Although not strictly adhered to, and more out of habit than intention – as the principles have filtered their way down through centuries of approach and become ingrained within our dishes and techniques – my family naturally eat meals of components which tie-in with the Ayurvedic system…
Ayurveda, this ancient Indian holistic science, views the human body, mind and spirit within the framework of a cosmic cyclical journey. It is believed that all material matter, whether it is a human or a plant, is made up of the elements fire, water, air, earth and ether in various combinations and quantities.
With humans, they equate to three types of constitution: vata, pitta and kapha, which need to be kept in balance to achieve good mental, physical and spiritual health.
Diet is instrumental in achieving this through the 6 basic tastes of salt, sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent, and also takes into account the personality and physical disposition of the person, as well as the seasons. The point is to provide optimum nutrition and balance through food in accordance with one’s own digestive capacities.
Those who are pitta benefit from bitter, sweet, astringent and hot food; while it is best for kapha to stick to bitter, strong, dry and astringent foods. Those who are vata are calmed by salty, oily, sour, hot and sweet foods. But bear in mind sweet foods encompass milk, pulses, cereals and nuts. So more along the lines of wholesome porridge, not Ben & Jerry’s.
Foods are further classified in terms of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ foods, which means their physiological impact, rather than their temperature. So cold foods include green, leafy vegetables, juices, honey, dairy and pulses. Hot foods include grains, eggs, seafood, meat, certain fruits, nuts and spices.
Mindset is also vital in Ayurveda. It is about savouring your food and realising that what you eat contributes to your inner health not only in terms of the nutrition of the ingredients but also the energy with which one undertakes the act of cooking and eating.
It is a fascinating system, but esoteric, so my route to understanding it and unlocking the secret of how I can harness it to work for me came through reading the books by Dr Joshi.
They transformed my life.
They gave me the building blocks and explanations for why I grew up eating a certain way within my Indian culture and how to get back to the purity of that within a modern lifestyle.
Even though his books speak of holistic detox, this is no temporary ‘come diet with me’ approach. It is about learning how to reset your body again so you can start afresh, work ‘with’ your body, not against it, listen to what it needs and enable it to function at its very best, for the rest of your life.
I look forward to sharing my recipes with you that reflect this approach and have been a great yummy help over the years…