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Rice, Chutneys, Sweets, Drinks and Condiments

Class Three - Rice dishes, Drinks, Sweets, Chutneys, and Condiments

Rice is not only a staple food around the world but is a cultural symbol for fertility, health and wealth in many countries. In our own country it is customary to throw rice at a newly wed couple, symbolizing wishes for fertility and prosperity. In India it is believed that Lord Vishnu caused the Earth to give birth to rice and that the god Indra taught the people how to raise it. Rice is used for worship, and colored powdered rice is used to create beautiful works of art in the form of mandalas in the Far East. In these countries, rice is treated with reverence and associated with elaborate planting rituals.

There are several dozen varieties of rice. Some of the common varieties of rice include jasmine, Texmati, Calmati, Japanese, arboria, brown rice, wild rice and Basmati rice. White rice is considered easier to digest in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, Basmati rice is the king of all rices. Basmati rice is saatvic or pure, it balances all three doshas, it is nourishing for the body tissues and it is easy to digest. Aged Basmati rice has an aroma and flavor arguably the best in the world. Ayurveda recommends avoiding rice that is par boiled, instant or pre-cooked because is has less nutrition and less prana or life energy in it.

Rice contributes the sweet taste according to Ayurveda. It is a light, soft, smooth and nourishing food. It is cooling in nature. Rice is generally good for balancing Vata and Pitta. It may create excess mucus, so rice in excess is not considered ideal for Kapha. To balance Vata, eat rice that is cooked well, in plenty of water, and add a dash of Ghee to the cooked rice. Desserts made with rice and milk are particularly cooling and balancing for Pitta. Individuals trying to balance Kapha should eat less rice, and dry roast the rice before cooking it in water.

Fresh fruit chutneys are traditionally part of an ayurvedic meal because they not only add delicious taste but they help add nutrition and improve the digestion. Fruit is highly praised in modern nutrition as well for its vitamin and mineral content, especially vitamin C and A, which makes them natural antioxidants that help protect the body from free radical damage.

According to ayurveda, fruit is one of the most pure foods we can eat. Fruits enhance ojas, the finest by-product of digestion, considered in ayurveda to be that which sustains life itself. Fresh fruit chutneys add flavor to the meal, and help add a number of tastes, sometimes all six tastes that are recommended by ayurveda to be included in every main meal. Spicy chutneys bring balance to mild dishes and sweet chutneys bring balance to spicy dishes.

There are two major types of fruit chutneys -- fruit that has been cooked with spices or fresh fruit that has been mixed in a blender with spices. Whether the chutney is cooked or fresh, it helps to stimulate agni and help digestion.

Only a teaspoon or two of chutney is needed to enhance a meal. Chutney can be served in a small bowl or directly on the plate with other foods. They can also be used for dipping with flat breads or appetizers. Cooked chutneys can be made and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks if preserved properly. Most fruits can be used for making chutneys including various berries and stoned fruits as well as dried fruits such as dates and raisins. However, melons are generally not used in traditional chutneys.

Fresh, sweet fruit and fruit juices are especially beneficial for balancing pitta. They provide nutrition and keep the body cool and comfortable. Watermelon juice, fresh cucumber juice, lettuce juice and coconut milk are four of the most beneficial juices to pacify pitta. By consuming at least one of these items several times a day you will notice a tremendous difference in your reaction to the high temperature.

Fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro and watercress can also be juiced or made into a chutney to balance pitta. Or steep cooling herbs in boiling water each morning, cool to room temperature and drink the water through the day to get the benefit of the herbs and hydrate your physiology. Favor cooling spices such as cardamom, coriander, and fennel when cooking. Use rose water or rose petal conserve as a cooling food supplement or add to summer drinks.>

Certain fruits and spices can tend to irritate pitta and should be avoided during the summer months. Strawberries and peaches are known in Ayurveda to especially increase pitta and may even cause rashes or allergic reactions in some sensitive people. If you love strawberries and peaches it is better to cook them with sugar and cardamom and serve the puree with a tablespoon of pitta-pacifying whipped cream or blend the puree with some sweet grape juice to make a sweet, cool drink. Small amounts of whipped cream with some cooked fruit is a lighter, more satisfying summer dessert to try instead of frozen ice-cream

Over time, as you tailor your diet to the foods and tastes that are ayurvedically balancing for your physiology and the season, your desire for foods which can cause an imbalance will gradually fade away. Initially, you might feel restricted, but make adjustments in stages, letting your physiology get acclimated to the changes, and eventually you will feel satisfaction and contentment. And according toThe Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians, a feeling of satisfaction or contentment is an indication of balanced pitta.

  Elaine Dodson Beauty & Wellness