Custom Search

September 30, 2007

Mung-my desert island food

Last night at about 5.30pm I got a call from my sister saying she was coming over for dinner, and bringing her boyfriend and her house mate. Then mum walked in and said that she'd invited the neighbours, so suddenly we had eight for dinner so it was action stations. I can make mung dahl with eyes closed so that was an obvious choice, but we didn't have enough rice, and chapati's for that number of people with such little notice was a bit daunting. So I made those anything muffins again, this time with a handful of sunflower seeds and a few spoonfuls of cumin seeds. Very tasty-and so easy.

Mung Dahl is very versatile, inexpensive and you can keep a sackful in your kitchen so you don't ever run out. Mung are one of the most revered foods in Ayurveda, they are tridoshic, easy to digest and deeply nourishing. Unfortunately they can be a bit hard to find in the shops, get them split (often called mung dahl) rather than whole (called mung beans) or they will take a very long time to cook.

I use a pressure cooker (reduces the labour and the carbon footprint) in which case you do the same thing as below but at step five, bring it to pressure once and leave it to depressurise itself.

The basic idea is this:
  1. Saute some hardy spices in ghee (like whole seeds or pastes)
  2. Add the mung dahl (2 small handfuls per person-they swell up a lot)
  3. Add water (at least three times more water then dahl- more to count for evaporation)
  4. Add salt (it is easier to be absorbed when it is well cooked in the same pot)
  5. Bring to boil then simmer covered for twenty minutes (or until completely disintegrated)
  6. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed
  7. Add delicate spices (like powders or fresh herbs)
You can add any vegies you like at about step five depending on how long they take to cook. It took me a few goes to make good dahl and I think the common mistakes we make in the west are:
  • not enough water (it should be soupy)
  • not enough ghee (ghee helps us to taste, and counteracts the dryness)
  • not enough salt (salt brings out the flavours of the other spices)
  • not enough cooking time (there should be no whole dahl left)
I eat mung every day, and by adding different vegies and spices I never get bored of it. There are as many versions of dahl as there are people in India, so google mung dahl for more idea's. And I'll post a few more of my favourite versions.

September 29, 2007

Banana Rama

These tiny finger banana's were our standard breakfast when traveling in Laos. Tasty, easy and packed with energy they were a great start to the day.

But banana's have a very slow digestion time and do not combine well with other foods.

Banana's can cause some confusion for those new to Ayurveda. Though they taste sweet, they have a post digestive sour effect, making them heating. They are therefore best for Vata. Banana's, like all fruit should be eaten on an empty stomach, and they especially are especially difficult to digest in combination with milk.

Banana's can cause both constipation or diarrhea and should be taken in moderation. One remedy for constipation which I have found especially useful is one banana mashed with a teaspoon of ghee and a teaspoon of ground cardamom. Eat this first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and wait awhile before eating anything else.

September 28, 2007

The week that was...

What a week, I'm not sure where it went, but I think I missed a day or two blogging in there. My Panch Karma is taking a lot of my time. I do feel good, very hungry which is good news, and sleeping well. I'm going home to Fremantle this week. For some sunshine, for some salty air, for some family time. I'll keep blogging, I'll be making some dishes for prasad because Babaji will be visiting Perth at the same time as me. I'll post a few recipes. Gotta go get a plane!

September 26, 2007

The Anything Muffins

So I've been looking for a good basic muffin recipe (without eggs) that I can adapt to make all sorts of different savoury muffins. I didn't quite believe this recipe when I saw it, looked to basic, but when D ate them he said that he had the feeling that it was going to become one of those classic repeated recipes that I pull out time and time again.

I got it from here and adjusted it slightly. You can add anything you want, here I'll give the version I made yesterday. Without eggs they are less cakey and more bready, which I love, think Soda bread or damper in texture, so especially good as a savoury muffin. Play around with it, it's a pretty hardy recipe, though they won't keep long.

Asparagus and Cream Cheese Muffins


2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 cup oil
1 cup water
salt and pepper

1 1/4 cups chopped asparagus
a few Tablespoons of cream cheese


Preheat the oven to 200'C and grease some muffin tins. Like all muffins you sift and mix the dry ingredients, then mix the wet ingredients, then mix it all together as briefly as possible. Fill the muffin tin with the batter and bake for 30-40 mins. I reckon the crunchier the edges the better so even up to an hour if they don't burn!

