Does cauliflower aggravate Vatta?

The problem with going for an Ayurvedic consultation and being handed a long list of foods that aggravate one or the other of the doshas is, that first, this is a text book list of foods that tend to aggravate, in most people, but not all; second is that it is really really relevent how you prepare the dish, what season it is, and how balanced your corresponding dosha is at that point in time.

Cauliflower is said to aggravate Vatta, and indeed, it has that potential, and I emphasize the word potential.
Its potential to aggravate Vatta is increased dramatically when
eaten raw
eaten cold from the frig
eaten without any oil or spices
eaten in excess
eaten in cold dry weather
eaten while traveling
eaten in autumn *
eaten when your Vatta dosha is already stressed by travel, cold, dry, circumstances increasing fear (such as a job interview)
eaten when you have Vatta imbalance symptoms already, like gas, dry scaly skin condition, anxiety, insomnia
eaten by Vatta dominent types especially.

Conversely, one can mitigate Cauliflower’s effect on Vatta by

cooking it
cooking it with spices and seasonings and oil
blending it into puree
blending it with creamy and or oily things, like coconut milk or tahini
eating it in moderation
eating it with other foods that pacify Vatta
eating it during the hot season, especially the hot moist season
eating it when your Vatta dosha is already balanced

Here is a delicious and easy recipe for a creamy pureed Cauliflower Curry Soup I made yesterday. Eat it by itself, or serve with rice.


1 medium Cauliflower
1 large Onion of your choice–I like white or sweet onion for this dish
3-5 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 tsp black or white pepper (omit this if your curry powder has chili pepper in it)
3-4 slices fresh ginger root
1 tbsp more or less of curry powder…for this recipe I like the type with aromatic spices like anise, cardomom, clove and cinnamon
2 tbsp more or less of coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1-2 tsp salt

Steam Cauliflower in a large pot in a few inches water with the turmeric powder
Saute onion, ginger, garlic, and salt in the coconut oil until the onion is translucent and browned
Add the curry powder and pepper to the onion, etc., lower the flame very low, and stir for a minute or two without burning.
Add the coconut milk and a little bit of water, and keep stirring for 3 minutes.
Combine the spiced coconut milk with the cauliflower and puree till smooth.

In this dish, the sweet taste of coconut milk pacifies Vata, the spicy warmth of the curry powder stimulates Agni digestive fire and warms Vata. Using a sweeter curry powder without chili in it means you are also warming Vata without aggravating it the way Chillis do. Sauteeing onion brings out there sweetness, which with the unctuous nature of the oil and coconut milk further pacifies Vata.

Pureeing the Cauliflower, makes it “smooth and regular” which is much easier for Vatta to absorb without aggravation. This is a good summer dish, as many of us over indulge in cooling things during the hot weather which can damage digestive fire Agni (Spleen Qi in Chinese Medicine). Milk curry is a good way to rekindle that.

This dish, high in vegetable content is fine for a balanced Kapha, and with its mix of cooling and warming, quite fine for Pitta in moderation.

*(which fluctuates a bit by climate…so when in doubt go with cold dry weather as Vatta aggravating, and the season in which the transition from the hottest to coldest weather occurs.

copyright eyton j. shalom, san diego, ca july 2011 all rights reserved use with permission

Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

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