EATING THE AYURVEDA WAY

Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

Best for preventive healthcare… There are many guides nowadays in bookshops to understand Ayurveda and Naturopathy for wellbeing

BY TARA NARAYAN

YOU must know the monsoon season if for giving body beautiful a holiday. Call it a de-tox holiday for multiple long term gains! If one goes by ancient Indian tradition it is time to practice a little or a lot of Ayurveda’s sensibility which primarily urges us to fast, de-tox via panchkarma, be vegetarian, be frugal, meditate on life’s traumas, forgive and forget, etc. You get the gist of it.
Funny, come the monsoon season and I find it’s foreigners who’re making the most of life and love of life in India’s better and lesser known Ayurveda hospitals, retreats, deluxe and humble treatment centers…although it’s anyone guess what’s happening in Kerala this year (it continues to be the preferred Ayurveda destination for de-tox holidays in India).
Makes a lot of sense to me. To go on a fast and de-tox for love of body beautiful at least during Shravan ka mahina. I dare say all our Ayurveda resorts/retreats/spas are booked up by folk willing to fast, meditate, do yogasana, go vegetarian or vegan, and submit to a panchkarma regime for de-toxing! (Sigh) Second best to escaping to Ananda in the Himalaya or Kalari Kovilakom or Vedic Village or wherever, I suppose, is to take out all my cookbooks of cooking the Ayurveda way and time pass with them!
So I’ve been looking at various titles and wondering which cookbook qualifies as the best buy. Most are paperbacks of soft cover and Maya Tiwari’s `Ayurveda, A Life of Balance,’ is a complete guide to Ayurveda substance and style. Eating the Ayurvedic way comes closest to eating naturally more or less because then one is eating with the seasons and what’s locally available. Maya Tiwari’s cookbook book is vastly explanatory and complete with menu listings. Interestingly, this author was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) born in a Hindu home; she was a cancer patient and discovered her native roots in the Vedas and Ayurveda cuisine specifically to heal herself. I love what she says about eating fresh seasonal foods in accordance with Ayurveda wisdom to awaken ahamkara or the memory of who we are and where we are coming from (primarily from womb and bosom of Mother Earth but that’s my take).
`The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook’ by Amrita Sondhi has a contemporary approach to the ancient tradition of cooking. In Ayurveda cooking and eating is perceived as holistic and healing…food is integral to healing with nutrition (to be found in organic and fresh ingredients by and large). Of course our present-day Indian cooking is rooted in Ayurvedic principles as defined by seasons and individual body constitution of pitta, kapha or vata (one or the other predominates) – and there are the various dosha — but the idea is primarily to balance lifestyles lived along sattvic (simple), rajasic (richly) or tamasik (demonic) ways.
We may play with the six rasa of sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Amrita Sondhi’s is a handy guidebook, a modernistic take in which one may find recipes for Simply Brown Masoor Dal to Tandoori Tofu to New Potato Salad to White Chocolate Cardamom Mousse. East and West blends which sound delicious yet keep to Ayurveda bottom lines broadly.
Then I’ve got `The Ayurvedic Diet’ by Reenita Malhotra Hora. Here’s another helping hand to sort out any negative cycles if you trapped in them…I’m forever getting trapped in negative cycles! Don’t laugh. Most of us forget that we actually eat to live and not live to eat and therein lie the root causes of growing old disgracefully…but take heart, it’s never too late to turn over to a new leaf to reap energy and happiness.
Gita Ramesh’s `The Ayurvedic Cookbook’ promises you’ll be in the pink of health in two weeks if you feast on the unusually exquisite and light-hearted collection of recipes listed and illustrated in this glossy hardcover handbook. It’s all about Ayurveda’s herbal diet for healthy living and one of these days I’m trying out the White Radish Salad and Brahmi tamboli recipes. It’s a better idea to go off to the Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village if you want to just relish these recipes of couse… the author is part of the ownership of the Kairali group.
I’m also fond of my `Ayurvedic Cooking for All’ by Amadea Morningstar and `Ayurvedic Cooking’ by Ramesh Patel, and especially Isha Yoga Centre’s `A Taste of Well-Being’ where Sadguru’s insights on gastronomies blend with recipes …this last cookbook is a worthy buy if you’re chasing Ayurveda like I do off and on. It’s a collection of usual and unusual recipes, Ayurveda-based more or less. One of these days make it to the Isha Yoga Centre near Coimbatore.
Time passing with all my Ayurveda cookbooks I am wondering seriously why no one has ever thought of starting a restaurant/eatery based exclusively on Ayurveda cooking? Even five-star hotels don’t think it’s an interesting proposition to invest in – a restaurant dedicated to serving Ayurvedic cuisine…hey, Ayurveda cuisine comes in a distinguished class of its own!
Of course our traditional Indian cuisines and especially the southern states’ repertoire of recipes are ingrained in Ayurveda beliefs and principles – but I’m pining for a true blue Ayurveda restaurant in Goa and Panaji. If you’re shopping for cookbooks also invest in `Naturopathy Diet & Recipes’ which is an economical softcover, I’d purchased it at one of the National Institute of Naturopathy festivals organized by the AYUSh Ministry. There is a close relationship between Ayurveda and Naturopathy all around.
This is to say if you want to turn your kitchen into an Ayurvedic kitchen there’s no dearth of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic cookbooks to guide you and yes, with the right one in hand you will discover an adventurous world of herbs, spices, veggies, fruit, much more which is inherently Indian.
WHICH reminds me I’m still looking for the perfect salad to satisfy my soul! A salad fit to qualify as a meal of substance – alas, there’s neither substance nor style or more style than substance in the salads I’ve been eating out! While at Patto business district I got carried away by the sound of the Greek salad at Myles High Bakehouse (nice spacious cosy place but uncomfortably low seating)…. the Greek Salad was a messy affair of wilting iceberg lettuce messed up with two halved cherry tomatoes, two soggy black olive bits and bits of feta cheese in an indifferent oily dressing…I ate it but it was no value for `170 at all!
The Arugula Green Salad at the Black Sheep Bistro is a better salad affair but also disappointing – a plate of mixed greens of arugula, Roman lettuce, sweet basil leaves, parsley sprigs, three halved cherry tomatoes, tiny cubed feta, bits of asparagus…was placed before me.
The green dressing was not at all green and I asked if I could get a slice or two of multigrain garlic toast or some toasted croutons, but it was nothing doing! It was quite a lonesome salad. Still, it’s the best “ghaas poos” salad I’ve eaten to date even if disappointing value for money (`262).
I’m still dreaming of finding a combo salad, soup and quality bread meal offer somewhere. And as far as I am concerned all salads must come with fresh lemon wedges (a lemon is just `5 for love’s sake)…and if there is any balsamic or apple cider vinegar in a salad dressing I must get a whiff of it (by this I don’t mean it must overpower my senses in vengeance, okay). And why so much parsimoniousness when it comes to olives and feta? Nobody knows how to tart up a salad with dill pickles?
These days I’m dreaming of Waldorf salad, proper Greek salad, Hawaiian…Scandinavian salad, oriental salad, coleslaw salad, why not an all-Goan salad? Best of all a salad bar where one may fix one’s own salad and choice of dressing! Salad bars are doing brisk business in the big-time Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai…what’s wrong with Goa, famous for its eating places? Or is it just that the places I’m looking for are located along the coastal belt and run by foreigners who love their salads?!

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