“Without proper nutrition, medicine is of little use, with proper nutrition medicine is of little need”. The wrong food in the wrong quantity is toxic to the body. At its best, food is not just a means for sustenance; food in the right form holds the power to transform, uplift and heal you.

In this article learn how to apply the principles of Ayurvedic cooking to make your food flavorful, healthy and therapeutic.

Conscious Relationship With Food

The key to getting started with Ayurvedic cooking is to develop a conscious relationship with food. In the same way, we maintain relationships with people and this, in turn, shape your mindset and lifestyle, food has the power to shape your physical and mental strength.

But why is it that eating the same food have different effects on different individuals? And, how to figure out what food is good for you? Ayurvedic cooking emphasizes preparing food in a flavourful and nourishing way without unpleasant side effects. Here are the principles of cooking the Ayurvedic way:

Connect Your Food Choices With Your Body Constitution

According to Ayurveda, the body is an interplay of five physical elements – earth, air, fire, water, and space. Your body is governed by doshas:


  • Space + Air – Vata
  • Fire + Little Water – Pitta
  • Water + Earth – Kapha

Every individual has these three doshas in different proportions with one predominantly being dominant than the others. This is why each individual is different and certain foods suit certain people more.

Know your own body constitution and then determine your style of cooking 


  • Pitta – Cooling Foods and Spices help to balance your fiery nature
  • Vata – Warming Food help to pacify your coolness
  • Kapha – Light and warm food help to balance your heaviness

Preserve the Prana of the Food

Ayurveda advocates light cooking under controlled heat using heavy non-reactive pots and pans, preferably iron. This will help to preserve the prana or the vital force of the vegetables you are cooking and retain its freshness.

Overheating will make the food lose its nutrient quality. For example, okra should not be dripping with oil and should retain its color mostly and broccoli needs to retain its crunch.

In addition, opt for local vegetables that are fresh, in season, so that they are most nourishing for your body. Ensure that they have not been sitting in your counter or refrigerator for a long time.

Balance All Six Tastes in Your Food

Include some amount, if not all tastes in your food. The six tastes include sweet, salty, sour, astringent, bitter and pungent. These six tastes are the representation of the five principal elements. By incorporating all six tastes into each meal, you can avoid food cravings or the over-consumption of certain foods.

Including all the six tastes is not a daunting task, it’s all about getting your seasoning right. However, ensure to get your food combination and include only compatible foods. 

Season your food with a healthy mix of spices to balance your doshas within your body.  These spices include pepper, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, cardamom, nutmeg, rock salt, asafoetida, coriander, cloves, fenugreek, etc. Adding a dash of lemon to the cooked dishes will quickly satisfy the sour taste.

Ayurvedic Cooking : According to the Season

When it comes to how to cook the food that is the most nourishing to us, it depends on how you cook it according to the different times of the year. During certain times of the year, certain elements are dominant in the environment and you need to support your body to maintain its balance.

For example, in the summertime, we already have a lot of heat in the environment. Therefore, you need not necessarily eat ‘hot’ foods. Hot foods mean overly-cooked food and spicy food. Since your body’s digestive fire or Agni is already at its peak and it is the season where Pitta dosha is more dominant, you can have more power to digest raw food. This is the time for you to consume cooling foods, raw salads, and smoothies.

On the other hand, during cold season Vata dosha is dominant. During this time, you might need sweet and warm cooked food. Raw foods are not digested well during this season and a vata-pacifying diet is recommended. This is the time for you to consume warm soothing soups with sweet root vegetables.

Likewise, during the spring season, your body needs a jumpstart or a push in the right direction to revive its energy. This is the time when Kapha dosha is dominant in the environment. Eating light foods that are fresh is recommended. Since your digestive fire also tends to be low, you can also indulge in physical activity more and enjoy nature walks, Yoga and biking at this time.

Ayurvedic Pantry and Kitchen Staples

The staple ingredients in an ayurvedic kitchen include whole grains, basmati rice, lentils or dhals, vegetables, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, and healthy spices. According to Ayurveda, your meal should contain a substantial portion of vegetables. Cooking the vegetables by sauteing them in ghee with spices is the right way to go about it.

First saute spices like turmeric, asafoetida in ghee or coconut oil to draw out the volatile spices and taste. This has the maximum therapeutic value.

Keep Your Digestive Fire or Agni Strong

Use ingredients such that it stimulates your Agni and metabolizes food easily. Again, here spices like ginger, black pepper, clove, etc. are the need of the hour. You can also sip warm water or herbal teas for this purpose. Lassi or buttermilk is also a potent digestive aid after a heavy afternoon meal.

Food For Thought

In a nutshell Ayurvedic cooking is as close as possible to your grandmother or great-grandmother’s kitchen. That means, say no to processed foods, sugar and junk food. Devote time to a home-cooked meal and prepare it in a conscious, loving manner.

The ancient Vedic texts state that your body is built around two main principles – the food that goes into your mouth and the words that come out of your mouth.

Healthy Cooking – Healthy Food – Healthy Thoughts is the ripple effect of sustaining healthy families, communities, and societies.

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