Luke Coutinho

Fostering Health, the Luke Coutinho Way

Deep cellular nutrition, adequate exercise, Quality sleep and Emotional detox - Tapping into these four pillars can help us create the right external and internal environment and enable the intelligence of your body to kick in, and contribute to prevention, recovery, and healing – Luke Coutinho

I am neither a God nor a Guru. I am not a healer or a doctor or a cult leader - The advocate of clean living and author of several books on health and lifestyle, Luke Coutinho announces on his website. The practitioner in the field of Integrative Lifestyle Medicine and Life Coaching has been working towards creating an ecosystem that fosters healthy lifestyle; Luke Coutinho has been curating various health and disease management programs.

His most recent book ‘Back to the Roots’ with Tamannaah Bhatia is about aligning oneself with the way our ancestors lived, which is in alignment with nature including the way we eat, live, think – and every aspect of living.

Luke Coutinho grew up in different countries worldwide due to his father’s work before finally settling in Goa. “We always had a culture of fitness, and health where we are encouraged to play outdoors, be amidst nature and eat healthy food. We were six siblings, and it was always fun. We fought a lot, but there was so much fun in that. We rarely ate out.”

He adds, “As for my studies, I pursued science, arts and then hotel management, and that is where I got introduced to food and nutrition, which became my favourite subject.”

Luke CoutinhoLuke first began by consulting patients on meaningful holistic and lifestyle changes. And, through this journey he saw that there was a need for good quality food, and wellness products that are safe and economical.

You Care Lifestyle, the online market place for clean living was born out of this need. "We couldn't find an honest platform as our line of work needs it, so we created one. Food can only work as medicine if it's pure and honest. To develop products that assure purity and honesty, we got in touch with farmers and genuine dealers, carefully reviewed the information on their products, and did our research.” It has everything from fresh food, to groceries, branded wellness products to fitness essentials. What started with a few brands has now grown to include 400 plus vendors with similar values and vision.

“Having worked with thousands of patients, I have learned that time and awareness are two things that can help anyone change their lifestyle,” Luke states.

Excerpts from an interview with Luke Coutinho:

Luke CoutinhoWhen did you decide you wanted to practice and work in the wellness industry?

My journey began when I saw a gap in people's lifestyles in the corporate world where their lifestyles were getting bad to worse, despite them achieving so much success in their careers, fatter salaries, comfort, travel, etc. The higher the positions like VPs and CEOs, the faster their health deteriorates. It was also puzzling because it's not that there was a shortage of good nutritionists, dieticians, gyms, coaches, supplements, and foods. So why were people getting more and more sick? The answer to this was - lifestyle. I moved ahead and entered the field of Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine to fill that gap.

I also observed how people adopted allopathy (which is absolutely fine) without addressing the root cause behind experiencing symptoms like acidity, headache, constipation etc., and overlooking the side effects of medicine since every drug has it. It can be balanced, negated or at least made less harmful for the body with the proper nutrition.


Food is often blamed for what is caused due to bad lifestyle, overeating, and using substandard and cheap quality oils and ingredients - Luke Coutinho

I slowly started to observe that this was a common gap across all age groups, from kids to senior citizens.

Around 8-years ago, my focus was on immunity, which was long ago, even before the pandemic, because most people feel sick because of weak immune systems. Immunity and lifestyle practices that enhance or compromise it has been the foundation of our work and will continue to be that way.

You have always advocated traditional eating practices – What do you have to say about Indian eating habits – traditional vis a vis new age?

There is immense wisdom in Indian eating habits, from eating food with hands, having a balanced diet, sitting crossed-legged on the floor, to chewing mukhwas post meals. Traditions inspire my practice because I am amazed by the health of our ancestors and grandparents. Some diseases were unheard of back then. They were indeed doing something right. Now we have comfort and technology, which is excellent, but it has also slowly started ruling and dictating us and suppressing our rational minds. We gradually forgot our tradition's ancient wisdom and began to look for evidence-based science and medicine. While this may be required, it's also blinding people to use common sense. You will find my philosophy reflected in my curated products as well...a mix of traditional and new-age ingredients and techniques providing a complete product for you.

Even though wellness as a concept has gained importance. There is a whole lot of noise and clutter. How does one look through the chaos?

The main reason we came up with the idea was to create a platform that would define wellness. There is a lot of hype and fads surrounding health, and people seem more scared than informed. With this in mind, we developed a platform that helps them make informed decisions without worrying about hidden chemicals, preservatives, or harmful chemicals. We have a team that thoroughly inspects these products before they are released to the public. We do this so that a customer doesn't have to worry about quality which is often hidden behind layers of deceptive marketing, and can trust us for the entire product line. Do you know why? Because we do the same thing for our clients and my family and friends.

What is the most commonly misunderstood aspect as far as Indian Cuisine is concerned?

That it's oily and unhealthy and lacks all the nutrients. Food is often blamed for what is caused due to bad lifestyle, overeating, and using substandard and cheap quality oils and ingredients. Food cooked with synergy between two ingredients and within the framework of nature is healing in every way. There is great power in our Indian Cuisine because it is built on many studies and is backed by our roots.

What is your eating routine?

I follow the Circadian Rhythm way of eating because it works for me. There are days when I fast and days when I do not. I listen to my body and honour its dynamic needs. However, I always try to finish my last meal close to sunset.

How does the concept of 'lifestyle medicine' help in gaining mental health, which is one of the most neglected areas of routine healthcare services?

What is mental health for you? And why do we separate it from physical health! Health per se, as a definition, means physical and mental wellbeing. So, you are not healthy until you have a balance of both. I believe for a quality lifestyle; you need to ace these four pillars – Deep cellular nutrition, Adequate exercise, Quality sleep and Emotional detox. Tapping into these four pillars can help us create the right external and internal environment and enable the intelligence of your body to kick in and contribute to prevention, recovery, and healing.

The foundation of the You Care lifestyle is built on these four pillars based on the same philosophy.

You almost always have a co-author for your books – how did you choose them?

My co-authors have always been people, who I have worked with on specific changes they wanted to bring around their health and life. My books are always based on real-life examples, and every co-author of mine is inspiring and setting examples for the world in their own powerful ways. That is how we connect and discuss how their message can be put in a book and shared with the world.

Where is India faltering that it's so low on protein index

It's a big myth that Indian Cuisine is low on protein. Our ancestors ate clean and simple and yet never felt short of protein. Even wrestlers and pehelwans, who would do kushti in akhadas never felt the need to procure protein supplements or chase western diets despite spending so much physical energy. They would eat hardcore Indian and traditional diet. So what has changed? Yes, protein is a vital component, and animal protein is class A protein, but vegetarian protein can be sufficient for an average healthy individual if planned well. It isn't just about adding protein but also making sure it's bioavailable, broken down well with the right amount of stomach acids, and assimilated. With this whole chase behind protein, we are missing out on more important aspects like digestion, assimilation and bioavailability. A simple dal-rice combination gives us a complete protein. Khichdi is another protein-rich food option; pulses, legumes, beans, dairy and dairy products (if they suit you), nuts, seeds and sattu.

What is that one ingredient you would advocate people must indeed include in their daily diet?

Apple Cider Vinegar: People usually think it's good for weight loss, but its benefits are beyond weight loss. We typically recommend our clients for reducing stomach acids, thereby aiding overall digestion. And finally, your gut is everything; it is the epicentre of your health. Besides that, it also works as a great prebiotic, which serves as a fuel for probiotics.




The Elimination Pancake: Aragvadha

Āragvadha (Cassia fistula), is a very popular plant growing both in the wilderness and chosen for gardens in India, due to its natural beauty but also with its importance for treatments. Commonly known as amalataas, it is one of the most beautiful of all tropical trees. Medical texts such as the Charaka Samhita from the 2nd century BCE include two separate chapters on āragvadha, one in the general concepts of Sutrasthana and one in the preparation section called Kalpasthana. Charaka mentions āragvadha as one of the useful and popular drugs for external application on the human body for specific disease conditions of fever, heart disorders, pain, skin diseases, and or lower abdominal pain, with preparations detailed in Charaka Kalpasthana chapter 8.

