Recipes by: Miriam Kasin Hospodar
Photography by: Laurie Smith

SpicesBy now,most of us have heard something about Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine and health care for the mind, body and spirit. But what does it actually mean? Ayurveda literally translates to "science of life." It means not only having a disease-free body, but a body full of energy and vibrancy, a mind that's clear and alert, and emotions that are filled with bliss. Because food is so closely connected to health, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Ayurvedic cooking does everything it can to enhance that specific vision of health.

Miriam Kasin Hospodar has been traveling three continents for the past 23 years gathering recipes inspired by the 5,000-year-old wisdom of Ayurveda. The result of this journey is Heaven's Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way (Dutton), a 600-page encyclopedic work that features more than 700 recipes and shows you how to match your diet to your dosha—or mind-body type—for health and well-being. It's not just a cookbook: it's nourishing wisdom for the mind and body; it's a guidebook to achieving a deeper, more balanced relationship with food; and it's an ancient approach to modern-day health, healing and a holistic lifestyle.

"Ayurvedic cooking isn't one-size-fits-all in the way that modern nutrition tends to be," says Hospodar. "The problem in modern nutrition is that it espouses certain foods as healthy for everybody—and those prescriptions are always changing," she says. "Ayurvedic cooking honors the needs of the individual." In a nutshell, the basic Ayurvedic diet means freshly cooked seasonal foods. At a deeper level, it means knowing, and eating for, your dosha. If you're looking for a blissful, healthy mind and body, then Ayurveda might be one component of that equation.

Bon Bon Chi

Bon Bon Chi (Cold Sesame Noodle Salad)
Makes 6 servings / A vegetarian version that is mostly balancing for vata. Since asparagus is tri-doshic, you could replace the sesame seeds with almonds to better balance pitta or replace the sesame seeds with sunflower seeds and use soba noodles for kapha.

2 tablespoons sesame or other mild-flavored oil
2 cups tofu, cut into1/2-inch cubes
Pinch of hing, optional
Liquid seasoning
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1/3 pound vermicelli
Sesame dressing (recipe follows)
Black pepper
2 cups julienned cucumbers
Fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and pinch of hing. Sprinkle with liquid seasoning and sauté, stirring frequently, until tofu is golden brown.

2. Add asparagus, sprinkle with salt, cover and cook for 3­4 minutes, until crisp and tender. Remove from heat immediately.

3. Cook pasta until al denté. Do not overcook. Drain and run cold water over pasta to stop the cooking. Toss with half of sesame dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Spread noodles on platter. Top with tofu-asparagus mixture. Sprinkle with cucumbers. Drizzle with remaining dressing, and sprinkle a generous amount of chopped cilantro on top.

Sesame Dressing

1/3 cup sesame or other mild-flavored oil
Pinch of hing, optional
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup bell peppers, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/3 cup water
Toasted sesame oil
Liquid seasoning
Black pepper

1. Heat oil in small saucepan or skillet. Add hing and sesame seeds, and sauté over low heat until sesame seeds begin to turn golden. Add bell peppers, and continue to sauté until sesame seeds are well browned. Add ginger, and stir once or twice to coat with hot oil before removing from heat. Allow to cool a few minutes.

2. Combine sesame mixture with lemon juice, sugar, water and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil in a blender until it is as smooth as possible. Add more water if necessary. Season to taste with liquid seasoning and pepper.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 386
Fat: 14 g
% fat calories: 58
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 29 g
Protein: 14 g

Fennel Cole Slaw with Pecan Dressing
Serves 6-8 / The fennel, carrots, pecans, oil dressing, and the sweet and sour flavors help balance vata—increasing the nature of uncooked cabbage. The general sweetness, the cilantro and the cool temperature of the dish add some balance for pitta. If fennel is out of season, increase the carrots and cabbage.

1 1/2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 1/2 cups fennel, finely shredded
1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
1/3 cup crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Pecan Dressing (recipe follows)
Black pepper

Pecan Dressing

1/3 cup sesame or other mild-flavored oil
1/3 cup pecans
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
Liquid seasoning or salt

1. For slaw, mix all ingredients together, except pepper. Toss with dressing and a sprinkling of black pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.

2. For dressing, combine oil, pecans, lemon juice and honey in a blender until smooth. Season to taste with liquid seasoning or salt.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 399
Fat: 2 g
% fat calories:
Cholesterol: O mg
Carbohydrate: 33 g
Protein: 2 g

Lentil Burgers with Herbed Chevre Sauce
Serves 10-12 / The best of the burgers. Serve on burger rolls with all the trimmings. Try one of the mock mayonnaises as a topping or vata-balancing Herbed Chevre Sauce (recipe follows).

