Basmati and Millet Summer “Risotto”
from Ayurveda Today, Volume 20, Number 1, Summer 2007

Certain grains aren’t in our regular cooking repertoire perhaps because they’ve been categorized as bird food or because they create a doshic imbalance when eaten alone, i.e., millet on its own is too light and drying for vata. Combining grains, however, is a clever way to weave in the ones we tend to leave out. Here, white basmati rice is coupled with millet to soften millet’s drying nature, allowing vata individuals to eat a grain they would normally want to avoid.

This combination of grains, mixed with seasonal herbs and vegetables, creates a lovely summer palette of colors, tastes and textures. A versatile dish, it is delicious eaten hot or at room temperature and can be easily taken on a hike in a thermos or on a picnic in a covered container. Cooled to room temperature and wrapped in sheets of nori seaweed (traditionally used to wrap sushi) or rice paper (used to make spring rolls), it is a perfect travel food. What grain combinations spark your curiosity?

Serves 3-4 as a main dish.


1/2 cup

white basmati rice

1/2 cup

millet (quinoa also works well)

1 tsp.

mineral salt

1 tsp.

whole cumin seeds

1/2 cup

shelled fresh peas

3 cups

boiling water


medium zucchini or crooked-neck squash, chopped in half-moon disks

2 cups

fresh spinach, stems removed and leaves torn into small pieces

3 Tbsp.

chopped fresh dill or basil

2 pinches

saffron threads

1/4 tsp.

ground turmeric

3 Tbsp.

extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp.

lime juice, freshly squeezed

1/4 cup

shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional)



Prepare the Dish

Thoroughly wash the grains together several times in fresh water.

Rinse, drain, and place them in a heavy pot along with the cumin seeds. Continuously stir the grains and cumin seeds over medium high heat for several minutes, allowing the residual water to dry up.

Add the 3 cups of boiling water, mineral salt, and shelled fresh peas. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and simmer on medium-low heat for 18-20 minutes.

While the grains are cooking, wash and chop the zucchini, spinach, and fresh herbs. Keep a close eye on the grains for they may require adding more water (up to 1 additional cup).

Just minutes before the grain is cooked, add the zucchini disks and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. When the grain is tender and the water absorbed, gently stir in the spinach, fresh dill or basil, saffron threads, turmeric, olive oil, and lime juice. Garnish with toasted coconut, if desired.

Michele Schulz's love for Ayurveda began more than 15 years ago and infuses her offerings of nutrition, cooking, and yoga. From her adoptive home of France and internationally, Michele gives Ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle consultations, as well as cooking and yoga workshops. Michele gives courses and consultations internationally and can be contacted at

saffron image © Olga Popova,
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