Tag Archives: ayurvedic

Restaurant Review: Kriya Bhavan Ayurvedic Cuisine (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)

By Jana Thevar and Ganesh Asirvatham

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I must admit I was skeptical when Ganesh suggested that we review Kriya Bhavan. An Ayurvedic restaurant? But isn’t all South Indian vegetarian food Ayurvedic in nature, I asked. However, curiosity got the better of me and we found ourselves there last Sunday.

I was surprised to find that we were the only people there (granted, at 11.30am we were early for lunch by Malaysian standards). I found the ambience lovely – spotlessly clean, neat, cozy and unassuming.

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The owner, Suresh, approached us with a big smile and quickly ran through the offerings for the day. He mentioned a 25-course Ayurvedic lunch and asked us if we’d like to try it. Although I was seriously tempted by the tantalizing array of ‘regular’ food which was available for self-serving, I went with Ganesh’s choice as well. After all, I was there to review the ‘Ayurvedicness’ of the food.

Ganesh’s write-up below will go into the details of what was served according to sequence. As a brief overview, the meal started off with five shot glasses of various types of liquids and light starters, followed by raw veggies, then graduating onto the heavier fare like rice and curries. The Ayurvedic lunch concluded with an Indian dessert and a dollop of honey.

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I really liked how dedicated and involved Suresh was when it came to his passion. He did a great job of explaining things in detail to customers, such as what each food item is supposed to do for your body per Ayurvedic principles. He’s bubbly and friendly, yet patient and shows genuine enthusiasm in his area of expertise, which is refreshing and rare in these times of sour-faced, grumpy restaurant personnel who couldn’t care less if you choked to death on a mound of rice or found a cockroach in your rasam.

Accustomed as I am to the usual South Indian way of eating banana leaf rice, I found it hard to not mix the courses up and eat them one by one per Suresh’s recommendation. Why are we supposed to consume each course separately? A number of reasons as explained by Suresh:

(1) to enable the system to detox and cleanse itself properly before the heavier food is introduced into the digestive tract, and

(2) to allow the body to produce the right enzymes to digest each type of food individually for maximum health benefit.

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As a yoga person and Ayurvedic practitioner, I would say that sounds about right. The food was delicious, fresh and not overcooked, and the combinations were more or less Ayurvedically accurate from what I know, so I give this place the green light. A HUGE green light because damn, I absolutely loved it. I’m definitely going back for more, and repeatedly.

The only fail was the kulfi, or Indian ice cream (not part of the Ayurvedic meal, and according to Suresh it was ordered from an outside vendor). It tasted overpoweringly of condensed milk, and I truly despise cheap shortcuts when it comes to kulfi-making. For me it’s either fresh milk cooked down the traditional way, or it’s not fit to be called kulfi. Needless to say, I won’t be ordering that again.

What Ganesh Says

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Kriya Bhavan offers the jaded Indian food connoisseur a heady entrance into the delights of an Ayurvedic meal. Suresh the ever-smiling proprietor took great pains to educate us on the food combinations, as well as the rationale behind it all.

I admit that I paid overmuch attention to the food and taste that the explanation got somewhat left behind. I’ve no choice but to visit Kriya Bhavan again to complete my education. It’s tough being a food blogger but we all must make sacrifices.

But I digress.

The Ayurvedic meal is only available Friday to Sunday. RM15 seems like an acceptable amount for the number and quality of dishes served.

The culinary voyage began with a plate of food and five shots of various liquids. Pay attention dear reader lest you skip a step.

Dishes and Sequence

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The plate of food arrived with the shots and we were given strict instructions on how these were to be consumed. I was famished by the time the food arrived but paid enough attention to follow the sequence exactly.

Starters:

  • Banana cooked lightly with grated coconut
  • Five shots to be drunk in sequence – date juice, soy milk, buttermilk, spinach juice and rice water
  • Brown rice cooked in something or the other – but tasted awesome!

