I love leveraging a good, basic recipe and adjusting a few ingredients to change up the flavor. It makes cooking easier, leaves room for a little creativity and keeps meals fresh—who doesn’t want that?!
Today’s recipe, is based on a recipe I posted a while back that was intentionally developed to be flexible—5 Spices & a Veggie, a Quick ‘Ayurvedic’ Stir-Fry. Using the same simple concept to create today’s recipe. I chose veggies and spices based on the tastes and qualities that are complementary to the summer aka pitta season. The main ingredients—yams (sweet), red onions (sweet when caramelized) and rainbow chard (astringent and bitter) make up the 3 key tastes of summer according to Ayurveda’s wisdom. A sprinkle of five spices (technically six with the lemon-oops!) provide the remaining three tastes—pungent, sour and salty.
Ayurveda speaks to the importance of incorporating all six tastes in every dish and/or meal to ensure the body, mind, emotions, and spirit get the essential nutrients and nourishment. This helps with retaining balance and reduces cravings.
The key to eating according to the season is to adjust the quantity of the six tastes—for summer focus on sweet, astringent and bitter, eat seasonal qualities like—moist, light, cooling, alkaline, and opt for fresh and minimally processed foods. Incorporating these basic ‘Ayurvedic’ guidelines will create a meal that is nutritious and digestion-friendly for the season. This can also be applied to imbalances. Plus, it will help prepare your body for the season to come! Prevention requires planning. Happy eating. Happy Digesting. Happy Spirit.
- 2 T ghee or coconut oil
- 1 small red onion diced or sliced (optional)
- 2 medium to large yams or sweet potatoes chopped
- 1-2 bunches rainbow chard chopped including stems
- 1/4-1/2 serrano chili sliced
- 1 tsp cumin seeds or powder
- 1 tsp fennel seeds or powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp pink salt
- a quarter of a lemon
- 1-2 T water
1. In a saute pan or wide bottom pot, heat the ghee or coconut oil on medium heat. When the oil is nice and warm add the onions and saute them until they are lightly caramelized.
2. In the meantime, chop up the yams and chard. I like to also thinly slice the stems of the chard so they cook with the rest of the ingredients. Stems have a ton of nutrients—#wastenot.
3. As the onions start to caramelize, add the serrano chili and cumin seeds. Give it a stir or two until the seeds begin to slightly toast-up. Then add the fennel seeds, ginger powder—stir once to release the oils and add yams or sweet potatoes. Mix well. Add the chard, salt and 1-2 T* of water if needed to prevent sticking and to help generate a little steam. Cover and cook until yams are 95% cooked.
4. Once yams are 95% cooked, turn off the stove. Then uncover and squeeze in the juice of a 1/4 lemon. Cover and let it rest until yams or sweet potatoes are completely cooked. I like to do this when I make the dish ahead of time and want to prevent mushy yams. If you are serving the dish right away, cook completely and squeeze the lemon once you turn off the stove.
*if you use cumin and fennel powders, add them in prior to the yams, with the ginger to release the oils—especially if they are not pre-toasted. Give it a few stirs and then add the yams. Careful not to burn the spices.
*if you end up with too much water, cook the dish with the lid half off so the water can evaporate.
Complete the meal & serve:
- with a soft, moist grain like basmati rice or barley
- with a warm lentil soup or daal (and a little grain)
- it wrapped in a whole wheat toasted tortilla
- For kapha imbalances or constitutions reduce yams and increase chard
- For pitta imbalances omit the chili and the lemon juice
- For vata imbalances or constitutions reduce chard and increase yams