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traditional indian food
By
Ms. Lakshmi Dayal

Good Health is a State of Complete Physical, Mental and Spiritual well-being - not just the Absence of Disease.

 

The Influence of Ayurveda


Our Indian Civilization has thrived for thousands of years by consuming natural, seasonal foods-based on the ancient wisdom and wealth of knowledge of Ayurveda.  Ayurveda is the over 5000 years old holistic all-around wellness concept and practice of India. The in-depth wide-ranging study and experiences of our pioneering Sages and Vedachaaryas convinced them that what we consume affects not only our physical bodies but also our state of mind - ie, the functioning of our brain, our thinking, emotions, etc.  In fact, our food habits impact our total personalities. Ayurveda advocates that our Human physiology is a reflection of the laws of the Universe. Since all human beings are composed of the five elements – water, fire, air, earth, and space, it becomes imperative to be in sync with the rhythm of Nature to be truly healthy. It aims to eradicate all maladies by treating the root cause and takes into account all aspects of the individual, including food habits. Ayurveda believes that the appropriate food, eaten correctly, nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. It sees food as medicine – the original integrative medicine or holistic healing process. Indian food, especially the spices and herbs are part of all Ayurvedic and traditional medicine. Almost all natural remedies comprise of Indian spices, herbs and plants. Ayurveda advices eating according to one’s constitutional type – the three Doshas, called one’s Prakriti – which are, Vata, Pita and Kapha, with the attributes of Space and Air, Fire and Water, Earth and Water, respectively. Though all of us embody all 3 Doshas, the primary Dosha is supposed to guide you in your food habits.


However, you don’t have to strictly follow a pure Ayurvedic diet, which can be rigid and restrictive, to be healthy. The filtered, basic traditional Indian diet is equally effective and beneficial.

 

Traditional Indian foods – what, when, and how

For thousands of years, our ancestors, grandmothers and mothers plucked, bought and cooked organically grown natural, seasonal food items – for they believed that whatever grew in that season would be beneficial for us. It is only in the last 100 years or so, that artificial and processed foods and extremely harmful pesticides have polluted the food chain. The resultant ramifications have caused ever-new diseases, as well as a general feeling of malaise in almost all people at some stage in their life. The imbalance due to toxins in our body because of unhealthy food – and lifestyle results in a variety of ailments and the inability of our body to naturally heal itself, as immunity is low.

 

Our traditional Indian food, cutting across all regions, is balanced, extremely beneficial, and nutritionally dense, containing antioxidants, essential minerals, and vitamins that help in digestion and speed up metabolism, and improve cholesterol and blood glucose levels. The ingredients build immunity, support brain function, sharpen memory and reduce inflammation. Indian spices and herbs have medicinal and therapeutic values-apart from imparting delicious taste, flavour, and aroma!  Since the Covid19 Pandemic, Indians, as well as people the world over have been glugging (Haldi)Turmeric-milk, (Tulsi)Basil-tea, consuming herbal concoctions like Triphala, Chyawanprash, Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Giloy, etc. having discovered the miraculous attributes of our immunity-boosting and healing spices and herbs.

 

When the nature of our food and ingredients changed, our food became unhealthy. It is time to go back to our roots, to re-discover our glorious food heritage, as we did with Yoga……incorporating it into our daily routine, our lifestyle.

 

The what, when, and how, when cooking and eating food is very important indeed. It is a firm time-tested belief, passed down from our ancestors, that cooking and eating in a harmonious and calm atmosphere at regular timings, nourishes and enhances our complete well-being. Meals should also be planned according to the time of the day---the digestive system is strongest in the morning and as the day progresses, the metabolism slows down. Therefore, breakfast and lunch should be fairly substantial meals, and dinner the lightest. Digestive toxins,  as a result of improper digestion, is the root cause of many disorders. Eat warm, freshly cooked food as much as possible and avoid overeating. Do try and include all the six rasas or tastes, which are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent-as frequently as possible in your menu.


  
Given below is a general list of food items for holistic health and well-being in a Traditional Indian Diet.

 

Grains:

Whole Wheat Flour-Aata; Bengal-gram Flour-Chane ka Aata; Corn-meal Flour-Makke ka Aata; Pearl Millet-Bajra; Finger Millet-Raagi; Kutoo ka Aata; Sattu; Besan; White and Brown Rice; Samak rice; Sago-Sabudana; Oats. 

