Cooking by Sun & Season

with Authentic Ayurveda

"Let us be together, let us eat together, let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life. Never shall we denounce anyone ~ Never entertain negativity."

Prayer from the Upanishads

Coming Soon ~ Cooking Fundamentals & Recipes from Vaidya Padma Raju

“Don’t miss dal every day and don’t miss rice or wheat and different grains every day, and then milk & lassi—make these every day. Then you will be getting all the proteins. And vegetables also ~ sometimes you can miss the vegetables, but don’t miss the other things and ghee—don’t miss the ghee.”

Vaidya Krishna Raju

Staple Foods from the Ayurvedic Kitchen

Homemade Ghee (clarified butter) ~

"Ghee brings healing intelligence to every system in the body." Vaidya J.R. Raju.

Choose from the following two recipes, according to your ability and needs:

  • The easiest way to make ghee is to buy good quality unsalted butter ~ cultured butter is best and cook it at low temp for several hours (a crockpot, on one of the higher settings, is ideal so your ghee doesn’t burn).

  • The little brown flakes from the browning crust that forms on top have to start settling to the bottom ~ then you know it's done (important that ghee is not undercooked). If the cooking temperature is too too low, the ghee will take hours and hours to make and liquids will remain (settled at the bottom) that become obvious when you strain off the crust. It is important that the cooking temperature is high enough for this liquid to evaporate off, so first try the medium or high setting on your crockpot and keep a good eye on it the first time (low may be too slow, but too fast isn’t good either). At the right temperature, it will still take approximately 5+ hours to make your ghee.

  • For highest quality ghee: Dr. Krishna says to make it with milk from the "wild cow" (raised naturally) and best not to separate the cream from the milk or homogenize it. Boil the milk and make yogurt with it in the normal way (detailed recipe below). In the morning, take the yogurt and churn it to make butter. Then take the butter from this and cook it slowly to make ghee, as above.

Lassi or Ayurvedic Buttermilk ~

Lassi from fresh "sweet" yogurt (made daily) is so good for improving digestion it's like medicine for the body. It also balances (reduces) excess pitta (heat) and clears the physical channels.

  • Lassi is made by diluting fresh (same-day) yogurt that has been well blended with a hand whisk so that it is very smooth in texture. Dilution should be seven parts good water to one part yogurt (can be a little thicker if taken with meals). If dairy intolerance is there, lassi should be very, very thin and only taken in sips so that the body can get used to digesting it gradually.

  • You can add spices to lassi as desired: pan-roasted cumin seed, ground in a spice-mill. Ajwain is also good roasted this way. Add cardamom, blended fresh coriander, and a little black salt if you want ~ whatever combination you like best. Sweet lassi is fine with meals, but not between meals as sweet is the "heaviest" taste and will produce stronger digestive enzymes like during a meal (not good for this to happen between meals). Mango is fine with lassi but papaya with lassi is not so good for us.

Raju Family "Sweet" Yogurt Recipe (make fresh daily for best digestion) ~

  • In the evening, boil fresh milk diluted half with water for 10+ minutes with a slice of ginger; cool till it is a little warm to the touch (can’t be hot) and transfer to a thermos; add ½ to 1 teaspoon good yogurt and leave overnight in a warm place or wrapped in a towel. In the morning when the yogurt is done, whisk it well so that it is completely smooth (no chunks). If the weather is warm and it sits too long in the thermos, it can become overly sour, so try to avoid that.

  • If your yogurt comes out with a lot of watery liquid, then the starting temperature of the milk was too hot. If it isn’t done by morning, just leave it to sit longer till done and try a little warmer milk temperature next time. Note that there has to be a reasonable amount of milk in the thermos to maintain the heat long enough to turn into yogurt.

  • Best to make the next batch of yogurt with a spoonful of the current batch as long as it has not become sour (if so, need to start over with a fresh starter).

