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I first became familiar with some ayurvedic concepts back in my pre-COVID-19 yoga days, when my yoga teacher loved to share small tips with us at the end of our practice while we were drinking her alkali water concoctions. However, it was not until the beginning of lockdown last March – when the awakening of spring not only brought fresh produce, flowers, and sunlight, but was accompanied by feelings of anxiety, claustrophobia, and insecurity – that I took a more structured approach to researching the principles of Ayurveda. 

At its core, Ayurveda is the science of life. It stems from the ancient Indian Vedic culture and is based on the simple principles of balance. Principles of order. The medical system is focused on maintaining the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental balance, which is often disrupted by either external or internal factors that result in disorder. And that, we do not want.  However, ayurvedic principles do not offer a universal solution – a formula that would apply to everyone – mainly because it is believed that each individual has a specific energy pattern (here’s a quick quiz to find out yours), dependent on doshas (cosmic energies) which dominate our mental, physical and emotional constitution. The three elemental energies are manifestations of the five cosmic elements: Space, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. Vata, the subtle energy associated with movement, is an overlap of Air and Space. Pitta is an expression of our metabolic system, made up of Fire and Water, and lastly, Kapha, the energy forming the body’s constitution, is a combination of Earth and Water. According to Divya Alter, our constitution is our perfect balance; what we need to work on is our imbalance; what we lack. Hence, we need to focus on how we feel in the moment. Here and now.  

And what is one of the ayurvedic core tools helping us along the way? Food. Healing and re-centering the body with careful combinations of foods, herbs, and spices. Imagine how ecstatic I was when I read this. Food is (and always has been) one of my greatest passions. In an ayurvedic kitchen, cleansing is used to restore one’s digestive system and expel the toxins from our body. In contrast with popular belief, ‘cleansing’ is not restrictive and does not include fasting, but instead, tailors the treatment to our energies, with some general tips anyone can follow to begin the next season with strength, immunity, and mental clarity. First, base your diet on what is in season. For spring, that would be leafy greens, cooked grains such as quinoa and spelt, and hot beverages. There is never enough spice. Ginger, black pepper, cumin, coriander. Splurge. 

But rather than just offering general tips, allow me to offer a recipe, an opportunity to dabble with ayurvedic cuisine. As I continued my venture last spring by reading and rereading food blogs and cookbooks, omitting and adjusting ingredients, straying from the original recipes, and making the theme entirely my own, I stumbled upon Choosing Chia’s vegan Ayurvedic Kitchari – a low-effort, high-impact healing and detoxifying dish, perfect for a work/school night, with *almost* no adjustments.

Although the original recipe calls for mung beans, I have substituted them for red lentils (the only reason being that the first time I attempted the recipe, I did not have any mung beans on hand and I could not be bothered waiting an additional day to make the dish). I can now confirm that the lentils work just as well! A significant alteration I make; however, is the quantities. As you will see, if you follow the link, the recipe uses equal amounts (100 g) of mung beans and rice. Additionally, I am a firm believer that one cannot quantify spices, so feel free to ignore the arbitrary “1 tsp” and just follow your taste buds!

Serves 3 

Prep time: 20 minutes (soaking)

Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150 g red lentils

  • 60 g brown basmati rice 

  • Approximately 2.5 cm ginger root, grated

  • 1 shallot

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds

  • 2 tsp turmeric

  • Bay leaves

  • pepper, salt to taste

  • 3 – 4 cups water, best to add as you go

Method:

  1. Soak the lentils and rice separately for at least 15 – 20 minutes, proceed by rinsing.

  2. Heat a tsp of coconut oil (alternatively, use a tsp of water if oil-free) in a saucepan, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, and bay leaves. Once the seeds start popping, add the shallot and sautée for approximately one minute. To avoid your spice mix sticking to the pan, add a bit of water.

  3. Proceed by adding the lentils and rice, and stir well before pouring over water. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.

  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add more turmeric, a tsp of cayenne pepper if you need a kick! If the Kitchari is too thick, add more water.

  5. My topping of choice is curled leaf parsley; however, my sister prefers to opt for some vegan parmesan instead, so to each their own!

Julija Koletnik

St Andrews '25

I am in my first year of a first-year Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry program, taking modules in Biology and Comparative literature to get my fair share of existential dread. I joined Her Campus because I feel that certain issues are being overlooked in light of the covid-19 pandemic, swiped under the rug, ignored. The dialogue stopped. But that does not mean that to offer a general example, sexism on campus has disappeared. And a platform aimed at young, active women most certainly helps (and is successful) at providing a peek behind the veil and raising the issue. I love to travel, cook and bake (mostly vegan); dinner parties are my go-to way of socializing. I adore old movies (new french wave
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