Written by Gitam Garden

PDahlSoupreparation and cooking time 30 minutes

Serves 4

Vata characteristics are dryness, coolness, roughness, lightness and constant motion, and to restore balance to Vata dosha its good to include, smooth, heavy liquid foods with sweet, sour or salty tastes such as soups or dhals in your diet. Mung beans, split dhals, red or green lentils are all ideal vata foods, especially when flavoured with spices, cooked with chopped vegetables and eaten with basmati rice. Here is a basic dhal recipe.

The three ayurvedic tastes that help balance Vata are sweet, sour and salty. Carrots, asparagus, tender leafy greens, beets, sweet potatoes and zucchini are the best vegetable choices. They become more digestible when chopped and cooked with Vata-pacifying spices. Vegetables can be combined with grains or legumes for satisfying one-dish meals. Basmati rice is also ideal for balancing Vata.

2 cups split red lentils (moong dhal or any other legume may be used, the larger the legume the more cooking time you will need)

4 cups water

2 tablespoons shredded coconut

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons oil or ghee

1 teaspoon hing

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

12 curry leaves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

½ teaspoon garam masala

1-2 cups chopped vegetables such as carrot, sweet potato, zucchini, green beans, spinach, beet, broccoli

Rinse the lentils in cold running water and place them in a medium saucepan with water, coconut, turmeric and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are soft but not broken down.

Meanwhile, heat the oil or ghee to medium heat in a second saucepan. Add the hing and fry momentarily, then add the mustard seeds and fry over low heat for 2-3 minutes until they begin to splutter. Add curry leaves (be careful, if they are fresh leaves they will make a big splash) then after a moment the cumin seeds. Fry until the cumin seeds darken a shade. Add the ginger and chillies, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and salt, continue frying over low heat, stirring constantly. Add vegetables and a little water to prevent sticking and cover to simmer a few minutes until the vegetables are tender. Pour the spicy vegetable mixture into the lentils, mix well and continue to simmer for five minutes for the flavours to mingle.

Serve the dhal with basmati rice – or add a little more water or vegetable stock and call it soup!