Don't know your dosha from dashi? Pita from Pitta? Owner Yashoda Naidoo hopes to help set you straight with two substantial changes at her Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House. First off, Yashoda has transplanted the Green Light Bistro, her Western-style vegetarian café, into the neighboring Annapurna Chai House. (She's also done the same in Santa Fe with Annapurna and World Vegetarian Café, which is similar to the Green Light).
"We found that the customers would go to Green Light, order food over there, then they would come over to Annapurna and get a cup of chai," Yashoda says. Still, she struggled with the idea of serving both menus out of the same kitchen. Annapurna is a pure Ayurvedic restaurant that shuns certain ingredients, such as onions, garlic and eggplant. By contrast, Green Light, in the tradition of Western cuisine, relishes those foods. "I finally decided, 'You know? If I started this restaurant and I had to learn all of the laws in keeping up a business, I’m sure that I can prevent the cross-contamination of the onions and the garlic into the [Ayurvedic] kicharee." She decided to bring the two restaurants under one roof and says it's been a successful formula thus far.
Now that the small Green Light building has been emptied, Yashoda will move into the second phase of her plan—setting up an Ayurvedic cooking school.
"The cooking school was a part of my vision from the time I opened the Annapurna in Albuquerque five years and seven months ago, but it just kept getting to be a back burner issue," she says. "We have done a few lessons here and there, but the idea is not just about a cooking demonstration. It’s really about the Ayurvedic lifestyle, and of course the cooking is very much complementary. They go together."
She says she'll teach small classes (about 10 students at a time) how to cook for their individual dosha, or constitution. The first sessions will focus on a staple of Ayurvedic diets, a one-pot meal of vegetables, mung dal beans and rice called kicharee. As time goes on she'll add more mulitcultural classes on baking, and vegetarian and vegan cooking.
"We’ve been asked a million times how we make our vegan muffins and so we’ll do a class on our muffins. And we’ve got all these gluten-free items that people want to know how they can experiment with on their own, just a little bit of knowledge that can get them started with gluten-free flours."
"Teaching is something that’s geared to me," she says. "I mean, I’m not going to be around forever and I like to develop people."
Take advantage of Yashoda's vast knowledge of good, whole food while you still can. The first sessions will be held this week at 2209 Silver SE (in the old Green Light Bistro building just behind Annapurna). Space is limited, so please call Yashoda at 440-9502 to inquire about future classes.