The Art of Ayurvedic Cooking is called Anna Yoga, Anna is our body made from food.
Ayurveda distinguishes between 6 different tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, astringent, and pungent. These tastes have an impact on our constitution in terms of aggravating and calming. A complete meal, however, should contain all 6 tastes.
Everything we eat has an impact on our health and well-being both on the physical and mental level. A healthy diet, which suits our own personal constitution, plays an important role in the prevention of illnesses in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is based on the concept that everything consists of 5 elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). These elements are found in different proportions and team up to create our basic constitution:
- Earth and water → Kapha
- water & fire→ Pitta,
- air & ether → Vata.
All constitutional types are present in every one of us, however in different proportions. Most people have two types which are predominant, such as Kapha-Pitta, Kapha-Vata, Pitta-Kapha, Pitta-Vata etc. constitution. Some people are naturally balanced, tridoshic, where all types are present to equal parts, for some only one is dominant.
All food has certain qualities as well. These qualities either aggravate our predominance or calm it. The basic idea of Ayurveda is that if we eat constantly food of our dominant quality this will be aggravating this quality which in return will eventually lead towards an imbalance. We, therefore, are adviced to eat more food with different qualities in order to remain in balance.
Which fruits, vegetables, and lentils to eat, which spices to use that our body receives an appropriate diet containing all 6 tastes as well as suiting our constitution, is the heart of the Ayurvedic cooking.
Apart from what we cook, the way we cook our food is also important.
The food we eat should be a healthy and balancing nourishment for our body and mind, easy to digest and should provide us with the necessary energy to achieve what we would like do. In order to provide us with this energy our meal has to be prepared accordingly:
The kitchen should be a clean, neat, and uncluttered place.
- Before starting to prepare the food, hands, feet, and face should be washed; hair should be combed and tied back.
- Never cook when you are angry or upset. Emotions pervade the energy or the food you are handling. At stressful times, take a few minutes of quietening your mind.
- Cook seasonal meals, using fresh food.
- The food should not be tasted during the preparation and cooking.
- Women during the first 4 days of their menstruation should not prepare food for others.