July 19, 2024

Podcast: Divya Alter

“True hospitality comes from your heart and from your sincere desire to serve people.” -Divya Alter, Pacific Roots Magazine Podcast

Listen to the episode on Anchor and Spotify

In this episode we speak with Divya Alter, certified nutritional consultant and educator in the Shaka Vansiya Ayurveda tradition. She is the cofounder of Bhagavat Life, the only Ayurvedic culinary school in New York. Divya is the author of What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen (Rizzoli, 2017), which is now in its 7th print with a German edition underway. She and her husband Prentiss launched North America’s first Ayurvedic chef certification program and Divya’s Kitchen, an Ayurvedic restaurant in Manhattan.

We talk about her background, the basics of Ayurvedic cooking and the history of Divya’s Kitchen which was established in October 2016 and for 2 years in a  row has been named one of the 50 best vegetarian restaurants in the USA. We talk about seasonal eating as an intrinsic part of holistic practice and about her recently published cookbook: What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen.

Divya’s Kitchen in New York City since 2016:

·       50 Best Restaurants for Vegetarians in America According to OpenTable – listed for 2 years in a row by USA Today

·      OpenTable awards: Best Healthy Restaurant in Manhattan and the Tri-State Area, 10 Best Overall Restaurants in New York City, 2018 Diners Choice Award

·      10 Best Vegan Restaurants in New York, by New York Magazine

Divya Alter, owner of Divya’s Kitchen.
Credit: Emily Assiran for Observer

Bhagavat Life, nonprofit cooking school in New York City:

Bhagavat Life programs are dedicated to providing Ayurvedic culinary education—from introductory and seasonal classes to workshops, to a 9-month long culinary training. Over 20,000 people have taken the cooking classes and tried Ayurvedic cooking at home; there are so many life-changing stories. 

Photo credit: William and Susan Brinson


Recipe Credit: What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen, by Divya Alter (Rizzoli, 2017)


Serves 4


I love watching guests trying to eat an artichoke for the first time. They turn it around, look at it suspiciously from all sides, smell it, and try biting at it, until they give up and ask, “How do you eat this thing?” I show them how to pull off an outer petal, pull it through the teeth to remove the soft pulp and discard the rest; then move on to the next petal until we reach the best part: the heart. “That’s a lot of work and a lot of waste!” my guests would exclaim, gazing at the pile of inedible fiber. Yes, it takes work to reach to the heart of anything (or anyone).

Steamed Artichokes with Olive Tapenade can be served hot or at room temperature with another dip or sauce such as Kale and Arugula P esto (page 190) or Sunflower-Sesame Dip (page 197). They go well with Spinach Risotto (page 111) and Fennel, Radicchio, and Watercress Salad (page 121).

4 medium artichokes (about 2 pounds), rinsed

1 lime, cut in half 3 bay leaves


1 tablespoon olive oil

1∕8 teaspoon asafoetida (omit if you have acidic digestion)

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (omit if you have acidic digestion)

1∕3 cup black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (optional)

1. Working one artichoke at a time, snap off several layers of the tough outer leaves until you reach the leaves that are mostly pale green. With a sharp knife or scissors, cut the artichoke leaves across to remove the prickly tips. Trim the end of the stem and peel the stem’s outer layer with a vegetable peeler. Use a lime half to rub juice on the trimmed parts of the artichoke to protect them from oxidizing. Quarter the artichoke lengthwise (leave the stem attached). With a small spoon or a paring knife, scoop out the fuzzy choke in the middle and discard it. Rub some more lime on the freshly cut artichoke pieces.

2. Set a steamer over boiling water and add the bay leaves to the water. Sprinkle salt over the artichokes and steam them until they are quite tender and the outer leaves pull off easily, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. While the artichokes are cooking, prepare the dressing. Lightly heat the olive oil with
the asafoetida and black pepper, if using, in a metal measuring cup or a small pan, not more than 10 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.

FOR AIRY DIGESTION: Add more lime juice and pepper to taste.

FOR EARTHY DIGESTION: These might be a bit too heavy for your slow digestion, so eat a smaller portion. Reduce the olive oil to 2 teaspoons; add more pepper to taste.




Podcast V: Biocyclic Vegan Agriculture

Editor’s Note

Welcome! Launched in Summer 2019, Pacific Roots Magazine is a platform devoted to issues of veganic agriculture, sustainability, plant based food & more. We welcome you along for the journey as we explore, learn & develop further awareness about this home we call Earth. 

International Biocyclic Vegan Network