ABOUT DIVYA

Welcome to my blog. I’ve been trying to start it for years now and every fresh attempt got interrupted by a new project—from developing a culinary training, to writing a cookbook, to launching a restaurant! Before anything else pops up, my blog is finally there for you!

I’ve taught thousands of people how to cook, and here I want to share the excitement and sense of possibility my students and I experience in our encounters with pure, sumptuous food at home.

My cooking is based on the ancient principles of Shaka Vansiya (SV) Ayurveda, which teaches us how to link our physical and mental needs with the foods and seasonings that will balance us accordingly.

For me, food is much more than a means of sustenance. It is a friend that has transformed and uplifted me on levels way beyond the physical. I grew up in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and my conscious relationship with food began when I was 18, while interning at the kitchen of an underground yoga ashram. I’ve been a vegetarian and a cook since then (27+ years).

For five years, I studied in India, where I first experienced Ayurveda. Over time, this ancient healing practice has helped me cure digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and an autoimmune disorder. The transformative healing experience inspired me to study SV Ayurveda and become a certified nutritional consultant and culinary educator. Over the years, my cooking evolved from fun, to service, to a health necessity, to education, to writing a book, to a full chef’s career, and… going back to where it started.

My gratitude goes to my many teachers, among whom are Vaidya R.K. Mishra, Krishna Kshetra Swami, BT Swami, Yamuna Devi, Barbara Ann Brennan, Jaidev Singh, and many more.

My husband, Prentiss, and I are the cofounders of Bhagavat Life, an Ayurvedic culinary school and Divya’s Kitchen, an Ayurvedic restaurant in Manhattan. I’m also the author of What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen. In our free time we like to read books, roam in nature, and hang out with friends and family.

ABOUT SV AYURVEDA

Shaka Vansiya Ayurveda—A Living Tradition of Healing and Cooking

Unlike contemporary Ayurveda, which is built on the limited ancient texts that survived the Mogul destruction, the knowledge and practice of Shaka Vansiya (SV) Ayurveda was handed down through a familial lineage tracing back to the ancient Vedic texts, the Puranas. Today’s application of SV Ayurveda healing protocols factors in our exposure to the many stressors of modern civilization that did not exist when the ancient texts were written: hectic lifestyles, electromagnetic frequencies, environmental pollution, depleted soil, toxic and processed food, imbalanced personal routines. One of the main differences with contemporary Ayurveda is the effective delivery of remedies to protect the liver and digestive system from being overwhelmed and to avoid herb-drug interaction commonly caused by unprocessed herbs.

Vaidya R. K. Mishra was the successor of the SV Ayurveda lineage, and I was fortunate to study with him for 8 years. He was born in a family lineage of Ayurvedic doctors in India who preserved their medical knowledge even through the Mogul era, when most Ayurvedic Sanskrit texts were destroyed. Vaidya impressed me with his vast expertise in connecting the ancient texts with modern science. His ability to convey the secrets of his lineage beyond the boundaries of his family makes Ayurveda very practical and effective for us Westerners. Vaidya Mishra was the first to teach me not only the ancient theory of food, but also the hands-on skills of cooking it properly into delicious, light, and energizing meals. My years of training as a certified SV Ayurvedic practitioner culminated in developing systematic programs for Ayurvedic culinary education.

ABOUT THE RECIPES

Ayurveda has been preserved and practiced for thousands of years in India, but cooking with it does not have to be limited to Indian flavors. With my diverse recipes I offer you practical ways to bridge the ancient wisdom of food with modern living beyond the boundaries of India. With each recipe, I present a foundational principle of cooking for health and joy—by grasping the principles, you will have the freedom to adjust the details to suit your needs and taste buds.

These are easy recipes I love and my students rave about, even years after they’ve been to class. Most recipes yield four servings; adjust portion sizes according to what else is included on the menu. Some recipes require a few minutes of advance planning such as soaking or making staples ahead.

Since some of the ingredients I use are incredibly beneficial but not yet common in Western cooking, I started a Glossary, where you can learn more about each ingredient and where to find it.

All recipes are seasonal and lacto-vegetarian and almost all of them have gluten-free and dairy-free options (listed in the recipe’s Notes). I choose cultured ghee as the main cooking oil because of its high smoke point and numerous healing effects. Although derived from butter, ghee is lactose-free, so even if you are avoiding dairy in general, you might not react to ghee. If ghee is the only dairy-derived ingredient in a recipe, I designate that recipe as “dairy free” because I list vegan oil alternatives.