AragvadhaFor various treatment purposes, different parts of the plant are harvested and made in specific ways into medicinal formulations. The green leaves, the dried leaves, the bark of the plant, the pulp of the long pod-like fruits are used. The fruits are dark-brown cylindrical pods, up to two feet long, which contain the flattish brown seeds, up to 100 in one pod. The bright yellow flowers, which are the state flowers of Kerala, also have the same quality but are excellent for cleaning the blood, known as raktasodhana. Its actions as an ayurvedic drug are due to its guru (heavy-to-digest), madhura (sweet), and sheeta (cooling) properties.

आरग्वधो गुरुः स्वादुः शीतलः स्रंसनोत्तमः |

ज्वरहृद्रोगपित्तास्रवातोदावर्तशूलनुत् ||१३२||

तत्फलं स्रंसनं रुच्यं कुष्ठपित्तकफापहम् |

ज्वरे तु सततं पथ्यं कोष्ठशुद्धिकरं परम् ||१३३||

Source: Charaka Samhita, sthana, chapter,  sloka 132-133

Transliteration -

āragvadhō guruḥ svāduḥ śītalaḥ sraṁsanōttamaḥ |

jvarahr̥drōgapittāsravātōdāvartaśūlanut ||132||

tatphalaṁ sraṁsanaṁ rucyaṁ kuṣṭhapittakaphāpaham |

jvarē tu satataṁ pathyaṁ kōṣṭhaśuddhikaraṁ param ||133||

Translation - Āragvadha having guru guna, svadu (mild sweet), sitala (cooling) properties, is most well-known for its effectiveness as a purgative. Its also cures jwara, cardiac disorders, pittaja roga, udavarta (flatulence), and relieves sula (pain). The fruit pulp is used for virechana (therapeutic purgation), ruchikara, cures skin disorders, and kaphaja roga.

AragvadhaIn addition to all these uses however, the most famous use of āragvadha is for a specific type of constipation called sramsana, for which it is the prototype drug. It refers to undigested food stuck to the sides of the colon due to dry sticky nature, preventing the colon from pushing the contents forward, thus resulting in constipation. This is common today with people who restrict fats and oils in their meals to the point where everything is dry.

When families could not find a physician to give them the medicinal process of purgation, they would use an over-the-counter dilute equivalent of the medicinal formulation by making a food that would relieve chronic constipation, known as āragvadha dosa or pancake.

The Āragvadha Pancake


fresh āragvadha flower - 100gm

wheat flour - 150gm

black pepper - 2gm, about half teaspoon

saindava lavana - 4gm, just less than a teaspoon

clean water - as needed

til tel (sesame oil) - as needed


From a friendly āragvadha tree, take permission to collect 20-25 fresh flowers. Carefully remove any green parts and any dust or particles from the flowers. Cut the flowers into very small pieces.

Place 150 grams of finely-milled wheat flour into an earthen pot. Add 100 grams of flowers, then black pepper and saindhava lavana and mix the dry ingredients fully and thoroughly. Then add sufficient water to make it semi-liquid like thick pancake batter or dosa batter. Set aside.

Heat a frying pan and add enough sesame oil to coat the bottom. When the oil becomes frothless, it is ready to act medicinally to remove ama dosa. One by one, make small cakes from the semi solid paste of batter and place it in the oil. Let both sides fry properly. Serve immediately while it is mildly hot.

Eating this pancake should result in a comfortable large bowel movement the next morning.


Choosing Between Takra and Dahi

Thousands of years ago, ancient India knew the value of prebiotics and probiotics and promoted takra (buttermilk) instead of dahi (yogurt/curd)

Good digestion is one of the most valued assets one can own. A healthy gut is the key to a good life, a strong body-mind, and a long productive happy existence. Our ancient ancestors understood the value of probiotics for the happy gut and thus prioritized yogurt-based foods for a healthy and strong gut. While today the modern world has skyscrapers, AI technology, and advanced medical research, it has steadily decayed the health of people, forgetting about the value of life as it marched upward towards wealth and development. Modern healthcare ignores pragmatic data and ethical values of healing, and instead promotes a society dependent on medicines that cure with side effects with few medicines that fully heal.


Thousands of years ago, ancient India knew the value of prebiotics and probiotics and promoted takra (buttermilk) instead of dahi (yogurt/curd). According to traditional Ayurveda, we can consume cow-based curd, but there are many cautions, do's and don'ts to using curd as medicine. This is because curd has properties that make it disadvantageous for certain people. Curd is heavy to digest; it produces excessive thick phlegm, increases acidity, puts on weight; and it is associated with premature greying of hair, accelerating eye disorders and skin disorders. It accelerates purulent (pus-filled) secretions in wounds.

Ayurveda tells us this is logical because curd is filled with bacteria that produce heat and mucous as they actively multiply, turning milk into yogurt/curd. Some people do well on curd daily because their constitution (known as prakruti) is strong and they have good digestive power. They can use the proteins and convert them into needed molecular signals and physiologic actions. Most humans can benefit from curd despite the different human physiological patterns, especially for those who move and exercise actively on a daily basis and have daily strong healthy bowel movements.

ButtermilkButtermilk on the other hand can be consumed by everyone in every season. According to the classic Ayurveda text Astangahrdayam, dated to about 400BCE, buttermilk has excellent properties that render it an ideal part of the daily diet. It is lighter than yogurt and has 5 tastes out of 6 classicially mentioned. Known as takra in Sanskṛt, buttermilk decreases excessive thurst, excessive fat, excessive sweat, ceases the diarrhea, and acts as an anti-poisonous remedy. It is also useful for hemorrhoids, skin disorders, spleen disorders, worm infestations, jaundice, ascitis and provides energy and strengthens the heart. It reduces obesity. Takra is often compared to a divine drink that helps regenerate strength and suppleness of the body.

Takra is made by taking curd and diluting it with 5-6x clean water, stirring constantly with a stick or spoon, then adding digestive spice combinations including roasted cumin, coriander, hing, cilantro, black salt, black pepper, and fennel. This process converts the curd to a physically lighter, easier-to-digest version, that preserves the functional properties of curd but enhancing the ability for the gut to fully digest it. Dosage matters.

Ayurveda explains this great difference in property using the metaphor of raw paddy or a grain such as corn or wheat. Grains are the same grains functionally whether boiled or baked or flaked according to chemists and commerce, but the product made from different processes has very different properties inside the body. They are lighter to digest than raw corn/paddy/wheat. We know we cannot consume grains raw for very long as they aggravate our digestive system over time due to an inability to digest them. The chronic indigestion leads to specific malfunctions. Similarly, the clean boiled water and digestive spices used in making takra render it more digestible.

Instead of consuming curd on days your digestion is not high and strong, you can try takra, with its rich but diluted probiotics, same as curd/yogurt loved by the modern world but avoiding the unwanted effects of dense modern curd practices that can clog channels in the gut.








ayurvedic diet

The Twelve Ancient Medicinal Diets

These days we encounter a new fad diet that becomes a craze for a few weeks or months, featured in health blogs and magazine covers with celebrities raving its positive benefits, and soon after the same blogs cover the detrimental ramifications that have been discovered as the trend dies down.

The master teacher acharya Sushruta was a talented surgeon who authored the classic ayurvedic compendium Sushrutha Samhita somewhere around 6000 BCE, according to accurate astronomy calendar-based calculations. In his discussions about factors that affect disease in a patient, he instructed guidelines for the correct path of living and lifestyle, known as pathya.

In these instructions, he detailed the themes of 12 basic types of diet, recommended for specific conditions and highlighting the concept of ‘purusham purusham vikshya’ – the individualistic approach to diet. These dozen diet types were used as prototypes for individualized meal planning combined with lifestyle and emphasized altering the external and internal environment around, which diseases fluorished. These diet themes mostly occur in pairs of complementary extremes of effect based on heat production inside the body, moisture-imparting foods, fluid-filled foods, number of meals a day, medicinal food-rich diets, or dosha-pacifying diets.

अत ऊर्ध्वं द्वादशाशनप्रविचारान् वक्ष्यामः |

तत्र शीतोष्णस्निग्धरूक्षद्रवशुष्कैककालिकद्विकालिकौषधयुक्तमात्राहीनदोषप्रशमनवृत्त्यर्थाः ||५६||

Source: Sushruta Samhita, UttaraTantra, chapter 64, sloka 56

Transliteration - ata ūrdhvaṃ dvādaśāśanapravicārān vakṣyāmaḥ |

tatra śītoṣṇa snigdharūkṣa dravaśuṣka ikakālikadvikālika uṣadhayuktamātrāhīna doṣapraśamana vṛttyarthāḥ ||56||

Translation - Hereafter is told the twelve factors to be considered in relation to food. These are cooling-heating, unctuous-dry, liquid-drying, once a day-twice a day, mixed with drug, deficient in quantity, those pacifying dosha, and maintenance of body.