 

Lentils, Pulses and Beans:

Chickpeas-Kabuli Chane; Bengal gram-Kale Chane; Haricot Beans-Rajma; Black-eyed Beans-Lobhia; Soyabeans and its products; Urad or Moong Dal Mangori or Badi; Arhar Dal; Masoor Dal; Moong Dal; Urad Dal; Chana Dal;


Condiments, Spices, and Herbs:

Turmeric-Haldi; Cumin-Jeera; Fenugreek seeds-Methi dana; Coriander seeds or powder- Sukha Dhania; Mustard seeds-Sarson or Rai; Carrom seeds-Ajwain; Asaoeftida-Hing; Cinnamon-Dalchini; Whole Black Pepper-Kali Mirch; Cloves-Laung; Black Cardamom-Badi Elaichi; Green Cardamom-Hari Elaichi; Nutmeg-Jaifal; Mace-Javitri; Dry Green Mango powder- Amchur; Fennel seeds-Saunf; Poppy seeds-Khus-khus; Star Anise-Chakri Phool; Bayleaf-Tejpatta; Curry leaves-Kadi Patta; Dry Fenugreek leaves-Kasuri Methi; Dry desiccated or powder Coconut-Nariyal ka Burada; Saffron-Kesar; Nigella-Kalonji; Tamarind-Imli; Dry Ginger powder-Saunth; Saffron-Kesar; Mixed five whole spices powder-Garam masala; Jaggery-Gur; Rock or Natural Salts-Kala namak, Gulabi namak & Sendha namak; Honey.

 

Dry Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds:

Walnuts, Almonds, Cashew nuts, Pistachios, Pine nuts, Chestnuts, Macadamia nuts, Peanuts, Sultanas and Raisins, Dates, Dried Dates-Chchuara, Dried Plums-Aaloo-Bukhara, Dried Apricot-Khubani, Lotus seeds-Makhana, Flax seeds, Chia seeds, Sunflower seeds, Melon seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Watermelon seeds, Sesame seeds.

 

Medicinal Herbs:

Holy Basil-Tulsi; Ashwagandha; Brahmi, Gotu Kola; Triphala-Amla, Haritaki, Bibhitaki; Mulaithi; Shatavari; Wild Turmeric; Sage; Jatamansi, Kapikacchu, Mandukkapari, Shankhpushpi, Tagara, Guuchi-Giloy, Bhringraj, Dhritkumari. Neem; Papaya-leaves, seed juice, and raw fruit; Jamun-leaves, bark, seeds, and fruit; Bael-ripe fruit pulp; Banana tree flower; Red Sandalwood. And many more…..


Milk Products:

Turmeric or Saffron milk at bedtime; Fresh home-made Curd, plain or with Gur; Paneer-Indian Cream Cheese; Buttermilk-Chaach or Maththa; Kheer-made of vermicelli, dry fruits or rice; Indian Mithai made of milk.

 

All Seasonal Vegetables:

Especially leafy green vegetables like Spinach, Mustard greens, Fenugreek greens, Bathua, Soya, Chaulai, Hara Chana saag, Moringa, Broccoli, Cabbage, Rai etc.

 

All Seasonal Fruits:

Especially Pomegranate, Papaya, Kiwi, Apple, Guava, Grape, Berries and Citrus Fruits.


WATER-clean and pure is the elixir of life. Drink 7-8 glasses of water daily for proper hydration. It can be supplemented with other healthy liquids like Buttermilk, Juice, Jal-Jeera, Soup, Herbal or Green Teas with Lemon and Honey.

 

You can, if the situation demands it, use our Indian ingredients to sometimes make fusion dishes that are innovative - a mixture of Indian and Western cuisine, but only occasionally, while keeping the basic guidelines in mind.

 

IMPORTANT-Please check with your Doctor for contraindications or allergies to any food item, before consuming it.

 

We earnestly hope that following the above guidelines on food shall contribute immensely to your over-all well-being. If, however external factors cause stress and tension and also to add to your complete fitness, do please practice Yoga and Meditation to regain your equilibrium and serenity.

 

Stay Happy and Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit.

For any health-related concerns or further queries, please contact us @emohaeldercare without hesitation. We shall be privileged to help you. For us, it is always ELDERS FIRST.


 

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