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Compliments of Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Ayurvedic Saffron and Asparagus Stew

Reprinted with permission from Miraval - Life in Balance , an incredible Arizona desert resort and spa near Tucson.

I was fortunate to spend several days at this beautiful and soothing resort in 2003, as a speaker at a retreat called Life Beyond Cancer for women cancer survivors. All the food was delicious and prepared with healthy ingredients, but this stew was special.

I pursued getting this recipe and permission to reprint it for all of you because I could discern that it contained ingredients that I had not tasted before. In fact, I did need to purchase two new spices - ground fenugreek seeds and asafetida, the latter I found at Whole Foods Market.

Warning - don't be alarmed when you open the bottle of asafetida . It will smell truly awful, but interestingly, the awfulness disappears during the cooking process, leaving the deep earthy taste that attracted my taste buds to this dish. Although I have not done so, onion and/or garlic powder may be substituted to taste.

  • 1 teaspoon ghee (I substituted olive oil)
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped leeks (wash carefully - white parts only)
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/2 cup dried yellow split peas (found at Whole Foods Market) or split mung dal
  • 3/4 cup brown basmati rice
  • 6-8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2-3 cups chopped fresh asparagus
  • 3 cups finely chopped kale leaves (no thick stems)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (omit if used canned veg broth or bouillon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Note: I suggest soaking the dried yellow peas in water overnight prior to adding to stew.


  • Heat a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ghee, saffron, cumin, fenugreek, leek, and asafetida and cook until the leek has softened, about 2 minutes. (watch carefully as leeks can burn
  • Add peas, rice, and veg stock. Cook until the peas are soft and rice is cooked, about 30 minutes.
  • Then add the asparagus, kale, and cumin, cooking an additional 5 minutes. Taste to determine if any salt is needed along with more cumin.

Serve with any whole grain bread, muffin, and fruit salad. Hearty enough for a main meal; small bowls are appropriate for a light lunch.

Makes 6 servings. I have made two huge batches of this stew in the past 3 months and am not tired of it at all. Enjoy something new!