What is Yogic Cooking?
This is the first in a three-part series on The Herb Trinity, which comprises three potent roots: onions, garlic, and ginger. The trinity herbs serve as essentials to the modern yogi’s diet, and are actually “survival” foods for the stressful and polluted world we live in. This month, the topic is… onions,
Something Worth Crying Over!
You have heard the expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away…” Here is a new one to remember: “An onion a day keeps disease away!” Onions’ job is to keep the blood pure, improve digestion, and promote liver detoxification. Here are some “yogic remedies”* that employ onion.
DIARRHEA/VOMITING: For diarrhea, take 8-10 oz. of mint tea and add 1 oz. fresh onion juice. If pulse is fast or fever is present, chamomile tea may be used instead of mint tea. Drink every hour. This is also good in case of vomiting. With vomiting, however, take the tea-juice combo in sips. Wait a few minutes between sips. This was the only thing that helped my infant daughter many years ago when she had a serious bout of vomiting for several days.
DYSENTERY: As above, take mint tea with onion juice. Add up to 2-4 oz. of onion juice to 8 oz. mint tea. Drink every hour. The onion works to counter the bacteria.
TO AVOID DYSENTERY IN THE FIRST PLACE: if you are planning travel to a foreign country, prepare yourself! Every part of the world has different bacteria and you will not be accustomed to it. Onion helps in the digestion of food and balancing bacteria. Its presence creates a terrain in the digestive tract that is just not very attractive to those digestive bugs. So, everyday, for two weeks before you travel, eat the equivalent of at least one RAW onion. This is especially important if you will be visiting a third/second world country such as India, Mexico, Africa, etc. I have followed this regime every time I have traveled to India, and have never gotten dysentery (“Delhi Belly”). An easy way to get an onion in each day is to chop/slice up a whole onion in the morning (a nice-sized 8-oz. onion) and then add it to food throughout the day (on salad, in salsa or guacamole, in sandwiches, on baked potato, rice dishes, tostadas…). Just remember, it must be raw!
ANTI-CANCER: Onion, especially raw onion, works to build and purify the blood, warding off maladies of the blood. Onion also works on liver detoxification. Make it a habit to include onion in your diet, in some form, every day: raw in salads (see above for suggestions), baked in a casserole (see recipe below), cooked in other foods… but remember, raw or the fresh juice is always best.
EAR ACHES: Take a teaspoon of fresh onion juice and warm it over the stove (just enough to get it warm, not hot) for a few moments. Soak the warm onion juice up with a cotton ball. Gently squeeze several drops of juice into the affected ear(s) and plug with the cotton. Repeat every few hours. This helps to relieve pressure on the ear drum and works to counter infection-causing bacteria. In conjunction with this, you can also use Mullein oil (available in natural food stores). This is pure olive oil combined with the essential oil of mullein (a healing herb). It softens the skin in the ear, releasing pressure, and relieving pain. My family’s pediatrician, Dr. Paul Fleiss, once recommended putting a few drops of mullein oil in the ear, every hour, or as often as needed.
You don’t need a vegetable juicer to make onion juice. Coarsely chop an onion and then put it in your blender jar or food processor bowl. Blend or process, in pulses, until pureed. Pour the puree into a strainer, straining the liquid into a cup or bowl. Press down with a spoon to squeeze out the juice. Store unused juice in glass jar in refrigerator, but make fresh daily.
Onion-Green Chile Bake:
Back in the 70’s, when I was Yogi Bhajan’s personal cook, he one day informed me that there would be guests for dinner. I had to scramble to pull a meal together. We were a little short on veggies that day, but had lots of onions! Thus, with his inspiration, this simple dish was created.
2 lbs. onions (4-5 good sized ones)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
6-8 long green chilies, in 1/4″ dice (use raw, or fresh roasted and peeled)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
8 oz. queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese), crumbled
sprinkling of crushed oregano
salt to taste
Place onion slices in lightly-oiled 2-quart baking/casserole dish, arranging in loose layers. Top with tomato slices and sprinkle evenly with chilies and garlic. Add crumbled queso fresco and top with a little sprinkling of crushed dried oregano (or the fresh herb). Cover with aluminum foil or casserole lid. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Then remove lid and place under broiler for a minute or two until cheese is lightly browned.
ALTERNATE TOPPINGS: Go for a different flavor by omitting the long green chilies and oregano. Try adding any combination of the following instead: sliced jalapeno chilies, chopped olives, sauteed mushrooms, grilled eggplant, grated ginger root, avocado slices, lightly steamed/blanched vegetables, fresh minced parsley or cilantro.
Skip the cheese or use non-dairy substitute. Add any toppings you like and end with a nice layer of sliced tomatoes. For a sort of Moussaka, top with 1/4″ thick slices of grilled eggplant (one #18 eggplant should do the trick). Blend 12 oz. of firm Mori-Nu tofi with 2-3 tsp. lemon juice, 2 tsp. arrowroot powder, and a little tamari soy sauce. Pour this over the top. Bake at 375 until onions are tender. (If top starts to brown early, cover with foil). Garnish with finely chopped parsley.
2 ripe, firm tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are great as they aren’t so juicy. Chop in 1/4 to 1/2″ dice
1 red or yellow onion (about 6-8 oz.) in 1/4″ dice
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 serrano chilies, finely chopped (remove seeds if you prefer milder salsa)
1-2 pinches dried crushed oregano (or 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano)
1/2 avocado (optional), in 1/4 – 1/2″ dice
salt to taste
Combine all together. Serve over Mungbeans and Rice, baked potato, or with corn chips.
*If you have a health concern, please consult your health care practitioner. The above recipes and recommendations are based on yogic healing traditions.
The Ancient Art of Self-Healing, by Yogi Bhajan. West Anandpur Publishers, Eugene, OR, 1982.
The Ancient Art of Self-Nutrition, by Yogi Bhajan. West Anandpur Publishers, Eugene, OR, 1980.
From Vegetables With Love, by Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa, Arcline Publications, 1989.
I believe both of Yogi Bhajan’s books are out of print, possibly available through Ancient Healing Ways, in New Mexico. My book is available through