|| श्री दिग्विजयपठ्ठाभिरामो विजयते || || हरिः सर्वोत्तमः वायुः जीवोत्तमः ||
|| श्री दिग्विजयपठ्ठाभिरामो विजयते || || हरिः सर्वोत्तमः वायुः जीवोत्तमः ||
Today, winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year. The Vedic winter solstice is around the corner on January 14th when Sun enters the sign of Capricorn. Either way, it is early winter season or hemanta ṝtu in the northern hemisphere. During winter season, our digestive fire aka jaṭharāgni is the strongest. It is akin to a strong fire that consumes everything that it comes into contact with. Hence, it is important that we feed this fire with rich food. What a nice problem to have, right?! This season demands food predominant in sweet, sour and salt tastes.
In spirit of the winter season and the upcoming Holiday season, here is a sweet treat from my kitchen to yours. It is uber simple. It is a no-bake, no-fry, no-grill, no-cook recipe that can be ready in no time. And it requires just a few readily available pantry ingredients. All you need is a cheap mini chopper/blender which makes this an ideal dorm recipe.
What it lacks in decadence, it more than makes up for it in health benefits. It feeds the sweet tooth without feeding the guilt. Plus, it will keep for a few weeks in your cabinet without need for refrigeration.
So go ahead try this recipe for your dinner parties this season or make a batch for yourself if you are planning to fly solo.
6-8 pitted medjool dates
1/4 mixed nuts (almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1 tsp poppy seeds (aka khus-khus)
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp organic ghee
A pinch of salt for good measure
Lightly toast the mixed nuts until golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Coarsely grind the nuts. Combine nuts and roughly chopped dates in a chopper along with cinnamon powder, salt until well combined. You could also just use your hands to knead the mixture into a dough. Grease your hands with a few drops of ghee (as needed) and shape the dough into quarter-sized balls. Roll them in desiccated coconut and lightly toasted poppy seeds. You could use some ghee to adjust the consistency of the mixture if the mixture is too dry or if the dough is not easily pliable. Garnish with toasted nuts if you fancy.
Makes about 8 treats with the above measurement.
These treats are ojas-promoting i.e., they nourish all tissues of the body and improve immunity. These are suitable for most body types barring individuals with diabetes or obesity. These are especially good for convalescents, those with general debility, women in postpartum care, and/or those in the post-PK phase (post-panchakarma) of treatment.
Enjoy the sweet treat! Happy Holidays, folks!
P.S: This is not a classical Ayurvedic preparation. The dish (including the name) is conceived by the practitioner @Sri Ranga based on Ayurvedic principles.
Ojokara Modaka : Sweet treat made from nuts and dates
Tis the season! And with that comes festive spirit, celebratory feasts, social gatherings, prezzies and endless entertaining. Amidst the lockdown, this year's Holiday celebration is bound to be unlike others in the recent past with virtual Santa visits, Netflix binges, cybershopping, take-outs and homey, intimate family dinners bringing the busiest retail and travel season to a screeching halt. But the celebration and the festive spirit does not have to stall. And nothing gets the celebration going like a good spread of food and a hot beverage! It is also during this time that consumption of beverages like alcohol, tea, coffee shoots up. And surprisingly, coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks gets away with a seemingly innocuous reputation much to our peril.
Ayurveda does not recommend caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea on a habitual basis, and neither of the two beverages were consumed in ancient India. Both coffee and tea were introduced to the people of India by foreigners. Here is why coffee and tea are not considered healthy for daily consumption. Coffee, tea and alcohol have attributes similar to that of poison. Here are the attributes of poison that coffee/tea/alcohol also have in common - light (laghu), drying (ruksha), spreads to all parts of the body swiftly (vyavayi), loosens joints (vikashi), clarifying (vishada), subtle (sukshma) and sharp (tikshna). When these properties combine together to act on our body, it depletes our vital energy and sustenance. In other words, these are substances that are capable of harming our body when introduced. Having said that, like all substances coffee-tea can be beneficial when administered sparingly as medicine in some rare cases. Not when used like an item on our grocery list. So for all those of you who find coffee/tea to be your kryptonite, here is an incredibly delicious idea for a hot beverage to keep you warm through the chill this Holiday season. Best of all, it is vegan, dairy- and gluten-free and caffeine-free. I am calling dibs on this one!
1/4 cup shelled hazelnuts
1 tsp carob powder
1 tbsp pure cane sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup water
A pinch of salt
Soak hazelnuts in about a cup of water overnight. Peel off the skin. Blitz together peeled hazelnuts, 1/4 cup of water and remaining ingredients in your blender until creamy. Pour the mixture into a pan along with remaining water and heat up over low-medium heat for a few minutes until warm. Remove from stove and pour into a mug. Your morning beverage is ready. It is that simple. If you fancy a latte, whisk it until frothy at the top. You could use almonds instead of hazelnuts as well. Also, for the stubborn hazelnut skin that won't come off, simply boil them in a little water with a pinch of baking soda. The skin comes rights off. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
This beverage is ideal for those who are looking to wean off of coffee-tea but find themselves hooked to their morning cuppa or an evening pick-me-up. Plus, it does not leave you jittery like a coffee nor will you have to worry about a caffeine crash. On the contrary, the richness of hazelnuts and the warmth of cinnamon keeps you grounded and nourished. Carob is a great caffeine-free alternative for cacao but with similar taste. A cheat-sheet for chocolate lovers. What's not to love about this nut-milk, right?!
