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The Principles of Ayurvedic Cooking

Cooking an Ayurvedic meal is a challenge in itself. Not only is adherence to vegetarianism a factor, but other Ayurvedic rules also come into the picture.
However, given the palatable joys of Indian cuisine, taking up this challenge is definitely worthwhile.

Ayurveda does not view the process
of cooking as separate from that of digestion and nutrition. That is why Ayurveda always recommends an eating sequence. The focus is on easier digestion and the body's capability of extracting the nutritional essence of the consumed food.

According to Ayurveda, the taste of food is an important piece of information for the body, since every taste has a specific effect. The six major Ayurvedic tastes are sweet (madhura), sour (amla), salty (lavana), bitter (tikta), astringent (kashaya), and pungent (katu). A balanced diet will have healthy combinations of these. Therefore, it is important to include these six while preparing an Ayurvedic meal.

The environment is also a factor when considering an Ayurvedic diet. To avoid contacting season-specific illnesses, Ayurveda recommends diets for different seasons to help the body acclimatize itself seasonally. For example, during summer—which is a pitta season when individuals are prone to acne and sunburn—eating cool, light fruits and salads are recommended for pacifying the imbalances of the pitta dosha.

Ayurveda advocates eating fresh food as it provides the maximum amount of energy. It advises against eating leftovers and processed food as a daily habit. Not only do stale, processed, and long-preserved food lack vital energy, but they are also difficult to digest. Including a fresh vegetable or fruit juice in your daily diet is highly recommended for good health. It might seem highly impractical for people with a busy schedule to cook fresh daily and not re-heat leftovers, but the comparative long-term health advantages of eating freshly cooked food should be kept in mind.

Ayurvedic cooking principles also recommend that vegetables be cooked rather than consumed raw since cooking improves digestion. Efficient digestion helps vitamins and minerals to be properly assimilated.

These recommendations are applicable to all individuals, regardless of their body type. However, foods might turn out to be beneficial or harmful depending on your body type. Traditional Indian recipes, handed down through household matrons, best illustrate how Ayurveda entered the Indian kitchen to balance both taste and health perfectly.


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