Ekadashi Fasting Explained + 7 Ekadashi Recipes

Harness the wisdom of the Yogic culture with Sadhguru as he explains how Ekadashi was chosen to be a day of fasting. If fasting is a struggle for you, here are seven delicious recipes that will keep you energized yet light.
Sadhguru Wisdom Article | Ekadashi Fasting Explained + 7 Ekadashi Recipes
 
Table of Content
1. What is Ekadashi?
2. The Importance of Ekadashi Fasting
3. Preparing for Ekadashi Fasting
4. What to Eat on Ekadashi 
   4.1 The Benefits of Amla or Indian Gooseberry
   4.2 Two Light Brunch Recipes for Ekadashi
5. How to Break an Ekadashi Fast - Five Dinner Recipes

What is Ekadashi?

Sadhguru: Ekadashi is the 11th day after the full moon and the 11th day after the new moon. The human physiology goes through a cycle called a mandala, approximately every 40 to 48 days. In this cycle, three specific days, which may be different from person to person and need not come with equal spacing, will arise when the body does not demand food. Forcing yourself to eat food on those days is not a good thing to do. If you identify those days in your life and not give the body food – because it is not asking – a lot of your health issues will be handled by that simple pattern.  

The Importance of Ekadashi Fasting

This cycle in the system is something that most people can identify if they take away the nonsense of “so many calories, so much protein and so much mineral should be eaten.” If they listen to the body, these three days can be easily identified by most human beings. You should not eat on these days. This was said because someone observed their own system and expressed this. But then people did not have the awareness so they fixed the Ekadashi for not eating, as there are three Ekadashis every 48 days.

On the day of Ekadashi, the very planet is in a certain state, so if we keep our body light and available, our awareness will turn inward.

On the day of Ekadashi, the very planet is in a certain state, so if we keep our body light and available, our awareness will turn inward. The possibility of opening the door within is more on that day. If you have a full stomach, and you are unaware and dull, you will not notice it. So to stay alert and also to purify the body, you go without food on that day – you ate dinner the previous day and the next thing you eat is dinner on Ekadashi. 

Preparing for Ekadashi Fasting

Suppose one wants to fast for a certain period, it must always be supported with the right kind of spiritual practices or sadhana. If you forcefully fast without preparing your body and mind sufficiently, you will only cause damage to your health. But if your body is properly prepared, if you are mentally also in a certain state, if you are prepared energy-wise, then fasting can be of much benefit to you. 

Forceful denial of food is not the point. The point is to make everything into a conscious process.

If you are constantly drinking coffee or tea, then, if you fast, it will become torture for you. If you want to fast, first of all prepare the body by eating the right kind of foods. If it is a great torture when you hold back your urge to eat – you will only cause damage to the system. Maybe you are thinking of performing some kind of a feat that you did not eat for three days, and you want to go and tell that to the whole world. Please do not do such things. It is of no benefit to you. You will just make yourself weak. Just understanding the body and coming to a deeper understanding of how the system functions and what is the best thing to do, is more important than doing something like this. 

It may not be a good thing for everyone to fast, but it has many benefits if it is done with proper understanding. Finding the right situation for the system and taking off food at that time will be a good thing to do. If you are unable to go without food, if your activity levels are such and you do not have the necessary sadhana to support you, then you could go on a fruit diet, which is light on the stomach so that your inner doors will open. Forceful denial of food is not the point. The point is to make everything into a conscious process. We do not want to compulsively eat like this, we choose. 

What to Eat on Ekadashi

The Benefits of Amla or Indian Gooseberry

If you go to someone’s house for lunch or dinner, and they serve you something sour like lemonade or lemon juice before the meal, it means they are trying to kill your appetite. Drinking lemonade reduces your appetite. We are a 10,000-year-old culture – people are crafty! Certain especially crafty communities will serve a sweet first, which also reduces your appetite by half. They had to evolve strategies because treating a guest is not a choice in India – it is a must. But you can use your intelligence, for your own economic reasons and for your guests’ health. Because if something is free, people will have a little more. Some kill themselves by having too much! 

Ekadashi means fasting. When you are fasting, just put a nellikai (Indian gooseberry) in your mouth and keep chewing it to ward off hunger. Otherwise, when you fast, your digestive juices will play and after some time, they will build up. And if they spill over, you will puke. If you put something sour into the system, it will settle. There is nothing better than a nellikai for that purpose. This comes from a certain understanding of the human system. Just one nellikai in your mouth will keep you going for three to four hours without feeling hungry, because it will keep the digestive juices down. Even with morning sickness, nellikai helps. 

Editor's Note:

Two Light Brunch Recipes for Ekadashi

If you are unable to fast the entire day, here are two recipes that can serve as a light brunch.

#1 Ashgourd Juice

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Ashgourd, 4-5 inch sized – 1
  • Lemon juice – 6 tsp
  • Black pepper powder – 3 tsp
  • Salt – 3 tsp

Method:

  • Cut ashgourd, remove skin and seeds.
  • Blend to a smooth puree
  • Strain
  • Add lemon juice, crushed black pepper and salt

#2 Multi-grain Porridge

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Isha Multi-grain health mix – 6 tbsp
  • Jaggery/Brown sugar – 6 tbsp
  • Water – 3 cups + ½ cup

Method:

  • Make a paste with the ½ cup of water and multi-grain health mix.
  • Boil the 3 cups of water and add jaggery.
  • When the jaggery dissolves, add the mix paste and stir for a while so that lumps are not formed.
  • Let it cook for 3-5 minutes.
  • Serve hot.

How to Break an Ekadashi Fast - Five Dinner Recipes

#1 Brown Rice Porridge

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Brown rice – 1 cup
  • Green gram/Moong dal (with the skin on) – 1/3 cup
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Water – 3.5 cups

Method:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a pressure cooker
  • Cook until the brown rice is soft and turned to a porridge consistency.
  • Add more water if you need a lighter kanji.

#2 Black Chana/Chickpeas Sauté/Stir-fry

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Black chana, soaked overnight – 2 cups
  • Tempering (Tadka/Thalimpu/Thalidha Ulundhu) – 4 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Water – 4 cups of water
  • Grated coconut, fresh – 3 tbsp

Method:

  • Pressure cook black chana, salt, and water until the chana is cooked.
  • Add the tempering and fresh grated coconut to the cooked chana.

#3 Green Beans-Carrot-Cabbage Sauté/Stir-fry

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Green beans, sliced – ½ cup
  • Carrots, sliced – ½ cup
  • Cabbage, sliced – ½ cup
  • Tempering (Tadka/Thalimpu/Thalidha Ulundhu) – 4 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Grated coconut, fresh – 4 tbsp

Method:

  • Cook the vegetables.
  • Add the tempering and fresh grated coconut to the cooked vegetables.

#4 Fresh Papaya

  • 2 medium-sized pieces

#5 Toor Dal/Lentils Chutney

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Toor dal – 1 cup
  • Black mustard seeds – 2 tsp
  • Tamarind paste – 3 tsp
  • Dried red chillies – 4
  • Ginger, sliced – 1-inch thick piece
  • Groundnut oil – ¼ cup
  • Salt – 1.5 tsp

Method:

  • Heat oil on a medium heat and add the toor dal, then mustard seeds and dry red chilies.
  • Roast for 5 minutes and let them cool.
  • In a blender, add the roasted toor dal, mustard seeds and dry chilies along with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Blend until a smooth paste is formed.