Dry Roasted Cumin ~

Roasted cumin provides great flavor to any dish and is a powerful digestive aid. Dry roast whole, fresh cumin seed in a pan till slightly brown and aromatic. Then grind to a powder in a spice mill or CLEAN coffee grinder. Keep this handy in your kitchen to add to fresh lassi, vegetable dishes, dal, etc. for flavor and improved digestion any time.

Spice Mix Variations ~

For any savory dish, fry spices in ghee with a little rock salt and add them to dishes towards the end of cooking. Spices can make a real difference for health and digestion, not to mention better flavor. "Cooking with spices saves the good health!" Dr. J.R. Raju

Dal Recipes ~

Split mung dal is the best nutritionally and for good digestion and easy (quick) cooking. Boil washed dal in water and a little ghee till the grains are soft and fully broken down. You can add fresh coriander leaf, and spices cooked in ghee at the end (spice options: mustard seed (good to "pop" them first, before adding the other spices), cumin seed, curry leaf, grated ginger, a little salt and pepper, and turmeric after the heat is turned off).

Rice Basics ~

Rice is a very sattvic (pure) food that is easy to digest and brings good strength to the physiology. It's best to boil rice in an open pot so that the "heaviness" gets released and it is easier to digest. Rice cookers are okay because they have steam vents, but a more open lid is preferable. To boil rice, wash it well first (rinsing a few times) then boil it gently, with a little rock salt and ghee, in a generous pot of water till well cooked (should not be undercooked). It's important that you use plenty of water, so the rice grains are not overly crowded in the water....then it's very easy to drain off the water after cooking (in a sieve). MORE COMING!

Yogurt Rice ~

Good yogurt rice both calms the stomach if it is a little irritated, and strengthens digestion. Prepare well-cooked, plain rice (no seasoning yet) and while it is cooking, make the herb mix in an open pan (quantities according to your taste and the amount of rice...using more spices is better for digestion than less):

  • Fry brown mustard seed in a little ghee till the mustard seeds "pop" (very important that they pop (to release the flavor and be digestible). The heat has to be a little strong to do this, but not too high or your seeds will easily burn (may need to use a lid briefly so the popping seeds don't scatter too far).

  • Then add a little salt (black salt is best) and pepper to taste; freshly ground cumin and coriander seeds (coarse ground or fine, according to your taste); and washed, fresh, whole curry leaves (chopped, fresh coriander is a nice alternative, if curry leaves are not available).

  • Gently fry till the spices are lightly browned (stirring constantly so nothing burns). Peeled and grated fresh ginger can also be added and cooked with the spice mix if you desire (very good for raising the agni). When browned, the ginger won't be too spicy at all.

  • When the rice is cooked, drain it well and allow it to cool a little (so the yogurt doesn't curdle when it is added).

  • Combine the rice, spice mix, and blended (smooth) freshly made yogurt (quantity according to your taste and digestion) and stir well. ENJOY!

Kanji ~ Boiled Rice Soup ~

Kanji is a well-cooked rice soup that is very easy to digest when a light meal is required (in the evening, or whenever agni/digestion is low). It is as nutritious as it is digestible and is very useful as a short-term diet to quickly clear undigested food from the system (a day of kanji or even one meal of kanji works wonders after any eating "mistakes"). For full kanji diet instructions see HOME REMEDY RECIPES, below

  • Boil good white rice in a generous amount of water in an open pot (approx. 1/2 cup rice to seven cups water—adjust proportions according to need)

  • Cook until it gets a very fine, smooth structure and the rice is almost completely dissolved.

  • 10-15 minutes before it's done, add a spoon of roughly crushed cumin seed and ajwain seed, with a little black salt for taste, or rock salt.

  • After cooking, can keep the kanji in a thermos so it is hot and ready to eat whenever you are hungry (kanji can be taken any time of day when you are hungry).

