AYURVEDIC COOKING – WHAT IS IT?

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One of the most common myths about Ayurvedic cooking (cuisine) is that it’s the same as Indian food. To dispel this misconception, I have an explanation to make and tell you what Ayurvedic cooking is and what its not.

Ayurvedic cooking is vegetarian, meaning that any kind of meat (including chicken, fish, seafood and eggs) is excluded. Indian cuisine is not vegetarian. You have probably seen that chicken curry on the menu, right?

Ayurvedic cooking does not belong to any specific country or region because any food can be cooked following the principles of Ayurveda. It means you have to take into account the balance of 6 flavours and the compatibility of ingredients. One can cook, for instance, a pizza or pilaf and apply the principles of Ayurvedic cooking. To put it briefly, Ayurvedic cooking is not a cuisine, but is a way of preparing food. It is a science of  compatibility of ingredients and the balance of flavours. The outcome is the meal that is not only satisfying for the taste-buds, but also is a medicine for the whole body.

Indian cuisine is hardly ever Ayurvedic, thus it might be equally difficult for an Ayurvedic person to find an appropriate meal in either in Indian restaurant or in any other countries’ eateries. This is mainly because the pungent taste dominates in Indian cuisine and the overall balance of flavours has not necessarily been taken into consideration.

Nonetheless, Ayurvedic and Indian food share one similarity: both traditionally use spices (which are basically roots and seeds), but differ in their application in the cooking process. Most probably the shared use of spices is the factor, which makes people presume, that Indian food is Ayurvedic and vice versa.

A fundamental difference between European cuisine and Ayurvedic cooking is that European cuisine uses herbs (the green part of the plant) for seasoning food. But in Ayurvedic cooking it is the roots and seeds of the plants, which do the magic, because they are endowed with more vivid flavours and healing qualities. This does not imply that herbs are not used in Ayurveda – indeed, they are of vital importance in Ayurvedic cooking, but not in the leading role of flavouring the food.

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One more myth, which is worth mentioning, is that an Ayurvedic lifestyle works better for southern people and that everybody have to stick to the lifestyle of their origin. Some say that products grown in your climate zone is more appropriate for you, than those from other climate conditions. Well, here is the thing. First of all, as I already said, Ayurvedic cuisine or cooking doesn’t belong to any countrys’ cuisine as it is a METHOD of preparing food and can be applied to any vegetarian meal of any cuisine. Secondy, most of herbs and plants used as spices and medicine in Ayurveda are found to be grown in Northern regions, including Latvia. And thirdly, it should be remembered that a significant number of people have been consuming such products on a daily basis as coffee, black tea, clementines at Christmas and many other products without the slightest worry of them not growing in the Northern or Eastern Europe. Travelling to tropical places people willingly eat local exotic fruits and no one raises any question. But when it comes to Ayurveda, I’ve seen some puckered eyebrows.

From history we remember that the trading of various spices and goods was already carried out over large distances thousands of years ago, for instance, along the Silk Road. A fruit or vegetable grown in another climatic zone does not do any harm to people, however the application of pesticides and insecticides in industrial agriculture all over the world may cause a lot more problems. This is a telling example of people worrying about minor things, while not paying attention to those, which really matter.

Ayurvedic names for spices and medicine are usually in Sanskrit, causing some confusion for people, who are not familiar with them. However, they also have common names in English, Latvian or any other language.

Ayurveda is a Vedic science, which is an integral part of the Vedic lifestyle. The Vedic lifestyle focusses on the purification, development and transformation of people’s consciousness, which is accompanied by great changes in life’s quality in all areas. Everything goes hand in hand, and therefore this aim cannot be achieved without sattvic food, which is rich in life-force or prana. One can’t have peace and harmony in body, mind and life, if eating inappropriate food.  Unfortunately, there are people, who don’t feel comfortable in their lives and they have got so much used to it that they have even stoped noticing that. I was one of those, that’s why I dare to say that. All you need is to give it a try. And then compare feelings before and after adopting the Ayurvedic lifestyle. My personal feelings can be described as follows:

before I was just existing, but now I am living.

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