For this variation add the Asparagus to the dry mix, and leave the cream cheese out. When you you fill the muffin tins, half fill them at first, then put a small dollop of cream cheese in the centre of each tin, and cover with the remaining batter.

Whatever you put in them be aware of it's water content, ie for Spinach muffins or zucchini muffins use a little less water.

Vata does well with baking and eating baked goods. You can add black olives, onions, spinach or pumpkin to the basic batter and spice it up with a bit of cinnamon and ginger.
For Pitta as is should be OK, though cream cheese can be a bit sour. Pumpkin, zucchini or leek are great options.
Kapha can make Mexican muffins by replacing some of the flour with cornmeal or polenta, add a cup of corn kernels and capsicum and some chili. Or what about rye and onion muffins with caraway...

PS. I think crunch craving is a Vata trait, just a theory I'm working on. So if you crave crunch, try getting some more liquid in you diet instead.

September 25, 2007


I had my first Shirodhara today. And although I really want to post about these awesome asparagus and cream cheese muffins I made, I've been posting too many recipes lately, so it will have to wait. In the meantime I just want to mention that Shirodhara is incredible. I feel like I have slept for hours, and could sleep for so many more! Bring on some Kapha...zzzzzzzzzz

September 21, 2007

For Kapha, For a change

So I've been promising something for Kapha, since my Vata Pitta self tends to write about all things good for Vata Pitta-a disaster for those more sturdy and strong of the dosha tree.

Kapha should avoid wheat and rice-which sounds awfully difficult, but it's just natures way of encouraging Kapha to get in touch with their creative side. Which is great on all levels. So play around with the multitude of other grains like rye, polenta or millet, or in this case:

Polenta Nera- which is not actually polenta as we know it today, but buckwheat, see how many options you have?

This is northern Italian peasant food, and like most things with a simple list of ingredients, the end result rests entirely on your technique-or a strong arm and a weak brain (no offence Kapha!) Delia recommends getting a man to do jobs like this. Read more about the arm and brain requirements of Polenta here.


2 cups vegetable stock
1 and 3/4 cups more vegetable stock
1 and 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
a dash of ghee, salt and pepper


Bring two cups of stock to the boil. Meanwhile whisk 1½ cups of buckwheat flour with 1¾ cup of stock. Add the mixture to the boiling stock in a slow and steady stream whisking constantly.

Reduce heat and add ghee, salt and pepper. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon for 20 mins. This is where your strong arm (or man) comes in. Stir and stir and don't give up (c'mon this is perfect Kapha food!)

Serve it soft or pour into a greased pan and spread evenly. It will cool and harden in 45 -60 minutes. Use as a pizza base or cut into squares and grill.

Traditionally served with lots of dairy- but equally good (and much more Kapha friendly) with capsicum sauce, pesto or roast mediterranean vegies-corn, potato and onions are Kapha favourites...take it to a BBQ or picnic lunch.

(Just don't stop stirring it or it will turn to glue!)

September 20, 2007

Peter Parkin

Another birthday, and another eggless cake. D is managing an media event today, and it's the birthday of one of the speakers, and he agred to speak anyway, so extra Happy Birthday!

I love dairy, so this traditional UK recipe, is perfect. It's very simple and uses ingredients I always have around the house, but it does have a long preparation and baking time, allow about 1.5 to 2 hours. traditionally it was kept for a week or so in a wooden parkin box, apparently making it moister, but it never lasts that long around my house!

Parkin is a dark, moist ginger cake, perfect for Vata, but see adaptations below.


2 cups flour
1 cup whole oats
1 cup milk
1 cup of butter
1 cup treacle or molasses
2 tspn baking powder
2 tspn ginger powder


Preheat the oven to a gentle 160'. Soak oats in milk for half an hour. Melt the butter and the treacle or molasses. Mix dry ingredients, then combine with wet. Pour into a greased baking tin and bake for 45 mins.

