Nourishing Shukra Part 1: Shukral Foods and Recipes

by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma), M.B., B.S. (Lond.)

Ever since the BMJ published an article, almost twenty years ago, pointing to a fifty percent drop in sperm counts worldwide (1), controversy has raged regarding sperm count. Factors affecting sperm count include industrial and agricultural pollution (2), maternal smoking (3), fetal alcohol syndrome (4) and obesity. About one in twenty five men in the US suffers from low sperm count or low quality of sperm, affecting a couple's ability to conceive. Thus Ayurvedic methods of nourishing shukra dhatu are more important than ever. In this artice, we will consider some foods and recipes for nourishing shukra.


"Well-ripened mango is sweet in taste followed by astringent, aphrodisiac, demulcent, general tonic." (7). The observation that mango is a reproductive tonic is borne out by the latest research by Leigh Simmons and associates. Although the research was done on crickets, it does point to an association between vitamin A and sperm quality. And a well-ripened, golden mango is a great source of vitamin A with 1584 IU of vitamin A.  Similarly revered as aphrodisiac and building are apricots, also an excellent source of vitamin A.


"Almonds are hot in potency, highly demulcent, heavy, relieve vata, and promote semen."
Almonds are rich in zinc, an important nutrient for spermatogenesis, and also high in Vitamin E. In the above-mentioned article by Leigh Simmons, Vitamin E was found to be another crucial component in creating high quality sperm. Recipes such as almond and rice dessert and ojas drink should be included in the diet of a man seeking to improve sperm count.

Almond and Rice Dessert


For almond milk

Blanched Almonds - 0.5 cup
Boiling Water - 0.75 cup

For dessert

Rice flour - 5 Tablespoons (grind basmati rice in spice grinder to make this)
Milk - 1.5 cups
Coconut milk - 2 cups
Turbinado Sugar - 10 Tablespoons
Rose water - 2 teaspoons
Chopped pistachio nuts - 1 Tablespoon
Chopped almonds - 2 Tablespoons
2 pomegranates


For almond milk, place blanched almonds in a small bowl, and pour the boiling water over them.
Cover, and soak for at least 15 minutes.
Blend the soaked almonds into a fine puree.
Strain the almond milk through a double layer of fine muslin cloth into a small bowl, squeezing the cloth to extract as much almond milk as possible.
Combine the milk, coconut milk, and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
As the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat.
Add rice flour as almond milk comes to a boil, and reduce the heat.
Stir the rice flour and almond mixture, because rice flour has a tendency to separate from the liquid and settle at the bottom.
Add it to the milk and coconut milk in the saucepan in a steady, slow stream, stirring rapidly with a wire whisk to prevent lumping.
Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens and a thin custard is formed on the spoon.
Continue cooking the custard, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes.
The custard should be quite thin.
As it chills, it will thicken considerably.
Stir in the rose water, cover and cool.
A skin may form on the custard .If so, stir it in with a wire whisk.
To serve, pour into individual dessert dishes, sprinkle with chopped almonds and pistachios, and place a teaspoon of pomegranate seeds in the center.

Ojas drink    Almond Restorative Drink, Serves 1, Sattvic, V-P-K+



  1. Soak almonds and water together overnight
  2. In the morning, drain off the water and rub the skins off the almonds.
  3. Bring the milk to a boil
  4. Pour the milk in the blender with the peeled almonds
  5. Add rose petals, ghee, saffron, cardamom, black pepper, and sweetener
  6. Blend until smooth.
  7. Drink 3-4 times a week as directed.
  8. Rice

According to Ayurveda, rice is beneficial for semen production. The most beneficial is red rice (10), which makes sense because of the   antoxidant anthocyanins found in red rice. However, basmati rice is also a beneficial food for shukra and can be enjoyed in the above almond-rice dessert recipe or in a delicious kitcheri recipe that features sweet potato, another great antioxidant food and source of Vitmin A.

Tridoshic 'Yam' Kitcheri

Pacifies vata, pitta and Kapha

1 cup split hulled mung beans
1 cup basmati rice
3 tbsp ghee
1 and half inches minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1 tsp turmeric
1 handful cilantro leaves
8 green cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
11 black peppercorns
3 inch piece cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
Salt to taste
1 large 'yam', cubed (actually a golden sweet potato)

Rinse mung beans well with cold water and soak for a few hours
Rinse rice well and soak while beans are cooking
Put ginger, coconut, turmeric, cilantro and some water in a blender or food processor and blend. Use enough water to blend well.
In a large pot, melt ghee over medium heat and sauté cardamom pods (split open first), cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and bay leaves for a few minutes. Then add the blended spices and sauté for a few more minutes until lightly cooked.
Next add beans and yams; cook for a couple more minutes. Add enough water to cover the beans with at least 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the beans are completely broken down. Then add the rice and cook until the rice is broken apart. Add more water as needed. Salt to taste and enjoy!


"Ghee improves memory, intelligence, complexion, voice, personal beauty, amiability of features and bodily ojas. It is vitalizing, rejuvenating, spermatopoietic and heavy." Rich in vitamin E and antoxidants, ghee is an important nutrient for shukra vaha srotas. Ghee should be used as an anupan for herbs intended to improve sperm count and also used in cooking.

Urad dal

"Urad dal is heavy, sweet in post-digestive effect, demulcent, cherishable, reduces vata, laxative, nutritive, strengthening, promoter of semen and extremely nourishing." (11)
It's effectiveness as a shukral food is legendary and urad dal features significantly in the pharmacopoeia section of Ananga Ranga Sutra, a mediaeval sex manual.

Urad dal



1 cup Urad dal 
1tsp ginger, grated
1 green chili, chopped
Cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
I tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Pinch of Garam masala
Red chili powder to taste
2tbsp ghee
1 tsp lemon juice



"Spinach is cooling, demulcent, enhances kapha and pacifies vata and pitta…it is unctuous, promotes sleep and semen and controls haemorrhages."(12) The usefulness of spinach in promoting sperm production may be due to its high levels of zinc and folic acid. Folic acid improves sperm quality and motility while the combination of zinc and folic acid improves male fertility (13).

Spiced Coconut Spinach

1 shallot
1 large clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon natural mineral salt
1 tablespoon ghee or sunflower oil
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
7 oz spinach, well washed, and chopped
squeeze of lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted

Place the shallot and garlic on a cutting board, sprinkle with the salt, and chop/mash everything into a paste.
Heat the oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Add the seeds, cover with a lid, and let them toast a bit. Remove the lid, stir in the red pepper flakes and let cook for a minute. Stir in the garlic-shallot paste and all of the spinach. Keep stirring until the spinach starts collapsing a bit, and brightens up - barely any time at all - perhaps a minute. Finish with a bit of fresh lemon juice and the coconut.
Serves 2-3.

Other foods motioned by Bhavprakash as being shukral or promoting semen include coconut water, wheat, waterfowl such as duck and goose, eggs and buffalo meat. Eggs are high in Vitamin E, one of the reasons why they are still highly regarded for increasing sperm count. Garlic finds mention as a vitalizer and aphrodisiac but not specifically as promoting semen (14).

In the next article, we will look at herbs that enhance semen production.

Article first published online: 12 JUL 2011

Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma) is director of Alandi Ayurvedic Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and principal teacher of Alandi School of Ayurveda, a traditional ayurvedic school and apprenticeship program. She can be reached at 303-786-7437 or by email at:

More articles on Ayurveda available on the Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula Blog