Eat Your Herbs! Delicious Ways to Enjoy Herbs in Cooking
Ayurveda has a long history of using herbs, spices and whole foods as whole body medicine. Through the practice of preparing and transforming foods for our meals, we deepen our relationship with the natural world, and also with our senses. Nutrition plays an important role in our health and wellbeing, and is a pillar of embodying ayurveda in our daily lives. As we focus on ingredients for our meals, the humble herbs and spices that we include in our daily recipes can provide not only delicious flavors, but nutrients and digestive benefits to help us feel balanced and vibrant through the seasons.
Let’s dig back to our roots and experience the simplicity of enjoying our herbs right in our own kitchen. Experience the delicious aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg in your winter breakfasts, or fennel and rosemary in your summer dinners. Herbs contain so many powerful, nutrient rich properties that we can effortlessly add to almost any meal.
Top Herbs for the Ayurvedic Kitchen
Fennel - a caminitive herb for easing gas, bloating, or heaviness after a large meal. Ideal for Kapha.
Ginger - warming and stimulating, ginger promotes our “agni” (digestive fire), and encourages robust and strong digestion.
Turmeric - the classic herb for all doshas, turmeric offers inflammatory support and a satiating flavor to any recipe.
Cardamom - a sweet and aromatic spice, this is the herb for those with weak digestion or a quick sense of fullness after eating. It is a nice alternative to ginger if you crave something a little less pungent or stimulating and more sweetly gentle on the stomach. Ideal for Vata.
Coriander - cooling and soothing for the entire digestive tract, coriander is delicious to add to meals for the pitta dosha who tend towards an over-heated, very fast digestive process.
Cilantro - add cilantro to any meal that is overly spicy as it is cooling and balancing to each dosha. It is especially good on chilis, kitchari and curries!
How to Eat Your Herbs
Herbs and spices are often the very first step in making any dish in the ayurvedic kitchen. Lightly toasting or sauteing your herbs and spices in a bit of ghee helps to bring out their natural flavors and aromas, making your meal more vibrant and flavorful.
Lightly saute: Cumin seeds, ginger, mustard seeds, fennel bulb, turmeric, garlic
Serve fresh: Cilantro, ginger, fennel seeds, cardamom, turmeric
Quick tip: Unlock our Detox Tea bag and add the ingredients to your salad dressings.
You can always use kitchen spices as simple additions to your prepared meals by sprinkling a few seeds or powder on top of your soups, smoothies, vegetables or adding them to salad dressings or condiments. Experiment with your flavors, and notice how just adding one or two herbs may entirely enhance the flavor of a common meal.
Quick Tip: Unlock our Three Ginger tea bag and add to your oatmeal, stews, kitchari or marinades.
Getting Started with Kitchari
Kitchari is a classic dish in ayurveda that supports balanced and gentle digestion for any season. It is often enjoyed at the change of each season, especially from winter to spring, and summer to fall. Preparing this one-pot meal in your kitchen will fill your space with an incredibly rich aroma of herbs and spices that you’ll come to crave over and over again.
What you need:
1/3 cup split mung dhal (also known as split mung beans)
2/3 cup basmati rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 inch fresh ginger, finely sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder (or ¼ tsp garlic powder, onion powder, or curry powder)
3 teaspoons organic ghee
Rinse the mung dahl and rice and let drain. Heat the ghee in a large pot and add all of the spices, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes. The mustard seeds should pop when they’re ready! Next add the rinsed rice and dahl and stir for 1 minute with the spices. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cook on a low simmer for 35 minutes, until the consistency is like a thick stew. Serve warm with fresh cilantro and ginger for any meal.