Ayurvedic cooking: how to bring ancient wisdom into your kitchen

By adopting a few simple principles, Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle consultant Chasca Summerville says you can bring the “science of life” into the kitchen.

Ayurveda is known as the “Mother of All Healing” and has deep roots in ancient Vedic wisdom.

Thousands of years before modern medicine was designed to solve problems created by poor health and disease, the sages of India discovered Ayurveda – a sophisticated science that understands the relationship between the body and mind, as well as our place within nature and how to access plants, energy, ritual, the seasons and our environment to cultivate health and wellbeing on both a physical and spiritual level.

Ayurveda is a system of healing that considers physical constitution, emotional nature and spiritual outlook as a complete package.

Translated as the “Science of Life” (ayur = life; veda = science), Ayurveda is the original system of holistic healthcare, providing insight on diet, lifestyle, herbal medicine, meditation, yoga, living in alignment with nature and the seasons, and methods for both preventing and healing disease.

Ayurveda paved the way for alternative modalities we know and love today such as Chinese medicine, acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy and herbalism.

How to organise an Ayurvedic kitchen

The kitchen is valued as the heart of the home, the central point where families come together and create loving meals to nurture and nourish the body, mind and spirit.

Honour the sanctity of the kitchen by ensuring that it is clean, uncluttered and organised, assisting with the flow of cooking – as in, the knives should be kept close to the chopping board, the spices nearby (but not above) the stovetop, and the serving bowls/plates within arm’s reach.

You want everything to be right where it should be, when you need it.

It’s best to make sure everything is ready to go and the drying-up rack is empty before you begin preparing your next meal.

Setting up your kitchen is simple, as most of the tools are the age-old basics you probably already have, and will allow you to declutter by removing some of the appliances you may no longer need.

Ayurveda prefers working with our hands rather than electric appliances, giving it a more romantic sensibility.

Grinding flours and spices with a mortar and pestle, kneading dough with our bare hands, even eating our meals by hand, allows us to fully connect with our food and become part of the physical journey of loving preparation.

What you need in an Ayurvedic kitchen

Setting up your kitchen, you’ll need:

  • Various pots and pans, preferably with lids:
    • Stainless steel conducts heat without interfering with the food.
    • Enamel protects the energy of the food.
    • Cast iron enriches the iron content in food and is favoured by Ayurveda.
    • Copper conducts the most heat of all metals and is antibacterial.
    • Clay is the richest source of earth and the most grounding.
  • Stainless steel or glass mixing bowls оr wooden bowls
  • Glass containers
  • Measuring spoons and cups (preferably copper or stainless steel)
  • Wooden rolling pin
  • Serving spoons and ladle
  • Stainless steel colander
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Sharp knife
  • Year of the Tiger: Chinese the traditions we can all learn from

*Edited extract from Ayurvedic Rituals: Wisdom, recipes and the ancient art of self-care by Chasca Summerville, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP: $34.99

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