Ayurveda Cooking - Introduction of Ayurveda Cooking                      

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Introduction of Ayurveda Cooking


Ayurvedic Cooking

Cooking is an art of preparing food. It is the process of selecting, measuring and combining different ingredients in an ordered procedure in an effort to achieve the desired result. Ayurveda is a holistic science which stresses on healing of body, mind and spirit through diet, lifestyle, medicinal herbs, and revitalizing therapies. Thus, Ayurveda cooking refers to the method of cooking in which several ingredients are combined to prepare the food that ensures optimal health of body, mind and soul as well.

Food plays an important role in our health and fitness. According to Ayurveda, cooking is not just about palatable food and flavorful dishes rather it is the key to continuous good health. Ayurveda is based on believe that the universe is made up of five elements: air, fire, water, earth and ether that are represented in humans by three   "doshas", or energies:

Ayurvedic herbs and spices

Vata, Pitta and Kapha. A complete balance of all these doshas is mandatory for health of an individual. Every individual has a distinct balance, and the health and well being of an individual depend on right balance of the three doshas ("tridoshas"). Because these five elements exist in us and in nature as well, our doshas can become aggravated or imbalanced due to inappropriate or inadequate diet, change of seasons, climate or lifestyle, and result in disease in the body. Ayurveda cooking provides great insight about foods that suit and balance you according to your constitution, dosha imbalance, and season.

Ayurvedic cooking includes the knowledge and use of herbs, spices, vegetables, legumes etc to maintain physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony. Ayurveda foods are appetizing, flavourful and aromatic and offer healing and good health when served in an inspiring atmosphere. Ayurveda foods help to clean the accumulated toxins (which are a result of improperly digested food) and rejuvenate the body as each dish is cooked and spiced to achieve maximum digestibility.

The fundamental principles of Ayurvedic Cooking are:
The five Elements - Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Ether (Space) 
The three Doshas -  Vata, Pitta and Kapha
The three Gunas – Satvik, Rajasik, Tamasik
The seven Dathus - Rasa or plasma, Rakta or blood, Mamsa or muscle, Meda or fat, Asthi or bone, Majja or marrow and nerves, Shukra or reproductive tissues.
The six tastes – Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent

These principles guide to determine the cooking processes, food combinations, uses of different food items, quantity of intake of food, etc. Every individual has a unique body constitution (Dosha) and needs different foods to maintain overall health. For example, Vata is a cold dry dosha, hence person with Vata as predominant dosha need warm, nourishing foods, while the Pitta person requires cool food to balance his fire element. Ayurvedic cooking also take into account the effect of cooking method on the quality of the foods, the feelings of the cook and of the vibrations of surrounding atmosphere, the compatibility of foods, the time of cooking and eating, the cycle of the seasons. Ayurveda considered food as a stimulant to a higher consciousness.
Thus, Ayurvedic cooking is both an art and a science. Food properly cooked and consumed work as a great medicine and helps one to lead a long, energetic and healthy life.

Everyday Ayurvedic Cooking
Ayurvedic spices fresh & dried

Ayurvedic cooking is an art and joy. You can cook an Ayurvedic food for you with the help of commonly available ingredients.  Pulses, grains, spices, fresh vegetables and fruits, ghee, milk products play major role in Ayurvedic cooking. A balanced Ayurvedic diet should include all six tastes in a meal - sweet, salty, sour, astringent, bitter, and pungent. If you are on a diet to pacify a specific dosha, it is still good to include all six tastes, with a focus on the taste related to the specific dosha and taking less of the other ones. For example, a person trying to reduce pitta should include more of the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and less of the pungent, sour and salty tastes. A complete Ayurvedic diet includes beans or lentils, rice, grains, seasoned vegetable, spices, ghee, yogurt and some freshly made chutney.

