Try This Natural Ayurveda Summer Platter Recipe To Fight The Heat
These recipes combine health with taste and hydration. Stay cool and safe in the heat.
Summer brings in heat, thirst, lethargy, and fatigue. It is a time to beat the heat, be hydrated and cool. When temperatures rise body heat increases and we crave for cool drinks and lose appetite as digestion becomes sluggish.
Ancient food wisdom recommends a diet based on seasons. However, with commercialisation and marketing, our diets have deviated towards food with empty calories with no nutritional value. In the summers, drinking chemical-laden cool drinks with artificial colours and preservatives is a trend.
However, if we introspect the foods our parents or grandparents ate in summer, we discover so many healthy options that are light and healthy.
Traditional Summer Platter
Nature provides us with many varieties of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and green vegetables. If we eat local and seasonal stuff, we can never go wrong.
The traditional summer platter consists of curd rice, chutneys, vegetables like bitter gourd, bottle gourd, green leafy vegetables, ladyfinger and lentils like moong and masur. Raitas, kachumber (salads), ragi ambali and aamras are common dishes. Jawar, ragi or rice flour rotis are relished. Spiced dahi or buttermilk completes the meals.
What Does Ayurveda Say?
Ayurveda tells us that Agni or digestive power is lowest in summers. To counteract the heat outside, the body reduces the digestive fire (Agni) Therefore, we lose appetite and crave for cool, and minimally spiced dishes. Ayurveda recommends a pitta balancing diet with bitter, astringent, and sweet tastes and recommends consuming food at room temperature.
It suggests avoiding foods with sharp, hot, and pungent taste like ginger, garlic, chillies, and spices. It advises against salty, sour, fermented, and oily food.
Prerna Kumar, the Founder of Chaiveda, who has studied Ayurveda, suggests including whole or split moong daal in the diet. “You can have it as a khichdi with sona masuri rice or as a thin daal made with salt and black pepper.”
She recommends vegetables like bottle gourd, bitter gourd, and thin buttermilk seasoned with roasted cumin powder and black salt.
Dr. Vasant Lad, founder of the Ayurvedic Institute, in his book The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies advocates a pitta-pacifying diet. Khichdi made with rice and moong dal with ghee, other foods like sattu, and leafy greens, watermelons, mangoes, and buttermilk should be included. Sour and citrus fruits, sour cream, cheese, and dark meats should be avoided.
Here is a list of beneficial foods for the summer season.
Consuming buttermilk after meals (bhojanante pibet takram) is encouraged by Ayurveda. Mentioned in the Sushruta Samhita and Bhavprakasha, two Ayurvedic texts, it is considered nectar for humans. It aids digestion and removes excess heat and acts as a digestive tonic. Churn fresh curd with water, add a pinch of salt and serve.
This light, crunchy vegetable is satiating and refreshing. When the temperatures soar, and appetite slackens cucumbers are tempting.
They are good for the liver, detoxify the blood, remove the uric acid from the blood, and good for kidney function. Rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and manganese, it aids digestion, helps to control acid reflux, and is beneficial for IBS, ulcerative colitis, and other gastrointestinal issues.
This much-loved fruit is a great option to balance all the three doshas. Ripened mangoes are energy boosters and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Great source of magnesium and potassium, it has immune-boosting properties and is good for the eyes. Unripe mangoes are cooling and add the astringent taste to the diet that ayurveda recommends for summers
Melons are light, sweet, and cooling. The water content in melons is high in electrolytes. These fruits are rich in fibre, and low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Melons contain vitamin K, vitamin C and B6, potassium, and copper.
This is made with either jau or barley. It boosts energy, is light and cooling. This age-old formula is easy to prepare and store. Mix it with milk and jaggery/sugar or make a cool drink (sattu sharbat) by adding black salt, roasted cumin powder and mint leaves.
Rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium, it improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation. Travellers in the past carried sattu to eat while on the road.
The astringent and sharp taste of mint is delicious. It decreases pitta and kapha doshas and balances the vata dosha. Prepare a mint chutney or whip raita and have it regularly with meals. Mint leaves are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients.
They contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, phosphorous, and calcium. Mint has anti-bacterial properties and a good source of iron, potassium, and manganese. Prerana suggests adding a mint chutney to everyday meals in summer.
Mint Chutney Recipe
2 cups mint leaves
1 cup coriander leaves
½ tsp red chilli powder/2 green chillies
2 tsp roasted sesame seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
Tamarind cleaned and washed (lemon sized ball)
3 tsp of jaggery powder
Salt to taste
Put sesame and cumin seeds and grind. Then add tamarind, mint, and coriander.
Blend then add the rest of the ingredients with some water and grind. Serve with rice or rotis. It can be used in sandwiches, salads, and as a dip.
Tips for Summer Diet
Eat fresh seasonal local vegetables
A light breakfast, heavy lunch and a light dinner is recommended.
Include fresh coriander/mint chutneys in every meal.
Consume alkaline veggies, water-rich fruits like watermelon, berries, grapefruits, pineapple, peaches, mango, fennel, Ashwagandha, Brahmi and Tulsi.
Avoid heavily fermented food like idly /dosa
Have fruit as snacks. Fruits should be consumed only between 11 am-4 pm and shouldn’t be combined with other foods.
Use only mango for milkshakes, and no other fruit.
Include rose petals, khus (vetiver) and ilaychi (cardamom)
Drinking water after eating watermelon or muskmelon is counter-indicated in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda lists fruit or fruit juice with meals as a bad food pairing and should be avoided.
Menu planning needs to be seasonal. Nature offers what our bodies requires.
That’s why the summer harvest consists of light, water-rich sweet, bitter, astringent, and fruits and vegetables. Try these tips to be healthy and stay cool this summer.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)
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