Ayurvedic Corner ~ Red Lentil Soup

The flu is going around here in the Verde Valley.  There are many people with aches and pains, congestion, fevers, and coughs.  This sort of pathology can manifest and stem from all three doshas depending on the presentation.  For this month’s article, I’ll share a recipe from Dr. Lad’s Ayurvedic Cooking For Self Healing.  According to Dr. Lad, this red lentil soup is good to take during the flu and episodes of diarrhea.

1 cup red lentils
5 cups water
2 tspns safflower oil
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn black mustard seeds
1 pinch hing
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
5 curry leaves, fresh or dried
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
½ tspn turmeric
1 tspn masala powder
½ tspn salt


Wash the beans twice and soak overnight in plenty of water.  Drain.  Add the beans and 4 cups of water to a soup pot and bring to a boil.  Cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Stir beans occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add 1 more cup of water and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes or until beans are tender.  Set aside.  Heat the oil in a small pan or frying pan until medium hot, then add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing.  At the moment, when the seeds pop, stir in the garlic and brown lightly.  Add the curry leaves, cilantro, turmeric, and masala powder.  Mix quickly.  Stir the spice mixture into the soup, then add the salt.  Add some or all of the last cup of water, depending on how thick you want the soup.  Bring to a boil for 2 minutes and serve with rice and chapati or bread.  (I would suggest here to serve this with turmeric rice for an added medicinal punch.)
Overall, this soup is tridoshic.  Red lentils contain sweet and astringent tastes.  They have a cooling virya and sweet vipaka.  They are high in folate, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.  They may increase Vata dosha on their own, though in this recipe they are well balanced and antidoted by the spices and oil.  Stay healthy and strong in the new year with Dr. Lad’s red lentil soup!

Melissa Camacho, guest writer, is a licensed acupuncturist and Ayurvedic practitioner in Sedona. To contact her, please  click here.
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