Yoga, Ayurveda and acro yoga in Budapest - classes, philosophy also in English

2011. december 6., kedd

Ayurvedic cooking – winter delights for the three doshas

The Ayurvedic kitchen is often identified with Indian cuisine or vegetarian cooking. But Ayurvedic cooking, in my interpretation, is more like a cooking style, a kitchen where the ingredients and the basic cooking materials are selected according to Ayurvedic principles and where the natural constitution of the guests, in other terms the Prakriti of those invited, is also considered.

In our continental climate, we shall find vegetables, spices and grains to our menu which are naturally appropriate for us. The Indian kitchen is very tasty, however it might not be an obvious choice for a Hungarian or a European person. By nature, we are not used to those flavours, condiments, and our bodies might not react to them the same way as that of a native Indian.

Another concern is the correlation between Ayurvedic and vegetarian cooking. Ayurveda follows the principles of Nature, and it does not necessarily exclude the consumption of animal products, although it mainly promotes a vegetarian and sattvic diet.

Among others, such questions were in focus during our weekend cooking course where we also discussed the system of the six tastes and we prepared a menu catering to the specialities of all three doshas.

In Ayurvedic cooking, it is always a high priority to match the Prakriti, the individual mental and pshysical nature of a person. Therefore, in our mini course, althought we prepared basically one meal, we varied it in three different ways. The principle was the same as during our summer veg burger parade, so the ingredients and the preparation varied according to the doshas.

To start the day and to prepare for the Ayurvedic cooking seminar, I prepared some welcome grain balls, or as my Indian brother put it, 'you sis made some ladoos'.

During winter, a warm breakfast is preferable, and I love to make a sort of porridge which wonderfully balances the growing forces of Vata, so this was the inspiration for the grain balls (ladoo).

Vata ladoo: I roasted some sunflower seeds on a little sesame oil and then added the wheat flakes and the spices, some cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom seeds and fennel seeds. I boiled them with some milk and then added the dried grapes and some plums cut into cubes. The flakes were boiled quickly, I let them cool down for a while and then mixed them with some honey and formed some balls from this mixture. At the end I covered the balls with chopped walnuts.

Pitta ladoo: Similarly to the Vata balls, they are prepared with wheat flakes, dried grapes and plums, but here I added some coconut too and spiced it with aniseed, cinnamon, fennel and stevia. Some dried figs were also added to the mix. Again I let the mixture to cool a little, then added the honey and covered the ladoos with grated coconut.

Kapha ladoo: On a little oil I popped some coriander seeds, added the cinammon, cloves, a pinch of nutmeg and a little chili. Instead of milk, I cooked the ingredients in water, the barley flakes and the dried cranberries. There was no need for added honey, since the barley flakes soak up water very nicely and they get sticky by themselves. At the end again, I rolled the balls in coconut mixed with grated lemon skin just to make it more extravagant.

For main course, we prepared veggie winter pies. The Vata and Kapha versions were prepared of commercial puff-pastry, but for the Pitta version we prepared a home-made pastry with no eggs.

To adjust it to the doshas, we used three different fillings and of course it was also important to note how we prepared the various vegetables before they landed in the pie.

For the Vata pie, we used warming and sweet ingredients and spices. On a little butter, I prepared a masala of coriander, cumin, garam masala, pepper and turmeric. Then cooked the purple onion slices and then added the thinly sliced carrots, the beetroots cut into smaller cubes and with time we also mixed it with the pumpkin cubes. This mixture became our tasty-sweet-juicy Vata filling. In a wok we roasted some pumpkin seeds and sprinkled the pie with them on the inside and outside. To make it perfect, we finished our job with a nutmeg bechamel (egg and cream).

For the Pitta pie, I chose some cooler vegetables and flavoring. We steamed the cauliflower, brokkoli and the Brussel's sprouts with asian lemongrass, dill and some sea salt. Then we mixed the tofu and the lemon with water, and we mixed the half raw vegetables with this low-fat egg free bechamel. The pastry here was home-made, and it got covered with fennel slices, thinly sliced non-salty mozzarella and some fennel seeds. We poured our tofu-green veggies sauce on top of it and off it went to the oven.

The filling of the Kapha's pie was prepared in a Wok. We started with some purple onions, then added the celery, the eggplant and a little carrot. We spiced it with warm spices like garam masala, nutmeg, allspice, turmeric and then we put the vegetables into the puff-pastry with a slightly lighter bechamel than the one used for the Vatas. We covered the top with another layer of puff-pastry.

The final result was really pleasing, especially that all the participants, funnily enough, preferred the pie that was intended to balance their very doshas.

Ayurvedic cooking is not so difficult as it might seem at first sight. If you integrate Ayurvedic thinking into your daily routine, and if you go next time shopping you observe the food items through this “Ayurvedic spectacles” (the five elements and the six tastes), then all the ingredients will gradually unfold their properties. At the beginning it will be of a little work, but then you will realize that ayurvedic cooking is not so complicated, but it helps you to achieve the meals that are best suited to your nature, and which will help you to keep fit and healthy in the best possible way.

I wish everyone a wonderful journey on this interesting road of discoveries.

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