You are probably thinking about Indian food, lentils and lots of spices.
Yes, it is about all of this, however cooking ayurvedically is also much more than this.
The first principle for me has to be cooking with love
As we know, food absorbs the energies around us, so if we are cooking with a bad temper, the food will absorb those energies. How much better to pour in love to be absorbed by those you are cooking for. In many Hindu houses, people will put a deity of their choice on their stove top as a way to bless the food that is being cooked. Blessing our food with a simple grace, prayer or chant also helps to increase the absorption, nourishment and balancing powers of the meal we are about to consume.
Ayurveda speaks a lot about balance, within and without
Cooking ayurvedically supports us in restoring and maintaining balance in our body systems, our constitution, our energy and emotions through balancing the doshas—our constitutional makeup.
As you may know, we all have three doshas within us, namely vata, pitta and kapha. At conception, most of us inherit two dominant doshas that we call our prakruti. However, the ratio of the doshas changes throughout the seasons, months, weeks, days and even within the hour. That’s why Ayurveda highlights the importance of eating according to how you are feeling to balance our doshas.
How do we do that, you might ask?
Eating to balance the doshas
The doshas, like everything in our universe, are made up of the five elements—ether, air, fire, earth and water.
Vata is composed of ether and air. Ether, being space, is all the space within and between our body systems. Air is movement, and governs our respiratory system, joint movement and basically anything that requires movement in the body. We balance vata by grounding air and space, bringing in the opposite qualities of earth and water, such as by:
eating root vegetables
using good quality oils and fats in our food (yes, I said fats!)
Pitta is mostly fire and a little water, the fiery element within us, governing metabolic processes, transformation, especially the digestion. Also associated with vision and the blood. We balance pitta with cooling activities and diet, including:
using cooling herbs like mint, fresh coriander and aloe vera juice
cooking with sweet spices like cardamom and saffron
walking under the stars by moonlight
Kapha is composed of earth and water. The earth element shows up as the structural parts of the body like muscle, fat and bones. The water element is all the fluids: mucous, digestive fluids, lymph and saliva. To balance kapha we lighten up heaviness and warm cold wetness by:
eating light foods
cooking with warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, black pepper
moving more dynamically
Ayurveda speaks about cooking to support longevity
Ayurveda translates as the wisdom of life, where ayur is life and veda is wisdom. Previously we discussed eating the right food for your doshas to help balance your body and mind.
Other other simple tips to cook ayurvedically are:
cooking with whole foods, instead of processed, refined foods
using seasonal and local produce as nature provides
eating in alignment with the daily and seasonal cycles
Fun fact: Our digestive fire is the strongest in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest. That’s why Ayurveda recommends eating the main protein meal at lunch time.
Is this something you can implement in your daily routine?
Ayurveda suggests cooking in ways that support your agni
A strong agni, digestive fire, will keep the ama, undigested residues, and the doctor away. Cooking ayurvedically can help you keep your agni burning brightly. We do that by cooking food in ways that can nourish you at all levels:
eat well-cooked, easier-to-digest, warm foods, instead of raw food, which takes more time and energy to digest and dampens the agni
avoid heavy, fatty foods and cold drinks—they also dampen your digestive fire
ask yourself how you feel after a heavy, fried meal
use gentle warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cumin, coriander and mustard seeds. Tip: To release the benefits and fragrance of spices, gently sizzle them in a good oil (ghee, coconut oil, rice bran oil) before adding your other ingredients.
Ayurvedic wisdom gives us useful tips to help improve our cooking experience while supporting our digestive fire.
Which ayurvedic tip will you take into your daily life?
Shweta Bajee, June 2023
If you’d like a practical experience of cooking ayurvedically...
come and join us for a fun day in the kitchen …
Mouli, Greg and the Dru Ayurveda team