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|Ancient Health Cuisine|
Consumers are seeking healthful, fresh, aromatic and flavorful foods. The growing emphasis on health benefits is drawing attention to spices as ingredients to help create new foods. Spices are being researched extensively for their medicinal value, to complement existing ways of healing and as alternatives to drugs. Consumers regard their health more holistically and so opt for foods that go beyond satisfying hunger and taste to remedy ailments and prevent diseases.
Early Indian civilization understood the medicinal value of spices and their application to prevent ailments and help cure disease. Most of the spices and flavorings popular today — anise, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, garlic, ginger, mace, mustard, nutmeg, onions, black pepper and turmeric â are indigenous to India and have been savored for millennia. Spices are frequently mentioned in conjunction with health and medicine in the sacred Ayurvedic texts, which were formulated 5,000 to 7,000 years ago.
Physician Susruta II described the derivation of more than 700 drugs from spices. Turmeric, especially, has held a place as one of the most important healing spices since ancient times.
Indian cooking principles stem from the therapeutic principles of ancient Ayurvedic medicine, which specifies the way of adding, preparing and presenting ingredients to produce meals with desired healing effects. Ayurveda (ayur meaning “life” and veda meaning “knowledge”), which has been practiced in India for 5,000 years, is the only entirely holistic medical system in existence.
Unlike Western medicine, which deals with the treatment of the symptoms of the disease, Ayurveda emphasizes prevention of disease by maintaining the body’s balance and preventing imbalances that cause disease. It is based on ensuring that prana — life force — flows easily into every cell of the body by eating the right foods, using deep relaxation techniques and following an active, healthy lifestyle. In the Ayurvedic meal, ingredients are chosen not only for taste but also to assure physical and emotional harmony and well-being.
Ayurveda classifies foods into six tastes, or rasas, affecting digestion, disposition and health. Different spices and foods contribute differently to each rasa â for example, fennel contributes to sweetness, tamarind to sourness, fenugreek to bitterness, mustard to spiciness and asafoetida to astringency. Cooking the complex spice combinations and achieving the depth of flavor experienced with Indian foods therefore entail much more than simply tossing a bunch of spices together to create a taste. The ultimate objective is to balance taste in the meal to harmonize the body in accordance with each individual’s constitution (dosha).
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