Book Review: The Tastes of Ayurveda

Book Review - The Tastes of Ayurveda: More Healthful, Healing Recipes for the Modern AyurvedicAuthor: Amrita Sondhi
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Book Publication: 2012

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian healing tradition that many Westerners are familiar with through its close link to the development of yoga. Like many traditional medicines Ayurveda sees the person as a whole, and an optimal diet based on the Ayurveda principles as a way to heal and maintain the body.

The Ayurvedic diet is based on the theory of three doshas (or humours), which are vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth). Each person has all three doshas, but usually in different proportions, making it important to have a balance of the three. So, if you are primarily pitta, then you can regulate this by having more food with vata and kapha qualities in your meals. In addition, the Ayurvedic diet focusses on the six tastes – astringent, bitter, pungent, salty, sour, sweet – and each of these are to be incorporated daily into one’s diet to create harmony, as these six tastes pacify the doshas.

However, if one thinks that The Tastes of Ayurveda is full of curries and other standards of Indian cooking, they’d be mistaken. The Tastes of Ayurveda will tempt your tastebuds with recipes such as Peaches with Mint and Candied Ginger, Spicy Tomato Salsa, and Sugarless Bran ‘n’ Pecan Muffins, which are featured alongside Indian recipes for Lassi, Green Mango Chutney, and Inspired Pakoras. The full-colour book features recipes that vary in complexity, from just four ingredients in the Cashew Cream and Miso Dressing to more than 20 for the Weekend Minestrone Soup, which is a two-step recipe.

The Tastes of Ayurveda focusses on the nutritional aspect of the tradition, but incorporates modern-day raw foods and whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur, barley, and spelt.

Not surprisingly, the more than 300 recipes in The Tastes of Ayurveda are all vegetarian, and a number are vegan and/or raw. Many recipes feature ghee, the clarified butter that is a staple of Indian cooking, but there are often alternatives offered to make the meal vegan or raw.

Each recipe features colourful icons so you can quickly see if it’s raw and/or vegan, and which of the three doshas the recipe is suitable for, including recipes that are suitable for all types.

Author Amrita Sondhi, who wrote The Modern Ayurveda Cookbook, has included a number of non-recipe features in The Tastes of Ayurveda, such as a questionnaire for those who don’t know their dosha profile and what foods are suitable for each, as well as suitable meal plans, a short section on cleansing, yoga for the doshas, balcony vegetable gardening of which Sondhi is a proponent, and an extensive chart on food guidelines for basic constitutional types, so you can see if, for example, strawberries are suitable for those with a pitta dosha (they aren’t).


Victoria Moorshead is an editor and writer, and a former staff member of Vitality Magazine.

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