Sukham Ayu: Cooking at home with Ayurvedic insights (Jigyasa Giri & Pratibha Jain; Pritya; 2008)
While most people focus their culinary efforts on making the most of what they have in the kitchen, the authors of Sukham Ayu show us how it is easy to make the best of what we have. And going a step further, how we can make sure that not only will we enjoy each morsel of nutritious and wholesome food, but so will everyone we share our meals with. There is something comforting, and simply amazing about being able to drive away hunger and nourish the body.
To understand the value of such a book, let’s go back to the basics of food preparation. The first step one must consider while planning a meal, is finding out who is going to eat it. And what that person’s predominant dosha is. Dosha is a Sanskrit word which means bodily humour (Vata, pitta, kapha). To quote from the book, “what you need to eat is not elaborate menus with unavailable and exotic ingredients, but simple home cooked food using regional and seasonal availables that suit your constitution. This is the quintessence of an Ayurvedic diet in a nutshell…”
So, while black gram can be consumed by Vatas, Kaphas are advised to eat very little of it. While Pittas can eat apples, Kaphas are advised to only moderately consume this fruit. Also most importantly, when planning a meal, remember, “As the constitutional structure of each individual varies… you must consume food while the salivary glands are stimulated and stop eating once they go into respite…” (Quoting Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar in the book). So do not overeat.
The book helps you figure out which dosha you are (by answering a short list of questions), refer to the food guide to figure out which ingredients are most advised, advised in moderation and least advised for you, or just pick up any recipe in the book, since they are all tridoshik (suit each constitution). I personally liked the soopas and the chutneys. The vegetables and dals are sans the frills and all the better for it.
But, what I really liked about the book was the fact that it was such a labour of love for two intrepid women who had a book and the strength to bring it to life, all by themselves. Their book Cooking at Home with Pedatha won the Gourmand award for ‘Best vegetarian Book in the World 2006’ and Sukham Ayu stood second this year in Gourmand’s category of Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World. So, I wrote to the authors to learn more about their experiences as authors/publishers and here’s what they said:
1. What life lessons can we learn (or have you learnt) from ayurveda and the art of cooking using ayurvedic principles?
Cooking at Home with Pedatha is about traditional Andhra recipes, where we learnt the true meaning of patience and perseverance in cooking. In Sukham Ayu, we learnt to understand our body types and the importance of the connection between the five great elements, us and the foods we eat. The journey brought to us awareness and knowledge of Ayurvedic principles.
It is almost as if we have come full circle with regard to food and health. World over, the human race has gone through (and still goes through) a notorious phase of throwing caution to the winds and eating recklessly. There is now grave concern and people are definitely looking out for a healthy way of eating, without compromising on taste. And this is where books like Sukham Ayu help. The idea of Sukham Ayu began with one such revelation. In a casual meeting with Dr Prakash Kalmadi, who spearheads KARE (Kerala Ayurvedic Research & Rejuvenation Establishment), he told us candidly how his life was transformed by Ayurveda. As Dr Kalmadi says, magic lies in moderation and balance. Live your life following simple Ayurvedic principles in your daily diet and regimen, and you will see the transformation for yourself.
2. The tridoshik preparations in the book are extremely easy to prepare. Which recipes are your personal favourites?
That is a tough question, and we really don’t know how to answer that. It is like asking about one’s favourite child. Each one is special to us, which is why it finds its place in the book. The ones that are not so inspiring are never included in the first place, even though we may have tried them a dozen times. We really like the concept of the home style recipes at the beginning of each section in Sukham Ayu. They are for the beginner; both for the novice cook as well as for one who wants to be introduced to Ayurvedic cooking. Once these are mastered, cooking as well as Ayurvedic cooking will be easy and fun.
3. What was the experience like at the Gourmand Awards. Could you share what you learnt from the festival, your experience preparing for it?
This is the fourth year we are attending an event organized by Gourmand. Each time is special, and we are always impressed by their meticulous preparation and friendly encouragement. And each time we come back feeling more charged and wanting to make more and better books. We are also amazed that simple home cooked meals find such interested global audiences. The entire process is exciting – from deciding what to cook, search for the ingredients (this time, the search for fresh coriander took us to so many stores in Paris), preparing in the back kitchen and finally connecting with the audience. Thanks to researchers across the globe, Ayurveda is a word everyone has at least heard of. So it was not a new concept, rather people were interested to know more about it.
4. Will Pritya publish more cookbooks?
Yes, yes, yes…that is really something we want to and look forward to in our own unhurried, uncompromising style.