Next, we were told to consume raw items before moving on to the semi-cooked fare, and finally ending with fully-cooked items.

The raw items were:

  • Purple cabbage
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded carrots
  • Diced tender banana stem
  • Sliced celery

No sequence to consume these, but we were told to eat each item on its own – this rule applied throughout the entire meal experience. The portions are small so don’t worry if raw veggies aren’t quite your jam.

Next came the semi-cooked part of the meal, and there was finally some rice. We were given a sprinkling of moringa powder (lightly sautéed with spices) and some liquid ghee. I don’t know if it was because I was hungry or that I was craving some rice but my oh my, the combination was absolutely dynamite. I was tempted to ask for more, but instead chose to exercise some restraint and bide my time.

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Finally, it was time for the cooked portion of the meal. The same brown rice from earlier can be used but if you happen to want more, Suresh will be more than happy to serve you the amount that you desire.

The cooked dishes were moringa avial, green vegetables with lentils and curry. I could see the value of savoring each dish and its individual taste as opposed to merging various items together. My eating time increased and I began to relish the combination of ingredients. I began to chew slowly and truly taste what I was eating.

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By this time, I had polished off the rice that was initially served and had to ask for more as the next three dishes (and also the last set) were rasam, sambhar and thick buttermilk curry. I’m not usually a fan of the last two dishes, but this was something else completely.
We got served a small tumbler of yummy payasam, followed by honey to wrap up.

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By this juncture I was comfortably full but couldn’t help trying the kulfi especially when we were told it was home-made. Unfortunately, the use of condensed milk negated what would have been a perfect end to a wonderful meal.

Conclusion

Kriya Bhavan is an establishment where the food speaks for itself and you don’t really need anything else to enhance your experience. Go now and tell all your friends about this place. We need to support individuals who cook with such passion and dedication.

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How We Rate It:

Food : 10/10
General Cleanliness: 10/10
Ambience: 9/10
Service: 10/10
Price: 9/10
Location (Petaling Jaya, Selangor): 6/10
Will we go back again : 10/10

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Ayurvedic-Balinese Jamu for Weight Management

by Princess Draupadi

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This recipe is my personal creation. It’s 100% vegan and is based on an ancient Balinese jamu (herbal drink) preparation, which is regularly consumed in Indonesia even today. It aids weight loss, full-body detoxification and removal of impurities.

This simple but highly effective preparation utilizes some of the most powerful food ingredients known to mankind, namely turmeric, tamarind and honey. These ingredients have been used by various ancient cultures (especially in India as part of Ayurveda) for thousands of years for their medicinal properties. As turmeric is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, regular consumption of this drink will also give a natural glow to the skin, as well as help heal damage within the digestive tract. The curcumin in turmeric has almost unlimited health benefits, which is why Ayurveda sings praises of this humble root.

As the taste of fresh turmeric is not very palatable, you may add more honey as needed. It’s best to consume this jamu twice a month for best results, one or two servings per person.

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Ingredients:

(Makes 2 servings)

  • 1 – 2 inches of fresh turmeric root, grated
  • Natural honey (any type, add to taste)
  • 1 tsp seedless tamarind pulp
  • 450 ml water
  • A small wedge of any citrus fruit (optional)

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Method:

1) Boil the water. Once boiling point is reached, turn off the heat and allow to cool for 2 – 3 minutes.

2) Add the turmeric and tamarind pulp into a heatproof container. Pour the entire quantity of hot water over this. Stir well and let the mixture cool for 15 minutes.

3) Strain the liquid into drinking glasses. Discard the leftover strained turmeric root (better still, use it as plant fertilizer). Add the honey and stir well. If you wish to use citrus for this recipe, squeeze the juice in at this point.

4) Consume while still warm.