Diets based on the Production of Heat inside the Body - sheetashana (cooling diet) & ushnashana (heating diet)


Cooling-focus diets focus on foods with sheeta-virya, those which induce cooling in the body as well as those foods that do not require processing through cooking. These include foods such as fennel, coriander, rock sugar, coconut water, many fruits, and many but not all sweet, bitter, and astringent foods. Sheetashana diets are indicated for people with conditions that afflict with thirst, create heat in the body, intoxication, poisonings, burning sensation, bleeding disorders, fainting & wasting conditions. The diet is notably focused on cooling pitta.


The opposite end of the sheetashana diet is the usnashana diet, which focuses on inducing heat in the body. Heating diets are suggested for kapha & vata type conditions in which the overcooling nature creates excess mucous or contracts the tissues. It is also used during panchakarma therapeutic procedures such as virechana, purgation therapy and in snehapana, oleation therapy because both require the body to be supple, flowing, relaxed, open and uncontracted at the tissue level. Heating foods include hing, ajwain, turmeric, cumin, dill, garlic, most fresh meats, pineapples, mango, papaya, most seeds especially chia and bean sprouts.

Diets based on the Moisture Promotion in the Body - snigdhashana (oily diet) & rookshashana (roughage diet)

dietThe focus on moisture in the body is important when people are either unknowingly depleted or over-moist. Dryness in the body occurs in vata-dominant individuals as well as people exhausted from too much exercise or sex, or those with chronic lack of healthy oils in their diet. Symptoms include dry lips, dry elbows and knees, and a feeling of tightness in the body. It occurs also when people chronically take hot baths or showers that deplete their skin oils without oiling up first, known as abhyanga. For them a balanced oily diet is recommended including ghee, sesame oil, mustard oil, coconut oil, or a locally-grown oil right for the season and the individual. Vegetables with oily nature are also useful such as olives, soybeans, corn, avocado, many nuts such as cashew, walnut, peanut and coconut. It must be delivered with foods that will carry the oils into the bloodstream and into the tissues. Simply eating oily foods does not relieve chronic dryness in the tissues of the body.

The rookshashana diet is required for people who have excess moisture trapped in the body. Chronic itching is a clear symptom of excess kapha holding unneeded moisture stuck in the tissues. Phlegm and excess secretions trouble the body. A diet with drying foods such as astringent, bitter, and pungent vegetables, spices such as turmeric, and lettuce helps to pull out the moisture and relieve the excess kapha. This is recommended in some cases of obesity and diabetes, and after oleation/snehapana courses of therapy.

People indulging in the keto high fat diet must first assess whether they have excess dryness or excess moisture. If they have excess moisture trapped in pockets that cannot get out, a rooksha diet may not help; if they have excess dryness already throughout their body due to chronic deprivation of healthy fat that has left them with pockets of fat enveloped by dryness, then the keto diet will only work if a strong exercise and repair routine is integrated with the keto diet. Vyayama, therapeutic exercise is the key to success of rookshashana diets. The inseparable relation between fat and exercise can be appreciated in high fat diets like the keto, which doesn’t work without exercise, as fats burn much quicker than carbs during exercise.

Diets based on the Fluid Quality in the Food - dravashana (liquid diet) & sushkashana (solid diet)

Rice Gruel
Rice gruel

Sometimes a high natural-liquid diet is recommended, as it contributes naturally energized fluids into the body. Fluid is not well understood in modern nutrition, but Susruta observed that people suffering from severe weight loss, thirst and weakness were often helped with watery food diets and found to have easier digestion. The best ways to achieve this are eating high water-containing foods such as gourds, melons, and celery, cucumber, spinaches, lotus/watercress, and non-astringent fruits such as grapes, strawberries and peaches. One of the best diets is watery rice gruel, known as peya. Locally grown produce that drank the same water growing as you drink are better for your health.

Susruta understood that proper hydration but not overhydration ensures that all bodily systems run smoothly. He understood water that is not good for the body vs. water that had come from nature and was integrated easily into the body's functions.

More solid-filled diets are recommended for people who have chronic problems with retention of fluids especially when it is collecting in their legs, those who are injured and have a tender water balance as they heal their wounds, and those with diabetes who are losing their muscle mass and have altered blood-organ relationships due to their inability to keep cellular sugar balance.

For a healthy individual, Sushruta suggested eating based on stomach capacity, in which the volume was to be split into four parts based on fullness. A person should consume two parts solid food, one part liquid food, and one part was left free for effortless flow of apana vata, or air that processed things downward.

Diets based on the Quantity of Meals - eka-kāla-shana (single meal diet) & dvi-kala-shana (two meal diet)

In order to digest food, we need enough digestive fire. In molecular terms, these are the enzymes in the gut. Those suffering from weak digestion but otherwise healthy are recommended to have a single large meal as their diet until their digestive fire improves, which is usually 3-4 days. Chronic lack of appetite signals other problems. If a person has good digestion, two meals a day is the healthy norm.

If you are used to three meals a day - breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is important to remember that for many old cultures, the concept of three meals a day is very abnormal concept. Since ancient times, brunch and supper were the main meals, conducted during the daylight hours. This was easier for the chef, prevented wastage of food from overnight spoilage, and was economical for both time and resources.

But the main reason was that when the fire is high in the sky, the fire is high in the belly. Both pitta and the gut's digestive fire (agni) naturally have more power between 10:30 and 2:30pm. The fire dominates the body and should be used for the energy it takes to eat and digest. The modern diet style of intermittent fasting has unwittingly adopted this same ancient concept.

People restricted to one meal a day - ekakala bhojanam (eka-1, kāla-time, bhojana-meal) showed another effect. They would not only feel easier digestion and assimilation, with better sleep, better bowel movements, and better strength, but they also appreciated their food more and ekakala bhojanam brought out happiness.

Today, gluttony is encouraged by businessmen who make money when you eat. People engaged in regular adhyashana (adhya-half, ashana-meal), eating when the previous meal is half-digested, do not allow one meal to be completed by the machinery in the body before they engage in the next indulgence. In addition, atiyashana (ati-excess, ashana-meal), food in excess quantity, does not allow the space needed for the gut to decide whether it needs the food. It pushes food along to cope with the extra work and does not use the intelligence of the gut's digestive system with its various nuances available in a normal human body. Over time, this accumulates to decrease one’s agni. Ancient ayurvedic physicians clearly advised that low digestive capacity is the origin of most all diseases.

Diets based on mixing medicines quietly into the food - aushadhayuktashana (medicine mixed diet) & in reducing the quantity for medicinal reasons - matrahinashana (decreased quantity diet)

Aversion towards medication was a problem even in Sushrutha’s times. Disguising medication inside the food was sometimes required. Techniques were used that allowed the meal to be made more palatable. It prevented the stigma of having to take medicine. Sweets, flavorful preparations, and indulgent foods were used to mask the presence of a needed medicine.

If patients suffered from a particular disease that decreased the digestive fire, or if the patient had weaker digestion, decreasing the normal amount of food in a meal was recommended to ensure there was enough fire to fully digest the food. Leaving food in the belly undigested was a recipe for worsening of disease.

Diets focused on the pacification of specific doshas - doshaprashamanashana (dosha pacifying diet)

The tridosha vata, pitta and kapha are influenced by changes of each season. As a general dietary rule, one should change one's foods gradually as a new season enters and consume fresh produce harvested in that particular season, whether fruit, vegetable or meat.

The main aim of a dosha-specific diet is to curb the manifestation of a disease by lowering the imbalance of a particular dosha through specific foods. Examples include eating cooling foods to curb aggravated pitta, or moist oily foods to pacify the dry-roughness of chronic vata. For pacifying vata, adding healthy oils are considered best; for pacifying pitta, adding ghee daily to the diet is useful; for pacifying kapha, pure natural honey with its astringence reduces imbalanced phlegm and moisture.

Diets composed for a Healthy Person, to optimize what is needed to maintain perfect health - vritharthashana (Diet for Maintaining Optimum Health)

To support the optimal diet for a healthy person, Sushrutha stated, matravat ahara, emphasizing precise quantities of food as per individual body type and personality. Conscious intake of all 6 tastes, shadrasa ahara, in each meal was encouraged to ensure the taste buds invoked all needed digestive fires, which would in turn increase one’s own immunity. He warned that persons enjoying only a single taste weaken their body defenses, and also don’t get a holistic exposure of food.

