If an Ayurvedi made the nutrition labels we see on the foods we buy from the store, they’d have a slightly different way of organizing the information. Rather than displaying calories, carbs, fats, proteins, sugars, etc., they’d list out the tastes, digestive effect on the body, as well as the food’s emotional constituents, all of which you’d be able to use to understand whether the food would be balancing for your body and your mind.
Most of us turn toward the sweet taste—which is dominant in all foods—when we’re looking for emotional support. That’s because its elemental makeup of water and earth evoke the feelings of safety and connection. But sweet is also building, and if our agni is not strong enough to handle that density of food—as is often the case during the summer—or if we’re not requiring that degree of nutrition based on our activity, the scales of body versus heart nourishment can tip into an unhealthy balance.
In this Saag with Moong Dal, the main tastes are bitter and astringent, which are ideal for balancing pitta dosha in summer—cleansing the blood and preventing hot emotions from building up in the mind. And while it may seem counterintuitive to eat warm foods in the summer, cooking makes foods lighter and easier to digest, which your agni will thank you for. These spices are on the heating side, largely to balance the cold nature of the vegetables (which can cause gas and bloating if un-spiced); if you feel you are already running hot, reduce the quantity and/or variety of spices (a good simplification would be 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder + 1 teaspoon of coriander).
Saag with Moong Dal
For the dal
- ½ cup moong dal rinsed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the Saag
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil or ghee
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon hingwastak optional; or substitute 1 teaspoon additional cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 curry leaves chopped (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 shallot chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 3 celery stalks finely chopped
- 1 medium broccoli crown chopped
- 10-12 large Brussels sprouts quartered
- ½ bunch dandelion greens chopped
- ½ bunch fresh spinach chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Fresh cilantro to serve
- Flaky sea salt to serve
- In a medium saucepan, combine the dal, salt, and 1 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the dal is soft.
- In a separate large pot or Dutch oven, combine the oil, coriander, cumin, mustard, hingwastak, pepper, nutmeg, and curry leaves. Cook over low heat for about 3 minutes until the spices are fragrant and browning. Add the garlic, shallot, ginger, and celery, stir to coat in the spices, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dandelion, and spinach. Stir to coat in the spices, and cook for about 5 minutes to begin softening the vegetables. Add the water, lightly cover the pot with a lid, and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft—softer than you think they need to be.
- Remove from heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, and taste to adjust for spices.
- Serve the saag alongside a scoop of dal and finish with a healthy pinch of cilantro, salt, and/or additional oil or ghee, as desired.
- You will likely have more vegetables left over than dal; store the saag in an airtight container for up to 3 days, and prepare fresh dal for additional servings.