Sooji — a wheat/semolina dish with a porridge-like consistency that can be made sweet or savory — strengthens, rejuvenates, soothes, heals, and helps us persevere through difficult circumstances.
In Ayurveda, along with sleep and balanced sexuality, food is one of the three sub-pillars (upastambhas) of health — and the most important. Undigested food becomes toxicity in our body, called ama or aam in Sanskrit. Ama is a causative factor in physical and even mental diseases. Hence, food is healing only to the extent we can actually digest it, and thereby convert it into nutrients our body can utilize to create good health. We are not only what we eat, but what we digest.
Often when I meet clients, I see that the root cause of their problems — whether skin conditions, obesity, or respiratory issues — is eating incompatible foods. Some things just don’t go together. Ayurveda teaches that certain food combinations can block your bodily channels and create skin problems, toxicity, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fever, anemia, or indigestion.
I grew up a milk-and-cereal-eating girl. When I learned how milk and ordinary cereal is an incompatible food combination, I happily switched to sweet sooji cereal. Sooji is a wheat/semolina dish that has a porridge-like consistency. In Ayurveda, wheat strengthens, rejuvenates, soothes ulcers, increases appetite, heals fractures, and generally enhances stability. Consuming wheat regularly promotes a healthy complexion. The grounding earth element in the wheat helps you persevere through difficult circumstances.
When I started eating sooji in place of regular cereal and milk, I noticed how it had a stabilizing effect on my mind. It makes me feel cheerful to begin the day, rather than anxious and stressed.
Whether you make the sweet or the savory version of sooji (both recipes included below), your body will thank you for it.
Sweet Sooji Cereal
- ½ cup coarse semolina or all-purpose wheat flour
- 2 cups organic whole milk (can also combine 1 cup milk with 1 cup water)
- 2 teaspoons green cardamom powder
- 4–6 threads of saffron (optional)
- 4–6 teaspoons organic coconut or cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons raisins (optional)
- 2 tablespoons almonds or walnuts, chopped finely (optional)
- Place the semolina in a small skillet over medium heat. Dry-roast until it’s a light brown color, about 2 minutes, then set aside.
- Combine the milk, cardamom, and saffron, if using, in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Turn the heat to low and slowly add the semolina while continuously stirring to avoid creating lumps.
- Add the sugar, and raisins and nuts, if using. Slowly stir for 2 to 3 minutes.
Roasting the wheat makes it lighter and easier to digest. This delicious recipe hits the spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- ½ cup coarse semolina
- 1–2 teaspoons ghee
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds (in winter or spring) or cumin seeds (in summer and fall)
- 5–7 curry leaves
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup frozen organic peas (boil these in water before cooking)
- 2 carrots, diced (optional; ½ cup)
- ½ cup squash and zucchini (optional)
- Himalayan pink rock salt
- Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Dry-roast the semolina in a small skillet, over medium heat, until it’s light brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside. (You can also dry-roast a larger quantity and store it for future use.)
- Heat the ghee in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves and swirl until fragrant and the seeds pop, 10 to 15 seconds.
- Add the onions to the ghee mixture and sauté until they look pink, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the peas and the carrots, squash, and zucchini, if using, and salt to taste. Cover and cook on medium-low heat until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 3 cups of water to the vegetables and bring to boil. Slowly mix in the semolina, stirring to prevent lumps. Cover and cook on low heat until it becomes the consistency you like, 1 to 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro, if using.