Selection of foods for a diet is not so simple. Guidelines based on one's current health can be used however, to construct a meal plan that orients toward a medicinal input several times each day, altering the inner environment through food. Modern nutrition uses a hit-or-miss approach with no accurate guidance beyond calorie counting and theoretical molecular content. Ayurveda watched millions of people and the effects of specific meal plans before composing these 12 diet themes that help people understand their constitution and their needs. Susruta carefully considered, which elements were needed or in excess and which deserved importance when composing these 12 specific diets for specific kinds of patients.














Nectar of Dadhi

dahiCommonly found in every corner of India, dahi - or “doi” in Bengali, dadhi in Sanskrit, yogurt in America and curd in Europe -- is revered for its many qualities as a food, a food ingredient, and as a medicine, with its real ability to treat a variety of diseases through its many variations of preparation.

Ayurveda begins the conversation about dadhi as part of the pentad of milk products that each have strong medicinal uses. Milk (dugdha in Sanskrt) is made into curd (dahi). Curd is churned into buttermilk (takra) and butter (navanita). The butter is heated into ghee (ghrtam).

Ayurveda also mentions the medicinal panchamrita, of which dadhi is also a member. These five food items when mixed together become a medicinal nectar. They are dadhi (curd), dugdha (milk), ghreeta (ghee), madhu (honey), sarkara (sugar). For sanctified purposes and puja, dadhi is an essential element and has a multitude of uses during every Pooja and in line with the nature-centric worldview of Hindu customs.


दध्युष्णं दीपनं स्निग्धं कषायानुरसं गुरु |

पाकेऽम्लं श्वासपित्तास्रशोथमेदःकफप्रदम् ||१||

मूत्रकृच्छ्रे प्रतिश्याये शीतगे विषमज्वरे |

अतीसारेऽरुचौ कार्श्ये शस्यते बलशुक्रकृत् ||२||

Transliteration - dadhiguṇa

dadhyuṣṇaṁ dīpanaṁ snigdhaṁ kaṣāyānurasaṁ guru |

pākē'mlaṁ śvāsapittāsraśōthamēdaḥkaphapradam ||1||

mūtrakr̥cchrē pratiśyāyē śītagē viṣamajvarē |

atīsārē'rucau kārśyē śasyatē balaśukrakr̥t ||2||

Source: Bhāva Prakāśa, Pūrvakhaṇḍa, Miśraprakaraṇa, chapter 15, dadhivarga, sloka 1 -2

Translation - Dadhi has usna guna , dipana (increases appetite), snigdha, kashaya anurasa (partly astringent), guru(heaviness); it increases problems in the respiratory system, pittaja roga, shotha rogas (swelling), medo roga, and increases kapha too.

Dadhi is very beneficial in mutrakriccha (urinary infections), pratisyaya (rhinitis), sheeta (feeling very cold), visamajwara (chronic undulating fever), atisara (diarrhea), aruchi (lack of appetite and decreased sense of taste), karsya (emaciation), decreased bala(strength) and poor sukra(sperm quality/quantity) too.

dahiThroughout the many cultures of ancient Bharat, from present-day Afghanistan to Indonesia, and all the conquestors and invaders that stole from Indian wisdom, there are multiple variations on the making of dadhi. Some use earthen pots. Some use ceramic. Some use inert metals. Some use oven heat. Some use stove heat. Some use the heat of nature's hot climate. All use a form of bacteria, but some start with the cow's own Lactobacillus, and some start with green chili peppers. Most use cow's milk, but some use goat, buffalo, or sheep milk.

The process requires several essential steps. Milk is heated on low heat until it forms bubbles and is not quite boiling. It is allowed to cool naturally to 110o-120oF. About 10-15 grams of yogurt is added to a liter of this warm milk and stirred constantly until the yogurt is completely dissolved into the milk. This is carefully poured into an earthen pot or jar and placed with a thin cloth over the top, in a space warmer than 85oF, for 6-7 hours. When inspected it should be thick and formed, and not runny or semi-liquid. The container is then placed into a larger bowl of cold water to keep, or it is placed in modern day into the refrigerator.


Using other methods are part of culinary practices but they do not yield strong medicinal yogurt, which is highly probiotic and heals gut conditions due to dysbiosis. Use of yogurt starters or highly processed yogurt does not yield medicinal yogurt but is a common food practice.

Dadhi is a very common, cheap, and available food across India and also across the world. People irrespective of climate, season, age or socioeconomic status use yogurt as a staple food, or as a side dish in their daily meal. Dadhi is also a traditional way to utilize extra milk to prevent wastage or rotting.

Bhava Mishra, who belonged to the southern part of Bengal, a tropical region, was a great scholar in Ayurveda and mentioned many uses of yogurt in his compendium of medicinal foods. He cautioned that amidst it many qualities for treating diseases, it is also quite harmful for various diseases such as chronic respiratory infections, those having burning sensations indicative of acid reflux or ulcer, any type of swelling in the body, and obesity. This is due to its distinct property of clogging the channels of the body, known as abhishyendi, creating obfuscation and not allowing flow. The conditions mentioned all have phlegm or murky inflammation as part of the disease and are worsened by additional obstruction.











chewing twig

Chewing Twig Enhances Digestion

Cleansing and conditioning the healthy oral cavity with no issues was done by using chewing twig from medicinal plants and trees such as neem, yashtimadhu, aamra, and khadira

From prehistoric times, oral hygiene was given utmost priority in Bharat, using chewing sticks known to keep the mouth clean. The oral cavity, which includes the tongue, teeth and whole of the mouth including the nose-mouth airway, is crucial for chewing, sucking, swallowing, tasting and feeling temperature, texture and weight, but also for talking, singing, and kissing. It is an organ involved with both sensing and action, and is intimately involved with pleasure of an individual. But it is fragile and can be damaged easily as well.

Caring for this important structure of the body was thus explained in various medical ayurvedic and yogic texts. Ten slokas are given in the Caraka Samhita on oral hygiene (Source: C.Sū.5.71-80). Highlighting the importance of prevention, Ayurveda physicians narrate various activities that enhance the health of the mouth and render it more resistant to potential damage.

Among the daily routine, known as dinacharya, habits known as Dantadhavana (danta, tooth, dhavana, procedure of cleaning, S.), were advised for this first station of food entering the body that went beyond oral care and hygiene.

Because the mouth is the first structure of our digestive tract and communicates both with the external environment and the brain and gut, it plays the important role of messenger at the very beginning of digestion. Keeping the senses and muscles, nerves and mucus in optimal function was known to directly impact the digestive system.

To keep the mouth healthy, ancient wisemen used substances that would balance the imbalanced qualities of the mouth. If the mouth was too dry, a substance that promoted moisture was used such as sesame oil. If the mouth had excess phlegm, a substance that liquefied and rid the phlegm was used, such as licorice twig (Glycyrrhiza glabra) or Karnaja twig (Pongamia pinnata). If the mouth was hot and inflamed, a cooling substance that promotes resolve of inflammation was found such as Khadira (Acacia catechu). If the mouth was wounded, a substance that promoted healing of tissue was sought such as honey. Infections were treated with natural anti-microbials like neem and turmeric. If nerve damage occurred, sesame oil with its unique penetration of microchannels and cleansing power was used. In conditions with bad mouth odour (halotosis) twigs of Dadima (Punica granatum) were used.

आपोथिताग्रं द्वौ कालौ कषायकटुतिक्तकम्||७१||

भक्षयेद्दन्तपवनं दन्तमांसान्यबाधयन्|

निहन्ति गन्धं वैरस्यं जिह्वादन्तास्यजं मलम्||७२||

निष्कृष्य रुचिमाधत्ते सद्यो दन्तविशोधनम्|

Source: Charaka Samhita, Sutra sthana, chapter 5, sloka 71-72

Transliteration - āpōthitāgraṁ dvau kālau kaṣāyakaṭutiktakam||71|| bhakṣayēddantapavanaṁ dantamāṁsānyabādhayan|

nihanti gandhaṁ vairasyaṁ jihvādantāsyajaṁ malam||72|| niṣkr̥ ṣya rucimādhattē sadyō dantaviśōdhanam|

Translation - Converting the tip of the herbal twigs having Rasa (taste) like katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), kashaya (astringent) into a bristle form, one must brush their teeth twice daily without hurting the gums. This will surely help in pacification of the bad odour, and toxins present on the tongue and teeth. This procedure will also aid in enhancing the appetite and purify the teeth.

chewing twig

Cleansing and conditioning the healthy oral cavity with no issues was done by using chewing twigs of medicinal herbs such as neem (Azadirachta indica), yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), aamra (Mangifera indica), and khadira (Acacia catechu), though local plants known to be safe were also used.

