#7 – Ayurveda and Cooking



The Why’s and How’s of Vedic Cooking

We eat to sustain the body and to create balance in the physical, mental and spiritual states. Ayurvedically speaking, food purifies the body and prepares us for spiritual awakening. Vedic food is medicinal in nature while being delicious and pleasing to the senses.

In general, saatvik food supports spiritual practice. Saatvik food gives us strength, creates happiness and is nourishing to the heart. Examples of saatvik foods include organic milk, whole grains, ghee, almonds, saffron, mangoes and coconuts.

Rajasic foods are stimulating in nature, thus disturbing the relationship between the body and mind. Rajasic foods can agitate the mind and make one restless. Examples include garlic, onions, cayenne, coffee, black tea, fermented foods and chocolate.

Tamasic foods, it is said, benefits neither the mind nor the body. It creates a foggy mind, sluggish digestion and inertia. Examples include alcohol, meats, leftovers and stale food.

Practical tips:

Bathe before you cook. Cook in a clean kitchen. Light a candle and offer gratitude for the food you are about to cook. Cook in peace and leave worries or negative thoughts behind.

Offer your food to the divine as “prasadam,” and bless it. Be thankful for the food that you have.

Eat with loved ones. Eat slowly, chewing carefully, savoring each bite. Talk about pleasant topics or eat in silence. At the end of the meal, sit down for a few minutes.

Have adequate staples in your kitchen pantry. You are more likely to cook a fresh meal if you have all the ingredients. Organize it so it pleasing to the eye and functional.

Proper digestion is vital for good health. Eat a sliver of ginger before the meal with a few drops of lime and sea salt. This enhances your digestive agni or fire. Eat seasonally, and according to your dosha and eat only about half your capacity. If you must eat out, make healthy choices and order hot water with lemon for a beverage. Remember that your digestion can turn nectar into poison or poison into nectar.

Mantras for Annapurna, the goddess of food

So each time you eat or drink you can say “Annapurnayai namaha” It just means I offer gratitude to Annapurna.

Or if you want something more elaborate, you can use a longer mantra that includes some of the bija mantras for extra power:
“OM Hreem Shreem Kleem Namo Bagavatae Maheshwari Annapurne Swaha.”

The meaning is simply that I honor the goddess who is the wife of Shiva and who feeds the world.  To her I offer my thanks for this food.

Aparna Khanolkar is an Ayurvedic lifestyle and culinary coach in Santa Barbara and travels throughout the LA region to teach workshops. She offers Vedic cooking classes in Santa Barbara and is always available for phone consultations.  Contact her at 805-698-5630 or aparna@themistressofspice.com.
Aparna’s new cookbook, Happy Belly, Happy Soul is available here.