In every person’s life, there will be several exceptional “aha” moments. You would be trying to solve a problem for several days and suddenly at an unexpected moment, you would find a solution. In the field of software it always happens to me. I’d want to learn something new and interesting but I wouldn’t be able to spend hundreds of hours reading thousands of pages. I’d suddenly, somewhere, somehow find a small few-page article that would give me all the information I needed. And, that would be my “aha” moment. “I got it, I understood it and I know what to do now.” I feel more knowledgeable.
One such “aha” moment happened to me when I read the book “Sukham Ayu” by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. From outside it looked like any other coffee table cookbook, but when I started reading, it answered many of the questions I had about ayurveda and food, and with a beautiful narration of many mouth watering recipes. I realized that by reading the book I could quickly know what ayurveda is, incorporate it into regular cooking, and clearly understand what kind of effect a food ingredient will have on my body if I eat it.
You see, that was an eye opening “aha” moment. It was like finding the user’s manual for a complex system you are required to work with. If you don’t have a user’s manual, you cannot fully utilize the system. You’d be always working on trial and error basis, learning about it as you go, but never be able to utilize full potential of the system. That is what we generally do with our bodies and food. Our body is a complex system and food is the input we give to it without knowing what kind of effects it would have on our body.
The book “Sukham Ayu” is like a manual that helps to understand the nature of body and food, and the relation between them.
The knowledge I have gained from Sukham Ayu is:
1. Basic terminology in ayurveda
2. Different body types and how to determine a body type
3. Details about many food ingredients in ayurveda perspective
4. Plan for meals based on a body type
5. Over sixty good vegetarian recipes
6. A detailed meal planner
7. A food guide based on body constitution
If you are interested in learning ayurvedic concept of food, this is a must have book. If you are not interested in ayurveda part of it, you can just enjoy the recipe part, a set of homely vegetarian recipes that were tried for several generations before and will continue for several more generations in the future. Anyway you see, “Sukham Ayu” is a good cookbook to have in your library collection.
I wanted to know more about the inspiration behind the book. Authors Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain responded immediately to my questions. Here is my interview with the Sukham Ayu authors.
Pratibha Jain and Jigyasa Giri with Dr. Prakash Kalmadi at KARE, Pune
You have written an excellent book exploring the Ayurveda roots of everyday food. What was your inspiration? What prompted you to choose this subject?
Thank you for liking the book. As we wrote in the introduction of Sukham Ayu, our tryst with “Pedatha” led us unconsciously to another realm of Indian tradition…Ayurveda. But in all honesty, we’d like to say that we did not choose the subject, rather, strangely we were chosen by it. It so happened that at the first launch of “Cooking at home with Pedatha”, we were introduced to Dr. Prakash Kalmadi who is the founder of KARE, an impressive ayurvedic rejuvenation establishment situated in the idyllic town of Mulshi near Pune. He liked our book very much and wanted us to write a book of Ayurvedic recipes from their kitchen. With this in mind, he invited us to his establishment. Once there, we were extremely inspired to take on the project, and thus KARE became the starting point of our research for this book.
It appears that you did dedicated research on Ayurveda and food. With your knowledge in the subject, I feel you could have written elaborately. But you chose to write a coffee table kind of cookbook. Are there any specific reasons?
A coffee table cookbook such as ‘Sukham Ayu’ is our attempt to make the great tenets of Ayurveda easily comprehensible to laypersons in the field, such as ourselves:). To answer the question, the book is divided into sections of recipes, and each section is preceded by a short chapter of Ayurvedic insights. We started out thinking of just a book of recipes, but soon realized that the point was not to make a book of 60, 70, 80 recipes, but to include insights that can then be applied by the reader to create unlimited wholesome food. Our own first questions soon became an endless inquiry, and in every recipe, with the insight of each answer, came yet another question. Thus our learning of concepts was interspersed with the process of recipe writing. And having enjoyed this methodology of learning, it made sense to share it in a similar rhythm with our readers by interspersing nuggets of information on ingredients, short chapters of Ayurvedic insights and the recipes. This way they all co-exist in balance through out the book and exude a friendly format, so we believe.
What is the best way to get the most out of Sukham Ayu?
First try a few recipes at random to see for yourself that healthy food can be tasty food too. That’s exactly what happened to us during our first visit to KARE.
Next, get curious about your prakriti or constitution, identify it (pg 17), and start reading the chapters on Ayurvedic insights – how we are connected to the elements, the seasons, the essences of food, what makes food compatible to each one of us and so on.
Use the orange box on each recipe page to increase your knowledge about food substances and their effects on the body. The food guide on page 108-109 will eventually help you to choose the right foods for your constitution.
Above all, this is a book about Cooking at Home, which is mostly a family. Hence the recipes are tridoshik, which means they are balanced to suit all doshas. As we have explained on page 9, “When you select a menu from this book for your family, all you have to do is identify who can eat more or less of each dish, based on the main ingredients.”
I noticed that you have begun every section of recipes with a home-style recipe. It is very interesting, do shed light on how that came about.
After every chapter that journeys through an Ayurvedic tenet or insight, we decided to gently guide our readers ‘back home to their present’ with a home-style recipe before they could move on to more specific recipes. The home-style recipes are absolutely basic recipes of daily Indian cooking with suggestions of how to incorporate different food substances using the basic recipe. By the time the readers go through the entire section of recipes, they would be ready for yet another chapter, yet another journey through another realm of Ayurveda, before getting back home to cooking, with a little more knowledge gained in the process.
Would you recommend any additional resources to those who would want to explore more on Ayurveda and food?
Ayurveda is a vast science. There are many elaborate books written on the subject by experts in the field of Ayurveda. Some of the primary sources that we researched from and recommend are: ‘Charaka Samhita’ by Maharishi Charaka, ‘Ashtanga Hridaya’ by Maharishi Vagbhata, ‘Bhavaprakasha’ by Acharya Bhava Mishra and ‘Kshema Kutuhalam’ by Acharya Kshema Sharma. We also like reading contemporary writers in the field such as Ms. Amadea Morningstar, Dr. Robert Svoboda, Dr. Scott Gerson and Dr. Vasant Lad.
You have entered into food blogging world with Pedatha.com. What is your feel of food blogging and food blog followers?
We are amazed at that world out there, and although we are not active bloggers, we enjoy the process of blogging and visiting other blogs. In fact, when we look at the availability of recipes with excellent photos on blogs, we always wonder what makes books sell .
We know so many friends and so many young people who depend on the blogs a lot to cook their own food. They are great forums for self-expression and sharing views. It is like a good bridge between one’s private space and the external world. We are glad to be part of this wonderful community.
Book website: Pritya.com
Recommend “Sukham Ayu” to your local library.
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