Also known as ‘linseeds’, flaxseeds are oily, slimy and full of fibre. To get all their benefits, grind them fresh when you need them. This makes them better for your wallet and health, especially since they oxidise quickly. High in fibre and oil, these are great for constipation.
Since they are mucilaginous and hold moisture, Kapha doesn't need much of these. You can take advantage of their properties for thickening broths, dressings, porridges or drinks.
This little green bean is easy to cook, cheap, versatile and one of the most easily digested legumes. I’ve used it in the cookbook for dals, sweet soups and even a bread recipe (see page 232). It also has a long history of healing, cleansing and nourishment and is the perfect detox food. Make sure you soak the whole beans overnight and rinse before cooking. They are filling and satisfying, while being low-calorie and having a diuretic effect. Mung beans have a cooling effect, which makes them perfect for summer.
Chestnut flour has a rich brown colour and is nutty, nourishing, gluten-free and naturally high in protein.
Also known as besan, gram flour is from the chana family. You can interchange it with chickpea flour although gram flour is easy to find. This versatile, protein-rich flour is a staple ingredient in Asia and the Middle East. It is a beloved beauty secret in Ayurveda and in India — everything from removing pimples and facial hair to making an invigorating body scrub. It is from the pulse family, so make sure it is cooked well, otherwise it can taste like grass!
A type of millet, ragi is also known as finger millet. It is usually bought as a brown-pinkish flour that has a delicious chocolatey taste and can be used for gluten-free rotis. Because the plant is rarely attacked by pests, it can usually be grown without pesticides. It’s light and digestible and its warming qualities can balance Kapha, but aggravate Pitta and Vata when eaten in large amounts. Ragi is a great source of calcium, as well as important amino acids, and it helps with weight control, stabilises blood sugar, lowers cholesterol and aids sleep. Find it at your local Asian store. Unfortunately regular millet and millet flour is not the best substitute for it — buckwheat flour is a closer alternative.
You can make your own from white basmati rice if you have a strong blender or a grinder. Otherwise use a small amount of shop-bought white or brown rice flour — it won’t be basmati, so Avoid sweet rice flour, which is much stickier and more elastic. Always read the labels before buying!
If you’ve ever had Ethiopian food, you’ve probably eaten injera bread, which is made from fermented Teff flour. Teff seeds are so tiny (roughly the size of poppy seeds), that they can’t be husked, so all of the nutrient-rich benefits are eaten. Teff is gluten-free and high in calcium, fibre, iron and protein. Its flavour is nutty and sweet and a bit chocolatey — making it great for gluten-free baking, especially if mixed with other flours to add extra nutrition and complexity to the taste.
Made from raw, unrefined sugar cane juice (or palm tree sap), jaggery is available as crystals and molasses. You can find many types of jaggery sold very cheaply, from a pale golden shade (sold in ‘cones’, which you can find in large supermarkets) to a deep dark, almost black colour (available in Asian shops) — the dark one has more molasses and a stronger, caramel-like flavour. Your choice may affect the colours of certain baking recipes, so choose accordingly. Avoid granulated jaggery from health-food shops — not only is it much more expensive but it has also usually been treated to stop it clumping. It is also known as piloncillo in Hispanic supermarkets. It is different to demerara and other brown sugars in that the molasses is not stripped out and then reintroduced to the white sugar, meaning it has more nutrients. Jaggery is less heating than maple syrup and honey, and can be used in baking. You can either grate a block of jaggery and keep it in a jar, or just keep it on your chopping board with a bowl over it and chop some off when you need it