Traditional Ayurvedic Cuisine

by Amit Gumman

Ayurveda, the ancient healing art of India, teaches that food plays an essential part in one’s health and sense of well-being. When we consume food in adequate amounts, it gives us long life and youthfulness. When consumed in inadequate amounts, it increases production of toxins, which is harmful for life. Having the right food in balanced combinations and proportions is essential toward achieving a healthy life.

The concept of constitution, or prakriti, is the heart of ayurveda. Ayurveda classifies humans into body types based upon the predominant elements of fire, water or air, also known as doshas. Every human being has some combination of these three. These combinations, which are set at the moment of conception, become the basis of prakriti. There is also the current state of health, or vikruti, which is reflected by aspects such as diet, lifestyle, emotions, age and environment.

The primary goals of an ayurvedic diet are health, healing and harmony. An ayurvedic diet is often prescribed as a means to bridge the gap between prakriti and vikruti in order to restore balance and bring the body back to neutral.

Ayurvedic cooking is a rational way to prepare food, keeping in mind the dietary needs of each individual. Ayurvedic foods are not only aromatic and flavored, they are also appetizing and have a healing effect when served in an inspiring atmosphere. The main objective of ayurvedic preparation of food is the cleansing of toxins that have entered the body. The environment is also an important factor in the preparation of ayurvedic food. Different diets will be recommended for different seasons to help the body acclimatize and adjust.

Ayurvedic cooking advocates eating fresh food by preparing it with ingredients that are organic, seasonal and local, if possible. Stale, processed and long-preserved foods lack vital energy and are difficult to digest, whereas fresh food rewards the body with the maximum amount of energy. Also, it’s important to prepare food in a way that doesn’t destroy its life force. Overcooking, deep-frying or burning not only kills the food’s spirit, but also the taste.

With an organized kitchen and the proper ingredients, cooking an ayurvedic meal can be simple and fun, taking about 15 minutes to prepare, and 20 to 25 minutes to cook with ingredients like split mung beans; basmati rice, or other whole grains, such as barley, quinoa and couscous; ghee or olive oil; spices, such as ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric; fresh vegetables; yogurt; and wheat flour.

Ayurvedic cooking becomes an ongoing practice of creating balance through food every day and with every meal. One of the greatest advantages of adopting the principles of ayurvedic cooking into one’s life is that they can be applied to all individuals. No matter what temperament and lifestyle that one has, there are methods of cooking that can be used to begin converting the body to a healthier way of eating.

Amit Gumman, Ph.D., is a diplomate of acupuncture and president of Harmony Healing Center Inc., located at 3701 NW 62nd St., in Oklahoma City. For more information, call 405-947-4325 or visit