  • Pitta use barley malt instead of treacle or molasses, and reduce the amount of ginger
  • Kapha, well, sweets are never really for Kapha, but extra ginger, less butter and half milk and half water might help. Moderation is always preferable to deprivation!
  • Can easily be made vegan: substitute milk with soy or rice, and use vegetable oil instead of butter.

September 19, 2007

Kapha: an ocean of love

Kapha is water. Heavy, slow, cold.

Kapha is that feeling when you don't want to get off the couch. Kapha is sleeping in or being a couch potato. Kapha is love and greed and attachment and holding on. Kapha is matter, and binds everything. Kapha is faithful, loyal, sure, loving. Kapha sometimes needs a kick up the bum. Kapha climbs mountains, strong, enduring, but can be lazy and just rather do some baking and eating. Kapha is scones with jam and cream. Kapha is a lifelong friend. Kapha won't change their mind on you.

Kapha is not me!

September 18, 2007

The scone master

I can't be bothered writing more about the dosha's, will finish up the series with kapha any day now.

But I do want to talk about cool, moist, heavy, comforting, nurturing scones-very kapha indeed. No wonder a devonshire tea is one of the counseling tools of yesteryear. But scones are one of the most frequently abused members of the baking family. Everyone seems to have their own recipe, but only a few have really mastered the technique of baking light, flaky scones every time.

Now I don't claim to be one of the masters, but here are a few tricks of the trade:
  • sift the flour a few times to really aerate it
  • use very cold butter
  • knead only just enough to combine. Don't let the butter melt or the wheat release it's gluten
  • dip your scone cutter in flour to get those flaky risen edges
The art of the scone is not in the ingredients but in the method, so stick to your own recipe if you like, but here is just one version. It's quite a big batch, about a dozen large scones.



3 cups flour
3 tspns baking powder
1/3 cup butter
1-1 1/2 cups water
a pinch of salt


Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt a few times. Cut the cold butter into small cubes. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your hands, till it's like breadcrumbs, don't let the butter melt in your hands too much. make a well and mix the water in a bit at a time till you have quite a stiff dough. Knead for a brief moment to combine and then roll out on a floured surface. Cut scones out with a cookie cutter and place on a greased tray. Bake for 10-15 mins at 200'C.

Scones are great for Vata and Pitta, have for morning tea, or as a main meal with soup or a stew. Wheat is too heavy and moist for Kapha. Try using less butter, and replacing part of the flour with cornmeal or rye flour.

Sorry Kapha, I'm Vata-Pitta, so most of my recipes won't suit you! Oh dear, double blow, I'll create something wonderful for you asap.

September 17, 2007

Pitta: churning and yearning

Pitta is fire. Sensory, discrimination, ambition, sharp, infectious.

Pitta is that person who corners you at a party and locks you into deep conversation with their penetrating eyes. Pitta is a fever or rash, but similarly this infectiousness makes Pitta very attractive and persuasive. Pitta is running or bikram yoga or anger. Pitta thrives in competition. Pita has passionate love affairs, and firey arguments. Pitta is the middle, the middle of life, the middle of the night, the middle of the day, medium height, medium build. Pitta's wisdom can literally burn the hair off the head, they can be very critical, making Pitta the judge.

Let me know if this helps.

September 16, 2007

Pizza Scrolls

I want to eat less sugar, but I just love baking so much, so I am on a quest for good savoury, egg free baked items. Think savoury zucchini loaf or herb and onion muffins. But first up Pizza Scrolls.

Pizza is an Ayurvedic disaster. Tomatoes, hard cheese, yeast, white flour...but it is just so tasty! It is possible to make really tasty pizza without compromising your health. I'll post my regular pizza recipe, plus variations like pizza pie. But for now it's:

Pizza Scrolls


1/2 red capsicum
1 onion
cumin seeds
cheese (cream cheese, ricotta or paneer)

Scone dough


Finely chopped onion and capsicum. Fry the cumin in ghee till it is aromatic. Add the vegies and fry covered on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Add a tablespoon of water or ghee if it starts to stick. When they are very well cooked, maybe 20 mins to half an hour put the mixture in the blender and blend till smooth. This is your pizza sauce.