Soups ~ Sambar and Rasam ~

Sambar and Rasam are light, nutritious soups that are great for dinner or as part of the main, noon meal.

  • Sambar is made with dal and vegetables cooked in a lot of water. Be sure to cook the dal well first, then add your vegetables later and cook till everything is soft; spices can be added at the end.

  • Rasam is like sambar but even lighter and easier to digest. It is made with water, a little tamarind juice, and peeled, diced tomatoes, cooked to form a nice broth. Coriander leaves and curry leaves can be cooked with the broth for more flavor

  • Spice mix for both soups: fry mustard seeds in ghee till they pop and then add cumin seed, a little dry red chili, salt and hing (asofetita). When the spices are cooked, add them to the soup, along with some turmeric (after the heat is turned off).


Home Remedy Recipes

Kanji Diet ~

"Good for anybody for any problem: increases appetite, improves taste, removes ama and toxins, and improves quality of digestion—good for so many things." Vaidya J.R. Raju

  • Cook one cup rice in 14 cups water for a long time in a large pot with an open lid until it gets a very fine, smooth structure and the rice is almost completely dissolved. In a crockpot, you can start a batch of kanji at night and it will be ready by morning.

  • 10-15 minutes before the kanji is done, add a spoon of roughly crushed cumin seed and ajwain seed, with a little black salt or rock salt for taste.

  • After cooking, keep the kanji in a thermos so it is hot and ready to eat whenever you are hungry (any time of day and as much as you want to have).

  • Kanji is so easily digested that it allows the body to put a lot more energy into healing, and clears the "memory" of digestive disorders and other problems very effectively.

  • If any difficulty returns or any eating mistakes happen, can do one meal or one day of kanji to set things straight again.

"Do this for one to three days for most digestive problems [only kanji]. For hyperacidity, if you do it for seven days it will be very good. Whenever you are hungry, take the kanji only and then the memory will be completely gone of the hyperacidity.

'Take kanji with lassi added to it, or start with plain kanji first and after a few days add lassi [made from fresh homemade yogurt, blended well, filtered & mixed with water so the lassi is smooth]. You will not feel faint because it has carbohydrates and will give the energy. Because Kanji is so light you will digest & absorb it well, and then the acids will be less.

"After doing the kanji diet, go back to eating normal foods gradually and only eat three meals a day (snacks can be fruits or lassi). During the kanji days, good to take shodhana daily and/or use psyllium husk in the kanji [1-2 teaspoons per day, either all at once or in two doses, taken with a full glass of kanji}. It will prevent constipation during the kanji fast and reduces acidity [and indigestion] a LOT."

Vaidya Krishna Raju

Curd rice ~ Early morning breakfast for digestive & physical strength, also helpful for weight gain ~

  • Important to eat the curd rice very early in the morning (before dawn) so that the later morning kapha value (heaviness) is not strong when you eat it. It is best to go back to sleep after you have the curd rice. This allows the body to deeply settle and relax, and is very strengthening to health and digestion.

  • NOTE: although curd rice is good for digestion, your agni (digestive fire) must be strong enough initially to handle the curd rice. If not, it is best to take other steps to increase the agni before starting curd rice.

  • Cook a small amount of plain rice (approximately 1/4 cup, according to your size and appetite). Be sure the rice is soft and well cooked. DO NOT ADD SALT, as you will be mixing the cooked rice with milk, and milk should NEVER be combined with salt (the combination is like a poison).

  • At the same time, boil about one to one and a half cups of milk (amount depends on how much rice you make) with a small slice of ginger, for 10 minutes. Pour the milk over the cooked rice so it comes to the same level as the rice and let cool till just above body temperature (warm but not hot).

  • Transfer to a thermos and stir in 1/2 to one teaspoon of good yogurt and keep in a warm place (or wrapped in a towel if the house is cold) overnight.

