Ayurvedic Wellness as a Source of Modern Solutions
Ayurveda, an ancient holistic healing system from India, dates back over 5,000 years and pairs closely with the principles of yoga. The Sanskrit term Ayurveda translates to “knowledge of life” and helps us achieve and maintain our capacity for wellness, ensuring our digestive fire (agni) is in balance. Ayurveda draws its foundation from the elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth and Ayurvedic patterns are presented in the form of three energies (doshas) vata, pitta and kapha.
Ayurveda, Food, and Remedies
Ayurvedic cooking prides itself on eating with the seasons, choosing the right spices and fresh foods for your body constitution which in turn nourishes your physical, mental, and emotional body. We encountered several innovative brands and founders championing these principles at Foundermade, Naturally New York network and the concluding Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia, rebranded as Newtopia Now. As we head into the winter season, these brands promise to be the soulful companions you’ll crave through the chilly months.
Amidst the bustling heart of New York City, two moms Saira Malhotra & Chandni Prasad, united by their passion for Ayurveda, found an instant connection at a cooking class led by Saira, an alumna of The International Culinary Center in New York.
As the two reminisced about their Indian origins, they realized their childhoods were infused with Ayurvedic wellness principles. Inspired by their shared heritage and driven by a collective dream, they created Dancing Elephant.
Dancing Elephant is a brand aimed to demystify Ayurveda through balanced, flavorful foods. Their primary offering, Kitchari, is a cherished Ayurvedic delicacy, a harmonious blend of grains and lentils and functional spices catering to everyone’s lifestyle. Created for the person who is on-the-go, the Pea Prana, Spinach Shakti and Butternut Karma are ready-to-cook, plant-based, gluten-free pouches made in 20 minutes to create a wholesome Ayurvedic meal.
Saira and Chandni shared their vision behind the name Dancing Elephant explaining,” The elephant, revered for its wisdom, strength, and grace, symbolizes the profound essence of Ayurveda. To dance is to be in perfect harmony, and thus, Dancing Elephant mirrors Ayurveda’s promise – to infuse life with balance, vitality, and joy.”
Green Goddess Kitchari Burger
- 2 cups leftover Spinach kitchari, chilled
- 4 scallions 1/2 cup dill, finely chopped
- 1/4 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, if necessary), ground
- 1 TBSP ground flaxseed
- 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large egg (optional, leave out for vegan burgers)
- 1 TBSP flax seed
- 1 TBSP Dill
- 2 TBSP Mayo
- 1/2 Dill Pickle, finely diced
- 1 TBSP pickling juice
- Burger buns of choice
- Optional Add-ins: thick slice of tomato/lettuce
Divya Alter Wants you to Eat for How You Feel
Divya Alter is a pioneer of Ayurvedic cooking in the West, having taught over 20,000 students for the past 13 years, both in New York City and abroad. Born and raised in Bulgaria during the communist regime, Divya Alter found solace in her family’s garden – a lush haven bursting with fresh produce.
Discovering yoga in her teens, Alter embarked on a plant-based culinary journey in the serene environment of a yoga ashram in Bulgaria. Trading her novice kitchen skills for yoga lessons, she emerged not just as a yogi but as a master chef, infusing her dishes with plant-based goodness and age-old Ayurvedic wisdom. Consequently, Divya became a certified nutritional consultant, educator and chef in the Shaka Vansiya Ayurveda tradition.
Divya’s mission is to create awareness and education surrounding the secrets of Ayurvedic cooking, personalized health, and ultimate balance. In 2016, Alter cofounded Divya’s Kitchen, an award-winning plant-based restaurant in New York City that reimagines classic dishes through an Ayurvedic lens.
Divya’s brand has since expanded to include plant-based retail food products and educational videos. Alter is also the cofounder of Bhagavat Life, a nonprofit culinary school offering cooking classes and an Ayurvedic chef certification program. Alter is the author of two cookbooks: Joy of Balance: An Ayurvedic Guide to Cooking with Healing Ingredients; and What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen.
Alter is dedicated in helping people find joy, nourishment and balance through food and creating awareness with the notion that the principles of Ayurveda in relation to food are universal.
“You can see the best doctors and take the best courses on Ayurveda, but when you go home, the most immediate application of knowledge comes down to the food you eat. How do you mix and toast the spices? How do you chop the vegetables and what cooking techniques do you use to protect their prana (life-force). What cookware do you need? How do you prepare a balanced meal for your family and friends who all have different doshas? People need answers in the kitchens.”
