Ayurveda Patrika










Spring 1999


Issue 4










Food Tips
Yellow Mung Dal

Here are some ideas about how to prepare mung dal in different ways. First, here’s the basic one-pot recipe:

Put your pot over medium heat and add:

  1 tsp. ghee

  tsp. cumin seeds

  tsp. turmeric powder

  1/8 tsp. hing

When the seeds are lightly browned add:

  2-3 cups water (see below)

  cup yellow mung dal, washed

Simmer 30 to 45 minutes until the dal is very soft, then add chopped cilantro and mineral salt to taste.


Sometimes it’s nice to have a thicker dal to put over rice or quinoa, and sometimes it’s nice to have a thinner soup on the side. Adjust the water according to your preference. To get a brothy taste, add 1 Tbs. Finely chopped onion (when you add the water), and use half salt and half Bragg’s. If you use a pressure cooker the dal will get very soft and creamy in only 15 minutes.


For a spicier dal, try tsp. mustard seeds in place of the cumin seeds, and add tsp. cumin powder and - 1 tsp. coriander powder. Kokum tastes really good in dal. Kokum is a dried sour plum from India, available at Indian groceries. Add a few pieces while the dal is cooking, and remove at the end. Try adding a few curry leaves (from Indian grocery) or a bay leaf. To make the dal hotter, add some very finely grated ginger root, to taste. For special, sweet taste, add a little jaggary or evaporated sugar cane juice. The main thing is to be willing to try these ideas in different combinations to create an endless variety of dals.


Here’s a way to make a very nice, Ayurvedic creamy vegetable soup: Reduce the dal to cup, and add any combination of celery, zucchini, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, or bell pepper. For the spices, eliminate the mustard seeds, cumin, and turmeric, and use lots of coriander powder, and if you like, a little basil, rosemary, or thyme. You can make a delicious red pepper soup with a little celery and cabbage, a fair amount of red bell pepper, and Bragg’s, rosemary, and thyme. When it’s cooked so that the dal and veggies are soft, throw it all in the blender and puree into a beautiful soup. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.       


And enjoy your food!


Mando Yatrakar Amrutaha
“Following moderation will lead to a longer journey of life.”
- Sushruta Samhita

In Sanskrit, manda means to do things slowly, with moderation. This is one of the foundational principles of Ayurveda that is essential to maintaining health and balance. In Ayurveda, it is recommended to take a gradual approach when managing your health. By implementing changes more slowly and staying on the programs for longer periods of time, you will notice that the shifts in your health have a lasting effect.

Two areas that we focus on in maintaining or balancing our doshas are ahara (diet) and vihara (lifestyle). Understanding the importance of  manda in making our food choices will have a large impact in keeping the doshas in balance and keeping our agni (digestive fire) strong. When we eat foods that are either excessively spiced or have extreme qualities like red chilies, ice cream, or pickles, the doshas will become vitiated rather quickly and will enter into the beginning stages of the disease process. More moderate foods like rice and vegetables, that are lightly spiced and cooked with ghee are easily digested and assimilated because they do not aggravate, but rather support the doshas.

Ayurveda recommends mung dal as the primary source of protein in an individual’s diet. The reasoning behind this is that the predominant quality present in mung dal is manda. Western science says that most of the legumes are high protein sources, so why mung dal? Because of the manda attribute, this legume will not aggravate the doshas, whereas the other beans and pulses can vitiate the doshas over time. Another point to consider, relative to nutrition, is accessing the principles of manda when you sit down to eat. Take the time to enjoy your food. Eat slowly and try not to overeat. Avoid heated discussions or even talking too much when eating your meal. These suggestions will aid the digestive process so that you’ll get more benefit from the foods you eat.

As for our lifestyle, we are very challenged to practice moderation in the Western culture. Most of our activities are rooted in being excessive and this can lead to problems with our health. We have a tendency to overdo it when it comes to both work and play and would benefit from slowing down and practicing more manda in planning our day to day activities. Try to find time to exercise by taking walks in nature or practicing yoga instead of a more strenuous activity. Use meditation as a tool to help to bring relaxation during your work day. Try to find creative ways to manage your time better so that you aren’t always in a rush to get somewhere or to get things done. When we live such an accelerated lifestyle it effects our metabolism, which in turn upsets our digestion and can thereby lead to disease.

In general, we need to take things more in stride and try to enjoy life to it’s fullest. Spend more time doing the things you love the most and try to balance your work and play to allow yourself time to relax and take things in. Give importance to the foods you eat and take time out for yourself. Remember the example of the tortoise and the hare. You can win the race by moving slowly, but steadily. As an old expression from India goes, the secret to longevity is “no worry, no hurry, and no curry”.