19 Jun

Ayurveda, the ancient system of holistic medicine from India, teaches us that everything in the universe is composed of three qualities or gunas: sattva (purity), rajas (activity), and tamas (inertia). These gunas affect our mind, body, and consciousness in different ways and can either promote health and harmony or cause disease and imbalance.
One of the most effective ways to balance the gunas in our system is through food. Food is not only a source of nourishment but also a carrier of energy and information that can influence our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. According to Ayurveda, food can be classified into three categories based on its effect on the gunas: sattvic (pure), rajasic (stimulating), and tamasic (dulling).

Sattvic food is fresh, wholesome, natural, organic, and minimally processed. It nourishes all the tissues and organs and promotes health, clarity, harmony, peace, wisdom, and compassion. 

Rajasic food is bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot, and dry. It increases the speed and excitement of the human organism and supports physical endurance and a resolute state of mind. 

Tamasic food is dry, old, decaying, distasteful, and unpalatable. It consumes a large amount of energy while being digested and creates inertia, dullness, ignorance, and resistance.
Ideally, we should aim to eat more sattvic food and less rajasic and tamasic food as sattva is the quality that brings us closer to our true nature and higher consciousness. However, sometimes we may need some rajasic energy to cope with the challenges of life or some tamasic energy to relax and unwind. The good news is that we can modify the gunas of food by cooking or adding spices in Ayurveda.
Cooking is an art and a science that can transform the quality of food according to our needs and preferences. Cooking can enhance the flavor, texture, aroma, color, digestibility, and nutritional value of food. It can also change the gunas of food by increasing or decreasing its sattva, rajas, or tamas.
Spices are powerful agents that can alter the gunas of food by adding their own qualities and effects. Spices are not only used for seasoning but also for healing in Ayurveda. They have various properties such as taste (rasa), post-digestive effect (vipaka), potency (virya), and specific action (prabhava) that can influence the doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) and the gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) in our system.
Here are some general guidelines on how to cook with spices to balance the gunas in Ayurveda:

• To increase sattva in food, use spices that are sweet, cooling, and aromatic, such as cardamom, fennel, saffron, mint, basil, coriander, cinnamon etc. These spices can enhance the flavor and freshness of sattvic food and also calm the mind and uplift the spirit.

• To increase rajas in food, use spices that are pungent, heating, and stimulating, such as ginger, garlic, onion, black pepper, mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric etc. These spices can add some zest and spice to rajasic food and also boost the metabolism and energy levels.

• To increase tamas in food, use spices that are bitter, astringent, and dulling, such as fenugreek, neem leaves, sesame seeds etc. These spices can help to balance the excess of rajas or sattva in food and also induce relaxation and sleep.

Of course, these are not hard and fast rules as different spices can have different effects on different people depending on their constitution and condition. The best way to cook with spices is to experiment and observe how they affect you and your food. You can also consult an Ayurvedic practitioner (me!) or a cookbook for more specific guidance and recipes.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post


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