This post is crosspoted from Bangalore Mirror
Eons ago, ayurvedic cooking was an integral part of our ancestors’ lifestyle. Today, with more and more people going back to all things `roots’, ayurvedic cooking has become a current trend.Ayurvedic cooking takes into consideration the dietary needs of an individual based on different body types.
According to Koushani Desai, who teaches Ayurvedic cooking at Art of Living, “In Ayurveda, every food has its own taste (rasa), a heating or cooling energy (virya) and a digestive consequence (vikapa). You can upset your system if you combine foods of different nature that are not in sync with your body constitution.” The trick is to combine the right amounts of the right food in the right order to get maximum benefits. The absorption of nutrients increases which leads to better digestion. Better digestion will mean lesser toxins in the body.
The difference in normal and Ayurvedic cooking is not prominent according to G Vaishali, faculty for Ayurvedic Cooking Programme at Art of Living. “Traditionally, Indian cooking has been Ayurveda based. But over time, the basics have been forgotten. It is time to relearn the principles.” According to Vaishali, some foods should not be mixed together as they are incompatible and become Virudha Ahara. Milk and salt should not be mixed which means the following examples are incompatible combinations – milkshakes (as fruits have salt), cream (malai) in vegetable dishes and vegetables in white sauce. Similarly, milk and fish make Virudha Ahara. The right order is also stressed in Ayurveda. For instance, fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach and not after a meal.
Ayurvedic foods not only enhances digestion but also balances your doshas. This ancient science prescribes traditional medicines that are grounded in the five great elements (Panchabhoot); Earth (Prithvi) – Water (Aap) – Air (Vaayu) – Fire (Tej) – Ether (Akash). There are also seven dhatus or Saptadhatu that constitute the seven primary constituent elements of the body and include blood – plasma – flesh – fat – bone – marrow – reproductive tissue. The balance of the three Doshas or body constitution (prakruti); Vata (Wind) – Pitta (Bile) – Kapha (Mucus) is responsible for the wellbeing of the person. When the balance is disturbed, the body gets diseases. Ayurvedic cooking involves the knowledge and capturing of the benefits of the ingredients that go into each dish and their effects on the body.
Food prepared in an Ayurvedic style reduces stress and helps in effectively managing conditions such as heart ailments, diabetes, asthma and so on. According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes (rasas) in food; sweet, sour, pungent, salty, bitter and astringent. The medicines and food are classified according to the gunas that include sattva (subtle), rajas (activity) and tamas (inertia).
Sattvic food is fresh, light, nourishing and has subtle (bland) flavour. It gives the necessary energy to the body without taxing it. A person on a sattvic diet usually has a calm disposition. Juicy fruits and fresh vegetables are used for this kind of cooking. Onions and garlic are avoided completely. Vegetables grown underground are not used at all. Rajasic food is bitter, salty, pungent, hot or dry. It increases the energy levels and excitement in the body. Coffee, chillies, red meat, garlic, onions are some examples. Tamasic food creates drowsiness, heaviness and inertia in the person. Strongly processed food, canned food, meat, fish, eggs and liquor come in this category.
For A Healthy You
» For proper digestion, the advice from the Upanishads is to leave ¼ of the belly unfilled.
» Eat plenty of fresh food, fresh green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, fresh or steamed vegetables, vegetable juices and vegetables cooked with moderate spices.
» Consume food within 3-4 hours of cooking.
» Don’t overcook food.
» Cold beverages should not be consumed during or directly after a meal as it reduces the digestive fire. Small sips of warm or tepid water taken during the meal aids digestion.
» Do play devotional discourses or chants while cooking since these positive vibrations permeate into the food as well.
» Eat seasonal foods.
» Eat fresh foods rather than processed and preserved variety.
» Always sit and eat. Do not stand and eat.