  • In the morning, "curd" will have formed around the rice, at which point you may stir in a little black salt and pepper if you like, and 2 big pinches of Raju "curd rice/aka Special Tea" herbs if you have them (if not, make your own herb mix of freshly ground cumin, ajwain, coriander, and fennel seeds, in equal quantities).

Cumin Tea ~ To help digest & clear ama, blockages from undigested food ~

  • One teaspoon cumin boiled in two cups water and reduced to one cup. Remove from heat and add a tiny pinch of turmeric at the end. Optional to add a little black salt also. If you are only taking it for a few days, cumin tea is enough. If taking longer, then you need to add 1/2 teaspoon ajwain along with the cumin & boil to reduce.

  • Take at least 1-2 times per day or more until you feel better (can make a larger batch and keep warm in a thermos to sip throughout the day).

Ajwain tea ~ To bring up the agni, digestive power ~

  • Can sip it all day. RECIPE: 1 teaspoon ajwain in a few cups of water boiled to half / keep warm in a thermos.

Importance of "Samskara" Transformation of Food

"If you eat the raw rice it will not digest well. Whereas if you cook the rice it will be digested very easily. That is the samskara—we are changing things. The main thing is to digest easily and properly."

"If you are taking the raw vegetables, the digestion will not be proper. Because of the fiber it looks like you are getting proper digestion, but the nutrients will not be absorbed properly. There is the main agni in the stomach called Pachaka Agni. If you are not cooking outside, Pachaka Agni has to cook it inside [in the stomach] and this puts a big load on the body. Fruits are cooked by the nature, so fruits are already cooked ~ if they are well ripened you can take. Nuts also, you have to soak or roast because nuts are a little heavier."

Vaidya Krishna Raju

SAMSKARA means transformation of food through cooking to make it more digestible ~ a main tenet of proper, healthy Ayurvedic diet ~

Raw vegetables may be very fresh and full of nutrients but they are not in an easily digestible, absorbable form. The samskara (transforming value) must be there for food to be used well by the body.

"When foods are raw, certain alkaloids cannot be accepted by the body. Because of that we need cooking. Coriander, mint, basilicum, sage, and vegetables with strong pitta characteristics can be eaten raw in limited quantity. In the beginning [when lots of raw vegetables or "green juices" are eaten] the system starts to digest the ama (blockages) because you are not getting enough nourishment, so it is like fasting. The problems start when the ama is finished and then the body starts to eat the dhatus (tissues). So even though you are taking the food, it is not food for you. In the beginning, because there is the change of the diet you feel better, but in continuing the complications will come." Dr. J.R. Raju

  • Exceptions are: small amounts of grated raw vegetables which have good pitta qualities at lunch (e.g. carrot, beet root, ginger, white radish, lemon, fresh coriander, mint leaf, and cucumber (good for pacifying/balancing pitta). A small amount from the above list can also be taken sometimes as a late afternoon snack if feeling hungry after the previous meal is fully digested and your agni (digestive fire) is strong.

  • Ripe, seasonal fruits are best and eaten separately (alone): Because fruit is something raw, the body needs to focus more to digest it well. You can take fruit in the late afternoon when lunch is fully digested and you are hungry. Exception: fruit cooked with spices can be taken with a meal (e.g. chutneys). Cooked fruit is also excellent for breakfast and can be cooked with grains and spices.

  • Important note about bananas: bananas are heavier and not so easy to digest. If agni is not strong, it is best to avoid them completely. Otherwise, it's best to eat banana alone—not on an empty stomach or on a full stomach, and NEVER mixed with dairy (very blocking and causes skin problems).

“[Leafy] greens are not good for us raw—even cooked, good not to have too much.” Dr. J.R. Raju The reason for this is that even when cooked they lead to an increase of erucic acid in the body which aggravates vata (especially in the joints) and is bad for the heart.

