Forget quick-fix food fads. Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old Indian way of eating and cooking built around the idea of a life in balance. Here, Ayurveda advocate Jasmine Hemsley introduces the philosophy and flavours behind her new cookbook East by West with simple, nourishing recipes for your ultimate new year mind-body balance
“Ayurveda is designed to enhance health and wellbeing. You don’t need to do everything to enjoy the benefits – dip your toes in with the tips and recipes in my book.”
“I think what we eat affects us mentally, emotionally, spiritually and, of course, physically. We become what we eat, or rather what we digest, and that’s not fun when the food we consume is exhausting, over stimulating or makes you feel guilty. Ayurveda is about balance and mindful eating – helping you stay present so you can really savour food.
“I’ve come a long way from the cheese and ketchup toasties I lived on in my first year of university. When I started modelling full time, it was an awakening – few jobs make you think so much about the effects of food and lifestyle habits on your body. When I discovered Ayurveda, the oldest healing system in the world, I was both a little late and a little early to the party. It was 2001 and health was all about fitness: punitive gym sessions, restrictive eating programmes. Everything comes full circle, and we’ve realized that old-fashioned, slow-grown methods win hands down. There’s a new fashion for wellbeing, and practices like yoga and meditation are becoming mainstream.
The newly popular steaming mugs of ‘turmeric latte’ are in fact based on Golden Milk, an ancient nourishing drink, and now-ubiquitous energy balls are based on traditional Ayurvedic sweets called ladoos.
“I champion real butter, meat of good provenance and milk and sugars, which have become the outcasts of modern health philosophies, but which Ayurveda teaches can be good in their whole form. All my recipes are satisfying and nourishing, straightforward to make and use readily available ingredients. Ayurvedic cooking is about following guiding principles rather than rules. It’s the ultimate way to know how to balance your inner world with your ever-changing environment, so I hope this book helps people feel more connected, well-rounded and excited about life.”
East by West: Simple Recipes for Ultimate Mind-Body Balance by Jasmine Hemsley is out now, published by Bluebird (£25)
“This balancing and calming dish is dedicated to our Ayurvedic family friends, the Rajus. The recipe contains basmati rice, milk, ghee, dates and almonds, making it perfect for a breakfast or evening meal.”
Ingredients 60g (generous 1⁄4 cup) white basmati rice
300ml whole milk
1⁄2 tsp ghee
1 tbsp pitted medjool dates, chopped
10g currants or raisins
10g blanched almonds or cashews, chopped and soaked for 1 hour
5 cardamom pods (you can add these whole, or just use the seeds)
Salt and pepper
Large pinch of ground turmeric
2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
For the topping (optional)
1⁄2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp coconut flakes
1⁄2 tsp jaggery
Rinse the rice in a sieve with cold water, then drain and add it to a saucepan. Add the milk, water, ghee and other ingredients.
Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Allow it to simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rice is soft and the consistency is thick and creamy.
For the optional topping, add the coconut oil, coconut slices and jaggery to a small saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for one-to-two minutes, stirring constantly, until lightly golden and crisp.
Divide the milk rice between two bowls and add the topping.
Tikka fish and pak choi with
carrot, fennel and mustard stir-fry
“This is a deliciously easy fish dish that I can pop in the oven while I prepare a stir-fry of vegetables, so it’s perfect for entertaining.”
Ingredients 1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus extra to taste
1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds or ground cumin
2-3 tbsp ghee
1 lime or lemon
1/2-1 tbsp water (optional)
2 fillets (about 300g) firm white fish
1 pak choi, quartered lengthways
1 fennel, trimmed and sliced
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1⁄4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
2 large carrots
Mix the ginger, turmeric, garam masala, black pepper, salt and cumin. Combine with one tablespoon of ghee and the juice of half a lime to make a paste, adding up to one tablespoon of water. Coat the fish in the paste and marinate in the fridge for at least two hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/gas mark 4). In a large pan, melt one tablespoon of the ghee over a medium heat and sear the pak choi until golden, then season with salt and pepper. Place the fish on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes. Add the pak choi for the last five minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the rest of the ghee in the same pan and sauté the fennel. When lightly browned, add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop (be careful not to let them burn and become bitter). Add the carrot, season and stir-fry for a few minutes, until just tender. Plate everything up and squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
Buckwheat banana bread
with salty butter
“Banana bread is everyone’s favourite and this malty, not-too-sweet version toasts beautifully. Bananas work with the buckwheat to make the dough – no eggs or gluten needed.”
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/gas mark 4). Mix the buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt together in a large bowl.
Mix the mashed bananas, water and vanilla together, then add to the bowl. Mix in the raisins, walnuts and remaining banana slices.
Transfer the mixture to a 750g loaf tin lined with baking parchment. Bake for 25 minutes, then turn the tin around and bake for another 15 minutes until the bread is firm-ish to the touch. Allow to cool before slicing, then serve with butter.
Recipes: Jasmine Hemsley / Photographer: Nick Hopper / Editor: Emma Sleight