Connect with Divya Alter
Kitchari recipe from Joy of Balance, by Divya Alter
- 1/2 cup yellow split mung dal, rinsed, soaked in water for 30 to 60 minutes, rinsed again, and drained
- 1/2 cup white basmati or baby basmati rice, washed and drained
- 2 TBSP ghee or olive oil, divided
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 6 fresh curry leaves or 2 dried cassia leaves
- 1 TBSP minced fresh ginger
- 1 small green Indian or Thai chile, seeded and minced
- 2 cups medium diced vegetables: carrots, zucchini, green beans, broccoli, daikon radish, asparagus, to name a few
- 2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp ground fennel
- 2 handfuls chopped spinach, kale, chard, or arugula
- Olive oil or cultured ghee
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro, thyme, or basil leaves
- 1 slice of lime per serving
Khalo Makes Masala Bases for Everyone
Khalo, meaning “Let’s Eat” in Hindi, is a brand set to revolutionize the culinary world with a line of functional Indian masala cooking bases rooted in Ayurveda. Khalo is launching direct-to-consumer nationwide in Spring 2024.
Founder Ankita Sankla, a proud first-generation Indian American born in India and raised across various corners of the world, including San Francisco, London, New York, and New Jersey, originally enrolled at Rutgers University as an engineering student and quickly noticed her passion for business. Landing marketing roles at Lancôme, Dior, and Ayurvedic skincare startup Aavrani, Ankita’s transition to college life had unwittingly ushered in dietary changes, taking a toll on her gut health.
Her soul, however, remained tethered to the memories of her mother’s kitchen – a haven of spices, fresh ingredients, and age-old Ayurvedic wisdom. Ankita immersed herself in an Ayurvedic culinary school, aiming to share the magic of Ayurveda with the world, culminating in the idea of Khalo.
Ankita expresses, “I founded Khalo as a result of my personal health journey and the transformative experience of healing through the power of food and Ancient Ayurvedic Wisdom. I aspired to make the magic of Ayurveda accessible to the world, and Khalo was the realization of that vision. After all, how you eat, is how you live.”
Khalo has plans for a broad spectrum of innovative products. Their current offerings come in three distinct flavor profiles, Hot Take Masala, Gold Rush Masala, and Essential Masala. Every creation is deeply entrenched in Ayurvedic principles, promising not just taste, but holistic well-being. Think better digestion, a rejuvenated gut microbiome, and optimized nutrient absorption.
Khalo aims to redefine our relationship with food by highlighting a lifestyle that harmoniously intertwines health, taste, and ancient wisdom. Khalo’s masalas represent more than just powerful spices and ghee. They are an invitation to cook with love, eat with intention, and digest with ease. Steeped in quality and intent, Khalo is set to make Ayurveda an attainable and everyday experience for everyone.
Ayurvedic Ginger Spinach Recipe
- Serves 2
- Cook time 25 minutes
- 1/2 lb baby spinach washed and roughly chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and grated
- 2 small green chili chopped
- 2 TBSP Khalo Gold Rush Masala
- 1 cup of Basmati rice 2 TBS Ghee
- 1 TBSP Cumin seeds
- 1 TBSP Himalayan salt
- 2.5 cups of water
- Add 1/2 tbs ghee to a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add chopped ginger and green chili.
- Roughly chop the spinach and add to the pan gradually while mixing.
Once all the spinach is wilted (4-5 minutes) add the Khalo Gold Rush Masala.
- Wash and soak basmati rice for 15-30 min.
- Add 1.5 tbs ghee to pot on medium heat and add cumin seeds.
- Once the cumin is sizzling add the water.
- Bring the water to a boil once it’s boiling add the washed and drained rice.
- Place the top of the pot on and reduce flame to low heat and cook for 12 minutes.
- Let the rice rest for 5 min before fluffing and serving
Connect with Khalo
Follow @khaloworld Website: khaloworld.com
Ayurvedic Wisdom and Wellness
Internationally renowned Ayurvedic healer, Vedic speaker and former president of The California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, Acharya Shunya states in her book AYURVEDA Lifestyle Wisdom, “Ayurveda teaches us that true health is our birthright- and that by artfully adapting to the rhythms of nature, we can restore ourselves to balance and experience optimal well-being.”
Dr. Siva Mohan, founder of AyurvedabySiva and author of Ayurveda for Yoga Teachers and Students expresses, “Wellness is a lifestyle choice. One of my gifts is to show how you fit Ayurveda into the container of your modern urban life. And then, use it to change the container entirely.”
In the end, we are the guardians of that choice.
Lorena Tapiero is a first generation Colombian-American who has lived and worked in Los Angeles, New York City, and Dubai. Her global experience and perspective gives her a powerful lens to reflect on food, trends, and health and wellness. Lorena is a yoga teacher and yoga therapy practicum student as well as a writer and longtime media professional.