Related Links:

Healing and Rejuvenation with Abhyanga

Kitchiri, the Best Sattvic Detox Food

Blue Butterfly Spiced Milk

Mahabharata Indian Art Series by Giampaolo Tomassetti

Healing And Rejuvenation With Abhyanga

by Princess Draupadi

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Traditional Ayurvedic oil massage, known as abhyanga, has been practiced in India for centuries. A good-quality vegetable oil is massaged into the whole body and left on for a few minutes, than cleaned off in the shower. This simple practice has numerous amazing health benefits. The ancient Vedic health treatise, the Charaka Samhita, says this about abhyanga:

“The body of one who performs oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries or strenuous work. By having oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.” – (Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, verses 88 – 89)

If you find yourself suffering from the effects of stress, aging, pollution and an unbalanced lifestyle, abhyanga will do wonders for you. The scriptures recommend that abhyanga be done daily, preferably in the morning. However, I find that a weekly or even monthly session gives wonderful results. It can be a little messy, but it’s well worth the effort.

Benefits of Abhyanga:

  • Keeps the body healthy, toned and youthful
  • Helps eliminate accumulated toxins
  • Improves blood flow
  • Cures stress-related problems
  • Promotes abundant and luxurious hair growth
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces body odour
  • Helps heal skin damage (i.e. from eczema, psoriasis and acne)
  • Restores balance to bodily functions

How to Perform Abhyanga at Home

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Things You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup of good-quality vegetable oil, preferably cold-pressed and organic (recommended oils: sesame, coconut or olive oil)
  • 2 – 3 old towels (kept specifically for this purpose)
  • A pair of old socks or flip-flops with good sole traction
  • 5-8 heaped teaspoons of chickpea flour (also known as gram flour)

Method:

1. Pick an appropriate spot to perform abhyanga. It should be comfortably warm and free of distractions, such as pets and children. Bear in mind that once you start abhyanga, you’ll be unable to do anything else until the oil is rinsed off in the shower, so plan in advance. You may play some relaxing music if you wish.
2. Put the chickpea flour into a bowl and add enough water to make a thick paste. Stir well to remove lumps. Leave this paste near your shower area.
3. Warm the oil slightly, taking care not to burn it. The safest way is to put the oil in a metal container, then place the container in a larger bowl filled with hot water for a few minutes. Place the warmed oil near your designated abhyanga area. Note: NEVER microwave the oil; microwaving damages the delicate healing botanical properties, and can be very dangerous if the oil heats unevenly.
4. You may have a quick, warm shower with plain water before abhyanga if you wish. I personally do this to remove dust and sweat. If you do have a shower, dab your skin dry before beginning the massage.
5. Lay one of the old towels down on the floor. Undress and sit comfortably on the towel. Dip your fingers into the warmed oil and start the massage, beginning at the crown of your head and moving down your body, eventually ending at the soles of your feet. Take your time – abhyanga should be performed leisurely and lovingly for best results. Use generous amounts of oil.
7. Use gentle but firm pressure, moving in circular motions across the scalp. Switch to long, firm strokes once you get to the neck, shoulders, arms and legs. The stomach should be massaged with firm, clockwise strokes – this greatly aids digestion. Massage every inch of your skin, paying particular attention to joints, chakra centres, the fingers and toes as well as the spaces between them. When massaging the face, avoid the eye area (oil may irritate sensitive eyes).
8. Once you’ve covered all parts of your body, sit in a comfortable position and meditate for about 5 to 10 minutes. Relax and internally observe the new flow of positive energy. Envision your body regenerating youthful, new tissues and eliminating accumulated toxins. Maintain a gentle smile on your face.

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9. Complete your meditation with your palms pressed together and a personal prayer of gratitude to the Universe. I always end my meditation by reciting the Shanthi mantra. Then, using the spare towel, gently but thoroughly wipe all traces of oil off your body. Wipe your feet and toes well to minimise slipping.
10. Put on the socks (or flip flops) and head to the shower. Wet yourself thoroughly, then use the chickpea flour paste to clean yourself, the same way you would with soap. Give your body a good scrub with the paste, then rinse off and towel dry. If you have long hair, you may need an additional amount of chickpea paste to get the oil out.
11. Gently towel dry after your shower and wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. Sit (or lie down) and relax for at least 10 minutes. You may use some music or sip some herbal tea if you wish.

