Ayurvedic Cooking

Dr. Siddhesh Bandekar*

“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”


Food is the fuel for the human body, for growth, for life, for survival. A tiny body of 10 pounds will grow, due to food, becoming a 150 pound body.

The word used for food in both Ayurveda and Yoga is āhara. Āhara is derived from the Samskrit root, hru, which has a wide meaning, it includes the earth, water, heat or fire, air and space, all of the five elements of this universe which support and benefit our growth.

The ancient Indian medical science of Ayurveda guides us in how to keep the body and its systems in a healthy condition in order to support Liberation. Yoga guides us in how to support the inner system, the mind, in direct support for our Liberation. Thus, both Ayurveda and Yoga are supplementary towards each other. Indian cooking has evolved out of the principles of these two sciences. This is why it contributes to the perfection of our health as a whole.

Different Environments

Humans live in varied places on this earth with different properties, vegetation, climates, etc., and because of this, foods also vary. Certain basics foods are common to all human beings, so this traditional way of Indian cooking may be developed anywhere with minor changes. As an example, there are some vegetables with identical basic properties, and these may be interchanged.

Food Combinations

Each meal should have some cereal or grain, vegetables and fruits. One of the most important features of a meal should be the variety of tastes and vegetables used. It is recommended to use the foods which are grown in the area in which we live.

Forming new food combinations is a great responsibility due to the difficulty in knowing the properties created in new combinations. In India, many of the traditional dishes have been established and approved by yogis since ancient times. New combinations accepted by established yogis may become part of this tradition. Carrot is an example of a new food being introduced to Ayurvedic cooking that has been cross checked by yogis.

The right combination of dishes in a meal is no less important than the foods chosen. A meal should support our constitution for proper growth as well as the maintenance of our whole system. Each constitution possesses different characteristics, such as a tendency towards physical work, talkativeness, sleeplessness, or a tendency to think deeply. Food should support an individual’s natural tendencies and constitution. Consumption of improper food may strain or damage some of the natural activities of an individual.

Sattvic Foods

In this day and age, wheat and rice are the main food articles which are sattvic. Sattvic foods support us to lead a calm and peaceful life. Based on the climate in which we live, one of these two should be our main food, while the other would be secondary. At a high elevation, and in cooler climates, wheat is preferable, as one moves closer to the equator, rice will be. A highly recommended sattvic supplement to each meal, is one teaspoon of ghee

Time Tested Preparations

All the recipes introduced here are completely traditional, time tested over centuries and are based on Ayurvedic principles. For the humankind they support health, if used in an ideal way. For a yogic practitioner, they will support one’s Yoga practice by keeping the mind calm and quiet. These dishes may be considered as sattvic foods, suitable for all Yoga practitioners. The greatness of these preparations is that not only sattvic in nature, they are also delicious!

Though cooking is an art that should be learnt with the guidance of an expert to ensure delicious and ideal results, a few dishes can simply be learnt through the basis of trial and error. We hope that these receipts offer clear guidance and we wish you good luck.

Ayurvedic pantry staples

There are a few staples you’ll find in every Ayurvedic kitchen. The first is high-quality cooking oils. “Instead of cooking with canola oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil, it’s better to use cultured ghee,” Alter says, citing that it’s easier for the body to digest than oil made with chemicals. “During warm seasons, it’s good to cook with coconut oil—which is cooling—and olive oil is often used as a finishing oil [year-round].”

Now that you have oil covered, there’s another all-star ingredient for your kitchen: white basmati rice. It’s the easiest grain to digest, according to both experts. And last, a pantry of anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, ginger, and cardamom, is a must. “That’s the whole reason why I started Countertop in the first place,” Rice says. “I wanted to make blends that made cooking this way easy for everyone.” Everything in her line—so far—is made with turmeric, one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices there is.

Cooking according to your dosha

If you’re familiar with Ayurveda, you may be wondering how your dosha—AKA your emotional and physical constitution—plays into all of this. As Rice explains, if you’re predominately a pitta, cooling foods and spices help balance out your fiery nature. For cooler vatas, warming foods are better. And for kaphas, foods that are light, warm, and dry work best.

So how exactly do you create a meal for a group of people with different doshas? Rice says the key is to have a moderately spicy main dish, and then ingredients or spices that people can add on top, such as avocado or yogurt if they are a pitta and want something cooling, or a hot chutney sauce, if they are a vata.

“That’s what makes kitchari—made with rice and lentils—so great,” Rice says. “It’s the one recipe every single person on the planet should know how to make because it’s healthy, delicious, and can feed a whole family for under $5.” Below, Rice shares her go-to kitchari recipe so you can try it for yourself.

Rules for eating food

 Ayurveda gives some great guidance for eating, especially when it comes to digestion. Here are nine Ayurvedic guidelines you should try to embrace.

1. Eat only when you are hungry. As in really hungry — that is to say, when your previous meal has been completely digested. Sometime we might think that we are hungry, however, it could only be that we are dehydrated. Be in tune with your body and re-discover how it feels to be really hungry.

2. Eat in a calm and comfortable place. Sit down when you eat and eat with as little distraction as possible: no tv, no book, no phone, no laptop…

3. Eat the right quantity. We are all different, with different needs and different stomach size and metabolic speed. Listen to your body and eat only to point when you feel satisfied.

4. Eat warm meals. Ideally freshly cooked but as long as you avoid anything coming out straight from the fridge you’ll preserve your digestive power (Agni). This allows your digestive enzymes to work efficiently.

5. Eat quality food. Make sure that your meal is juicy or a little oily as this will facilitate digestion and improve nutrient absorption. Avoid foods which are too dry.

6. Do not eat incompatible food items together. This might lead to an upset stomach.

7. Be present when you eat. Use all your 5 senses. Take time to appreciate the smell of your meal, the look of your plate, the texture of your food, the different flavors, and the sounds that you make when you eat.

8. Don’t eat fast. Don’t just swallow your food, take your time to chew. Chewing is an essential step of digestion.

9. Eat at regular time. Nature likes cycles and regularity so you should abide!

Dr. Siddhesh S. Bandekar

*Dr. Siddhesh S. Bandekar has completed the degree in Ayurvedic medicine(B.A.M.S.) from Goa University. He decides to take this further in serving the society through General health care by using general principles of Ayurveda. Dr. Siddhesh brings along with his first-hand experience in Panchakarma (Detoxification treatments) and pulse diagnosis (Nadi Pariksha). His Passion towards Ayurveda and inclination towards serving the society made him popular in the field. He has successfully done several trips to Russia, Ukraine, and Europe. due to his Academic interest, he also delivers lectures on ancient principles of Ayurveda. He carries an experience of more than 15 yrs in the field. To keep himself abreast of trends in Ayurveda, Dr. Siddhesh attended numerous conferences of national and international stature. He is having his clinic in Goa, India and he is also attached with some Ayurveda clinics and yoga retreats in Goa. Presently he is working on ‘mantra therapy’- symptomatic relief to different body problems through mantra.

Dr. Siddhesh Bandekar will visit Athens from 14 to 24 May 2019 and he will teach Ayurveda at the Academy of Ancient Greek & Traditional Chinese Medicine (www.akadimia.gr)