1 cup lentils
3 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
Pinch of hing, optional
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup bell peppers, minced
1/2 cup bulgur
1 teaspoon salt, less if using salted stock
Black pepper
Dry bread crumbs
Ghee or oil

1. Bring lentils and stock or water to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt ghee or oil in small skillet. Add hing, carrot, celery and bell peppers, and sauté over low heat, stirring frequently, until they become tender.

3. Stir bulgur and sautéed vegetables into simmering lentils. Cover and simmer over very low heat until water is completely absorbed and lentils and bulgur are tender. Be careful the mixture doesn't burn. Season to taste with salt and peper. Allow mixture to cool thoroughly and become firm.

4. Place bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Shape cooled mixture into burgers, and gently dredge in breading to coat both sides.

To Fry
Melt liberal coating of ghee or oil on griddle or large skillet. The idea is to thoroughly moisten breading without saturating the burgers. Fry over low heat on both sides until breading is browned and the burgers are heated through. Replenish ghee or oil as necessary to coat breading.

To Bake
Preheat oven to 350º. Liberally coat a baking sheet with melted ghee or oil. Place burgers on baking sheet, and then carefully flip each one so that top side is moistened with oil. Bake until breading is nicely browned, about 30 minutes.

Herbed Chevre Sauce

1 cup creamy chevre, such as Montrachet
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon each dried tarragon, basil and dill, or1 tablespoon each chopped fresh herbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon curry powder or churna, depending on dosha
Generous sprinkling of black pepper
Stock or water

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor, or beat together thoroughly. Thin to desired consistency with stock or water.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 209
Fat: 5g
% fat calories: 38%
Cholesterol: 20mg
Carbohydrate: 23g
Protein: 10g

Wild Rice SaladWild Rice Salad with Dried Cranberries
Serves 4 / A kapha-balancing dish. You can also prepare it with bulgar and substitute dried cherries for the cranberries for a dish that keeps vata and pitta happy.

3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup wild rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon oil
Pinch of hing, optional
1 cup French or green beans, cut in 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup red bell peppers, finely chopped
1/2 cup cucumbers, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Liquid seasoning or salt
Black pepper

1. Bring water to a boil. Stir in wild rice. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in cranberries, re-cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and rice is tender. Allow to cool at room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet. Add hing and sauté over low heat for 30 seconds. Stir in French or green beans, cover and cook until beans are crisp and tender. Allow to cool at room temperature.

3. Gently toss wild rice, beans, bell peppers, cucumbers, basil, parsley and pistachio nuts together. Pour oil and lemon juice over them and toss. Season to taste with liquid seasoning or salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 421
Fat: 25g
% fat calories: 52%
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 44g
Protein: 8g

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Almonds
Makes 7 cups / You can use toasted cashews, pecans or other nuts instead of almonds. You can also omit the nuts entirely and still have a tasty soup. Pacifying for vata and pitta.

1/4 cup ghee
Pinch of hing, optional
6 cups cauliflower coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium sweet potato or white potato
1 1/2 cups blanched almonds, toasted
5 cups vegetable stock
White pepper

1. Melt ghee in large soup pot. Add hing, cauliflower and salt. Stir, cover and cook over very low heat until cauliflower is tender, 30­40 minutes. Stir occassionally. While cauliflower is cooking, boil potato until tender.

2. Drain and peel when cool enough to handle.

3. Blend almonds thoroughly into 5 cups of stock. For a completely smooth soup, strain through a sieve lined with a clean muslin cloth. Squeeze all liquid from almond meal.

4. Purée cauliflower and potato mixture thoroughly with almond milk in blender or food processor. The smoother the mixture, the easier the next step will be.

5. Place large sieve over soup pot. Scrape underside of sieve periodically. Do not skip this step! It is essential for a creamy texture. Discard remaining amount of fibrous material that pulls away from the sieve.

6. Heat soup to serving temperature. Thin with more stock if necessary. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 302
Fat: 24 g
% fat calories: 66%
Cholesterol: 19 mg
Carbohydrate: 18 g
Protein: 9 g

Miriam Kasin Hospodar has worked as a chef in Ayurvedic spas and centers in the United States and internationally. She has also served as the director of Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centers in St. Louis, Missouri and Pacific Palisades, Calif.