Cold Cucumber Avocado Yogurt Soup for Summer: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha
2 cups chopped cucumber, peeled if non-organic
1 cup avocado
1.5 cups plain yoghurt or kefir
1-2 tbsp fresh bell pepper
3-4 tbps fresh cilantro
Salt and White Pepper to taste
There are two ways you could prepare this delicious soup that is suitable for Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas in the hot summer months. One would be to simply chop the cuke and avocado into small pieces, dice the bell pepper and cilantro, and whip into the yogurt, adding a little water if needed. Another would be to place all the ingredients into the blender and puree. Either way this is a delicious, cooling, hydrating soup that is perfect on a hot summer afternoon.
This is a lovely creamy cooling summer soup that in Ayurvedic terms is especially suitable for both Pitta and Vata, but quite tolerated by Kapha, as discussed below. What I want to show you below is how a dish is adjusted to suit each dosha, and how to eat seasonally.
In Summer everyone’s Pitta becomes elevated from the heat, especially if you have been out exercising in the sun. So even cold Vata and cool Kapha will need some cooling food. The question is how to give cooling food to the two cold doshas without overcooling. And that is where spices like cumin and pepper and even green chile come in. The other issue for food and the doshas, besides taste, is relative lightness or heaviness. Pitta can take both, but Vata needs heavier more grounding food that is easy to digest, and Kapha needs lighter food. So this lovely delicate soup can be modified to make it lighter for Kapha and heavier for Vata.
Decrease or eliminate the bell pepper
Use a sweeter, less sour yogurt
Add 1 tsp raw sugar or jaggery
This soup cools Pitta’s fire, which is naturally increased in Summer months. Both cucumber and cilantro are very cooling. For Pitta types use a yoghurt that is more naturally sweet than sour, Pavel’s is a good example. Too much sour can aggravate Pitta, but a balanced Pitta will do fine with this since its predominantly cooling. One could even add a tsp of raw sugar, too.
Yogurt in India tends to be very very sour, which is why most Ayurvedic diet charts list Yogurt as something for Pitta’s to avoid. The sour taste elevates Pitta. But American yogurt and kefir are all naturally sweet; the difference must be in the quality of the milk and also the bacteria. So the sweet taste pacifies Pitta.
Avocado is also a bit sweet quite naturally, so there is additional Pitta pacification. One could leave out the bell pepper for Pitta dosha, if one wanted to. A Pitta type with very strong digestive fire could even drink this chilled in the dog days of Summer.
Add cumin powder, start with 1 tsp
Substitute fresh dill for the cilantro
Add a dash freshly ground black pepper
This soup is cooling, which can increase Vatta, true, but that should not be a problem in Summer months, so long as its taken at room temperature, unless there is strong Vatta aggravation. But then, again, sweet and sour both pacify Vata, and yogurt and avocado are both heavy and creamy, and therefore pacifiying to Vata. Use a nice and sweet Avocado where Vata is concerned, like Fuerte, or those large Carribean avocados.
If serving this soup for Vata types, you could add cumin, or substitute dill for cilantro, to make it less cooling and a little warmer in the stomach. Vattas often have weak agni, and cumin is an excellent spice to stimulate Agni. Using a fragrant fresh ground black pepper will also stimulate Agni and balance the cooling element.
Add chopped green chile
Add black pepper, increase the white pepper
Increase the cucumber, decrease the yogurt
Kapha types, with cool soft skin, large bones and large mounds of flesh, tending towards both cold and sluggishness, might want to use less yogurt which is heavy and therefore elevating to kapha, and more cucumber, which is cooling and also elevating to Kapha, but less so because it is light and not heavy. Even a Kapha type needs to be cooled in the Pitta elevating summer heat, its just a question of how to do it safely. Obviously this soup is way less elevating to Kapha than frozen yogurt or a big gulp. In addition Kaphas can make this dish more pacifying to Kapha by adding pungency, and could add fresh green chile in place of or in addition to the bell pepper. They could also raise the amount of white pepper, using it fresh ground, or add black pepper and make this cold cucumber avocado yogurt soup more balancing.
copyright eyton j. shalom, l.ac., san diego, ca july 2015 all rights reserved use with permission