When the sauce is ready make the scone dough. Use your hands to flatten it gently into a big rectangle, use a rolling pin to get it a little thinner and spread the sauce and cheese on top and roll it up. Cut into discs and lie them flat on a baking tray (either close together to make a pull-a-part loaf or separately to make individual buns, you can also do this in a muffin tin). Bake for 10-15 minutes at 200'C.

Vata: Consumer of experience

Vata is air. Dry. Movement. Cool. Light. Life.

My friend used this great term at a dinner party last night. She said that in our society we don't only consume material, we consume experiences. We always want to buy the newest, most unique experience, whether it be a nightclub that's just opened or an unusual food fresh off the boat from France. We want to sell and trade and share these experiences with our friends, and then as soon as the club gets too big the experience is "so last season" or has been "sold out." And we move on to consuming the next experience.

It reminded me a lot of what Morningstar says: that this society we live in is Vata imbalancing. It's so fast and dynamic and different. There is little familiarity or comfort or grounding.

And perhaps this explains current social Vata imbalance: mental illness, drug abuse, addiction, eating disorders. So that's a bit about Vata.

September 15, 2007

Dosha diagnosis

My sister requested some more info on doshas, but I have been resisting. For a long time I thought I was Vata Kapha, my blue eyes and blonde hair somewhat misleading me. It turns out I am Vata Pitta, which makes no sense at all if you look at me. But it can be seen in my illness tendency, tonsillitis, pnuemonia, colesores, hepatitis...

My point is the "quizzes" you can find all over the internet lack the subtley and complexity of the fine science of Ayurveda, and if you really want to know what your dosha is go and see an Ayurvedic doctor.

I went to see one last year who I wasn't very impressed with. She asked me all the usual quiz questions and came up with Vata Kapha. Partly because in answering the questions I am interpreting them, and cause I already thought I knew what dosha I was, it influenced my answers.

My current doctor diagnosed me ONLY by reading my pulse. I really believe that, as with all medicine, accurate diagnosis is the key. I wouldn't go and diagnose myself with heart disease or cancer, because I am not an expert, similarly don't try and diagnose yourself as having a Pitta imbalance based on some quiz on the internet.

Sure, dabble around in Ayurveda and find out if it interests you, but if you are really serious about it, then go and ask an expert. Having said all that, over the next few days I'll post a bit more about the doshas in a broad sense.

September 14, 2007

Starting a drought

To lower kapha, you need to dry it up. If you are displaying kapha symptoms including congestion or obesity then there are a few simple ways to start a drought:
  • eat hot spicy food including chili, ginger and pepper (fire evaporates water)
  • dry fry rice and dahl before adding water, this will stop them absorbing so much
  • eat dry vegetables like potatoes, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and corn
  • eat dry grains like polenta, millet, rye and barley
  • dry brush your skin to cleanse and stimulate metabolism and blood flow
  • eat dry crackers and toasted and popped rather than boiled grains
Kapha is the strongest of the doshas and can handle a lot of cleansing, so you can fast or at least eat less till symptoms subside.

September 13, 2007

Not spinach and cheese pie

I was cooking for guests last night and had planned a spinach and cheese pie, but there was no spinach to be found. So at the last minute, with cottage cheese in hand, I had to make up something else. It turned out so good I want to share it with you. D usually makes our cottage cheese fresh, but this time we used store bought.

Savoury Rice Baked with Cottage Cheese


1 cup of basmati rice
2-3 cups of grated or finely chopped vegies
500g Cottage Cheese (soft paneer)
cummin seeds
salt pepper


Preheat the oven to 200'C. Cook the rice as you usually do. meanwhile saute the cummin seeds in ghee till they release their aroma. Add vegies and cook till just tender and then stir in the cooked rice. Add salt and pepper to taste, and put into a greased baking dish. Spread the cheese on top and bake for 20 mins or so till it's a little bit crusty on top. Leave to cool for five or ten minutes before serving. Serves four for a light meal.

Vata vegies include onions, carrots, pumpkin and zucchini
Pitta can choose from pumpkin, zucchini, peas and green beans
Kapha is best with peas, corn, green beans, onions and carrot and add a bit extra pepper

September 12, 2007

Every Body

Ayurveda recognises that each and every body is different, and so no two people should have the same diet. Though there are some things which are tridoshic, good for all doshas. Anyone can eat these things regularly and happily, so enjoy:
  • basmati rice
  • oats (soaked for vata, dry for kapha)
  • mung dahl
  • leek
  • asparagus
  • fennel
  • dates
  • sultanas (soaked for vata)
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • cummin
  • tumeric
  • coriander
  • ghee
  • paneer (freshly made, not store bought)

September 11, 2007

Vote 1 for Julia!