“Any time you change the diet the body has to work more to adjust, so you feel some increased energy [even if the change was to more raw food or too many [leafy] greens, which are not good for the body]....eventually the negative influence will show” Vaidya Krishna Raju

"Parsley is okay; kale can be okay (have to see the properties). They have to be taken in small quantity (5-15ml total) like the juice or chutney, and have to be warmed up. Adding a littler turmeric will help [for digestibility]." Vaidya Krishna Raju

“Raw vegetables increase the disease, which come mostly from wrong food. If we are eating the healthy, proper food it is increasing and reminding of the health; if you are eating opposite to what you need you are increasing the disease—balanced doshas are the health. Even very healthy food can increase (aggravate) the doshas if overeating. Green vegetables when uncooked are very bad.”

Vaidya J.R. Raju.

Some cautions from Dr. Raju about juicing, fasting, raw foods & the importance of a steady, suitable diet ~

"The substances we take into our bodies come in three forms ~ medicine, food, and in-between (herbs and spices). The difference for the food is "Ras Pradhana" (having the six tastes). The difference with the herbs is potency and power—they are stronger. For the food you can take large quantity, but medicine has to be small quantity, and same with herbs (1-2 spoons or pinches).

"Vegetables have to be taken in the cooked form—only after cooking. Certain things should only be used as vegetables and cooked. You are not living in the stone-age. Even in the stone-age they were not eating all the foods raw. Vegetables with pitta characteristics are fine juiced raw, but not the greens [green vegetables].

"Any change in the diet will make you feel better for a time. In long fasting, after the [excess] doshas are digested (the ama) then the agni starts to eat the muscles, bones, tissues, and you become weak and give the entrance to the diseases. But if you do for half a day or one day you can [safely] do the liquid diet, and that is better—never more than one day without the vaidya's supervision.

"On the internet you can find different alkaloids which have the toxins (ama) and with cooking they are balanced and disappear. Vegetables are said [in the Vedic Texts] to be cooked. Raw spinach, for example, chew it and it tastes chalky because it is with erucic acid. With the heat this disappears. Erucic acid is very bad for the heart. Spinach is a good vegetable, but if you take it raw it is bad for the heart. Also, spinach you don't mix with tomato because it brings too much vata [unstable] influence.

"Nothing like this should be done for too long. You should always be on the same diet [not changing to extremes]. The food should be suitable "yogasatya"...means more suitable. This means, the main foods for people in their own countries. Rice is main for people in Andra Pradesh; tomato for Italians; wheat for USA. You can have that which is very yogasatya every day, but other things you have to change. Dal you can have every day; ghee, milk, rice are all okay every day. It comes from many generations of digesting something in a culture, then people become very used to digesting it." Vaidya J.R. Raju

Note that green vegetable juice is fine to take if it is cooked before or after juicing. Only take raw vegetable juice that is made from vegetables with strong pitta characteristics like carrot juice, beet juice, tomato juice. In general, however, juices are not absorbed as well as solid foods because juice goes through the system so quickly the body doesn't have time to absorb the nutrients thoroughly. So it's much better to "Eat your juice." Vaidya J.R. Raju

BE VERY CAREFUL WITH FASTING: Fasting should not be done for more than one day at a time, and only in regular intervals (same day every week, or month, or year) so the body becomes accustomed to it (irregular fasting is not good ~ confuses the body-clock).

Never fast on vegetable juice unless you cook it first (strains agni & the physiology to consume that much raw food, even without the pulp it is a strain to digest that much). Fresh fruit juices are best for fasting or pureed foods like pureed soups. It is also fine to fast on liquids during the day and then have a light dinner at night (like soup, kanji, or kitchari).

The key thing to remember about a nutritious diet is that proper digestion and absorption are more important than super high nutrient value of the raw materials. It is the combined effects of the freshness of the food, proper preparation & cooking, and proper timing of meals so that agni is sufficient to fully digest what you eat. THESE are the key influential factors.

This page is still in development ~ more to come!

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ~ "The World is My Family"

Maha Upanishads