From an Ayurvedic perspective, Spring is the time of new beginnings, growth and expansion. This is the time of year when the kapha dosha (the energies of water and earth) are increasing. Whenever kapha increases in the body over and above the appropriate amounts, it can exacerbate the factors that cause disease. Spring, then, is an important time to cleanse. And many of the foods used for cleansing are those in season this time of year are those with the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes.
Mung Bean Pancake: Makes 10 – 12 Pancakes
Two cups of whole mung beans (green gram)
One medium onion, finely chopped
One-and-one-half inch piece of ginger, grated
One-half bundle of cilantro, chopped
Grated beet root (optional).
Ghee or coconut oil for cooking pancake
Soak in mung beans overnight in six cups of water. Pour the water out the next morning (use it to water your garden), add fresh water and rinse once.
The mung beans will be swollen and soft from soaking overnight. Put in them in a blender or food processor and add water, little by little (as needed to achieve desired batter consistency) while blending for two or three rounds. Don’t over blend; the batter should be a little coarse.
Remove from blender and add chopped onion, grated ginger and chopped cilantro to batter and mix well. Add Himalayan salt to taste.
Add ghee or oil to pan or skillet and heat, when the pan is hot, pour enough batter to make a pancake. Sprinkle some grated beet root on top of the pancake. Cover with a lid and let simmer on medium heat for about five minutes. Then remove the lid, flip the pancake and cook uncovered for about five minutes.
Serve pancakes hot. Traditionally, coconut chutney is an accompaniment, but may be too cooling for the spring or too heavy for a cleansing diet. Ginger marmalade or something slightly pungent can be supportive.
This can be enjoyed before the meal, eaten as a pickle or added to the plate as a condiment. Ginger appetizer stimulates the digestive fire.
Sliced fresh ginger root
Fresh juice of lemon or lime
Soak ginger in juice with a pinch of Himalayan salt and eat a couple slices before or with meals. Ginger appetizer stimulates digestion, increases the appetite and decreases gas and bloating.
Spring Vegetable Kitcheree
Bitter and astringent vegetables support spring cleansing
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup mung beans
One teaspoon cardamom powder or seeds
One teaspoon ajwain seeds (Ajwain is also known as wild celery. If ajwain seeds cannot be found, celery seeds can be substituted, although celery is sweeter and not as pungent as ajwain.)
One teaspoon ground black pepper
One bundle of scallions chopped in rounds
Finely chopped cilantro
Freshly squeezed juice of
a lemon or lime
Ghee or coconut oil for roasting spices
1/2 inch of ginger root, finely chopped
Two tablespoons of cashew nuts (if desired)
One cup of assorted chopped fresh spring vegetables:
Daikon or radishes, both are kapha reducing in nature.
Combine one cup of vegetables with rice, mung beans, salt, pepper, cardamom and ajwain seeds with four cups of water. Bring to a gentle boil and then simmer.
In a separate pan heat the ghee or coconut oil then add cumin seeds, scallions and cashew nuts, gently roast over medium heat until aromatic compounds are released.
When rice and mung bean mixture is soft and soupy, stir in seasoning, add additional water if needed for desired soup or stew consistency.
Squeeze lemon or lime juice over kitcheree. Sprinkle finely chopped cilantro or parsley just before serving. Both cilantro and parsley are high in trace minerals and promote cleansing. Cilantro is more cooling and pitta-pacifying and can be helpful for people who are prone to allergies. Parsley is more heating and kapha-reducing.
This cleansing recipe contains all of the six tastes. Dill is pungent and astringent, perfect qualities for counteracting spring’s heaviness and encouraging cleansing. Cilantro is astringent and bitter, and ginger is pungent (with a sweet vipak, or post-digestive effect, making it less pitta-provoking than many other pungent spices.) The mung beans are astringent and sweet and the rice is sweet.
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup whole mung beans
Bundle of fresh dill, chopped
Cup of broccoli, small pieces
Two medium sized cloves of chopped garlic
One tablespoon fennel seeds
One tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil
Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (lime to balance pitta)
Himalayan salt to taste.
Rinse mung beans and rice, then add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, cover with 3 1/2 cups of water, and simmer until soupy.
In a separate large pan or skillet, heat the ghee or coconut oil, add the chopped garlic and sauté.
Next add the fennel seeds, chopped broccoli and chopped dill and stir until the broccoli and spices are gently roasted. Squeeze the lemon or lime juice over the vegetables.
Combine the vegetables with cooked kitcheree and stir well.
Enjoy with ginger appetizer or pickle.
The Charaka Samhita (ancient Ayurveda text) does not recommend using salt (specifically sodium chloride) on an everyday basis, as it increases pitta and kapha and can exacerbate diseases of the blood. Himalayan salt, on the other hand, may be consumed daily. It contains a higher quantity of potassium and a wide variety of more than eighty trace minerals, in the same proportions found in the human body. As opposed to sodium chloride, Himalayan salt even has a natural slight diuretic quality, drawing excess from the body, rather than increasing bloating and water retention. LA-based organic chef Michael G. Mandel uses Himalayan salt exclusively for recipes because of its healing and electrolyte-balancing qualities.
Note About Roasting Spices in Oil: In Ayurveda, roasting or lightly frying spices in oil releases the oil-soluble essential oils and other active components for better absorption. Some vegetables, such as onion and garlic, become sweeter when lightly cooked in oil, making them easier to digest.
Dr. Parla Jayagopal has an M.D. degree in Ayurveda from India and works as an Associate Professor at American University of Complementary Medicine; he teaches clinical doctorate courses and schedules consultations at the university clinic in Beverly Hills. Dr. Jay also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM). Reach him at (310) 550 – 7445. Visit: aucm.org or ayurveda-caam.org for more information.