What is Yogic Cooking?
Even when the freshest vegetables (even fresh organic vegetables), herbs,
and ingredients are used in cooking, and the recipe is followed perfectly,
sometimes, somehow that dish doesn’t come out quite right. It is on the
table, looking fantastic, there’s a nice fresh salad… But, no one has been
uplifted, energized, or really satisfied by the meal. It tasted fine, it
filled the belly… but, something was missing.
Regardless of what ingredients are used, if the cook’s consciousness is not
prayerful, loving, or joyful… that food will not be a healing food. Period.
This is so important, to have a state of mind that is free of anger when you
are preparing any meal. Instead be filled with heartfelt love for those
(including the self!) who will be eating the food, joy in its preparation,
and, most importantly, a sense of the Divine coming into the food.
This is a reason that restaurant food becomes so tiring. It only satisfies
the belly; rarely does it elevate, nurture and heal.
I am not always in a good mood. Believe me, this is true. When I am feeling
some negative/destructive emotions, and I am really enjoying being in that
state (sometimes you just really want to be angry, don’t you?), well, I
just don’t cook. And, if I have to cook, then I absolutely say a prayer. It
might be something like this: “Okay God. This food has to be made. Please
just come through me and flow into this food and keep all my emotional
garbage out of it.” Really, sometimes that’s the best I can do. If you talk
in a familiar and direct way to God I think He/She/It enjoys that prayer
very much and comes through!
For my catering business, Yogi Eats!, I always
begin each day with a prayer, asking that all those who will enjoy the food
I am preparing, that they be healed, uplifted, energized, nurtured, and that
with each bite they may remember God. I pray that the food be tasty,
satisfying, beautiful, and filled with love. I pray for those who will be
eating the food. I get high just doing this prayer! Then I chant and sing
while I am cooking. The spirit is very high! And the food absorbs all of
that vibration. Even chopping vegetables is a great meditation when, with
each chop, you put a mantra or prayer (silently or aloud) to the rhythm of
On the other side, if you are just feeling anger, stressed, mad at your
spouse/partner, tired of making dinner every night, etc etc etc, and you
are standing there cooking and putting all that emotion into the food, it
will be like a poison. The food will not be exactly enjoyable (in fact, it
will probably have poor taste, be burned, underdone, or otherwise not come
out right) and those who eat it are likely to feel crabby or unhappy, have
indigestion or constipation, or even become ill as a result.
So, think about these things the next time you are preparing a meal. Play
some uplifting music on your
stereo. Sing a happy song while you cook, something that makes you feel
love in your heart and the greatness of your spirit!
This concept of bringing positive, uplifting, loving, prayerful spirit into
food as it is prepared is the foundation of Ayurveda and yogic cooking.
Kicheree is a sort of invigorating spicy soup, featuring mungbeans, rice,
onions, garlic, ginger and spices. It provides a very easy-to-digest
balanced protein that is ideal for rebuilding strength during and after
illness. When I am starting to feel under the weather, one of the first
things I do is get a pot of kicheree going. It is easy to make, keeps in the
refrigerator for about 4 days, and is so nurturing and feels so good going
down! You can decrease or increase the spices according to your taste.
To make 1 gallon (about 10 servings)
4 quarts pure water
¾ cup mungbeans (organic are definitely best)
1 ½ cups basmati rice (organic if available)
2 onions, chopped
½ cup chopped, peeled, gingerroot
¼ cup chopped garlic
1 tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. ground cardamom seeds (optional)
1 ½ tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. crushed red chilies
2 Tbsp. ghee (very clarified butter) (optional)
salt, Bragg Liquid Aminos, or tamari soy sauce
Bring water to boil in a 6-quart pot. Thoroughly clean and rinse beans and
rice. Add mungbeans and rice to pot. As the other ingredients are chopped
(it’s fine to chop ginger and garlic together in food processor), add them
to the pot. Add spices. Cook over medium-high flame until beans and rice are
completely soft (total cooking time is about 1 hour), stirring occasionally.
Add water as desired for thinner consistency.
Add ghee and salt (or Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari soy sauce) to taste.
Ghee is very clarified butter that keeps at room temperature for several weeks (in hot weather keep it refrigerated). It can be purchased at Indian markets or you can easily make your own.
Melt fresh unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook for
30-45 minutes (time depends on how much butter you are using). The object is
to cook out all of the water and for all the solids to separate from the
oil. This is well past the “white slime” stage. You’ll know it is ready to
remove from the stove when all of the solids have settled to the bottom
(they will brown). Be careful that it does not cook too long nor on too high
a heat, as it can burn. Remove from heat and let it stand 15 minutes. Pour
it through a fine tea strainer (or cheese cloth) into a glass jar. It should
be a clear, golden oil. If it has white specks floating in it, it did not
cook long enough! Ghee is semi-solid when cooled and will harden with