Pitta Season Diet

“One’s diet (of various types) leads to promotion of strength and complexion only if he knows the wholesomeness according to (different) seasons dependent on behavior and diet.”— Charaka Samhita VI:3

Summer is the season of pitta, the body’s fire principle. Pitta’s qualities are hot, light, mobile, sharp, and oily. It governs the heat in the body and it is primarily responsible for digestion, transformation and intelligence.

Because pitta shares many of the same qualities as summer, it is more common for the body and mindto suffer from conditions resulting from aggravated pitta during the summer months. As it gets hotter, pitta-type physical imbalances such as inflammations, infections, skin irritations, hyperacidity, heat rashes and diarrhea are more common and pitta-type emotional imbalances such as impatience, anger and intolerance are experienced more often.

Simple adjustments in diet and lifestyle help prevent these conditions and maintain a state of balance. As a general rule, select foods and drinks that are naturally sweet, bitter and astringent. Limit or avoid things that are pungent, salty and sour especially: hot spices (such as cayenne, garlic, dry ginger, mustard seed and hing), breads that contain yeast, fermented foods, caffeine and alcohol.

 

You can also follow these 10 basic tips:

  1. Liquids: Avoid iced drinks, as Ayurveda teaches that extremely cold or iced drinks extinguish the digestive fire. Instead, during the summer it is best to take all drinks cool, warm or at room temperature.
  2. Fruit: Enjoy sweet fruits like apples and berries rather than sour or citrus fruits.
  3. Vegetables: Eat plenty of sweet and bitter vegetables like cucumbers, spinach, celery and zucchini rather than pungent veggies like raw onions, hot peppers and tomatoes.
  4. Grain: Choose white, wild or basmati rice rather than brown rice and go for quinoa, barley and bran rather than rye, corn and millet.
  5. Dairy: If you can digest dairy products, use ghee, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, unsalted butter and unsalted cheese. Ice cream is ok, on occasion. If you are prone to congestion or weight gain it is better to avoid it. Sour cream, buttermilk, and salted dairy products are not recommended, especially during the summer, as they are more heating.
  6. Meat: If you eat animal products, do so moderately, and try to limit it to the white meat of chicken or turkey, freshwater fish or egg whites.
  7. Spices: Use an abundance of cooling spices like cilantro, dill, coriander and fennel. Avoid heating spices like cayenne, chili peppers and mustard seeds. Fresh ginger is ok, but do not use dried ginger. Sprinkling coconut on foods is also a cooling treat.
  8. Legumes: Beans in general are astringent, and balancing for pitta. If you eat nuts, choose almonds (as they are less heating than other nuts). Soak and peel them for healthiest results. Sunflower seeds are lighter and less heating to nuts.
  9. Alcohol: If you drink alcohol, choose beer and dry white wine, in moderation. Avoid hard liquor and red wine which are heating.
  10. Tea or Coffee: Chamomile, dandelion, fennel, licorice and mint teas are best. You can also make a cumin-coriander-fennel tea. Coffee is not recommended. If you drink coffee, add cardamom as an antidote.

Pitta Season Recipes

Ayurveda recommends eating local and seasonal foods as nature provides the right foods for the season. Here are a few recipes to get your started on eating according to the rhythm of nature. While all recipes should contain the six categories of taste (sweet, salt, sour, pungent, astringent, bitter), pitta season recipes emphasize sweet, astringent and bitter and are cooling to the body.

Cool As A Cucumber Raita

  • 1 cup fresh yogurt
  • ¼ cup cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
  • ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped coriander leaves

Simply combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

Comments: This goes well with most curries, dals and Indian dishes. Other vegetables, such as grated daikon radish or carrot, can also be used here.

Sinfully Delicious Rice Pudding

A lovely, light, elegant dish, worthy of honored company. It is based on the saffron milk popular in India. Replacing cow’s milk with goat’s milk and sweetening with honey seems a perfectly tasty way to balance kapha, perhaps with a pinch of dry ginger to cut the sweet. Use any of the sweeteners except honey if you want to calm pitta.

  • ¾ cup basmati rice, uncooked
  • 3 cups cow’s milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon saffron
  • 15 cardamom seeds
  • 3–5 tablespoons brown rice syrup, honey or maple syrup (depending how sweet you like it)
  • Garnish: 2 teaspoons organic lemon peel, grated and 2 tablespoons toasted unsweetened shredded coconut

Wash the rice until the water is clear. Combine the rice, milk, saffron, and cardamom seeds in the top of a double boiler. Cover and cook (with water in the bottom or your double boiler) over low heat for 1 hour. While it is simmering, you can toast the coconut in a dry skillet if you like, unless you have happened upon a source of pre-toasted unsweetened coconut. It just takes a few minutes, stirring occasionally so it does not get too brown. Let it cool. When the rice is done, stir in the sweetener and top with lemon and coconut. Serve hot or cold.