Notes:

  • Make sure the vegetable oil used is of good quality and cooking-grade. Baby oil is unsuitable for abhyanga (it is made of mineral oil, which is a petroleum derivate and has no Ayurvedic medicinal value)
  • Take extra precautions to prevent slipping and accidents, especially in the bathroom.
  • Don’t use soap to wash off the oil – you have just infused your skin with the precious rejuvenating properties of a natural oil, and we don’t want to ruin that with chemicals immediately after. Chickpea flour paste is sufficient to soak up and remove any excess oil; a very thin film of oil left over after showering is highly beneficial. If you prefer to remove all traces of oiliness completely, prepare more chickpea paste for your shower after abhyanga.
  • Abhyanga should be done in a warm room. The shower water should be warm as well. This ensures muscles stay warm and aids circulation, as well as enhances the effects of the massage. If you’re unable to reach all parts of your back, it’s perfectly fine to get someone’s help or use an oiled massaging aid.
  • You may play some relaxing music if you wish.

 

Kitchiri, The Best Sattvic Detox Food

by Princess Draupadi

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Kitchiri is an ancient Indian vegetarian dish which can be customized to suit your needs. It’s a breeze to make, easy to digest and highly nourishing. I consume kitchiri on days when I do my yoga kriyas (cleansing) so that my digestive system can have a break while getting rid of accumulated toxins (called ama in Ayurveda).

This is my personal recipe. I recommend kitchri when you feel your digestion has become unbalanced, i.e. food poisoning, bloating, gas or general indigestion.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Basmathi rice
1 ½ cups water
½ tsp ground turmeric
2-3 dried cloves
½ tsp fennel
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp ghee
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
¼ cup button mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/4 cup yellow lentils

* Makes 2 – 4 servings.

For Garnish:

10 – 12 fresh curry leaves

Method:

1. Wash the rice well in plenty of water. Drain well, then put the washed rice into a rice cooker. Wash the lentils, then pour enough boiling water to cover them. Leave the lentils to soak for 2 minutes, then drain and give them a quick rinse. Add the lentils to the rice cooker. 
2. Add the water and all other ingredients, except the ghee and curry leaves.
3. Switch on the rice cooker and wait till the rice is cooked. If you prefer your kitchiri to have a porridge-like consistency, add in ½ to 1 cup of water and allow to cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes.
4. Once the rice is cooked, switch the cooker off and remove the lid. Then, add the curry leaves and ghee while the rice is still hot. Stir well, then quickly replace the cooker lid and allow to stand for 5 minutes (to allow the curry leaves to cook slightly in the steam).
5. Serve hot.

Notes:

  • This dish can be made in larger quantities and stored in the freezer. To reheat frozen kitchiri, sprinkle generously with water before microwaving.
  • Ghee may be replaced with any good-quality vegetable oil of choice for a vegan version.
  • Regular table salt can be used in place of Himalayan pink salt.
  • Onions and garlic may be added if a purely sattvic dish isn’t required.
  • Replace the mushrooms with a different vegetable such as cauliflower for a purely sattvic dish.

Ayurvedic Benefits:

  • The dried spices promote internal cleansing and healing. The internal organs (specifically the liver and bowels) are gently stimulated to eliminate toxins and decomposing matter from processed foods.
  • The ghee provides the body with lubrication and moisturizing properties.
  • Curry leaves promote and enhance the growth of hair, and prevents premature greying and hair loss.
  • Lentils provide protein to ensure a balanced meal.

 

See Also:

Healing and Rejuvenation with Abhyanga

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