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Wellness cuisine takes off

`In-flight catering with a healing touch' is set to take Ayurveda to other destinations

EVER HEARD of Ayurvedic cuisine? Ayurvedic cooking is not Indian cooking, as one would presume. "It is a universal principle of absolute wellness, which can be applied to all cultures, and in all cuisines," says Corporate chef, Anil Kumar, whose team has tried it for some months at Saj Flight Services, and found it encouraging. This `in-flight catering with a healing touch' has been shortlisted for the IFCA Mercury Awards 2003 at Frankfurt, Germany. In the first week of January, he will be flying to Frankfurt for the presentation and real tasting session.

The Mercury awards are given every year to outstanding entries from organisations related directly or indirectly to aviation/rail catering. Innovation, quality in application, customer satisfaction and environmental friendliness are criteria under which selection depends. The judgment is by an international panel of 12 judges.

This `healing touch' menu that Mr. Anil Kumar will present in Frankfurt consists of ethnic dishes from Kerala as well as other cuisines of India. Flatulence, deep vein thrombosis, constipation, jet lag or other flight-induced discomforts can be prevented with this cuisine, says Mr Anil Kumar.

According to Ayurveda there are six seasons - every two months is considered as a season and six basic tastes. The menu is properly balanced with the right type of vegetables, grains, spices etc for this healing touch.

French beans, carrots, green peas, tomato, leafy greens, mushrooms, snake gourd, cauliflower, beetroot, spinach, raw banana, okra, pumpkin etc feature in this cuisine.

"Only long grain Basmati rice is used in all rice dishes because `recent Ayurvedic thinking supports a sequence of eating similar to that followed in the west. Begin with salty and sour, progress to pungent followed by bitter and astringent, and end with sweet."

Sour and salty taste is used in small quantities as it aids in digestion and the elimination of wastes from the body. Many fruits such as lemon, limes, grapefuit, soursop and strawberries, and all fermented foods like Miso, soy sauce, yoghurt and pickles are sour foods. Most watery vegetables such as zucchini, cucumber, and tomatoes are naturally high saline stuff, Mr Anil explained.

The pungent taste is supposed to stimulate appetite, and maintain the metabolism and balance of secretions in the body. Spices like garlic; cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, asafoetida, peppers and all volatile oils are considered pungent.

Few like the bitter taste, but it has duties too, as it detoxifies the body, tones the organs, cleanses the liver, and controls skin ailments. The bitter group is turmeric, aloe vera, neem leaves, endives, and lettuce.

Food with astringent taste reduces secretion. Most legumes contain astringent taste along with the sweet taste.

The sweet taste increases bodily tissues, nourishes and comforts the body, and relieves hunger. Most grains and fruits are `sweet', as also water, and milk.

Vegetables used are organically produced as also fruits. Artificial/permitted colours, preservatives, toxins, flavour intensifiers or any other additives, which can cause damage to health in the long run are a strict no-no.

It seems sensible to pursue this cuisine on terra firma too, in out kitchens, for a healthy family.


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