Comments: Barley malt, rice bran syrup, sorghum, and maple syrup are all cool, heavy and moist: good for vata and pitta, to be avoided by kapha. Brown rice syrup is a good choice if you are looking for a sweetener without much flavor of its own; it distracts least from the taste of a dish compared to the other syrups.

Cantaloupe Smoothie

  • ½ fresh ripe cantaloupe
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander powder

Blend all ingredients together well in a blender.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai, Lotus Press, P.O. Box 325, Twin Lakes, WI 53181. ©1990 All Rights Reserved.

Cilantro Chutney

  • 1 head of cilantro – chop off the bottom thick stems, soak in a bowl of water to clean top [keep in mind the size of a cilantro bunch may vary, you may want to use two bunches if they are small—and adjust the liquid depending on the amount of cilantro]
  • ¼ cup dried coconut
  • ½ inch of fresh ginger, peeled
  • ½ of a green chilie (optional)
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Splash of filtered water (about ¼ cup)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Put all of the ingredients in blender and blend until smooth…adjust consistency with more or less water. This will store nicely in a glass jar in the fridge for 3 days.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Kaya Mindlin.

Cleansing Kitchari

  • ½ cup split mung beans
  • 1 cup basmati rice

Wash them both thoroughly, melt ghee and add spices: fresh ginger,turmeric (fresh or powdered), powdered fennel, cumin and coriander. Add rice, beans and 6 cups water, then bring to boil. Turn down to simmer for 45 minutes or until mung beans are very soft in pot on stove (or make in crock pot cooking overnight—be sure there’s plenty of water or you’re making a much larger batch to activate the heating elements in the crock pot). After cooking, add salt to taste. If you live at altitude, cook the mung beans for 45 minutes while soaking the rice, then add the rice and cook for 45 minutes more.

Recipe printed with permission from Alakananda Ma.

Cool Mint Tea

  • 1 cup fresh peppermint leaves or ¼ cup dried peppermint
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 1 quart cold or room-temperature water
  • 2 tablespoons honey or rice syrup (optional, Pitta needs to drink this with rice syrup and kapha with honey only)

Pour quart of boiling water over mint in teapot or other heatproof container. Cover; let steep for 20 minutes. Strain tea into pitcher or Mason jar; stir in sweetener. Add cool water, stir. Chill in refrigerator at least one hour, or serve immediately with a few ice cubes.

Comments: This is a great drink for aiding digestion and calming the nerves on a hot day. Spearmint or catnip can also be used. Good for people looking for flavorful non-caffeinated alternatives to juice or soda, also for those on their iced tea in the summer.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai, Lotus Press, P.O. Box 325, Twin Lakes, WI 53181. ©1990 All Rights Reserved.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups asparagus, 1 inch pieces
  • 1–2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, warm olive oil. Braise onion, garlic, and asparagus for a couple minutes. Add water. Cover and simmer for about an hour. In blender, grind sunflower seeds into a fine powder. Gradually pour the broth and vegetables into the blender with the ground seeds, blending a little at a time. Blend well. Put the soup through a food mill or a coarse stainless steel strainer, stirring it through the mesh with a wooden spoon. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Serve. Good warm or cool.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners by Amadea Morningstar, Lotus Press, P.O. Box 325, Twin Lakes, WI 53181. ©1995 All Rights Reserved.

Favorite Snow Peas

  • 2 cups fresh snow peas
  • 1½ tablespoon ghee

Wash snow peas and pat dry. Warm ghee in a large skillet. Toss in snow peas. Stir to coat well with ghee. Cover and cook over medium heat until beautifully green and tender, two to three minutes at most.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners by Amadea Morningstar, Lotus Press, P.O. Box 325, Twin Lakes, WI 53181. ©1995 All Rights Reserved.

Pitta Soothing Tea

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons dried alfalfa leaves
  • 3 tablespoons dried comfrey
  • 1 tablespoon spearmint
  • 1 tablespoon red clover
  • ⅛ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 tablespoon rose petals

Bring water to a boil in a stainless steel saucepan Remove from heat and add herbs Cover and let steep for 10 minutes or more. Strain, squeezing the tea out of herbs well. Sweeten with a little maple syrup if you like. Good hot or cool.

Comments: This is a particularly nutritive tea for pitta, for overall strengthening and tonifying. It is a strong brew. If you like, you can dilute it with an additional two cups of water. Plain chamomile or mint make good simple teas for calming Pitta, when simplicity is the priority.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners by Amadea Morningstar, Lotus Press, P.O. Box 325, Twin Lakes, WI 53181. ©1995 All Rights Reserved.

Rice with Garden Herbs

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter or sunflower oil

A combination of fresh garden herbs including basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and mint. Wash the rice; add the water or stock, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, butter (vegans can omit). Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Meantime, pick the herbs. When the rice is almost cooked, add the herbs and let them steam on top of the rice. Remove from the heat and let sit for five minutes, then gently stir in the herbs with a fork. Serve with garden vegetables e.g. steamed green beans or stir-fried zucchinis.

Recipe printed with permission from Alakananda Ma.