curry leaves
For the spices to be ground:
2 tbsp – coriander seeds
8 pieces – dry red chillies
1 cup – grated coconut
1 tsp – urad daal
1 tsp – moong daal
1 tsp – turmeric
1/2 tsp – fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp – garam masala
A pinch of asafoetida
Cook the daal in three cups of water until soft.
Dry roast the spices and grind them to a fine powder.
Add washed rice to the cooked daal and cook again till soft.
Add tamarind juice, powdered spices and salt. Mix well. Cook with just enough water so that the mixture is semi-dry when cooked.
Heat ghee in a small pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, cashews and tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are soft. Pour this over rice and lentil mixture.
Mix well. Serve piping hot as is or with yogurt.
Our Gut is the second brain in our body. A good gut health will keep you away from diseases, will make your skin glow and most importantly make you feel great. Unfortunately, given our lifestyles we all have a leaky gut due to the refined foods we consume, be it in the form of sugar, flour, oil or packaged foods.
Aloe vera is one such plant that can help the lining of the gut and hence enhance digestion, improve absorption of nutrients and heal the gut. It is also applied externally in face masks and hair treatment. Due to its cooling property, it helps remove acne, rashes or any skin problems and give nourishment to dry hair.
The most popular way to have Aloe Vera is in the form of juice or powder. It is very easy to grow Aloe Vera at home and instead of juicing the pulp you can eat it for even better results.
Below is a recipe of an Aloe Vera toast that I created for better gut health. I have used green chutney which is shadhrasa in taste and topped it with homegrown microgreens.
Aloe Vera Toast
1 leaf of Aloe Vera
2 tbsp green chutney
2 slices sourdough bread
Few microgreens or rocket leaves
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Green Chutney:
Handful of Coriander leaves
Smaller quantity of mint leaves
2” Ginger stick
2 clove garlic
2 green chilies
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Grind all the ingredients to make the green chutney and keep aside.
Toast the sourdough bread in a toaster. Spread 1 tbsp of green chutney on the toast.
Slit the leaf from the side and peel it off exposing the transparent pulp. Cut the pulp into slices and spread on the toast.
Top with salt & black pepper and sprinkle micro greens and enjoy immediately.
Our body needs a balanced source of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamin, minerals and fluids. While we know the sources for most of them, we tend to stay away from fats. When we talk about necessary fats, we mean the good fats our body needs. Besides many more functions, good fats or healthy fats support good cholesterol (HDL) which helps in lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL).
Coconut is one such healthy fat and plant that has immense health benefits. Coconut milk, Coconut water, coconut flesh, grated coconut and even coconut oil play a tremendous role in our well being.
Below is a recipe of Kerala Vegetable Stew. I have made this using coconut oil and coconut milk which also give it a mild sweetness. The rasa or taste of coconut is sweet, making it a great balance to pungent spices such as black pepper, green chilies etc.
1.5 cups – blanched vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, beans)
1 no. – Onion, chopped
10gm – Garlic, chopped
10gm – Ginger, julienne
2 nos. – Green chilly, slit
8-10 nos – Curry leaves
15gm – Whole black pepper
10ml – Coconut oil
150ml – Coconut milk thin (homemade)
100ml – Coconut milk thick (canned)
3 tbsp – Coconut oil
Salt to taste
1 tbsp each of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, crushed slightly
Heat coconut oil in a deep pan & splutter the crushed spices.
Add onions, ginger & garlic, curry leaves & green chilly and saute for a few minutes till the onions becomes soft. Don’t make the onions brown.
Add the vegetables and combine well.
Pour in the coconut milk and add salt, bring to boil, reduce heat. Simmer and cook till vegetables are tender. It will take 10 mins approx.
Add thick coconut milk and cook for 5 more minutes and remove from fire.
Garnish with curry leaves. Serve hot with steamed rice or appam. I serve it with hot steaming idlis.