Because Ayurveda encourages making food fresh when you eat it and minimizing leftovers, the quantities are moderate, so keep that in mind if you’re cooking for a larger crowd.
When balancing vata dosha, or eating during vata season, we turn to the earth for support—literally. The food that we pull from the soil in the form of root vegetables offers the body the qualities of stability and density that keep air and ether in check. Because of colder conditions in the environment outside us, our internal fire (agni) reaches it peak in vata season, meaning that these heavier, sweeter, more unctuous foods will be readily digested—in fact, they’re welcomed by a body that naturally wants to slow down, rest, and replenish itself this time of year.
Colorful, flavorful, and toothsome, this nourishing bowl is medicine for all the senses. Layering a creamy white puree with jewel-toned vegetables not only offers a contrast of tastes and textures in each bite, but makes for an ordered and harmonious presentation to soothe a scattered vata energy. The irresistible aroma of these gems from nature will likewise draw supportive and loving energy to your table, so the meal is full of nutrition for body and spirit. To keep our agni glowing bright, the vegetables in this dish are seasoned with a generous and delicious combination of spices, which incorporate the sweet, salty, and a bit of pungent tastes that vata loves. Notice how the process of chopping, handling spices, blending the sauce, and slow cooking the vegetables for this meal brings a sense of rhythm and steadiness to your mind and body—qualities that also help to pacify vata. Take note that the umami-rich miso-tahini sauce is a real crowd-pleaser and makes a versatile accompaniment to a number of dishes, so you might want to double the recipe to keep spreading the love even after you’ve cleaned your plate.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
For the vegetables:
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups beets, chopped
2 cups sweet potato, chopped (skins on)
1 cup red onion, quartered
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups white turnips, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped (fronds reserved and finely chopped)
1 cup water
½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Big pinch flaky sea salt
For the sauce:
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup white miso
¼ cup Medjool dates, soaked in hot water and chopped (¼ cup of soaking liquid reserved)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the carrots, beets, sweet potato, and red onion on the sheet in an even layer (use two sheets if you don’t have 1 large one; you don’t want to crowd the vegetables). Drizzle with the coconut oil.
Combine the ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously and evenly over the vegetables; reserve any extra for the finished bowl. Toss to coat with the oil.
Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the vegetables are browned and crisp.
In a large Dutch oven or pot, combine the olive oil and garlic over low heat. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until the garlic softens and is fragrant. Add the turnips, celery, fennel, and water. Raise heat to bring to a simmer, cover the pot loosely, and let cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the water is absorbed.
Transfer to a food processor or a carafe to blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
Combine the tahini, miso, dates, and ginger in a food processor or high-speed blender. Blitz until smooth. Add the reserved soaking liquid from the dates and apple cider vinegar. Blitz again. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency—the sauce should be smooth, but you should be able to dollop it, like yogurt or sour cream.
To serve, spread a layer of the pureed turnip-celery-fennel in each bowl. Top with a scoop of the roasted vegetables. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and parsley, a dollop of the sauce, and a pinch of salt.
PITTAPitta types are known for their intensity—including when it comes to food. Stand in the way of a pitta and their meals, and get ready to be met with some hanger! With a robust digestive fire and proclivity toward routines, pittas are often thought of as strong eaters; they can take in, and enjoy, some of the harder to digest foods out there, including the bitters and astringents that often appear in raw salads. These two flavors, along with sweet, are most balancing for pitta dosha, which is why they’re most abundant in the ripe, juicy produce we find in summer, or pitta season.
Still, even the hungriest of pittas need to remember to slow down and accept a little help (a good rule of thumb for this dosha in life, too!). Pitta types might boast a fearless agni, pitta season is when agni is actually weakest; our energy is sent outward to the skin to keep us cool, so there’s not too much digestive fire left inside to break down heavy foods. Turning to lightly cooked foods in summer is a good idea as such, even if you wait until they’ve cooled down to room temp to enjoy them.
In this seasonal slaw, agni gets some help in breaking down the bright, bitter vegetable base with a spicy-sour vinegar-mustard dressing. As it rests overnight, the vegetables get pickled—making them softer and more hydrating—which is one form of transforming, or “cooking,” our food for digestibility. Combined with the radishes, the dressing gives this salad a bit of a kick, so if you are working with a pitta imbalance or are sensitive to heat adjust the proportion of vegetables (fewer radishes, more celery), use some water instead of all vinegar in the dressing, or increase the amount of honey. Sweet and astringent, honey is an ideal sweetener for pitta, and alongside coriander and cloves it makes for a pitta-perfect herbal “formula”—right in your food!
