How Ayurvedic Food-Medicine Can Heal You
In Ayurveda, foods and other things that we eat or drink are split into categories.
The three main categories in Ayurveda are:
• Substances considered as toxins;
• Substances considered neutral; and,
• Substances considered as medicine or medicinal.
With regard to Ayurveda and food, a toxic substance is defined as something that impedes digestion and is also directly tied to a person’s prakriti- a person’s constitutional make-up consisting of a combination of the vata, pitta, and kapha doshas.
Medicinal foods are considered to be anything that we ingest that facilitates digestive activity.
Neutral substances are those that we consume that provide support and nourishment without either assisting or deterring the digestive processes.
SEE ALSO: The Science Of Ayurveda And Gemstones
Kitchari, which translates to “two-grains”, is considered both neutral and medicinal.
Kitchari supplies nutrition and because of its combination of spices, is also key in promoting digestion.
Because of its ability to heal the body, kitchari is the most appropriate food to use during prolonged illnesses or after procedures/surgeries, during times of stress on both the body and mind, and during seasonal changes.
Kitchari is also the food of choice during Panchakarma (Ayurvedic Cleanse) given its ability to balance all three doshas.
There are many different types of kitchari; however one of the most basic kitchari recipes includes the following:
1 cup of yellow split mung dal
½ cup of Basmati Rice
~ 6 cups of water
2 tablespoons of grated ginger root
A pinch of sea salt
2 tsp. of Ghee
½ tsp each of turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder
½ tsp each of whole cumin seeds, mustard seeds
A pinch of hing (also known as asafoetida)
Fresh cilantro leaves (to taste)
1 – 1 ½ cups of vegetables (sweet potatoes, asparagus, zucchini and others as appropriate for your constitution)
For Pitta dominant dosha, exclude the mustard seed.
For Kapha and/or Vata dominant doshas increase the amount of fresh by 1 additional tsp.
Clean the rice and dal.
Dal often has stones so make sure to remove these.
Wash both the rice and the dal in separate containers at least twice with clean water each time (washing the beans and rice keeps it from gumming up and sticking).
Add the water to the rice and dal and cook with the cover on for about 20 minutes or until the mixture becomes soft.
You can also use a pressure cooker if you don’t want to use the stovetop.
While the rice/dal mixture is cooking, clean and chop the vegetables suitable for your constitution, into small pieces and add them to the cooked rice/dal combination.
Cook for approximately 10 minutes longer.
In another pan, sauté the seeds in the ghee until they pop.
Add the additional spices and combine all of them well to release the flavors.
Make sure your heat is not too high or you might burn the mixture.
Add the sautéed spices to the cooked rice/dal/veggie mixture and combine well.
Add the sea salt and chopped fresh cilantro (to taste) and serve.
Note: Kitchari, which is low in fiber, can sometimes lead to constipation if you are not eating other foods/juices for several days.
You might want to supplement with some Triphala or Amalaki per your constitution.
If you’re interested in reading more about Ayurveda, check out the Ayurvedic Nutrition handbook. This handy booklet discusses the science of Ayurveda with regards to food and dietary concerns. It contains information on how to determine which primary constitution you are and what foods are beneficial to that constitution, as well as listing foods that have been used to alleviate symptoms in disease. It’s a great starting point if you’re looking for basic, but thorough knowledge of the science.
Ayurvedic Nutrition by Disciples of Amma (the hugging saint)
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