If you want to find out if someone is into Ayurveda, see how much oil they keep on hand.
In my house, you’ll find oil in the kitchen, in the bathrooms, next to my bed, on the desk where I’m currently writing this, and in every purse I own.
I commonly get asked this question: Why is Ayurveda so obsessed with oil?
The answer: Because oil is nourishing. It feeds agni (digestive fire), supports healthy poops, calms vata dosha (a written ASMR: pouring rich, unctuous liquid all over a revved up nervous system), and makes food taste better and feel more satisfying.
Another question I get is what kind of oils do I use and what do I do with them? Lucky you, I’ve made a cheat sheet.
How to Use Oil in Ayurveda for Cooking and Beyond
Coconut oil: Calms pitta dosha, good for head massage (shiro abhyanga), makes rice taste like you live on an island (recipe here), use in the summer months but avoid when it’s cold or it can create a vata/kapha imbalance
Ghee (clarified butter): My favorite cooking oil, good for all doshas (but reduce if kapha is an issue), called “liquid gold” because it draws all the nutrients of your food into the deeper tissues, the secret to my Ayurveda-approved pie crust (join The Nest if you want that recipe — I’ll be sharing it in the coming months)
Sunflower oil: Good for all doshas, neutral taste, neutral effect on the body, great all-purpose oil for salves and herbal oil decoctions
Olive oil: I’m talking extra virgin only (means it has only been pressed once), best for salad dressings, roasted veggies (recipe here), and general purpose cooking oil with more flavor than sunflower. Buy the expensive kind (you’re welcome).
Sesame oil: Only buy untoasted to avoid paying hard-earned money for rancid food, best vata-calming oil for abhyanga and nasya oil, makes tasty rice with toasted sesame seeds, also good for salad dressing
Jojoba oil: Closest to the natural oils in our skin, great for the face (I use it to wash off my makeup)
What you won’t find in my cupboards:
- Butter: In its non-clarified form it is very congestive (okay, every once in a while if I haven’t made the ghee I’ll spread it on my bread)
- Oils that are extracted with chemical solvents, such as canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil. If something isn’t naturally oily, the oil will only be available due to solvents
- Partially hydrogenated oils, like vegan butter, butter flavored butter, margarine, or Crisco. (Seriously, if you thought I had Crisco in my cupboards you’re reading the wrong blog.)
What’s in your cupboards?
If you’re looking for Ayurvedic recipes that use these oils, join me in The Nest. Members at the Silver level and higher get access to my library of my most treasured Ayurvedic (un)recipes and so much more.