A Sample Ayurvedic Diet including mung dahl made up of split mung beans, basmati rice, whole grains, Ghee or olive oil, spices, the fresh vegetables, lassi (yogurt drink), chapati (wheat flour bread) and a pre-made chutney. Split mung dahl also known as moong dahl is split

beans of the green whole mung beans from which the green skins have been removed. Split mung is lightest among all beans hence, easiest to digest. It is useful for everyone as it balances all the doshas. It is a good source of protein and has astringent taste. You can spice your dahl by adding ghee-spice mixture at the end when it is completely cooked. To prepare the ghee-spice mixture gently sauté the spices into ghee until you get the aroma of spices.

There are many varieties of rice but Ayurveda considered Basmati rice the most beneficial. As a grain, it is recommended for all because it balances all the doshas. However, consuming rice every day is not suggested because it is a little heavy. People with a kapha imbalance can make it bit lighter by dry roasting it before adding the water for cooking. Quinoa, barley or couscous can also be used for the grains portion of the meal. Delicious Quinoa is rich source of protein and fast to cook.

Vegetables are essential part of meal and should comprise a significant portion of your everyday meal. Try to add more than one vegetable in your meal such as carrots and broccoli, or cauliflower and green beans. Though, all vegetables are good for health, green leafy vegetables like, kale, spinach, or collard greens are more important. Dark leafy green vegetables have minerals that other vegetables do not contain. It is important to have leafy greens on regular basis even every day if available. Ayurveda suggests that the best way to cook vegetables is sautéing them in ghee with spices. First sauté the spices in ghee, it drawn out the volatile oils of the spices into the ghee and their therapeutic values are finely attained. When cooked into the vegetables, spices act as haulers that transfer nutrition from the vegetables into the bloodstream as we consume them. Spices also make the food tasty, aromatic and appetizing.

To sauté the vegetable first gently fry the spices in the ghee and then add the chopped raw vegetables to the spice mixture and stir so that all the spices are mixed with the vegetables. You can add a couple of spoonfuls of water if it sticks with pan. Cover and cook on low heat until the vegetables are well cooked. Vegetable should not be mushy, but just "fork friendly". Add salt to taste at the end and some fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves tos garnish.

Ayurveda recommend the use of ghee as cooking oil. The traditional ayurvedic texts say that it is a rasayana (rejuvenate) and promotes overall well-being, youthfulness and longevity. Modern research has also approved it as an antioxidant and container of beta-carotene. Ghee also has long shelf life than other vegetable oils as the milk solids have been removed, it does not spoil easily. However, the people following a weight loss program should have limited intake of ghee or oil in their daily diet.

Yogurt is also an important part of Ayurvedic diet.It is best to have Lassi (yogurt drink) with afternoon meal. It is excellent digestive aid. Sweet lassi is made from fresh yogurt, water, rose water, and sweetener. You can also make salty lassi by adding yogurt, water, salt and cumin seed powder (first roast the cumin seed and then crushed them to powder). It is best to use fresh home made organic yogurt, as it is full of fresh

Ayurvedic lentiles

lactobacilli that are essential for a well-functioning digestive tract. This yogurt drink helps to reduce bloating, allows the digestion of the lunch to be smoother, and adds nutrition. It is not recommended in the evening.

Chapatis made of whole-wheat flour are also main ingredient of Ayurvedic meal. These energy-enhancing foods flatbreads add an extra taste to the diet. It is best to have homemade chapatis but you can also purchase organic chapatis from food stores if you do not have time to prepare them at home. The readymade chapattis must be heated before serving.

Chutneys are mainly added to increase the taste and variety to the meal but they do have health benefits. Usually chutneys are combinations of spices, leafy vegetables or cooked fruits. They are good appetizer and help in digestion of good. You can keep them stocked in your refrigerator to add some quick variety to your meals. Coriander, leaves, ginger, onion are frequently used for making chutneys.

This wholesome, nutritious, and balanced Ayurvedic meal can be easily prepared at home. With practice, the above-mentioned meal would only take about 15 minutes for preparation and about 25 minutes to cook. Now, enjoy fresh home-cooked ayurvedic meal and stay healthy for life.

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