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My Pantry Essentials:
How an Ayurvedic Chef Makes Cooking Easier (and More Thoughtful)

We discovered British Ayurvedic chef Radhi Devlukia on Instagram: With her video recipes for iced tahini matcha lattes, charred turmeric fennel, and Japanese squash burgers (many set to music with TikTok-inspired dance breaks), Devlukia makes cooking look spirited, fun, and very delicious. There’s a secret to it, she says: Be present.

Now living in LA with her husband, Devlukia regularly creates plant-based Ayurvedic-inspired recipes for many platforms, including her website, and she designs the menu at the vegan restaurant OmNom in London. Her mindset took years to cultivate, she says: “I was always intrigued with cooking and loved eating, obviously,” she says. “I grew up in an Indian household in London—my mum and my grandma have always been such incredible cooks—so whether it was a festival or a birthday, food was the center of everything. Though I grew quite overweight when I was younger, I eventually got to a place where I wanted to be healthier. I knew there must be a way that food could heal my body, where I didn’t have to cut things out or deprive myself of anything.”

Devlukia studied nutrition in college, then, around seven years ago, she began focusing on Ayurveda. “It was just incredible to learn how certain foods react so differently in different bodies,” she says. Devlukia received her Ayurvedic health counselor degree last year. “I fell in love with the concept that every single thing we do—from eating to cooking to how we prepare our vegetables—can affect our digestion, sometimes even more than what we’re eating,” she says. “It’s the intention we eat with that’s important: If you’re distracted while you’re eating or talking a lot or having negative thoughts, all of that can affect your digestion. So I make sure to infuse mindful energy into the food. It’s nourishing to have that mindset while I’m cooking.” Having all the right tools on hand makes space for that mindfulness, Devlukia says—here are her favorites.

  1. 1

    The right knife makes
    all the difference

    “A good set of knives makes you feel like a chef when you get into the kitchen. And whether you’re chopping vegetables, slicing bread, or getting into the hard things, like pumpkins and root vegetables, it makes you more efficient.”

    Sori Yanagi Essential Kitchen Knife Set
    Sori Yanagi Essential Kitchen Knife Set goop, $400
  2. 2

    A blender eases digestion

    “In Ayurveda, it’s said that bananas can create a lot of mucus, so I use avocado as my base to make smoothies thick and creamy and rich. I have a recipe on my website with raw cacao, avocado, and almond butter that’s quite an indulgent, exciting one, and another that combines avocado, coconut meat, and pineapple for something more tropical. Ice-cold items can slow down your digestion. I know people like frozen fruits in smoothies, but ideally you can use fruits you have out in your fruit basket or in the fridge. The no-ice principle is a great one to live by.”

    Vitamix Vitamix Ascent Series 3500 Blender
    Vitamix Vitamix Ascent Series 3500 Blender goop, $600
  3. 3

    Adaptogens save the day

    “Every day, I take some sort of adaptogen, like ashwagandha or triphala, which is great for digestion. If you’ve had a night with a heavy meal, triphala can really help with getting your digestion started again.”

    Organic India Triphala
    Organic India Triphala goop, $22
  4. 4

    Go big with chopping boards

    “I use a large wooden chopping board; stuff always ends up rolling off the side of the small ones. I like when the colors of the food go into a wood chopping board—it feels used, but in this wonderful rustic way. It’s a nice visual.”

    The Wooden Palate Lip Cutting Board
    The Wooden Palate Lip Cutting Board goop, $535
  5. 5

    Simplify salads

    “I love this for cheese, carrots, beets. Sometimes salads can feel like a lot to chew—grating harder vegetables makes them easier to digest.”

    Microplane Box Grater
    Microplane Box Grater goop, $40
  6. 6

    Zest is indeed zesty

    “I started using a zester for baking a couple months ago, and it has changed my life. The zest of a fruit—lemon, lime, orange—is more potent and flavorful than the fruit itself. I make an orange cashew coconut cream to go with a lot of the sweets I make. I also use zest for decoration—I dry it and the color just deepens.”

    Microplane Premium Classic Zester
    Microplane Premium Classic Zester goop, $15
  7. 7

    Spatulas prevent food waste

    “I don’t like wasting food. Whenever I would make a sauce or take stuff out of Tupperware, my mum would say, ‘You left so much in there—there’s enough for another whole serving!’ From when I was young, she drilled into me that a spatula can get every last bit of food left in a food processor, blender, or pan. Get a variety of sizes: The skinny ones are great for getting smoothies from blenders.”

    RIG-TIG by Stelton Pastry Spatula
    RIG-TIG by Stelton Pastry Spatula goop, $19
  8. 8

    Nonstick has got to be nontoxic

    “I absolutely love GreenPan: Nothing sticks to them, they’re beautiful, they’ve got such a clean finish on the inside and beautiful colors on the outside, and they’re not toxic—the coating is derived from sand. If you’re investing in anything, invest in a good set of pans. It can affect the taste of the food and also whatever else is creeping into your food.”

    GreenPan Valencia Pro Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware, 11-Piece Set
    GreenPan Valencia Pro Ceramic Non-Stick
    Cookware, 11-Piece Set
    goop, $300
  9. 9

    First thing: hot water
    with black pepper

    “I like the old-school feel of a stove-top kettle. Every morning when I wake up, I have a mug of hot water with a sprinkle of cracked black pepper in it. It really helps stimulate my digestion. It’s a great thing to start your day with—it’s my morning pick-me-up.”

    Staub Kettle
    Staub Kettle goop, $180
  10. 10

    Hand-crush your spices

    “I have three drawers full of spices in my kitchen. I love buying them in their natural form—even my black pepper is whole peppercorns for more flavor. Sometimes I crush up cardamom in my smoothies, too. It’s another step, but I’m trying to be present with every step of the cooking. Everything is so readily available now, which is great if you’re rushed for time, but I quite like seeing the whole form of spices and breaking them down myself. It also feels a lot more traditional—it’s how my ancestors probably did it.”

No-Recipe Recipe

Radhi’s Date, Almond Butter, and Dark Chocolate Snacks

“Every time I want a sweet treat, I’ll cut open a date and stuff it with almond butter and a piece of dark chocolate.”

  1. 1 cup almond butter, cashew butter, pistachio butter, sunflower-seed butter, or chopped or crushed nuts
  2. 15 to 20 medjool dates
  3. ½ bar dark chocolate or monk fruit chocolate
  1. 1. Make a careful incision in 1 side of the date and pop the pit out.
  2. 2. Stuff with almond butter (or your filling of choice) using a little spoon or your fingers.
  3. 3. Finish by inserting a piece of chocolate, or melt it on top if you’re really treating yourself!