of Benefits Ayurveda, Foods from the East
Essential features: Cooked food, warm food, fresh food Use of herbs: Turmeric, ajwain, cumin, asefoetida
Walking down an Indian street, the aromatic capturing of the senses is an experience well heard of here in the West. What is also commonly known about the Indian landscape is the wide variety, the change in the cuisines and food habits within one country.
While northern parts of India have a cuisine rich in warming, highfat, high fibre, wheat-based, spice-rich food, down south, a different variety of spices is used with focus on rice-based dishes while the coastal regions of the East and the West keep the humidity and heat of that region in mind and have a unique range of light, cooling foods.
With varying temperatures, spices, foods and cuisines what also varies is culture and behavior across India. However, whether hot and humid or cold and snowy, Indian food across the terrain has a common thread…
And that thread, is what food really is in India. (What food ‘is’, what do we really mean by that?!)
Food in India is a therapeutic experience- food is medicine, as Ayurveda- The ancient science of life suggests:
'When diet is wrong medicine is of no use. When diet is correct medicine is of no need."
However, the interesting things to note common across all food preparations are:
The food is mostly cooked, from starters to desserts, Ayurveda recommends that food should always be taken after cooking and not raw.
The food should be warm and fresh, not frozen or packaged
The use of herbs and spices on a daily basis.
While most of these principles are well known now, the third point attracts some special consideration. Gaining more popularity here in the West, the benefits of using herbs have become common knowledge.
For example, India has the lowest rate of alzeimer’s disease in the world and that, the reason for this is said to be the use of Turmeric-an Ayurvedic spice, and thus Turmeric Tea, turmeric drinks etc. have become popular here.
But have we got that right?
Taking the case of turmeric, Ayurveda does assert that turmeric has almost magical benefits, helps in treating inflammation, is a strong antioxidant, improves brain function and prevents alzeimer’s and so on and consuming the herb itself is not in question- the point of consideration is the method of consumption. In India, not only is taking turmeric pills drinking turmeric water unheard of but is also bizarre!
Turmeric is dry itself and is meant to be taken with something unctuous and that is why, even strong dosage is often consumed mixed in warm milk. The essence of Ayurvedic Prevention and live a proactively healthy life lies in the consumption of suitable foods in the right amounts but regularly.
And that’s what’s special about Indian food- be it from any region, herbs such as turmeric, ginger, asefoetida, cumin, black pepper etc. are all included as an important part of the food on a daily basis, as a part of the food.
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