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According to Ayurveda, some food items should be consumed every day. Ayurveda divides
Food that should be used every day
- Moong Dal (Green gram)
- crystalized rock salt (Saudha Salt)
- Indian Gooseberry (Amla)
- Jowar (Sorghum or white millet)
- Evaporated and condensed water(pure water)
- The meat of land animals found in plains or forests
All these food items are easily digested with minimum production of toxins and contribute to the fuelling of digestive fire. Like the way oiled, dry wood that catches fire instantaneously and burns without smoke, giving the vital heat and light to the surrounding; similarly these foods provide adequate ABSORBABLE nutrition to the body, without creating any friction in the normal metabolism. This means that the body doesn’t have to fight with them for nutrition. They are like willing friends, ready to share the good things. Also check Concept of Nutrition In Ayurveda
However, it is important to know the right way of cooking, proper combinations and appropriate amount of eating the best of the foods. If the above factors are not proper, even the best food will ruin the health. In this series, we will also discuss the proper method of cooking and consumption of above edibles.
Another important factor is the quality of food. Now if the above food items are genetically modified(GMO) and strewn with pesticides and insecticides, they will not be healthy at all. In that case, it is far healthier to eat organic oats than inorganic rice. For more information, please check Toxic Food According to Ayurveda
Ayurveda says that food also has a soul and corruption in food production, hoarding, profiteering taints the soul of the food. Such food can bring no peace or health! So, let’s ensure whatever food we eat is grown organically and procured at a fair price.
Rice is the commonest and the most ancient grain used all over the world. Most of the ancient civilizations have been rice-eating population.The description of cereals in all Ayurvedic text, including Charak Samhita, start with the description of rice. Organic rice is one of the grains that has minimum reported allergies against it.
Ayurvedic Description Of Rice
There are many varieties of rice mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic texts. unfortunately, most of them have become extinct due to neglect and advent of new genetically modified crops. The best of these is called Shashtik rice. It is the variety that matures in 60 days, hence the name Shashtik rice (Shashti – 60). The qualities of other rice varieties are lesser but similar to shashtik rice.
Qualities of rice (Charak Samhita 17/13) –
- cool in temperament
- imparts moisture
- light to digest
- sweet in taste (provides carbohydrates)
- balances all 3 dosha
- establishes stability in the body
Ayurvedic Cooking Method for Rice
It is important to note the right way of cooking rice.Rice cooked in the intense heat and pressure of the pressure cooker loses its nutrition. Here nutrition is measured not in terms of calories, but bioavailable nutrients in the food. Therefore you should cook rice over a slow flame.Also, if half cooked rice is kept in hot water for some time, it gets fully cooked.
You should cook rice by boiling in excess water. It is good to add a little ghee in it. According to Ayurveda, this water absorbs the dryness and excess starch of the rice. So, the rice left after removing the water has more fibre as compared to the starch. Also it does not produce the drying effect in the body. This rice is especially recommended for the old people who develop a natural tendency to lose moisture and oil from their bodies due to vata. It is also very good for sick people or people with derailed digestive process.
Many people might contest the efficacy of this cooking method by saying that all the nutrition of the rice will be gone if the rice water is removed. However, consider the example of a piece of chalk or eggshell. Both are made up of calcium carbonate, but we cannot munch a chalk one day and get the required quantity of calcium for a year. The nutritious amount has to be in an optimal quantity and absorbable state. The rice separated from rice water gets readily absorbed in the body.
According to Ayurveda, rice water contains less absorbable nutrition. Due to its dry nature, it tends to absorb fat from the body. Therefore, consuming rice water with zero rice is a part of the slimming diet in Ayurveda. But at the same time, it provides adequate nutrition to the body.
Right quantity for rice
It is extremely important to choose the right quantity of rice. Ayurveda says “Excess is anything is always harmful”. Excess food intake taxes the digestive system. Thus, when improperly digested even good food can cause toxins in the body. The best amount of grains that one should consume in a day is equal to the quantity of raw grain that can be contained in his 2 hands joined together. This quantity is applicable for a healthy person engaged in manual labor and with excellent digestion. However, it might not be applicable for a person with a sedentary job.
The best way to judge the right quantity is to listen to your body. You must stop eating when your stomach is 80% full. The quantity suggested includes all the ingredients of the meal like pulses, meat, dairy, grains, vegetables, etc. If you exercise regularly then you can consume rice as 80% of the meal. If you have slow digestion, you should not take rice (or any grain) more than 50% of the total meal. In this case, it is better to include fruits and vegetables, digestives like buttermilk, papad, etc.
Right combinations for Rice
The best thing about rice is that it goes with anything and everything. Rice can be consumed with dairy, meat, vegetables, and even fruits(for example Aamrasa or cooked mango juice). Personally, I have not come across any proscription against rice. Therefore, rice is recommended even for sick and recuperating people in the form of Khichadi.
Next blog will cover information about other ingredients of the list.