Here's wishing all of you a very joyous and healthy Holiday Season!
Stay warm. Stay well.
Hazelnut Beverage - Nut milk, Coffee-alternative
Today marks the auspicious occasion of Dhanvantari Trayodashi aka Dhanvantari Jayanti, the day of manifestation of Lord Dhanvantari, the promulgator of Āyurveda, primordial healer and physician. According to the ancient texts, Lord Dhanvantari appeared from the ocean on this day during what is popularly known as Samudra Manthan i.e. the churning of the ocean by the demigods and the demons. He appeared with a pot of elixir/nectar of immortality (amrit) due to which He is also referred to as Amritakalashahastā.
Dhanvantari Jayanti and its observance is not just dedicated to Ayurvedic practitioners, it bears significance for the entire world community and those who seek well-being. Most ancient texts of Āyurveda dedicate at least a chapter or two in commemoration of Lord Dhanvantari and narrate the origin of Āyurveda, even when the authors remain nameless with utmost humility in an effort to honor the tradition, a divine tradition (daivī sampradaya). What comes through clearly through the narration in each of the texts is that the tradition of Āyurveda was intended for universal good and well-being. The tradition of Āyurveda continued uninterrupted for hundreds of years in the Indian sub-continent and its knowledge spread far and wide across various parts of the world transmuting into different healing practices through the silk route.
But the pure tradition of Āyurveda and its knowledge was able to survive only under the aegis and patronage of select kings of India after the practice was willfully oppressed and condemned by the British as heretic and heathen during their colonial rule.
Here is the brief glimpse into the early origin of Āyurveda which has stood the test of time for the benefit of humanity as narrated in one of the texts.
एकदा देवराजस्य दृष्टिर्निपतिता भुवि | तत्र तेन नरा दृष्टा व्याधिभिर्भुशपीडिताः ||
तादृष्ट्वा ह्रुदयं तस्य दयया परिपीडितम् | दयाऽऽद्रेह्रुदयः शक्रो धन्वन्तरिमुवाच ||
धन्वन्तरे ! सुरश्रेष्ट ! भगवन् ! किञ्चिदुच्यते । योग्यो भवति भूतानामुपकारपरो भव ॥
उपकाराय लोकानां केन किं न कृतं पुरा | त्रैलोक्याधिपतिर्विष्णुरभून्मत्स्यादिरूपवान् ||
तस्मात्त्वं पृथिवीं याहि काशीमध्ये नृपो भव । प्रतीकाराय रोगाणामायुर्वेदं प्रकाशय ॥
इत्युक्त्वा सुरशार्दूलः सर्वभूतहितेप्सया । समस्तमायुषौ वेदं धन्वन्तरिमुपादिशत् ॥
अधीत्य चायुषो वेदमिन्द्राद्धन्वन्तरिः पुरा । आगत्य पृथिवीं काश्यां जातो बाहुजवेश्मनि ॥
नाम्ना तु सोऽभवत्खयातो दिवोदास इति क्षितौ । बाल एव विरक्तोऽभूञ्चचार सुमहत्त्पः ॥
यत्नेन महता ब्र्ह्मा तं काश्यामकरोन्नृपम् । ततो धन्वन्तरिलोकैः काशीराजोऽभिधीयते ॥
हिताय देहिनां स्वीया संहिता विहिताऽमुना । अथ विध्यार्थिनो लोकान्संहितां तामपाठयत् ॥
Once, Indra (lord of demigods) took a look at this world and saw the people suffering greatly from diseases, this sight made his mind filled with compassion and he addressed Dhanvantari thus, “You Dhanvantari, the best of gods, the worshipful, let me speak a few words, you are the best person to help the people of the world; Vishnu, the Lord of the three worlds did help the people by your fish incarnation etc., in the past. So go to the world of men, become a king in Kāśī (kingdom/city), propagate āyurveda in order to destroy diseases.” With these words the lion king of gods, desirous of the welfare of all living beings, taught the entire science of life.
Dhanvantari came to this world and took birth in the house of the king named Divodāsa. When he was still a boy, he became an ascetic and worshipped Brahma by hard penance. Pleased with it, Brahma made him the king of Kāśī then he became reputed as Dhanvantari the kāśīrāja (king of the kingdom of Kāśī). He composed a treatise of his own for the benefit of the people and taught it to his disciples also.
Later, sage Vishwamitra through his divine powers learned about Lord Dhanvantari’s appearance as kāśīrāja and prompts his son Suśruta to go to Dhanvantari and learn Ayurveda. Complying his father’s request Suśruta went to Kāśī along with a hundred sons of other sages who were eager to study with him. Suśruta was the first among them to compose a text which became well-known as Suśruta samhitā.
Reference: Bhāvaprakāśa, translated by Prof. K.R. Srikantha Murthy
This story is a reminder that the disease burden of the world is not a new phenomenon as the current pandemic would have some of us believe. The cycle of life on this planet is eternal. So too is the cycle of disease and healing. This story is a reminder that the divine powers are always working to uplift humanity even as we falter. It is yet another clear demonstration of the unbounded compassion of the Divine.
On the occasion of the upcoming festival of lights Deepavāli, let us pray for the light of wisdom to enter our lives to dispel all darkness and ignorance that shrouds our being. It is the ignorance that leads us to our downfall, and it is the light of wisdom that leads us to the truth and goodness. And Deepavāli is an observance to remind us all that goodness always trumps evil. And in that spirit, wishing all those who celebrate a joyous and meaningful Deepavāli.