In the body, the five elements (air, ether, fire, water and earth) become biological elements and are grouped into three energies, known as doshas. Our body is made up of all three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) but we are not all the same. This is because the doshas are rarely present in equal proportions; we are born with our own unique ratio of the doshas. As it is rare for us to have equal amounts of all three doshas, one or two will dominate. The dominant one becomes known as your own dosha and is there to remind you which element is naturally high in your body. If you have more pitta in your body, for example, the dosha made up of fire and a little water, you might avoid spending too much time in the sun, or eating hot, spicy meals. Most of us have two dominant doshas, for example you could be vata/kapha or pitta/kapha (the most dominant dosha goes first). You can also have all three doshas balanced and be tri-doshic, but it is rare.
Health is achieved by keeping our doshas balanced. When our doshas are balanced, whether you are naturally vata, pitta or kapha, we are the best version of ourselves. When our dominant dosha increases, we become extreme versions of ourselves or imbalanced. For example, a vata person who is active can become restless, distracted and over active. A kapha person who is slow and measured might become lazy, inactive and depressed. A pitta person who is critical and organised might become controlling and dominating.
Read on to establish your dosha type and then try some fabulous recipes. >>>
What Dosha Are You?
• VATA qualities are of air and ether – light, dry, rough, clear, active and cold. If you are a natural vata you are likely to have similar qualities – a light build, little body fat, light sleep, dry, rough skin and hair, be very active and see things quite clearly.
• PITTA qualities are those of fire with a little water – hot, slightly viscous, sharp, burning, penetrating and acidic. A person who is a pitta body type will have a hot temperament, sharp and penetrating mind and speech and a strong digestive system.
• KAPHA qualities are those of earth and water – heavy, stable, cold, smooth, slow, soft, oily and moist. People with a kapha body type have smooth soft skin and healthy, thick hair and are normally heavier in build, they are stable characters who dislike too much activity or change.
Serves 1 This rice and lentil porridge is the ultimate Ayurvedic dish. It is simple, nourishing, well-balanced and well cooked so it is easy on the digestive system. It is great for all doshas although you can tailor it to your own dosha (see below).
35g basmati rice, washed well; 25g yellow mung lentils, washed well; 1/8 tsp ground turmeric; 400ml water; Basic tarka (flavoured oil): 1 tsp ghee; pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp cumin seeds; salt, to taste
1 Place all the ingredients for the porridge in a saucepan, gently bring to the boil, then simmer, partially covered until soft, around 30 minutes. Remove any scum that forms on the surface. You may need to add extra water if the pan looks too dry. 2 Heat the ghee in a small saucepan, add the asafoetida, let it sizzle for at least five seconds. Add the cumin and cook until it is dark and is aromatic, around 20 seconds. Pour into the porridge and season to taste.
• VATA Add vegetables such as avocados, peppers or green beans. Follow the tarka as for kapha but use 2 tsp of ghee.
• PITTA Add the same vegetables as kapha. Keep the basic tarka simple, although you can use 1-2tsp of ghee.
• KAPHA Add some vegetables such as cauliflower florets and a small handful of peas after 25 mins of cooking the porridge.
For the tarka, add 1 tbsp chopped onion into the oil once the cumin seeds have become aromatic. When the onion is soft, add ½ tsp each finely chopped ginger and garlic, cook gently for one minute. Stir into the porridge, season with salt and pepper and a pinch of garam masala.
Risotto with Pumpkin Seed, Mint and Broad Bean Pesto
Serves 2 With this risotto everything cooks slowly in one pot, rendering it easier to digest. This is great for pitta and vata (vata can add grated cheese at the end); kapha should stick to small portions and leave out the pesto.
Pesto: 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds; 25g broad beans (blanched and shelled if necessary); 2 tsp olive oil (vata can add an extra 2 tsp oil); 1 tsp water; 3g fresh mint leaves
Risotto: 800-900ml vegetable stock; 1 tsp vegetable oil; 1 rounded tbsp butter or ghee (kapha use ¾ tbsp); 2 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped; 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped; 150-160g Arborio rice; 4 asparagus spears, trimmed, sliced diagonally; ½ small courgette, finely sliced; 50g broad beans; ¼ small radicchio, finely shredded lengthways; 1 tbsp each of chopped fresh mint, tarragon, basil and dill; ½ tsp fennel seeds, powdered (optional); salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Heat the stock in a pan; keep on a low simmer. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes. Add a ladle of stock and stir. Cook on a low heat, adding more stock once the last bit has been absorbed, stirring often. If you run out of stock, add hot water.
2 After 18 mins, add the vegetables and continue cooking until the rice is cooked, 4-5 minutes. The rice should be al dente and not stuck together.
3 Purée the pesto ingredients to make a coarse paste. Stir the herbs, fennel powder, seasoning and a spoonful of the pesto into the rice.
• VATA Add cheese and extra butter
• PITTA Great for pitta
• KAPHA Omit the pesto
Hearty Lentil and Herb Soup
One pot meals that cook slowly, allowing all the ingredients to cook together at an easy pace, are the ultimate meals in Ayurveda. This dish is easy to eat and easy to digest. You can add a little pasta to the cooking soup for a more substantial meal (kapha can add buckwheat pasta) or serve with a roll of wholegrain (spelt or rye) bread.
2-3tbsp olive oil (kapha 2 tbsp, pitta 2 ½ tbsp, vata 3tbsp); 2 sprigs each of fresh rosemary and thyme; 1 medium onion, finely chopped; 1 carrot, peeled and chopped; 1 celery stick, chopped; ½ leek, sliced; 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed; 1 dried red chilli (kapha only); 650ml vegetable stock; 200g puy lentils, washed; salt and freshly ground black pepper; small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped; a squeeze of lemon (optional)
1 Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the rosemary, thyme, onion, carrot, celery and leek and sweat for 6-7 minutes, covered over a low heat or until the onions are soft.
2 Add the garlic, dried chilli (if using), stock and lentils, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently until the lentils are cooked, around 25 minutes. Pour about one third of the soup into a blender, purée to a paste, then stir back into the saucepan along with seasoning, parsley and lemon juice (if using) to taste. Add extra warm water from the kettle if you would prefer a thinner consistency, then serve.
• VATA Garnish with grated cheese
• PITTA Great for pitta
• KAPHA great for kapha; can add diced chilli and buckwheat pasta
More inspiration in Anjum’s Eat Right For Your Body Type: the super healthy diet inspired by Ayurveda (published by Quadrille £14.99)