I've been shortlisted to win 1000 euros! I need you all to vote for my entry "green wedding" entry #170.

It's a German competition where you post a picture and a few words about your personal efforts for sustainability. Check out the other entries too, they are great, but don't vote for them!

September 10, 2007

Spice up ya life

If you seriously want to spice up your life, then unfortunately, a spice tin is for you. I say unfortunately because they are very difficult to buy outside of India. But if your local Indian grocery/puja instrument/kitchen good/pirate DVD store has a spice tin in stock, snap it up, cause you'll never look back.

Spice tins are great cause all the spices your heart desires are under one lid. No fiddling with screw top jars or searching the back of your cupboards. No little plastic bags wrapped up with elastic bands.

If you are lucky enough to have a spice tin in your hot little hands here's the guide:

A few spices are tridoshic and can be your staple spices.
  • cummin (I prefer whole seeds, they add nice texture)
  • tumeric
  • coriander (I prefer ground, the seeds get stuck in my teeth)
  • Himalayan rock salt (this will be a funny colour like pink or black)
  • fennel seeds
If you are a very disciplined Pitta you might just leave the last couple of spaces in your spice tin empty. Most other spices are heating. If you are keen you could try caraway, neem, or taragon, all cooling, but not so commonly used.

Vata has a few more options, the little known ajwan is the secret ingredient to alot of Indian food including samosas. Great for Vata and totally delicious, but difficult to find. Fenugreek, mustard seeds and cloves are all good daily spices.

As for Kapha, go out and buy a double layered spice tin cause here is where you can be decadent to your hearts desire. Chili and ginger powder are ideal, but nearly every spice you can think of will do you an awful lot of good. Enjoy liberally and frequently!

What not to put in your spice tin:
  • Some spices, like black pepper, begin to lose their flavour once they are ground. It's best store them in airtight containers or in a pepper grinder ready to grind fresh.
  • Other spices, like cardamom, have such a strong smell, they may affect the flavour of other spices stored in the same tin.
  • Expensive spices, like saffron, will get knocked around a bit in a spice tin, and become contaminated with other spices.

September 09, 2007


So I said no to refined oils, but I am definitely not into the low fat thing. Fat is an important part of anyones diet for skin, hair, brain function...and being very Vata myself, it's especially important. But not all fat is equal under the eyes of Ayurveda.

Ghee is clarified butter, and you can buy it from Indian grocery stores, or many supermarkets, or make your own very easily. It is butter that is heated until the solids separate, leaving a clear golden nutty liquid which does not need to be refrigerated. It has a high smoke point making it suitable for high heats, and contains no lactose.

Ghee is supreme. It is light enough for occasional use by kapha, and it stimulates digestion without heating pitta. It is both restorative and cleansing, excellent for the eyes and brain and even lowers cholesterol. Ghee is high in saturated fat, which unfortunately get some bad press at the moment, but saturated fat comprise of about 50% of our cell membrane. There is a lot of new research showing that saturated fat is not the bad guy, it looks as though modern medicine is finally catching up with Ayurveda.

In a research study published in 1967, two populations in India were studied. The first population lived in northern India and were meat and ghee eaters. They did in fact have high cholesterol.

The second population lived in southern India and were vegetarians but, instead of eating ghee, ate plastic-food margarine and refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils. This second group did have lower cholesterol levels, but they had 15 times higher rate of heart disease than the northern population.

From this article.

And don't even get me started on ghee's incredible flavour!

September 08, 2007


I generally try to avoid no's, but some no's can't be avoided. A few general no's in Ayurvedic lifestyle include:

  • old food or leftovers
  • overeating
  • aluminum cookware or utensils
  • refined oils
  • white flour, white sugar, white salt
  • tomatoes or mushrooms
  • ice cold drinks (even water)
Ok, that's enough negatives for one day!