These chewing twigs were prescribed according to the length of an individual’s finger breadth, known as angula; 12 angula was the length of stick to be procured, individualized to each person. The stick had to be symmetrical, with no lumps or diseased portions. It was also chosen for its taste depending on the season, having rasas such as katu (pungent) to resolve infections of spring, tikta (bitter) to resolve excess salivation, heaviness or phlegm, or kashaya (astringent) to dry out the heavy phlegm after colds or infections or deep winter season.

क्षौद्रव्योषत्रिवर्गाक्तं सतैलं सैन्धवेन च ||७||

चूर्णेन तेजोवत्याश्च दन्तान्नित्यं विशोधयेत् |

एकैकं घर्षयेद्दन्तं मृदुना कूर्चकेन च ||८||

दन्तशोधनचूर्णेन दन्तमांसान्यबाधयन् |

Source: Sushruta Samhita, Chikitsa sthana, chapter 24, sloka 7-8

Transliteration - kṣaudravyōṣatrivargāktaṁ satailaṁ saindhavēna ca ||7|| cūrṇēna tējōvatyāśca dantānnityaṁ viśōdhayēt |

ēkaikaṁ gharṣayēddantaṁ mr̥ dunā kūrcakēna ca ||8|| dantaśōdhanacūrṇēna dantamāṁsānyabādhayan|

Translation - Drugs like honey, and powders of vyosha [trikatu - shunthi (Zingiber officinale), maricha (Piper nigrum), and pippali (Piper longum)] / trivarga [Twak (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), ela (Elettaria cardamomum), and patra (Cinnamomum tamala)] / tejovati choorna (Xhanthoxylum alatum) should be mixed with sesame oil, and saindhava (rock salt) and should be rubbed on each tooth slowly with the help of brush prepared from herbal twigs. These teeth purificatory herbal powders should be rubbed carefully without harming the gums.

Dantadhava was recommended twice in the daily routine, just after waking and in the late hours as part of the night routine known as ratricharya. Rinsing the mouth with water after meals prevented retainment of toxins in the mouth. Special precautions to avoid wounding tender gums suggested the use of powders, dantadhavan choorna, medicated herbs such as twak (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), ela (Elettaria cardamomum), and tejpatra (Cinnamomum tamala). These powders were mixed with honey, saindhava lavana (Rock salt), and tila taila (sesame oil) and then gently rubbed over the teeth using the medicated chewing twigs as brushes.

Consumers today prefer good tastes in their mouth. They equate menthol to fresh. They like technologically enhanced automatic plastic toothbrushes and flossing. But they have to visit the dentist frequently. On the other hand, chewing of herbs as chewing twigs seems to prevent tartar formation, enhance taste perception, and logically strengthens the gums. Most important, the ingested juices from these herbs are believed to instigate and maintain the digestive system. More studies that ground anecdotal benefits of ayurvedic chewing twigs are needed.

Recent studies also correlate oral health with an individual’s overall health. The theory is that toxins excreted by the bacteria residing in the oral cavity may trigger systemic inflammatory diseases or may worsen existing non-communicable diseases in an individual such as hypertension, diabetes or arthritis. Chronic periodontitis (inflammation of gums) is a risk factor for endocarditis and some cancers and may initiate the formation of atherosclerotic plaques or initiate auto-immune disorders.

The earliest human researchers reported in the classical texts about specific herbs with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing activities. Rather than focusing on molecules though, they observed the effects of specific rasas on the body when choosing herbal twigs, scrutinizing the potential role a herb would have in enhancing the appetite, improving digestive fire, purifying the blood, or aiding in digestion.

To connect substances with their effect on the body, ancient drug experts evolved the rasa panchaka, properties that showed patterns in the way they influenced the body using the dosha theory. The substances that influence both digestion in the gut and the oral cavity were tested in many people for their effects. The concept of doshas in Ayurveda refers to the effect of any substance or force on the body's functions and structure. Each of the 3 doshas - vata, pitta, kapha - are classified into five subtypes each according to the actions they exhibit. Among them, Prana vata and bodhaka kapha primarily affect the oral cavity. Prana vata has a specific role in initiating the process of swallowing, known as deglutition and of salivation, while taste perception is the function of bodhaka kapha residing mostly on the jivha or tongue. These initial functions have a substantial role in the process of digestion, absorption and then subsequently in the nourishment of the body. Chewing specific herbs are believed to help balance both prana vata and bodhaka kapha.

Without specific identified molecules, modern science wonders how chewing herbal drugs for oral hygiene impacts digestion. The multiple phytochemicals in each herb act at multiple sites and work synergistically beyond the one molecule: one organ model of modern science to provide a coordinated set of health benefits.

To eat well and achieve mindful and healthy living, a daily routine that integrates the wisdom of nature through its plants used as chewing twigs is a tried and true ancient practice as narrated in Ayurveda
































Bilwa – The Holy and the Healthy One

At the entrance of the grounds of the Hindu mandir, a group of trees commonly greets us. They are often considered holy, and their leaves and parts are used in worship and puja. Especially at the temples of Shiva in warmer regions of India, we commonly meet the bel tree, known as bilwa in Sanskrit, with its thorns and a distinct three-leaf formation that is settled into a brass pot at the feet of the Shiva Lingam.


The bel/bael is considered one of the most potent drugs in Ayurveda for treating crampy belly, irritated bowels or IBS. In olden times, all people knew that bel fruits were useful for maintaining the health of the gut. When the fruit grew at the first heat of summer, one bel fruit was taken from the tree before it ripened fully. Its outer shell was hard, but it was not yet fully pink-yellow. This was commonly added to the daily diet to keep the gut healthy in the heat, when the digestive fires were low, and food spoiled easily. For people with mrdu-kosttha, a tender belly that tends to get upset easily, the juice of the bel fruit is offered each morning during the hot season as a refreshing drink to maintain the health of a person.

If a person did have an upset stomach, the unripe bel fruit was immediately collected, cracked open, and scraped to collect the pulp. This was mixed with ghee/oil and sugar and given to reduce the discomfort. Normalcy in the digestive tract occurred quickly. If it had not, this age-old remedy would not be in use even today in many parts of India.

Bilwa is commonly known as the bel tree with the botanical name Aegle marmelos. It is commonly seen across India in warmer zones. As a thorny tree that grows to 8-15 meters in height, its distinct feature is a trifoliate leaf that symbolizes the trishul that is often used in pujas as the tree is considered holy and can especially be seen around Shiva temples.


The roots, leaves and unripened fruits are used for therapeutic purposes. The bel tree is classified in Ayurveda as bitter and astringent in taste; light-to-digest and slightly snigdha (unctuous) in quality; and heating once inside the body (usna-virya).

Its use as a food is related to its abundant therapeutic usage, typifying the adage that food is medicine. The unripe bel fruit is used in combination with related gut medicines for the treatment of diarrhea. The ripe fruit is avoided as it aggravates all three doshas. The juice of bel leaves are used for bathing especially to reduce foul odor from the body. The oil of the fruit, bilwa taila, is used drop-by-drop with guidance of an ayurvedic physician in the treatment of deafness. The unripe bilwa fruit is mainly described by ancient physicians for the treatment of various gastrointestinal disorders - diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, distension of abdomen, and piles.

Because bilwa fruit is so good for our digestive system, it has evolved into a food. Many will break the hard outer shell of an unripe fruit, scrape the pulp out, remove the seeds and fibrous material, mix with clean water, and drink a glass of bilwa pulp juice each and every morning. It has been found to reduce blood sugar and keep the belly calm and happy.

As a vegetable used in cooking, the bel fruit should always be used in the unripe form to avoid inducing disease by aggravating all the doshas when eating a food quantity of the fruit.

