Virtues of the past
Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain talk about gourmet dishes made with Ayurvedic insights
REVIVING RECIPES Pratibha Jain and Jigyasa Giri
Out goes the staple, sacrosanct, perpetual presence — potato. Marching after it, rather red-faced with anger is another kitchen inevitable — tomato. Sheepishly following them, knowing too well its limitations, is the purple egg plant. Envision a cook book that shoos away these three absolutes. That's “Sukham ayu.” The authors tease back into reckoning “sinful” ghee and an army of “unglamorous” gourds — bitter, ridge, bottle and pointed, with pumpkins and yams. Reigning over all of it is cow's milk, even yoghurt from it.
“Sukham ayu — Cooking at home with Ayurvedic Insights” from the award-winning duo, Chennai-based Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain, is truly an insight. The authors of “Cooking at Home with Pedatha” which won the Gourmand award for “Best Vegetarian Book in the World 2006”, make their second endeavour a stringent balance of education, information and recipes. “Sukham ayu” too has had its bag of accolades.
The book finished second in the category of “Best health and nutrition cookbook in the world” from the Gourmand awards organisation. A chance meeting with Prakash Kalmadi, founder and medical director of Kerala Ayurvedic Research and Rejuvenation Establishment (KARE) near Pune, at the launch of their first book, trickled into their new work. A visit to the establishment and recipes there got the authors hooked.
Little notes — on food for different seasons, the “self and the elements” — accompany various segments in the cookbook. First, it classifies people on their constitution vata, pitta and kapha (called doshas) and the cuisine suitable for each category. In a sense, “Sukham ayu” strokes similar interest as will a book on zodiac signs. Here, for readers it would be their constitution, the slot where they can perch themselves in.
But, in a household with every member of a different constitution, won't it force the cook to tear apart her hair? Not really, says Pratibha. “All of us have a combination of doshas and the predominance of one. Unless you have serious ailments, you will see the recipes here are tridoshik, which means it suits people of all constitution.”
However, she asserts, the key to Ayurvedic cuisine is “moderation” in everything. So, it doesn't matter the entire spread is made with ghee. “It is the quantity one has to watch out for. Ayurveda tells us to use things which are regional and seasonal,” says Pratibha. Quiz her on pumpkin and masala pooris fried in ghee, she is quick to add, “Those are for festive occasions.”
The recipes which include an array of sweets, soopa (soups), breads, curries, varied rice dishes, chutneys, salads and beverages are churned out with rock salt and rock sugar. However, Pratibha says, the idea is never to complicate cooking. “We are all convenience-loving people,” adding the items are available in Ayurvedic shops. “Most refined products have been avoided as they lose their good properties,” pitches in Jigyasa.
“Sukham ayu” is the labour of intense research over three years. “There was a lot of study, sifting through material and learning,” says Jigyasa. “We went through old texts at KARE, original and translations.” They tweaked the recipes at KARE, understood gourmet principles, held discussions with doctors and dieticians and “Sukham ayu” was born. Jigyasa, a Kathak dancer and Pratibha, a writer, translator were brought together by their common passions, food being noteworthy one among them. Their endeavour Pritya is a space dedicated to tradition. “Sukham ayu” may strictly stick on to Ayurvedic principles, yet it tosses in simple recipes, made with ingredients at hand. The high-point, says the authors, is the taste.
If their first work, as Jigyasa puts, was a “book of the heart”, this one she says is a “book of the mind”, one for knowledge.
Send this article to Friends by