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Ayurveda cooking is new buzz in mom's kitchen

Ayurveda cooking is new buzz in mom's kitchen

Author: Nandita Sengupta
Publication: The Times of India
Date: December 5, 2009

Introduction: Few Know That Methi If Added To Pumpkin Can Prevent Acidity

It's back to the spice route in more ways than one. Taking grandma's 'gharelu nuskhe' (home remedies) to a grander level, ayurvedic cooking - -all about the right mix of spices and foods-is the new buzz in the kitchen.

Cooking the ayurveda way is sheer chemistry: Food properties, what type goes with which spice, how to snap the time, temperature and mix right and mapping all this to a person's constituency. "It's about rediscovering basic principles," says 27-year-old Kaushani Desai, a Mumbai SNDT Food & Nutrition graduate, now ayurveda cooking instructor with Art of Living.

Wrong combinations counter food's good properties while right combinations nullify the bad ones, says Desai. For instance, adding methi to pumpkin can kill its tendency to trigger acidity. Fruit-milk combines are a complete nono, replace cheese with grated mix of potato, nutpowder and salt; replace meat with a combination of root foods like potato, jimikand and sweet potato: for the same satisfaction are some quick tips.

Eating opposite to your nature is key, says Desai. So, a hot, light and dry diet is for those on the heavy and oily side. Desai also sees the time a person has for cooking and what's available (you can't have a grocery in your kitchen) to prescribe the balance.

With wrong cooking techniques, the healthiest diet won't yield any result. Recent convert 45-year-old Sangeeta Anand, for instance, always believed she ate right. A persistent back problem troubled despite a diet of of fruits and nuts. "I had to sort out what was going wrong with me," she says. Healthier for having switched to holistic eating, she says, "I never realised that my simple milk-tea and rusk in the morning were bad. Milk-tea takes a day to digest while the soda bicarb in rusk triggers acidity," says Anand.

She was comfortable with cheesy stuff, instant noodles and the like, says Shatakshi Chaudhry, 32, but everyday pains nagged. She never believed the way she cooked or when she ate would be as important as what she ate. "It's about using spices intelligently," she says. Having once gone into the kitchen with newfound zeal, she says she needed no special diet. Her aches and pains disappeared. "I'm not overeating or craving the wrong food," she says.

Realising the need for people to snack, Smita Naram started Swadshakti in Mumbai's Malad - an ayurveda restaurant, one of a handful. But with growing interest in holistic eating, more restaurants are on the cards.

Modern-day nutrition paradigm is fundamentally flawed, says Desai. It categorises people on the basis of their disease. So all diabetics are clubbed together, as are heart patients. "But that's not how it is in real life. Ayurveda works on the principle that every individual is unique in how he/she responds to food. That's realistic," she says.

Finally, the acid test for any cook is to have boys sampling the wares. "My sons loved it," says Tripta Dhawan, of tawa-fried cutlets coated in magaz , a powdered mix of melon, pumpkin, cucumber and sunflower seeds. Her kitchen now is an ayurvedic lab of sorts.

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