Back to the basics

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Right recipes Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain
Right recipes Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain

“Sukham Ayu” by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain

Shrikand studded with almonds and laced with saffron. Fudgy coconut burfi bright with beetroot. Fenugreek parathas twanging with powerful spices. Ayurvedic food? No wonder the country’s diving into the science with such enthusiasm. Thanks to the influence of decades of western diets, it’s become only natural to believe that health is about deprivation. No sugar. No oil. And definitely no ghee.

Then Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain released “Sukham Ayu: Cooking at home with Ayurvedic Insights.”

Authors of the popular “Cooking At Home with Pedatha” which won the Best Vegetarian Cooking book in the World 2006 at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, the duo spent the last two-and-a-half years researching, writing and cooking to create this book. Bright, friendly and practical, it’s a layman’s guide to Ayurvedic food. “We found that there are thousands of books on Ayurveda, and lots of good writing. But for a common person you have got to break it up,” says Jigyasa.

The idea

Though both authors now expertly use the vata, pitta, kapha terms, they really did just trip upon the idea for this book. They met Dr. Prakash Kalmadi, a doctor of modern medicine turned Ayurvedic doctor in Mumbai, at one of the Pedatha launch parties. Dr. Kalmadi currently runs KARE, the Kerala Ayurvedic and Rejuvenation Establishment, at a retreat close to Pune.

Swept up in the enthusiasm of rediscovering this traditional Indian science of healing Dr. Kalmadi converted his weekend farmhouse into KARE. Then, his team began working on recipes for the retreat. Documenting them in a book was just the next logical step.

The book, thank goodness, doesn’t call for obscure herbs and plants that involve long walks on mountains, rummaging through forests or shaking off morning dew. In fact, ingredients are almost disappointingly prosaic: bittergourd, yoghurt, pumpkin. The recipes are really pan Indian, involving good old stand by spices like coriander, turmeric and mustard.

Reassuringly, there’s plenty of tasty food listed. Like a kheer made from dates, that works as a body energiser and helps increase levels of haemoglobin. Or an aromatic biriyani twanging with coriander, poppy, pepper corns and the wonder food saffron, which reportedly balances all doshas. If you’re looking for something more ‘healing’ there are soopas, which are nourishing home-style soups. Like the basic one with bottlegourd, garlic, wheat flour and milk. There’s also a recipe for tossed vegetables in milk, made with mustard, pepper corns and rock salt. And everyone’s favourite comfort food: khichadi, rich with ginger and fresh coriander leaves.

The book manages to convey at least the essence of eating Ayurvedically in a slick, clear, glossy format. And, in the process, it allows us those golden pooris fried in cow’s ghee.





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