After the fruit pulp is removed, it should be inspected. The fruit should be fresh, fragrant and light in color with no dark or grainy areas. This fruit pulp is then chopped into small pieces, fried in hot oil until it is half cooked, then tempered with spices such as hing, turmeric, jeera (cumin) powder, dhāniya (coriander) powder, fresh ginger, and black pepper powder. Black pepper powder should be added in higher quantity than the other spices due to its penetrating power. This mix is cooked on low to medium heat until the fruit is cooked completely, feeling soft and supple. While this preparation is usually somewhat bitter in taste and thus used to start the meal, it helps increase the sense of taste and stimulates awareness of flavors during the rest of the meal.

Bel fruit should be avoided by pregnant women as it is heating in nature. Those having constipation problems should be careful as the reason for chronic constipation is sometimes dryness of the gut, which is exacerbated by bel.

Those having chronic digestion problems should consult an ayurvedic physician, who can modulate the form, the amount, the combination with other substances, and the timing, so that consumption of bel is useful.


A Savoury in the Pandemic

Covid patients have sensory dysfunction and a profound weakness. The aroma of food is usually the first step in initiating the gut into a complex metabolic process of digestion

A vital aspect of life - aahara (the food we eat) - is often hampered in a corona-afflicted patient. Aahara is one of the Traya Upastambha (three anchoring piers or sub-pillars), according to Ayurveda. If the human body were a building, the vital supporting pillars that balance it and support the life within are aahara (food), nidra (sleep), and brahmacharya (mindful conduct in relationships). Extensively discussed in Ayurvedic treatises, these are the foundations of survival.

All food eaten must normally pass through the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) in an uninterrupted flow. However, we see sensory dysfunction and a profound weakness in covid patients. The aroma of food is usually the first step in initiating the gut into a complex metabolic process of digestion. The first bite of food and its taste stimulates the salivary glands to secrete the necessary enzymes, further promoting smoother ingestion. In the absence of these senses of smell and taste, the desire to eat vanishes along with the essential salivary secretions. Thereafter, without the saliva, the sensation of chewing and swallowing is similar to having something dry and bland shoved down our throats, suppressing our appetite further. Hence, it necessitates flavor enhancers and easily digestible, nourishing, and energizing foods.

Moong daal and bottle gourd soup is a delicious recipe, even in curbed sensory perception during corona; it is a healthful delicacy that promotes goodness and immunity.

Moong daal shloka

कषायमधुरो रूक्षः शीतः पाके कटुर्लघुः|

विशदःश्लेष्मपित्तघ्नो मुद्गः सूप्योत्तमो मतः||

Source: Caraka Samhita, Sūtrasthana, chapter 27, sloka 23

Transliteration - kaṣāyamadhurō rūkṣaḥ śītaḥ pākē kaṭurlaghuḥ|

viśadaḥ ślēṣmapittaghnō mudgaḥ sūpyōttamō mataḥ||


Kashaya, Madhura – astringent, sweet

Rooksha – dry

Sheeta – cold, coolant

Katu Vipaka – undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion

Laghu – light to digest

Vishad – brings clarity to channels

Shleshma Pittaghna – balances Kapha and Pitta.

Of all the pulses, green gram is the best.

Mudga/moonga is an agrya food, one of the best in its category. This green gram is a daily recommended food. The term 'mudga' in Sanskrit means that which brings happiness.

When discussing the various types of jwara (fever), the acharyas prefer moong daal over others. It is considered to be the best pulse than edible dry peas, beans, lentils or chickpeas. It has a slightly sweet and astringent taste that provides a triple effect of nourishment, calming, and healing.

A special feature of mudga (moong) based on its physiological effect on the human body is that despite being sweet in taste, it is laghu (light to digest) and ruksha (dry). Most sweet-tasting foods are heavy and often moist. Due to this unique combination, it nourishes, promotes physical strength, and builds tissues. This property is called 'vichitra pratyarabdha' - green gram belongs to the category of substances possessing distinctive property 'a unity of paradoxes'. Therefore, it soothes the kapha and pitta doshas due to its cooling and drying properties. In addition, moonga is one of the few legumes beneficial for vitiated vata.


Moong daal can be consumed all year by people of all ages and body types, according to the ancient text of formulations Yogaratnakara, written c.1750 CE in Pali-Sinhalese on the prepared leaves of a talipot palm.. Moong is especially beneficial for the injured because it aids in wound healing. It is beneficial for throat disorders such as cough, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis and maintains thyroid gland health. It is recommended for conjunctivitis, glaucoma, dry eyes, and glare in vision. It improves the peristaltic motion of the gastrointestinal tract, provides nutrition to the body's tissues, alleviates heartburn symptoms, soothes the skin, and reduces rashes. When consumed regularly, it improves hair texture and density, strengthens the body, and balances gland secretions in general. It contains the most calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium of any legume.


Bottle gourd shloka

वर्चोभेदीन्यलाबूनि रूक्षशीतगुरूणि च| (ch. Su. 27/112)

Transliteration - varcoBedInyalAbUni rUkShaSItagurUNi ca|

cirBaTairvAruke tadvadvarcoBedahite tu te||112||

Translation - Alabu-the bottle-gourd (Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.) is a laxative, dry, cold in potency, and heavy.

Bottle gourd, also known as lokhi, lau, and calabash, is a climber described in Ayurveda to treat diabetes, jaundice jwara (fever), localized swellings, and skin disorders. It is a wonder veggie for cold, cough, asthma, chronic respiratory disorders, fever, toxic conditions, poisoning, inflammation, ulcers, wounds, and abdominal colic pain.

Why Soup?

In Ayurveda, soup is known as yusha. It is one of the preparations discussed in great detail in treating different types of jwara. Soup is the best choice during fevers as it kindles digestive fire, improves taste and appetite, aphrodisiac, improves voice quality, promotes physical strength, and induces sudation. The improved agni (digestive fire) thus combats aama (undigested food products stuck in the body) which tends to cause many more systemic diseases, the leading culprit of any disease in the body.


The spices used in the recipe enhance the taste and also the medicinal value of the soup. Haldi or turmeric imparts its antimicrobial and healing properties. It is also beneficial in respiratory disorders.

Asafoetida (heeng) and jeera aid in flavoring and work as appetizers and digestives. Ayurveda describes seven salts, the best of which is saindhava lavana or rock salt derived from the Sindh region of northwest India. Along with the natural minerals present in this salt composition, it aids in the relief of tastelessness experienced during any fever. Black pepper, known as maricha in Ayurveda, detoxifies, heals, and stimulates the organs; it has a pungent and bitter taste, is hot in potency, is easy to digest, aids in treating intestinal worms and heart diseases, improves taste perception, alleviates Kapha dosha, and cures diseases caused by vitiated Vata.

In the case of upper respiratory tract disorders, ginger is a go-to medicine. Green chilies are an excellent source of iron and a natural immune system booster. Curry leaves help to keep nausea at bay and are great stress relievers with healing properties. When ginger, green chili, and curry leaves are combined, they impart their respective flavors and make the recipe more palatable.


Moong daal and bottle gourd soup


Moong daal (Vigna radiata) - 1½ cup

Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) - 1 cup

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) - ½ inch

Green chilies (Capsicum annuum) - 2 to 3

Ghrita - 3 tsp

Jeera (Cuminum cyminum) - ½ tsp

Asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida) - 2 pinch

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) - ½ tsp

Curry leaves (Murraya koenigii) 4-5

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) powder ½ tsp

Lemon juice 2 tsp

Coriander leaves for garnishing

clean water


1. Soak 1½ cup of moong daal for 3 hours.

2. After soaking, rinse the soaked moong daal and keep it aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghrita in a pot (having a concave and flat bottom, with a lid), on medium flame.

4. Add an inch of grated ginger and saute for 30 seconds without burning. Pour the soaked dal into it.

5. Mix it well and make sure each lentil is covered with a layer of ghrita.

6. Add a cup of bottle gourd and ½ a teaspoon of turmeric.

7. Saute for a couple of minutes.

8. Pour 3 cups of hot water into it. Mix well and cover it with the lid. Simmer on the same heat for 20-25 minutes.

9. Stir regularly so that the lentils and spices do not stick to the bottom. Add more water if required.

10. After 25 minutes or so, remove the lid and check for consistency. If the daal and bottle gourd breaks on pressing with a spoon, then the mix has cooked well.

11. In a separate small pan, heat two tablespoon of ghrita, and add jeera and asafoetida(heeng). In about 40 seconds, add chopped green chilies and curry leaves, and let it splutter. Add ½ teaspoon black pepper powder and immediately add ½ cup of water to this mix to prevent the prepared spices from burning.

