Thinking of exploring the world of Ayurvedic eating? It may be easier than you think. Many familiar recipes that we know and love are made to Ayurvedic principles. Here are a few of our favourite Ayurvedic recipes to get you started.April 28, 2022 5:18 pm September 28, 2021 3:53 pm
The principles of Ayurvedic eating
‘Ayurveda’ is the name for traditional Indian medicine. Its name derives from two Sanskrit words, ‘ayus’ and ‘veda’, and literally translates as ‘the science of life’.
As the name suggests, Ayurveda is an all-encompassing belief system which covers all aspects of life, from diet to personality to the seasons of the year.
Unlike Western medicine, which aims to treat specific diseases, Ayurveda focuses on maintaining our overall wellbeing. Essentially, Ayurveda tells us that we shouldn’t wait to get ill; instead we should be constantly making an effort to take care of ourselves!
This is perhaps why food and diet is so important in Ayurveda. After all, the food we eat has a tremendous influence on our health.
If you’re new to Ayurvedic eating, we suggest you head over to our in-depth article on the topic. This will provide you with the basics of Ayurvedic foods and eating.
It’ll also help you identify your dominant dosha, or body type.
Remember to balance your dosha
In Ayurveda, all matter is made out of a small number of elements. These elements combine to make doshas, or essential life forces. These are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Everything in the world is made up of a combination of these doshas, and the balance is unique to each person, object or phenomenon.
Thus, you have a unique balance of doshas, and finding out which dosha is dominant can help you to achieve balance with the others.
It might seem logical to think that if you dosha is Kapha, then you should seek out and eat Kapha foods, as they ‘match’ your body type.
However that would be quite wrong!
The aim of Ayurvedic eating is to balance your doshas. So, if you tend towards the Kapha dosha, you should actually aim to eat more Pitta and Vata foods to balance you out.
One easy example is a person with a dominant Pitta dosha. These people tend to be quite fiery-tempered. Thus, the advice for them is to avoid very spicy foods and instead focus on cooling and calming foods from the Vata and Kapha doshas.
Ancient wisdom, modern eating
Ayurveda has been around for thousands of years, so you could be forgiven for thinking that Ayurvedic recipes would be rather old-fashioned.
However, many common and popular modern-day dishes are made to Ayurvedic principles – whether deliberately or not!
This is perhaps because Ayurveda places lots of emphasis on healthy, home-cooked dishes made with plants and whole foods. Many feature classic Indian spices, but others focus on cooling foods such as yoghurt and milk.
Now that we mention it, Ayurvedic eating does traditionally include quite a bit of dairy, reflecting Indian eating patterns. However, it’s perfectly fine (and very easy) to make Ayurvedic dishes vegan. Simply substitute in your favourite plant-based milk or yoghurt.
In short, while Ayurvedic foods are made with ancient principles in mind, many of them are brilliantly suited to hectic modern-day living.
Here are seven of our favourite easy, non-intimidating Ayurvedic recipes for you to make at home.
Yes – incredibly, porridge is a great example of an Ayurvedic dish. It’s especially good for you if your dominant dosha is Vata or Pitta.(1)
Porridge is considered to be a heavy, sweet and sticky food.
If your dominant dosha is Kapha, you should approach porridge with caution as your natural tendency is towards heavy, comforting foods. You can still enjoy it in moderation, but avoid it in the Kapha-aggravating season of winter.
As in our recipe, you should eat your porridge with cooked, rather than fresh, fruit if you want to follow Ayurvedic eating principles.
Our porridge recipe makes a few extra healthy additions, such as raw almonds. From the perspective of modern nutrition, almonds provide protein, fibre and vitamin E to your breakfast.
Meanwhile, Ayurveda tells us that they can make porridge more sustaining for Pitta types who burn through their breakfast energy in a flash. They can also help balance Kapha doshas.(2)
2. Golden milk
Chances are that if you frequent a trendy coffee place you will have seen golden milk on the menu at some point.
Golden milk (sometimes also called a turmeric latte) is simply the Western name for haldi doodh, a traditional Ayurvedic combination of turmeric and milk. Granted, modern coffee shop incarnations often contain quite a few more ingredients than the classic recipe.
Turmeric is an incredibly important spice in Ayurveda. It has a fabulous history, dating back 4000 years and earning a mention from Marco Polo. In the modern day, one area of India – Erode – produces so much Turmeric that it has become known as the ‘yellow city’.(3)
As well as being a culinary spice, turmeric has been used for an extraordinary number of medicinal purposes including boosting energy, regulating menstruation, and relieving digestive issues and arthritis.(3)
Milk is an excellent anupan or ‘vehicle’ for turmeric thanks to its complementary cooling and sweet qualities. Once again, balance is key!
