A Happy Body is a Healthy Body

Mahendri Arundale

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 322 Price: (paperback) $20.99 ISBN: 9781663250964 Reviewed: February, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Mahendri Arundale introduces India’s ancient culinary path to wellness in her third book on Indian cuisine.

Based on the philosophy that Ayurveda dietary practices yield healing energy, the cookbook summarizes medical wisdom from ancient books of knowledge (the Vedas) practiced by Vedic physicians for centuries. More than 100 recipes reflecting key Ayurvedic principles are included.

The food-as-medicine concept is one of three pillars of Ayurvedic lifestyle connecting the body’s constitution with doshas (life forces or bodily humors controlling well-being): vata (air/gas), pitta (fire/energy/heat), and kapha (water/cold). Vata controls matters of breathing, movement, and nerve impulses; pitta concerns digestion, body heat, blood pressure; kapha affects bodily fluids, phlegm, sinuses.

To balance doshas, identifying one’s dominant life force combined with choosing appropriate foodstuffs (herbs, spices, plants, proteins)—and using Arundale’s recipes—leads to physical and emotional health. Additionally, the Six Tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) boost the immune system and assist in dosha management.

Arundale organizes recipes by ingredients, beginning with spice blends for curries, oils, and dairy items. Also featured are soups, kichadis (split mung bean dishes), dal (legumes), grains/breads, assorted vegetables, chutneys and salads, desserts, beverages and special “rejuvenating” recipes.

Recipe notes address how ingredients affect digestion and vata-pitta-kapha alignment. For example, barley’s laxative action, cooling energy, and thirst-quenching properties make Vegetable-Barley Soup Sautéed in Cumin perfect for summer. But, she warns, “An extra amount of ghee is calming for V, but reduce the garlic for P.”

Some might skip Part 1’s ancient medical philosophy, regarding it as too much information. (Much of the section would, indeed, be better in chart form.) But Arundale’s Ayurvedic discussion is well researched and cited. Based on three decades of practice, her recipes are modernized, accessible to home kitchens, and utilize easily resourced ingredients.

While the book’s dense narrative may deter those new to Ayurveda practices, the dishes are simple to assemble, and Arundale has done much of the work for those ascribing to this dietary philosophy.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

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