An essential ingredient in the Ayurvedic diet and used in many recipes. Its health benefits are numerous and it makes for a wonderful high heat cooking medium. Stimulating the digestion while also cooling the system, ghee is said to help the medicinal properties of the foods and herbs it is taken with to be absorbed more completely by the body. Ghee is most beneficial for Pitta and Vata dosha, and can be taken in less quantity by Kapha predominant individuals. With practice, it is quite easy to make and more economical than buying it at the health food store. Its delicious flavor and warm aroma will add much to most any dish.
- 1 pound unsalted butter
Place sticks of butter in a stainless steel pot and allow to melt on medium heat. Once melted, you can turn down the heat and let the butter come to the point of just boiling and continue to cook at this level. Do not cover the pot and it’s best to keep a close eye on it as it cooks, there is a small window in which the ghee is ready and when it begins to burn.
The butter will begin to foam as it cooks and white curds will begin to form on the bottom of the pot. You may have to use a clean, dry spoon to move the foam away to see the curds on the bottom and make sure they aren’t burning. The butter will begin to get more of a golden color to it and the sounds of bubbling and foam production will begin to decrease as it is nearer being done.
When it is clear and has stopped sputtering and making noise, it is time to take it off the heat. I pour the finished ghee into a pyrex jar to help it cool down quicker as the pan still retains much of the heat. Let it cool until just warm, but not too long that it begins to solidify. Pour it through a fine sieve or layers of cheesecloth into a clean, dry glass container with a tight lid. It is extremely important that the storage jar be clean and dry, as water can cause mold to form in the ghee. You can throw away or compost the curds at the bottom of the pan. I find it best to let the pan soak in some water and dish detergent for a bit before trying to clean the pan as the curds tend to stick to the bottom.
Your ghee should be a clear, golden color or slightly brown. If it is dark brown it may be too burnt for consumption. One pound of butter will take about fifteen minutes of cooking to complete the ghee, but as mentioned, keep an eye on the ghee as it’s cooking as the visual and auditory signs will give you the most accurate signs of when it’s ready.
The Ayurvedic staple if there ever was one. Kitchari can be eaten by most any time of the year. Its numerous recipes and variations allow a lot of room to keep it interesting and medicinal to your particular doshic needs. If one is ill or wishing to do a small cleanse, kitchari is the meal of choice to nourish the body as well as give the G.I. tract a chance to rest and cleanse itself gently. Kitchari nurtures and protects the digestive fire, is nourishing, and easy to digest. Below is one simple recipe. Variations of spices and vegetables particular to your needs make this an adaptable recipe. Cooking the ingredients together is also said to help them “play nice” together. Doshic fluctuations of a particular vegetable or spice are moderated as its energetics are mixed with the other ingredients. Delicious and nutritious.
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 cup mung dal (split yellow)
- 6 cups (approx.) water
- 1- 1 1/2 inch ginger root, chopped or grated
- Mineral salt to taste
- 2 tblsp. ghee
- 1 tsp. coriander powder
- 1 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 and 1/2 cups assorted vegetables (optional)
Carefully pick over rice and dal to remove any stones. Wash each separately in at least 2 changes of water. Soaking dal overnight is ideal, at least 2-4 hours is recommended.
Add the 6 cups of water to the rice and dal, bring to a boil, then let simmer and cook covered until it becomes soft, about 40 minutes or so.
While that is cooking, prepare any vegetables that suit your constitution. Cut them into smallish pieces. Add the vegetables to the cooked rice and dal mixture during last 10 minutes of cooking.
In a separate saucepan, sauté the seeds in the ghee until they pop. Then add the other spices. Stir together to release the flavors. Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked dal, rice, and vegetable mixture. Add the mineral salt and chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
Doshic Variations: For Vata or Kapha can add ume plum vinegar. Pitta leave out mustard seeds. All doshas can add gomasio.
This very simple tea is great in helping to stimulate the appetite before a meal or can also be taken after a meal to aid in digestion. It can also be used throughout the day as a general means of balancing the doshas. It is quite delicious and I often recommend patients making a thermos of this to sip throughout the day when cleansing or as a healthy alternative to other beverages. This tea balances all three doshas and its ratios can be altered to taste.
- Equal parts cumin, coriander, and fennel.
The beverage of the immortals. Chai is a nice alternative to coffee and allows for variations based on taste preference as well as medicinal effect intended. I like my chai spicy and with this version you’ll find the flavor much different than the typical chai you might find in a cafe or of the boxed supermarket type chai teas. The spices not only have their specific medicinal effects, but help to neutralize the negative effects of the caffeine. The turmeric also gives a very strong medicinal effect and aids strength and flexibility of the mind and body.
Ingredients (makes two cups):
- 4 cups of water
- 10-12 cardamom pods
- 1 ½ tsp. fennel seeds
- 6-8 ground peppercorns
- 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon or 3 small cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp. Turmeric powder or 1-2 quarter sized slice of fresh is even better
- 1 ½ tsp. Ginger powder or 3-4 quarter sized slice of fresh is even better
- 2-3 bags of black tea. Or can substitute non-caffeinated teas if you prefer.
- 1 cup of milk or almond milk
- Sweetener of choice. I prefer honey.
Start by boiling water and then add the ginger, black pepper, and fennel seeds. After a few minutes you can add the other spices and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Last, add the black tea and turn heat down and allow to simmer for five minutes. Strain out tea and spices at this point and place tea back on the stove.
Add milk product of choice and bring just to a boil. Let tea cool for a few minutes before adding sweetener to taste. Sweetener and milk should be altered to doshic needs, particularly limiting them when Kapha is elevated. Enjoy.