12. Add the prepared tempering to the daal and bottle gourd in the pot, along with 2 teaspoon of saindhava lavana. Stir and mix well the complete contents and let it simmer for a minute.

13. Take off from the stove and add two tablespoons of lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves.


- For the preparation, use steel or copper vessels. To avoid burning, a thick steel vessel can be used. Seasoned and prepared earthen pots can also be used.

- Because thin steel pots or copper vessels heat up quickly, it's important to stir frequently during the cooking process. Also, prepare the ingredients ahead of time to avoid burning.

- Maintain a low to medium constant flame throughout the cooking process, avoiding wind.























DIetary Practices

Food Is One of the Main Pillars of Life – Dr Ashutosh Guleri

For dietary practices, Ayurveda chalks out broader guidelines without specifically prohibiting or mandating certain food items. However, in a diseased condition it instructs about Pathya (wholesome) and Apathya (unwholesome) food categorically, based upon the nature of the imbalanced dosha - Dr Ashutosh Guleri

Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Kayakalp in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh offers a treatment mix of nature cure, panchakarma, physiotherapy and diet. The meals served in the dining halls of this 90-bed facility are simple, healthy yet tasty. During these frantic times many would have struggled with food choices. Dr Ashutosh Guleri, Kayakalp’s chief physician and administrator offers advice and insight into the food that's best for us, and follows the Ayurvedic dietary practices.


What is the Ayurveda diet traditionally?

dietary practices
Dr Ashutosh Guleri

Charak Samhita, one of the most reputed texts of Ayurveda, clearly states that a balanced diet substantially eradicates fear of potential diseases. Yet, it doesn't mean that by consuming a balanced and healthy diet you will not fall sick ever, or that a poor diet will cause a disease immediately. It is a proven fact, however, that a wholesome, proportionate, and seasonal diet helps maintain the balance of biological forces in the body called doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) in Ayurveda, India’s indigenous medical systemTherefore, it is imperative for all of us to follow the rules of healthy dietary practices and lifestyle.

For dietary practices, Ayurveda chalks out broader guidelines without specifically prohibiting or mandating certain food items. However, in a diseased condition it instructs about Pathya (wholesome) and Apathya (unwholesome) food categorically, based upon the nature of the imbalanced dosha or metabolic factor, physical strength of the person, nature of the disease, etc.

Traditionally, Ayurveda focuses both on the nature of food and nature of the individual.  Therefore, our dietary instruction is not limited to the standardization of the food mix. It depends on multiple factors like season, taste, digestive capacity of the individual, personal liking, and homogeneity of food. This makes Ayurvedic planning of diet pragmatic, not driven by ulterior marketing gimmicks. As a broader guideline, Ayurveda recommends that one should always consume food, which is homologous to the body and in an appropriate quantity that one can digest easily. Overeating, not eating sufficiently, eating again while the previous meal is still not digested by the system, binge eating - such practices should be strictly avoided. I suggest that a health seeker should see an Ayurveda physician to understand the best suitable dietary practice for him/her to avoid any confusion.

dietary practices


How to tweak the Ayurvedic dietary practices and recommendations for modern times, for busy people?

Ayurvedic dietary advice is much more practical than contemporary practices and it emphasises taking control of your life. If we do not invest time to understand and correct our lifestyle, how will we be able to take control of our life? We work to earn bread and butter. If after expending so much of our time and effort to earn it, we are not left with proper time to cook and eat appropriately, what is the point? Busy lifestyle shall be managed with the help of time management tools, Ayurveda says. People spend hours and hours flipping through social media on their mobiles, but when it comes to food management, the common excuse is that they ran out of time. For those, who are already aware and manage their time effectively, they can always resort to easy to cook and healthy to eat items like vegetable porridge, steamed sprouts, poha, oatmeal etc., for breakfast. Lunch can include chapatis made from barley or millet flour, one bowl of seasonal vegetables/ lentils followed by a glass of buttermilk. For dinner one may repeat it or have a bowl of clear lentil soup.

Young working couples increasingly make do with frozen food or fast food. 

We have already discussed that it is high time we start dwelling on subtler issues that are instrumental in maintaining health. Just like there is no shortcut to achieve success in life, there is no shortcut available to maintain health. It is always better to invest in health rather than having to pay for managing diseases. Frozen food, preserved food and inappropriate dietary habits are detrimental to health. They all increase the chances of developing lifestyle diseases such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, fatty liver, and obesity. I would strongly advise young couples to gradually start adopting healthy dietary practices. Eating local and consuming seasonal food is the key. Eating local means food, which is locally grown, and home cooked essentially. On days if we must eat outside food, follow up by skipping a meal to mitigate the ill effects.

What is wrong in the way we normally cook?

We try to cook meals to make them more delicious and end up turning it into less nutritious food. To make a dish tastier for the tongue, we use condiments and creams in such a way that the food becomes heavy to digest, resulting in poor digestion and sluggish circulation. Worse, for people with sedentary lifestyles, that becomes the root cause of developing obesity and chronic diseases. I like to remind our patients at Kayakalp that food is a necessity, not a luxury. If we stick to the fundamentals of basic cooking, the same food becomes medicine and may help in maintaining good health. Ayurveda considers food as one of the main pillars of life. Food not only helps maintain physical strength, but it also contributes to sustaining our mental well-being. A healthy, proportionate, nutritious diet keeps our mind alert and agile. Therefore, be a conscious eater.


Hingu – The Potent Ayurvedic Spice

Bhojanakutuhala, the ancient ayurvedic cookbook from the 17th century CE, classifies hingu in the primary blend of spices used for tempering oil (chownk) known as the sambhara/veshavara group. Combinations in this group can transform a bland meal into mouth-watering flavourful and memorable food.

One of the most famous members of the ferula group of the celery family, known botanically as Umbelliferae, is the ancient ayurvedic herb hingu, known as hing or asafoetida in English. Notice the unpleasant Latin term foetid in its name, telling you of its smelly, fetid pungent odour! Also known as devil's dung, hingu is the dried latex exuded from the rhizome or taproot of this tall perennial herb native to the deserts of Iran and mountains of Afghanistan, where substantial harvests are still grown.

Because it is a substance of satvika variety, hingu is used as an excellent replacement for onions and garlic,
which are considered tamasic

asafetidaThe term hingu refers to its smell being perceived quickly, penetrating and pungent. It also has an interesting attribute of increasing its own intensity as it is exposed to air. This has given it the common name "stinking gum" by virtue of its richness in dimethyl trisulfide, an organo-sulphide. Sulfur is known to most people as the smell of rotten eggs.

Luckily, the odour dissipates upon cooking, delivering a smooth flavour reminiscent of leeks or others in the onion family. Because it is a substance of satvika variety, hingu is used as an excellent replacement for onions and garlic, which are considered tamasic.

Ayurveda characterizes hingu to be light to digest (laghu), sharp (teekshna), oily (snigdha) & pungent (katu) in taste. The drug is primarily utilized in ayurveda for increasing appetite (deepana), pain relief (vedana stapana) & digestive (pachana). Hingu works as a muscle relaxant, and is therefore beneficial in stomachache (anaha), bloating (adhmana), similarly in constipation (vibanda).  Hingu is wonderful for the pacification of vata & kapha, but might worsen pitta at the doshic levels of function.

हिंगूष्णं पाचनं रुच्यं तीक्ष्णं वातबलासहृत् ।

शूलगुलमोदरानाहकृमिघ्नं पित्तवर्धनम् ।।

स्त्रीपुष्पजननं बल्यं मूर्च्छापस्मारहृत् परम् ||

Source: Bhavaprakasha nighantu– Haritakyadi varga – Hingu Sloka 89-90½

Transliteration: Hiṇgūṣṇaṃ pācanaṃ rucyaṃ tīkṣṇaṃ vātabalāsahṛt ।

Śūlagulamodarānāhakṛmighnaṃ pittavardhanam ।।

Strīpuṣpajananaṃ balyaṃ mūrcchāpasmārahṛt param ||

Translation: Hingu has hot potency, is a digestive, carminative, taste promoting, stomach ache, tumors, ascites, worm infestations while it alleviates kapha & vata, it increases pitta, & initiates menstruation, increases strength, indicated in fainting, epilepsy & heart diseases

Consumption of the dried latex resin that is raw hingu aggravates pitta, inducing irritation and inflammation. Ayurvedic wisemen knew about augmentation of medicinal properties using the process called shodhana, often mistranslated as purification. The shodhana of hingu involves the simple process of frying of raw hingu with cow’s ghee. Ghee is a natural detoxicant because it makes any substance more digestible to the human body. Substances are only poisonous or toxic when they cannot be digested.

