I’ve just been mugged by a book. You ever had that happen to you? You’re minding your own business, looking for something or other and then a book just shoves itself at you in a bossy manner. In this case it was The Art of Ayurvedic Cooking and it was in the wrong place – tucked away amongst the I Ching tomes, rather than in the kitchen with the recipe books. No wonder it was upset. All those trigrams and the wrong culture too.
And, you know, you are what you eat. It’s an old adage but a true one and nowhere is it given more importance than in ayurveda, India’s ancient system of medicine. In ayurveda food has been used as medicine for the last 5,000 years or so. An ancient text puts it clearly: ‘Nutrition is the vital element of all living forms. Each person’s longevity, ingenuity, happiness, fulfilment, strength and intellect are dependent upon it.’
I’ve studied ayurveda for donkey’s years – even wrote a book about it – Live Well – the ayurvedic way to health and inner bliss. It is now available on Kindle and has some interesting stuff in it – I tried to simplify the whole complexity of ayurveda down into bite-size chunks.
Sadly, I can’t go right now but I’m going to start taking a bit more care over what I eat. Soothe that vata dosha which is a bit flaky.
Lunch is the largest meal of the day and often consists of several dishes – a dessert, soup, a salad, a main meal and finally lassi. Evening meals are far smaller (and never eaten late as digestion becomes sluggish in the evening). Usually a soup and salad would be sufficient.
Cream of Passion fruit (serve before the main meal)
880g yoghurt (3.5% fat)
4-6 passion fruits
5 tbs icing sugar
Four ripe blackberries (to garnish)
Mix together with the yoghurt and sugar until a smooth cream. Chill for an hour in the fridge then pipe into glasses and garnish with a blackberry.
4 medium sized beetroots
1 large apple
1 star anise
½ cinnamon stick
1 tsp cloves
3 juniper berries
4 allspice berries
1tsp black peppercorns
1 tbs yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp green cardamom pods (whole)
½ tsp caraway seed
1 tsp fennel seed
1 bay leaf
100ml red wine vinegar
2tbs raw cane sugar or honey
Good pinch rock salt, ground
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 litres water
1 tbs tapioca starch
Coriander leaves (to garnish)
Put all the ingredients, except for the balsamic vinegar and tapioca, into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow the soup to simmer gently for at least three hours (uncovered) or until it is reduced by one third. Strain and add balsamic vinegar to taste. Mix the tapioca starch with a little water and add to thicken slightly.
4 Hokkaido squashes (about ten cm diameter) (or other squash)
Sea salt, black pepper
8 slices bread
240g Gruyere cheese
4 sprigs fresh basil
2 red chilli peppers
100ml orange juice
100g lamb’s lettuce (corn salad)
1 red pepper (bell pepper)
2 tsp walnut oil
Rock salt and black pepper
1 tsp mustard
1 tbs aged balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Wash the squashes and cut a lid off each. Remove the seeds, salt the squashes lightly on the inside and then place them upside down. Grate the orange peel and put to one side. Squeeze the juice and retain. Dice the bread into small pieces and brown well in a flying pan (without any fat). Dice the cheese. Cut the chilli into fine strips and chop the basil. Combine all these and fill the squashes evenly with the mixture.
Meanwhile wash the salad and drain. Peel the pepper, finely dice and sauté the pepper and sunflower seeds in a little walnut oil, adding a little salt. Dice the shallot finely, mix with the remaining walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the contents of the frying pan and mix thoroughly.
Remove the foil from the squashes and bake without their lids for a further ten minutes at around 250C (475F).
Arrange each squash on a large plate. Arrange salad leaves to the side and drizzle the dressing over the top.
Lassi is a classic ayurvedic drink, generally drunk at the end of the meal. It is also used as a refreshing drink between meals.
Basic lassi is made by blending 1/3 litre plain yoghurt with 2/3 litre water for about 2-3 minutes.
You can then add your choice of extra ingredients.
You can also make lassi with herbs. Basil, mint and chervil all work well. Use a large bunch of fresh herbs and add a pinch each of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Increase the mixing time to five minutes to ensure the herbs are mixed well.
Recipes © Neuer Umschauverlag/LutzJäkel
From The Art of Ayurvedic cooking – The Parkschlösschen Cuisine by Eckard Fischer (Neuer Umschau Buchverlag). I can’t find it on Amazon but, if you wanted to buy it, you could try contacting the spa to see if they still have any copies.