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Ayurveda with Anushree

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In the last two columns, we had covered some Ayurveda basics like the Panchamahabhutas, doshas, gunas, rasas/tastes and Ayurveda’s approach to nutrition.

Here are links to those articles, in case you want to skim them again or if you are new to my column 

here:   http://www.bkhush.com/dev/content/ayurveda-anushree

          http://www.bkhush.com/dev/content/ayurveda-anushree-0

In Ayurveda, the focus is on incorporating all 6 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent) in each meal, to ensure that proper digestion takes place. Each taste plays an important role, and although different proportions of each taste are considered optimal, having a good mix of foods providing these different tastes in each meal makes it complete.

Another important focus point is the effect a food has on the mind-body energies/doshas within us. In other words, what is the doshic influence of a particular food? Each food has an intrinsic set of qualities i.e. heavy/light, dry/moist, hot/cold etc. Eating a food causes an increase of its qualities within us. It is therefore important to focus on choosing our food according to our individual prakriti or mind-body constitution and/or current imbalance/vikriti. Eating foods that are in some sense opposite in qualities to the qualities within us will help us maintain the unique balance of doshas that we are born with. For example, a person with kapha prakriti/constitution, should (primarily) eat light, dry, warm foods instead of heavy, moist, cool foods. Light, dry and warm foods have opposing qualities as kapha, and hence balance kapha, while heavy, moist, hot foods have the same qualities as kapha, and hence aggravate kapha.

Last but not the least, is the importance of the effect a food has on our mind i.e. gunas. Does the food bring clarity and harmony (sattva), or does it cause stimulation and restlessness (rajas), or does it bring lethargy and dullness (tamas)? In general, fresh foods like organic fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fresh organic dairy etc. are considered sattvic foods. Spicy, oily, fermented, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are considered rajasic foods. Stale, leftover, canned, frozen, preservative laden and processed foods are considered tamasic foods.

With this in mind, let’s dive right in and see what’s cooking!  Using the recipe as a reference point, we will try to connect the dots and assimilate some basics. 

Here’s a simple mung soup, a perfect addition to dinner for a cold winter night! This high-fiber mung soup can also serve as a meal in itself with its hearty vegetables and protein-rich, easy-to-digest mung lentils (with peel) that have been seasoned and cooked to perfection.

 

This recipe first appeared on TheAyurvedicLife. 

 

 

Ingredients: (makes 4 servings)

 Chhilka Mung dhal (split green gram lentil with peel) (slightly less than 1/2 cup)

 Roughly chopped vegetables (carrots, zucchini – light and dark green, broccoli, kale or any greens of your choice, tomato, spring onion) (2 heaped cupful)

 Dried Italian seasoning (1/2 tsp)

 Ghee (1 tbsp)

 Black pepper powder (to taste)

 Sea salt (to taste)

 Cumin (jeera) powder (1/2 tsp)

 

Method:

 Wash and soak the mung lentils for as much time as you can spare. Pressure cook the dhal until well done and mushy. I usually cook for 3 whistles and leave it for 7 minutes on simmer.

 In a heavy bottomed pan, heat ghee on medium flame. Add Italian seasoning and spring onion whites and sauté for a minute or so.

 Add the remaining chopped vegetables, pepper, cumin, and salt. Mix well.

 Cook covered (adding water as necessary) till the vegetables are almost cooked.

 Add cooked and mashed mung lentils to the vegetables.

 Adjust the water level, salt and spices, and bring it to a boil.

 

Tastes (Rasa):

Sweet (mung, carrots, zucchini), sour (tomatoes), salty (sea salt), bitter (kale, Italian herbs), pungent (black pepper, cumin), astringent (kale, Italian herbs, zucchini).

 

Doshic Influence:

Mung lentils are tridoshic and the most easily digestible among all lentils. Using the mung with peel packs on the fiber as well. The vegetables are a good mix of root vegetables, greens, water rich vegetables and a good blend of different tastes as well, which again makes the dish increasingly tridoshic. Ghee is great for digestion and is also tridoshic. Kaphas can also enjoy ghee, but in moderate amounts. Black pepper and cumin add to the digestibility quotient of the soup. All in all, this is a great tridoshic, one-pot meal soup,that can be enjoyed in all seasons by all constitutions and ages!

 

Effects on the Mind (Gunas):

This is a sattvic food which doesn’t load the digestion and provides satiety to the body and mind, without causing stimulation (rajas) or dullness (tamas).

I hope you enjoyed this little exercise of analyzing the recipe Ayurvedically. I also hope you will try out this simple soup recipe this winter and enjoy it with friends and family. 

I will be back soon right here with some more Ayurvedic nuggets for you. Until then, choose wisely and live well!

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Glossary for a better understanding of a few Ayurvedic terms:

 

 

Find your Prakriti/Constitution: http://theayurvediclife.com/your-constitution

 

 

 

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About the Column : In this column,"Ayurveda with Anushree"  I'll post recipes with Ayurvedic analyses, home remedies for common ailments and sometimes blogs for my take on several Ayurvedic principles like how to do a quick Ayurvedic home facial or how to detox safely etc.

 

About the Author : Until a few months ago, I was in a high-tech job as a software engineer at EMC, California. I left the job 9 months ago, to pursue my passion, and now don several different hats. I actively run a website, http://TheAyurvedicLife.com, which is my effort to share with others the learnings of Ayurveda that have positively changed my life. The website gives Ayurvedic analyses of food recipes, home remedies for general maladies and also contains a blog for Ayurvedic concepts and my thoughts in general, on topics like Detox, Facials etc. I have used the better part of the last year to become a certified Ayurveda Wellness Counselor. As women of the 21st century, in mostly nuclear homes on foreign or home lands, juggling a professional and family life, with little or no help, we have some unique challenges that were likely unknown to our mothers' and grandmothers' generations. However, despite societal norms and other pressures, we need to rise above it all and see that our (and our family's) mental and physical health is a primary pillar, which when cared for will bring about amazing positivity and harmony in the rest of our lives! This is, in a nutshell my life’s purpose – to help people bring about this harmony in their lives through good diet and lifestyle routines!

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