Sanjai Mathur, popularly known as Chef Sanjai, co-founded Vedika Global with his life partner Acharya Shunya in 2007. He not only served on the Board of Directors for the entire time, but has also played an active role in disseminating Ayurvedic wellness as Professor of Paak Vijnana – The Science of Cooking as per classical Ayurveda principles, as encoded in Ayurveda source texts (2 BCE to 16 CE).
Over a period of 12 years, he taught and archived over 200 classical recipes to thousands of Vedika Global’s international students, who came from far and wide, to learn Ayurveda philosophy, science and cooking, in its true form. To maintain Vedika Global’s dedication to classical and pure Ayurveda (no dilution), Chef Sanjai deployed his knowledge of the Sanskrit language, and researched ancient Ayurvedic source texts dating as far back as 2 BCE, on qualities of foods, seasonal recommendations and less commonly used spices, and resurrected forgotten ancient recipes for modern kitchens.
Reviving and Transmitting Heirloom Recipes
Some of the ancient recipes Chef Sanjai teaches are still being cooked inside Indian homes and restaurants today, but they are based on memory and over time, have been distorted; they are no longer based on exact Ayurvedic recommendations of seasons or spices, and often cause heartburn, heaviness and other symptoms. But Chef Sanjai’s recipes are based on exact Ayurveda principles. In fact, Chef Sanjai’s recipes become modified every 2 months to accurately reflect the 6 Seasons mentioned in Ayurveda. He teaches cooking each recipe with precision and honesty without needing to add artificial colors and flavor enhancers now prevalent in Indian cooking. The results are magnificent, deeply restorative for human health and truly delicious, in an unforgettable way. He believes in organic and locally grown ingredients and shuns artificial colors, additives, and preservatives. He grows many of his herbs and picks and grinds spices. After cooking, Chef Sanjai blesses the cooked food ritually with chants that he also teaches his students. The detailing, reperch and variety, that Chef Sanjai has brought to Ayurvedic cooking is un-paralleled, and his students consider it a privilege to have studied with him or eaten one of his heirloom creations.
Promoting Classical Ayurveda Cooking
In 2017, Chef Sanjai contributed 30 of his most healing recipes for Acharya Shunya's best-selling book Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017). They are now co-authoring an Ayurvedic Cookbook together.
From 2014-2016, Chef Sanjai and Acharya Shunya also recorded a unique series of classes together called Ayurveda Ancestral Herbal Library, that are part of the Alchemy course. In these classes, Chef Sanjai shares rare heirloom recipes for handcrafting health with the power of rarely used (and often forgotten) Ayurvedic foods, spices, herbs and garden flowers. These recipes are NOT taught in any other Ayurveda school on earth.
More recently, since 2019, Chef Sanjai’s recipes are available through the Alchemy through Ayurveda course, offered by the Awakened Self Foundation (a sister concern of Vedika Global).
Besides Vedika Global and Awakened Self Foundation, Chef Sanjai has been invited to lead cooking or teaching, or both, at the National Ayurveda Medical Association (NAMA), California Association of Ayurveda Medicine (CAAM) , UCSF Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine, California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), Sivananda Ashram (Bahamas), and other wellness, Ayurveda, Yoga and of course health and nutrition related institutions across USA.
Chef Sanjai’s Background: What Brought Him to Ayurveda
Chef Sanjai’s passion for cooking began at a young age, when he was just a child. In fact, he believes his mother was and is his cooking Guru. His tryst with food continued as he grew older and his mother saw his fascination with the cooking process. She gradually asked him to accompany her to the vibrant and colorful local farmer’s market in India, and showed him how to choose the freshest vegetables by looking, touching and smelling them. This is how Chef Sanjai learnt to use his intuition and also select, mix, roast and grind spices to perfection.
Though he comes from a family that is spiritual and dedicated to the Vedas, Chef Sanjai was introduced to Ayurveda in a deeper capacity, when he met his wife Acharya Shunya, who is an Ayurveda scholar, more than two decades ago. He was amazed that Ayurveda has such deep understanding to treat food as medicine into itself. His passion for cooking found a whole new direction, and a whole life purpose that includes teaching, promoting and preserving an ancient Indian healing cuisine - the Ayurveda cuisine. He found himself loving the Ayurvedic cuisine (because that’s what he and Acharya Shunya ate at their home), and he started devouring Ayurveda source texts in Sanskrit that go back to 2 BCE. The texts are full of amazing and uncannily accurate information on the use of healing spices, seasonally appropriate foods, rules of healthy cooking and tons of body-healing, mind-pleasing, joy-evoking recipes.
Chef Sanjai was saddened to find that Ayurveda’s amazing cooking principles are being wrongly interpreted and even trivialized in the twenty-first century, and its recipes are being forgotten with the march of time. He took it upon myself to represent this ancient cuisine, in all its authenticity.
"Chef Sanjai brings back the long forgotten art of true enjoyment of food cooked and eaten in the right way, according to the Ayurveda's ancient wisdom. Partaking in his culinary creations is deeply nourishing for my mind, body and soul."