We are seeing Ayurveda mentioned more and more in the press at the moment and many of us are now incorporating key Ayurveda principles into our day to day lives like meditation and yoga. Ayurveda is a holistic way of life but at its core it’s all about inner and outer balance and this is particularly important when it comes to everyday cooking. Ayurvedic cooking becomes an ongoing practice of creating balance through food, every day and with every meal.
My grandmother never overindulged in anything! If she committed herself to eating just one bowl of rice with her meal that is all she ate and never a spoon more. It was no doubt the reason for her longevity (she lived until was almost 90 years old with little illness).
The foods used in this type of cooking are powerful not just their flavour but also because of their properties and ability to heal and help raise the body to its optimum level of health. Coriander, cumin, ginger and our favourite turmeric are the spices at the heart of Ayurvedic cooking. Coriander and cumin help to aid digestion. Ginger and turmeric both have anti-inflammatory properties as well as bug busting action which bring a pungent and bitter element to a dish.
According to Ayurveda, turmeric does all manner of powerful things from supporting liver detoxification and healthy cholesterol levels to assisting digestion.
Here is our homemade Khichdi recipe which is like the chicken soup of Ayurveda. It’s a staple in most Indian homes for when you’re feeling under the weather and need some energy. For centuries, throughout India, it has been thought of as comfort food and because it has gentle cleansing, detoxing and healing properties, restores balance to the body when an illness has set it off kilter.
I remember I had a terrible bout of Delhi belly when I went to India one year and my aunt made me her traditional Khichdi - it was the only food that nursed me back to normal health.
- ½ diced onion
- 1 ½ teaspoon ghee or alternatively coconut oil
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp whole mustard seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric or the contents of 1 Amala capsule
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp coriander
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ cup split mung beans or whole mung beans soaked overnight.
- ½ cup brown basmati rice or toasted buckwheat
- 2 ½ cup water
- 2 cups chopped vegetables (like carrot, peas, green beans cauliflower, broccoli)
- 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
- Firstly, thoroughly wash and soak the mung beans in cold water for 30 minutes.
- In a medium pot heat the oil and add the mustard seeds until they just start to pop (be careful not to burn them) add in the chopped onion and sautee over a medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium add ginger and garlic, and sauté a few minutes, until golden and fragrant.
- Add spices and chilli stirring, toast for a couple of minutes. Add soaked mung beans and buckwheat or brown rice.
- Add water and 2 cups chopped veggies along with salt and bring to a good boil. Cover. Turn heat to low, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Check the lentils and rice, if they are easy to mush between your fingers they’re ready.
- Continue cooking for 5 to 10 more minutes if necessary.