"Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es" which translates into “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”.
It has become more and more evident that “we are what we
eat”. Medical science has proved that old adage without doubt and we now are bashed
about the head with that truism by diet gurus from the west who come out with a
bestseller every month trying to cure all illnesses AND obesity with a new spin
on the great saying.
May I say- we Indians knew it all along. I mean, I could ask with righteous indignation-“are you trying to teach my great, great, great, great ad infinitum, grandmother to suck eggs?” Witness all those texts from the ancients, who took food more seriously than most western philosophers.
Nevertheless I am thrilled with a new cook book felicitously called “Sukham Ayu” which means “Happy longevity ” Written by jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain, it is the second in line to their superb “Cooking at Home with Pedatha”, the definitive Andhra cook book which won the Gourmand Award for the ‘Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World 2006”.
“Sukham Ayu” has been researched at KARE, a health retreat outside Pune, which by all accounts, is a great place for Ayurvedic treatments. Here a combination of traditional Ayurvedic therapies from Kerala , Iyengar yoga and an Ayurvedic vegetarian diet help each guest towards a healing experience.
The books’s subtitle “Cooking at Home with Ayurvedic insights” is so appropriate. It makes the tenets of Ayurveda easy to follow in your home with ingredients to be found in most Indian kitchens. Jigyasa and Pratibha have done their research well and have understood that in the Ayurvedic tradition our daily intake, well chosen and cooked, acted as preventive medicine.
Beginning with a knowledgeable explaination of Prakriti- Who Am I and going on to the three doshas, by which method texts on Ayurveda discriminated between kinds of people and tried to establish types . Self questioning to define our natures helps in understanding the equilibrium that can be acquired by balancing the doshas and one way is by eating the right things.
While I am against ‘typecasting ‘, so to speak, in the belief that people go through phases in life and their doshas change according to events and age, I am totally struck by the food presented in “Sukham Ayu”. Simple, healthy, nourishing and easy to cook.
As we have come to expect from Jigyasa and Pratibha, this book is eminently useable. The layout and design attractive enough to get you going on one of those recipes right away! And the recipes themselves…perfect.
Each page has notes with references to Ayurvedic texts and tenets. The book is divided into logical sections and a meal planner and glossary at the end gives it added value.
As usual I could not wait to try it out : Here are the results of their Vegetable and Lentil Soopa of which I made a version.( I did not blend the vegetables.) Needless to say it was still delicious and was finished off with alacrity by the family.
Cabbage ¼ cup shredded
Cauliflower 3-4 florets
Carrots 1 small , chopped medium
French beans 4-5 , chpped mediem
Onion 1 small chopped fine
Garlic 2 cloves, chopped fine
Split green gram (husked) 2 tbsp
Pepper powder a generous pinch
Powdered rock salt to taste
Cow’s ghee 1 tbsp
1. Pressure cook the vegetables (except onions and garlic) along with the green gram and 1 cup water for up to one whistle. Churn usuing a blender, strain and set aside.
2. In a pan, heat the ghee. Saute onions and garlic over low flame for 2-3 minutes until onions start to brown.
3. Pour the soup mixture intop the onions with a cup of warm water and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and start dinner with this hot soup.