September 07, 2007

Panch karma

When I was diagnosed with Hepatitis A almost 15 months ago, I had no idea I would still be suffering now. But here I am, still dragging my heels, still tired and stressed out, still coping with, rather than enjoying day to day life.

I went to visit an new Ayurvedic doctor today. She seems excellent and after a simple pulse reading diagnosed me with weak liver, weak uterus, anemia, mental exhaustion and giardia. Giardia is the big news. I know a lot of people who have had giardia, and I have spent a lot time in countries which leave a lot to be desired hygienically, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. But I've been to a lot of doctors too, and no one noticed it till now.

Anyway, I'm sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, so I'm going for a panch karma: five actions, think Major Detox. I'll let you know how it goes.

September 05, 2007


Supermarkup at supermarkets, check out this article for a compelling reason to shop at your local market this sunny weekend.

Essentially a 290% mark up on Avocados. This is the most plentiful season on record, and so the supermarkets buy them for fifty cents each, barely covering farmers costs, and sell them at $2.95.


When I first thought about being vegetarian I continued to eat fish, because in Australia that's what you do. But in India they laughed their heads off at the idea that I was vegetarian and still ate fish. Eventually I succumbed to their peer pressure and stopped eating fish.

Now I am being brainwashed further into considering giving up the eggs. As much because I don't enjoy the taste or 'feeling' of eggs. Too meaty for me. I continue to eat them occasionally, mostly cause I don't like being too fussy or antisocial, and eggs can creep into anything, even mentos!

Classic vegetarians including Pythagorus and Gandhi excluded eggs from their diet, and generally people like that are onto something good. So I am happy to follow their lead.

I have no intention of giving up dairy, none whatsoever-don't even try making me!

September 04, 2007

Jammy doughnut

Whilst we are on the subject of taste sensations I want to share with you a brilliantly sensual food experience.

To celebrate our engagement, D took me out for breakfast, and there on the breakfast tasting platter was a humble jam doughnut. An unusual breakfast choice, and certainly not very Ayurvedically sensible, but let me tell you, it was a stroke of pure genius. Crisp sugar coated outside, light as air dough, and sticky runny homemade rasberry jam centre. A gourmet favourite, sexed up classic, and best of all you can eat it with your hands, adding another dimension to the sensorial experience.

If you live in Melbourne you can try one at Laurent Bakery in Camberwell.

September 02, 2007

Food, glorious food

I can't go much further into Ayurveda without mentioning diet. I say diet in the true sense of the word. My old house-mate is a dietician, and emphatically reminds us that a diet is anything and everything you eat. A diet is not the new years resolution you make after a decadent and extravagant silly season. It's not your best intentions or a fad in a magazine, it's not starvation and deprivation, in fact it's not a not at all. It's a positive:

Your diet is what you actually put in your mouth, every day of your life.

Which brings me to the good bit. What you put in your mouth should be nothing less than sensational. Food should appeal to the very centre of your being, it should smell good, look good, and most of all taste good. If all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent) are present in your food you will leave the table feeling completely satisfied.

So enjoy what you eat, and eat what you enjoy. Trust your body, it's the best, most personalised medical advice you'll ever get!

September 01, 2007

Why Ayurveda?

My passion for Ayurveda began, as many things do, in India. I was traveling with my lover (now fiance) when we were both struck down with Hepatitis A.We were both fully vaccinated against Hepatitis A and there is no cure. Western medicine was of no use.

We were too sick for normal daily activity for one year. My weight dropped to 48 kg and stayed there. We persisted in India for three months, and in this time the village remedies were invaluable. Sugarcane juice, white radish, mung dahl and rice became our staples. But Hepatitis is a hot disease, and India in the monsoon is hot, and hot, spicy food is served three meals a day.

Eventually we went home to Fremantle, Australia, where life is not so harsh, to be by the cool blue ocean and eat my mum's home cooked food. Over time we learned to manage the symptoms with Ayurveda, and this period of intense discipline and reflection has changed my world view.

Ayurveda is more than medicine, it is a multi-disciplinary approach to living. It combines philosophy, spirituality, psychology, nutrition, exercise and herbology in an enriching and inspiring approach to living well, and dying well too.