During the summer, this slaw is ideal for making ahead, since the flavors only intensify the longer it sits. Serve it with a scoop of light and cooling buckwheat (which is actually a seed, not a grain) and refreshing parsley to make it a meal hearty enough to match a pitta’s appetite, while reminding you to stay as chill, casual, and colorful as the slaw itself.
Prep time: 15 minutes + 1 hour to overnight rest time
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 as a main, 8 as a side
4 cups mixed radishes (red, green, daikon, or any other you choose), shredded
2 cups radicchio, shredded (reserve some outer leaves for serving)
1 cup Brussels sprouts, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup leeks, white parts only, shredded
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup dijon mustard
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried), plus more to serve
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
10 whole cloves (optional)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to serve
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to serve
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped, to serve
2 cups water
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup raw buckwheat groats, rinsed
2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Combine the radishes, radicchio, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and leeks in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, mustard, and honey. Mix well with a fork or small whisk until smooth.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Add the dill, coriander, cloves, pepper, and salt. Mix well to coat with the spices and dressing.
Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to set for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
When ready to serve, prepare the grains. Place the water and the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add the buckwheat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover slightly, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the grains are soft and most of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, and let cool. Stir in the dill. If making ahead of time, store the grains in a separate container.
To serve, give another big mix to the slaw to reincorporate the dressing and spices. Taste to see if you want to add more spices. Place a radicchio leaf in each bowl, and add a scoop of slaw, a scoop of buckwheat, and a handful of parsley. (You can also pre-mix the buckwheat and parsley in the bowl with the slaw, and serve it all together.) Enjoy cool or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
KAPHABalancing any dosha requires negotiation—you give a little of what they want, and a little more of what they need. When it comes to balancing kapha dosha, or eating in kapha season, the negotiation might feel a little more challenging as what kapha wants versus what they need are quite opposite when looking at elements and gunas. Fans of sweet, dense, and unctuous foods (really, food in general), kapha types embody the guna of snigdha—cohesion—when they eat, savoring the sensory pleasures of food along with good company. What their slower digestion tends to need, however, is food that’s light and zesty—the kind of airy, drying, and slightly pungent foods we find creeping up from beneath the snow in early spring.
This porridge is an example of how to marry seemingly opposite qualities and tastes together in a single dish for kapha-pacification—and satisfaction. Barley is one of the best grains for kapha, since it’s high in fiber but extremely astringent, meaning it helps to clear the channels of undigested food, mucous, or other kapha-type build-up that can happen in spring or in periods of imbalance; toasting the barley before you cook it also prevents it from getting too unctuous. It’s prepared in dandelion tea instead of plain water, too, which adds a hint of nutty, bitter flavors. The drizzle of honey on top increases the astringency of the porridge, but this medicinal action is disguised by sweetness that’s also in the figs, cinnamon, and ginger.
Choosing warm, cooked foods like this for breakfast, as opposed to typical Western breakfasts like fruit and yogurt, will also bring more balance to kapha, which is already characterized by cool, dense, viscous qualities. Blitzing the grains before serving makes the bowl a little softer and creamier, however, to draw kaphas to the table for a warm, but lightening, meal that’s perfect to start the day with energy and vitality.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
1 tablespoon loose dandelion root (or 1 dandelion tea bag)
1 cup warm water
½ cup raw barley (see note)
½ cup almond milk
¼ teaspoon sea salt
6 dried figs, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon raw honey
Prepare the dandelion tea. Place the loose dandelion root in a tea ball, or the tea bag, in a mug and cover with the warm, not boiling, water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Discard the tea ball or bag.
Toast the barley in a large dry skillet over low heat for 5 minutes, until fragrant.
Combine the prepared tea, almond milk, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then add the toasted barley. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover loosely, and cook for about 20 minutes, until the barley has softened (it will still be a little chewy).
Transfer the barley and liquid to a carafe and blitz with an immersion blender, or use a food processor, just to break up the grains a bit. It won’t get completely smooth. You may need to add a little more almond milk, depending on how much liquid got absorbed while cooking.
Divide the porridge between two bowls and add the figs. Dust with the cinnamon and ginger, add a pinch of mint, and drizzle with honey. Enjoy warm. Store the vegetables in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and the sauce in a separate jar for up to 2 weeks.
Written by: Jennifer Kurdyla
Jennifer Kurdyla is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, yoga teacher, and writer. Plant-based since 2008, she learned to love food by experimenting with vegan and Ayurvedic cooking in her tiny New York kitchens. She is the co-author of Root & Nourish: An Herbal Cookbook for Women's Wellness (Tiller Press), and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Read more about her wellness services and educational resources at www.benourished.me and on Instagram @jenniferkurdyla