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Vedic Food and Spices of India: Ancient culinary wisdom and its secrets unravelled

Adding a sprig of tulsi in the water we drink to enjoying haldi doodh (turmeric milk), eating water-rich veggies during summer and cooking food in terracotta, brass, or copper vessels, India’s ancient wisdom on Vedic food and spices remains an unexplored culinary territory.

Anything you can easily hold in your hand is good for your body to maintain your body’s inner temperature, Vedic literature has indicated.

A fascinating fact shared by chef Rajeev Goyal: Jain priests and ‘munis’ used to eat everything in their hands – the logic was that if ‘my hand can hold it, the body can take it’.

Another pearl of wisdom from Vedic literature is that ‘your fingers are your body’s temperature’. Simply put, any food item that is too hot or too cold to hold in your hand impacts your body’s intake and the internal organs of the body struggle to strike a balance.

For most Indian families, this ancient wisdom comes to life through word-of-mouth, from grandmothers, so to speak, and is passed on from generation to generation. “How to eat healthy” has been addressed.

The Ministry of Tourism has recently hosted its 37th webinar featuring ‘Vedic Food and Spices of India’, thereby unravelling ancient wisdom and its secrets. Two renowned chefs, Rajeev Goyal and chef Gautam talked about few myths about India’s ancient wisdom and decoded and explained them.

How food knowledge is integral to India’s Vedic literature

According to the Vedic wisdom, the classification of food into Satvik, Rajasic and Tamasik in the Vedas is linked to the professional requirements of individuals.

  • For instance, the best way to do a tadka is to take a cold pan, add butter or ghee to it and then chilli, rest of the spice and then switch on the flame. Among the food grains, for instance, the Rig Veda repeatedly mentions particularly fried barley.
  • When it comes to the medium of cooking, Vedic wisdom recognized not only what types of cookware are best for the specific kind of food that is being cooked and its cooking time as well. Copper pots were known to have antibacterial properties. In fact, Vedic literature advised people to drink water the next morning after keeping it overnight on copper vessels. For those who are low on ‘Pitha’, Vedic wisdom suggests them to intake food cooked in copper vessels.
  • Silver cools down the body and relaxes those who tend to ‘heat’ up soon.
  • Brass is known to increase your immunity levels, which is why it is commonly used in rural areas.
  • Bronze also offers good immunity and increases your appetite and metabolism. Iron gives lots of minerals.
  • Clay pots and terracotta keeps you grounded and brings you earthy flavours, which is ideal for ‘vata-pitta-kapha’ according to Ayurveda.

Body heat management in Vedic style

Any fat which melts in your palm is good for your body and seed oils like sesame oils are recommended in Vedic literature.

When you eat fruits than fruit juice, the nutrition value lasts longer in the body. While fresh fruit juices offer a hydrating element, the actual nutritional value of eating a fruit offers more benefits of the body.

Another aspect is to restrain refined flour and maida as it does not benefit the body.

Watching the Tourism Ministry’s webinar on Vedic food offers valuable insights from ancient Vedic literature on food, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, brings home the awareness of our great and diverse food knowledge which our grandmothers were in naturally in sync with.

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