The shodhana process also assists in converting the resin to a powdered form, which is easier to handle. In every Indian household the spice corner contains a separate sealed airtight container with hing/ hingu either in powdered or raw form. It is not kept in the spice rack or masala container (dabba) as it quickly contributes its stench of sulphous odor into every other spice. Hing is always stored away from sunlight so prevent it from losing its potency. From buttermilk to daal, hingu is the secret spice in every Indian dish.

Hingu is available in both powder and chunks, which have to be grounded before use. Folklore tells about the luck of this resin, stating that one must not reveal to others when they have tasted a slightly bigger chunk of hingu in a dish where only a pinch is added, as it is a sign of incoming fortune. From the entire dish they were lucky enough to get a big bite of an ingredient that was added in the smallest proportion. It emphasizes the blessing of good digestive power.

हृद्यं हिंगु कंटूष्णं च कृमिवातकफापहम् ।

विबन्धानाहशूलघ्नं चक्षुष्यं: गुल्मनाशनम् ॥

Source: Raja nigantu – Pippalyadi varga – Hingu Sloka 74

Transliteration: Hṛdyaṃ hiṇgu kaṃṭūṣṇaṃ ca kṛmivātakaphāpaham ।

Vibandhānāhaśūlaghnaṃ cakṣuṣyaṃ: gulmanāśanam ॥

Translation: Hingu has pungent taste, and hot potency acting on vata & kapha at doshic level,
and is indicated for heart disorders, worm infestations, constipation, stomachache, eye disorders
& tumors.

hingHing/ Hingu is not just a spice in the kitchen corner however. Ayurvedic physicians have been using the resin as a drug for thousands of years, knowing its heating and digestive power.  Hing is cardioprotective by its action of promoting a lower heart rate. In women, hingu stimulates the onset of periods along with minimizing cramps, as it aids apana-vayu, the quality of movement and natural flows that go down and out of the body. The utility of hingu with rocksalt (saindhava) and sour mildly-fermented rice gruel (kanji) will cure hangovers as well as curb alcoholic overuse. Hingu is an antidote (prativisha) of ahiphena (opium), so it has been a potential herb used for those with opioid addiction; daily use in the diet is noted to help in overcoming opioid addiction.

For toothaches, hingu is used as a resin paste with lemon juice applied along and around the inflamed gums. Hingu can also play an important role in regaining consciousness in the management of epilepsy and as a memory booster. Consuming hingu regularly along with honey improves respiratory health in asthma.  Consumption of hingu is contraindicated for people suffering from bleeding disorders, severe gastritis, it is to be avoided during pregnancy as quickens the onset of menstruation. Hence, its always better to consult an ayurvedic physician rather than self-medication.

हिगुनिर्यासः छेदनीयदीपनीयानुलोमिकवातकफप्रशमनानां श्रेष्ठः ।।

Source: Source: Charaka samhita Yajjahpurushiyadhyaya 25/40


Hiṇguniryāsaḥ chedanīyadīpanīyānulomikavātakaphapraśamanānāṃ śreṣṭhaḥ ।।

Translation: Exudate of hingu is best among drugs which have piercing action along with being digestive, carminative, and decreasing kapha & vata

The practical use of hingu in everyday lives is to add a pinch into foods that are either gas-producing or hard to digest. This includes daal (split bean soups); coarse or vata-producing vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and peas; and meats.

Hello Tempayy

Introducing Tempeh to Indians With ‘Hello Tempayy’

Vegolution India's brand Hello Tempayy introduced 'tempeh' to Indian kitchens. CEO Siddharth Ramasubramanian shares, "The biggest opportunity we saw was to bridge the huge protein gap for the vegetarians and mostly vegetarian"

A year ago, when the whole world was looking to eating healthy food and increasing immunity, there was a brand that made its entry into the Indian market ‘Hello Tempayy’. Made from fermentation of soy beans, tempeh is similar to the popular Indian cottage cheese or paneer in the way it looks. The most nutritional and naturally fermented soya product is the traditional food in Indonesia, which is gaining in popularity across the world. Indian start-up Vegolution realised that it is ideal to fill the nutrition gap in India in a tasty way by flavouring it to suit Indian palate, thus offering a protein rich vegetarian option.

Siddharth Ramasubramanian

“For me personally, we started this journey from closer to three years ago. I had been working in several roles in f&b industry opening hotels, restaurants and casinos in the US, Dubai, Australia, when I wanted to get back to building something from ground up. I wanted it to be mission oriented and interesting. And, I realised it has to be FMCG sector. I also came to the conclusion after much research that India offers the biggest opportunity if you wanted to be on mission to drive food and nutrition agenda. That is primarily the genesis –of ‘Hello Tempayy’,” reveals Siddharth Ramasubramanian, founder, CEO, Vegolution India.

“The biggest opportunity we saw was to bridge the huge protein gap, for the vegetarians and mostly vegetarians. And, this we wanted to do by delivering tasty food that can easily find a place in Indian kitchens, and not through some supplement or protein shakes,” he adds.

“Indian consumer is different unlike the west. Indians like food, which is a celebration, mood elevator, moment upliftment and soul satisfying. They are never going to drink idli, if we said its better. Even the new generation that is trying different products, eventually comes back to the soul food we enjoy. With this insight we needed to develop a product. And that needed to be vegetarian that tasted vegetarian and can be used across moments – for snacks, lunch dinner, and which could be easily cooked,” Siddharth continues.

“I discovered the miracle product ‘Tempeh’ when I was on one of the many tastings, and this one was casual one when I was in Netherlands. I had tasted this very tasty paneer like thing, but with a crunch, and I was amazed. I almost prayed for it to be nutritious, and healthy. I discovered the 1000-year-old preservative free and chemical free, naturally fermented soya. It is just the beans, water and fermentation culture the turns into a block. It has the highest amount of protein, is versatile as it absorbs flavours very well, no-fat, low carb and is a great new addition that is richer and fun, and is affordable.”

Tempeh has more protein than any other vegetarian or vegan product that’s naturally made.
It is low in fat and carbs and rich in fibre

If a product like tempeh has to be adapted into Indian kitchen it has to go well with the tadkas, marinates or Indian gravies that we eat with rice, or even tacos and cheese sandwiches. “Tempeh fits in,” says Siddharth. Based on its attributes and its ability to soak in the flavours, Vegolution team decided they will not just launch tempeh in its plain version.

Stir Fry Tempayy and Rice
Asian Yellow Curry

‘Hello Tempayy’ was launched not just in its plain version, but also in flavours using clean label marinates that the consumers identify with – like – Simply Sriracha, Spiced Tawa Masala, Peppery Szechuan Chilli, Spicy Peri Peri and most recently in its Roasted Chettinad version. “We managed propriety seasoning for Indian level of taste. One can add spice to if they want. This is for vegetarians to get used to the taste. We also made sure the product sits next to paneer. And, if you are looking for something vegetarian beyond paneer you will find it and will be more open to try it. We are trying relentlessly on messaging and we have this crazy obsession with recipes from our consumers. We challenge them and they do experiments and make protein balls and upma to a dessert using ‘Hello Tempayy’. There was this young girl who made phirni with it.” Siddharth explains the brand strategy to educate the consumer.

“Tempayy can be a dessert or savoury. In a steady way we have to see it fits on the Indian plate.”

He elaborates on how the company goes about expansion and driving the brand into various Indian cities considering it is fairly new to the Indian palate. “What started in Bangalore has steadily grown into Chennai and Hyderabad, and recently to Mumbai. From online sales, the brand is now visible in around 200 stores. “We have understood what people are looking for. When we enter a city, we dig in, learn about the market, learn how to cook local flavours and when we are sure, we expand to the next city. That approach has helped us. We have grown by 10X in the first year, and we see a good repeat business. We do not want to be a novelty, but get into Indian kitchens as a staple; like Nestle’s Maggi was in the 1980s. Early signs are positive. We are also looking at introduce ‘Ready to Eat’ products like frozen snacks and we would like to teach people to cook Tempeh, he explains.

The immediate goal is however to increase the scale of production without affecting the quality, states Siddharth. “We are amazed with the consumers’ willingness to learn and discover.”