Nutrition & Recipes

The Vedic Chef: 3 Vegan Meals to Balance the Doshas

The Vedic Chef: 3 Vegan Meals to Balance the Doshas
According to Ayurveda, good digestion is the most significant factor in our overall health. It will not only ensure prevention of disease, but ultimately lead to feelings of lightness, energy, and bliss. Eating the right foods for your dosha, or mind-body type, is one way to keep your digestion strong. Read more about Chef Johnny Brannigan’s view on the Art of Digestion.

These four recipes will create a complete meal to balance the doshas, Vata and Pitta, and will also be suitable for Kapha in moderation. Plus, they’re easy to make and delicious!


kitchari-dish-on-stove-top.jpgOne of greatest and most easily digested complete meals in Ayurvedic cooking is kitchari. This simply prepared and endlessly varied grain dish combines protein and carbohydrate in a single dish. Although it is typically made with white basmati rice and mung dahl, feel free to substitute other types of rice, such as brown basmati, wild rice, black rice, red rice, or buckwheat. Substituting lentils such as puy, red, or brown for split mung dahl is also an option, but be sure to allow for longer cooking times if you use substitutes.

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and great for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas. It was originally published in the book “Eat Taste Heal.”


  • 1 cup white basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
  • ⅓ cup split mung dahl (split hulled mung beans), rinsed thoroughly, and soaked for 6 hrs
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoons organic sunflower or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons Chef Johnny’s Vata Seasoning or mild curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s amino acids (optional)
  • ½ cup organic coconut milk, preferably fresh
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or jaggery
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Put the rinsed rice, mung dahl and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat.Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add to the pan even layers of zucchini and sweet potato on top of the rice mixture. Cover the pan again and cook until the rice mixture has absorbed all the water, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, heat the oil over low heat.Add the pumpkin seeds and scallions and cook, stirring, until the seeds turn light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the vata seasoning or the mild curry powder and then the Bragg’s until thoroughly combined. Stir in the coconut milk, lemon juice, and maple syrup and cook for 10 minutes. Add the scallion mixture to the rice and stir to blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover with lid and bake in a hot oven about 400°F for 15-20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with lemon and chopped cilantro for garnish, and serve hot.

Makes 2-3 servings

Steamed Coconuts With Goji Berry and Orange Sauce

orange-coconut-dish-with-goji-berries-in-a-bowl.jpgYoung coconuts are one of the most important fruits within the tropics because of their potassium and mineral rich water. The unique combination of goji berries and blood orange juice provide super high vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants; and the sweet and sour, rich fruit flavor together with West Indies spices capture the essence of exotic island life.

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and great for Vata and Pitta doshas. It will be featured in Chef Johnny’s forthcoming book, Vegetable Soup for the Spirit.


  • 2 white young organic coconuts
  • 1 cup goji berries
  • juice from 6-7 blood or navel oranges
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • 1 date
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 12 finely chopped mint leaves

  • 1 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon clove powder
Crunchy Topping Masala Mix:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped leek
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger
    juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Chef Johnny’s Vata or Pitta Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or basil or parsley or marjoram or mix
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Take out the coconut meat and cut in 4 pieces. Steam for 7 minutes.Warm orange juice in the pan and add all ingredients except mint.

Gently cook and stir until it thickens about 15 minutes. Should be thick, like syrup.Blend everything in a blender or magic bullet except coconut meat, add mint leaves, and stir.

Directions for Masala Mix Topping:

In a saucepan, heat the oil and add ginger, then leak and sesame seeds.Stir and sauté for 3-4 minutes.Add the spices and keep stirring for another 5 minutes until crunchy and golden.Turn off the heat and add lemon and herbs.

Serve coconut pieces on kitchari, rice, or mashed parsnip. Pour sauce over coconut pieces and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Chinese Style Zucchini

chinese-style-zucchini-in-a-bamboo-bowl.jpgIt never ceases to amaze me how by simply cutting a vegetable in a certain way and using a slightly different cooking method, one achieves a totally new and wonderful taste. This one cooks in 3-4 minutes!

There are numerous health benefits from eating zucchini, known as courgettes in Europe, they are easily digested and low in calories helping to curb obesity and lower high cholesterol levels. Zucchini is also high in fiber so they promote regular bowel movements, remove toxins from the colon, act as a powerful antioxidant, and help prevent carcinogenic toxin formation. Packed with vitamin A, they’re also great for vision, and their high water content will give skin a healthy glow, hydrate the body, and help with swelling around the eyes.

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and great to balance the Pitta and Vata doshas. It will be featured in Chef Johnny’s forthcoming book, Vegetable Soup for the Spirit.


  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced on the slicer part of a grater or wafer thin
  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Chef Johnny’s Pitta Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt is optional


Heat the oil very hot, but without smoking, in a pan.Add the sesame seeds, stir for 1 minute then add the sliced zucchini.Add pitta seasoning and lemon juice.Cook on a high heat and stir briefly until just tender. Put the lid on the pan. Serve immediately.

Makes 4-5 serving