One tip for getting the most out of your golden milk is to add a twist of black pepper, which contains the bioactive component piperine. Studies have shown that piperine makes the bioactive compound in turmeric, curcumin, up to 2000% more bioavailable in humans.(4)
When we think of the highlights of Indian cuisine, many of us will immediately picture a warm and comforting bowl of dal.
This classic Indian dish made with lentils wins points from us for being delicious, healthy, filling and nourishing.
However it is also highly commended by Ayurvedic practitioners for its ability to balance all three doshas.
You can also combine it with basmati rice to turn it into kitchari, Ayurveda’s number one cleansing food. So, if you’re feeling sluggish or have overdone it at a work do or wedding, this recipe is one to have on hand.
Doshas aside, dal is spectacularly good for our bodies. The lentils provide fibre and protein while spices provide antioxidants and healing properties.
Hence, if you’re ever in doubt about what to eat to support and nourish your body, turn to dal!
"Ayurveda is an all-encompassing belief system which covers all aspects of life, from diet to personality to the seasons of the year."
Fiery Pittas and earthy Vatas, prepare to be cool as a cucumber with our delicious raita recipe.
Raita is a simple dip made with yoghurt and cucumber. It is often served alongside spicy curries to help cool them down.
We have added sumac, mint and garlic to our raita to turn it into a tasty dip for our Organic Crackers. (Our Indian Spiced Crackers are a perfect pairing for a light lunch!)
While in the West we might best know raita as a tasty dip to scoop up with popadoms, in Ayurveda raita has sweet and cooling properties. In other words, it’s perfect for balancing out Pitta and Vata doshas.
If you’re a Kapha type, you can still enjoy raita but just be mindful about staying in balance. Some people recommend adding spices such as asafoetida and mustard seeds to stop natural Kapha dispositions from becoming imbalanced.
5. Hibiscus latte with ashwagandha
Time for another drink recipe! This time we’re using one of the most famous Ayurvedic herbs of all: ashwagandha.
If you haven’t come across it before, ashwagandha is made from the root of the Withania somnifera plant. Just like turmeric, it has a long history of medicinal use. Adherents of Ayurveda consider it to be a restorative food which can aid with sleep and digestion.(5)
As with our turmeric drink above, ashwagandha needs the right anupana or ‘vehicle’ to work best in the body. Once again, milk is the best choice thanks to its sweet and cooling properties.
While the traditional way to take ashwagandha is simply mixed into a little warm milk, we like to add a few extras in our moon milk.
A simple tea brewed with hibiscus petals provides a beautiful rosy colour and adds benefits of its own to our drink.
Sip before bedtime to send you peacefully on your way to the land of nod.
6. Saffron rice pudding
That’s right, everybody’s childhood favourite pudding can be made to Ayurvedic principles!
Kapha types may already be wary as the texture of rice pudding is somewhat similar to oatmeal. Indeed, the traditional method of making rice pudding (which involves a lot of sugar and ghee) would be aggravating for Kaphas.
Luckily, our recipe replaces ghee with half a cup of coconut milk and sugar with two tablespoons of agave syrup, significantly reducing those two aggravating factors.
What’s more, saffron is a Kapha-balancing spice, making this Ayurvedic recipe a great option for all.
We like using coconut milk instead of dairy here, as there’s something lovely and exotic about the flavour of coconut alongside saffron. However, you could also use almond, oat or soy milk if you prefer.
7. Moon milk with amla or triphala
To finish off our round-up of our favourite Ayurvedic recipes, we have our spiced almond moon milk. Warm and comforting, you can add in your choice of amla or triphala depending on your health goals.
Meanwhile, triphala is an Ayurvedic blend of three fruits: the aforementioned amla, plus two other fruits called haritaki and bibhitaki.
They all have healthful properties in their own right, but when combined they create a powerful tonic. It’s especially good for your gut health.(7)
Both amla and triphala are adaptogens, along with turmeric and ashwagandha. You can read more about this incredible family of herbs and mushrooms in our article all about adaptogens.
Our favourite Ayurvedic recipes
So, there you have it! Seven easy and delicious recipes to help introduce you to the Ayurvedic way of eating.
If you’re new to Ayurveda, we highly recommend starting out with one of our hot drink recipes, such as our golden milk or moon milk.
Not only are they very easy to make, they won’t require you to make any changes to your main eating habits, and you can test out how you get on incorporating some Ayurvedic thinking into your routine.
If it’s your first time trying out adaptogens, check out our other articles on what adaptogens are and which adaptogens to choose for a good night’s sleep. Remember that you will need to take them every day for at least a few weeks to see their medicinal effects, and you should take a break after 2-3 months of use to let you body rest.
A final note: as mentioned at the start of this article, Ayurveda is about much more than food. It includes everything from your mood to your muscles. So why not try to incorporate some more Ayurvedic influences into your daily life?
Whether that’s joining a yoga class, or simply taking more time to look after your body and soul, there’s plenty to be learned from this ancient philosophy.
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