I have recently returned from a 5 day panchakarma detox at the famous Amrtasiddhi Centre (http://www.amrtasiddhi.com), situated on the outskirts of the Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga and is the preferred form of medicine in India. It is based on a qualified ayurvedic doctor identifying what your dosha type is (vatta, pitta, kapha or a mixture of these) and treating you on this basis. Once your dosha type has been established you can begin to understand yourself at a deeper level and know how best to balance yourself and prevent illness, which according to ayurveda is caused by a dosha imbalance. I am apparently a vatta-pitta. Creative, social and energetic but prone to over-excitement and worry. Sounds about right then!
I spent 5 days on a strict abbreviated panchakarma cleanse (it normally lasts 21 days but I don't have that much holiday leave!) where I ate mostly melted ghee (this makes your colon slippery) and herbal pills (see photo), accompanied by various healing treatments, meditation and yoga. The whole thing culminated with a liver flush on the last night (think extreme herbal laxative potion and a nappy and not much sleep), follow by a restorative ayurvedic cookery class, healing supper and loving pat-on-the-back.
I loved and hated the experience simultaneously. The detox elements (especially the liver flush) were brutal and the enormity of time I had to myself to think (you are sent to bed when the sun sets at 7pm and advised not to get out of bed again until sunrise the following day) was harder than you might expect. BUT by god did I feel amazing for it. I left the Amrtasiddhi Centre half a stone lighter, a lifetime of worries gone, embalmed by this wholly serene asensation of absolute bliss which cannot be explained, only experienced. What's more, I am writing this a month later and I still feel great. I understand myself better than I have ever and seem to intuitively know what to do and when for my mind and body. I have honestly never been happier (and I was really happy before).
This is a photo from the ayurvedic cookery lesson which taught me how to cook a meal intended to balance all dosha types and restore the body. It tasted delicious and made me feel delicious too. The recipes include kitchari (similar to congee - healing spiced rice and vegetable broth), chickpea sauce, spiced green-beans, dosee (delicious ayurvedic pancake) and fresh mint chutney.
i) Put the following ingredients in a pressure cooker pan, and cook for 5-6 whistles.
2T ghee in pan
1t cumin seed
30g fresh ginger, grated
100g green bean
100g extra veg
1 cup Skinless Mung bean
1 cup white rice (can swap rice) - if so, part cook outside pan
1t tumeric powder
1/4 t pepper, powder
6 cups water
ii) Leave mixture in pan with lid on to cool down.
Stage 1 – Soaked Chickpeas
i) Soak 3 cups chickpeas overnight in enough water to cover.
ii) In the morning, rinse the chickpeas and cover with fresh water in a pan. Add 1t turmeric powder and 1t salt, and pressure cook for 2-3 whistle blows (or 30 minutes in a normal pan). The resulting chickpeas should be just cooked but no more.
Stage 2 - Garam Masala (can make multiple batches at once and its lasts one month at room temp)
i) Dry roast the following spices on a medium flame:
1T coriander seed
1t cumin seed
1/2t fennel seed
1 star anise
5 cardamom pods (lightly crushed)
1/2 cinnamon stick
ii) Add 1 stalk of curry leaf or 1/2t curry powder at the end.
iii) Grind mixture with a mortar and pestle.
Heat 2 T ghee in a pan, then add the following ingredients (in this order) and saute for approximately 5 minutes.
1t mustard seed
1 stalk curry leaf
4 small shallots, chopped
50g fresh ginger, while piece
3 pieces garlic
1 big red chilli
1 tomato, skinless and seedless and diced
Add this mixture to a blender.
Add 1 cup of the soaked chickpeas and associated liquid to the blender.
Blend to paste.
Stage 4 – Bringing it all together!
i) Heat 2T ghee in a pan and add:
1t black mustard seed
1 stalk curry leaf
ii) Add the remaining soaked chickpeas and associated water to the pan, then the blended mixture from stage 3 and 2t salt.
iii) Once the mixture is boiling, add 3t garam masala.
GREEN BEANS (or other veg!)
Heat 2T coconut oil (or ghee) in a pan, then add the following spices and sautée for approximately 4 minutes:
1 t mustard seed
1stalk curry leaf
30g chopped onion
Add sliced green beans to the pan, plus the following ingredients and saute for approximately 10 minutes:
2t sea salt
1t turmeric powder
1t chilli powder
iii) Add 6 massive tablespoons of grated raw coconut/desiccated coconut.
DOSEE – ayurvedic pancake (serves about 2/3)
Soak the following ingredients with just enough water to cover overnight.
1 cup white rice/ brown rice
1/4 cup dosee seeds
ii) In the morning, rinse and add to a blender with sufficient fresh water to cover. Add 1t salt. Blend.
iii) Spread 1T ghee on frying pan and spread evenly using a brush or half potato (top tip!)
iv) Put one ladle of the mixture on the frying pan and sprinkle with a little ghee/coconut oil.
v) Heat and cover for 1 minute.
vi) Flip pancake and cook the other side (uncovered is fine) for another minute.
Blend the following ingredients until fully incorporated.
250g fresh grated coconut
50g mint leaf
1 sliced shallot
1/2 small chilli
1.5t sea salt
1T lime juice
1 cup water