Spices & Herbs
India's ancient healing system and sister science to Yoga.
The age-old adage “you are what you eat” loosely sums up the premise of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health, based on balance; one’s diet profoundly sustains the mind and body’s equilibrium. It is also believed that in eating correctly, food can be not only medicinal but also preemptive in maintaining the body’s immunity to disease.
Most Indian homes prepare food based upon assorted flavours (Rasa) and their symbolism is as follows:
Without salt, there is no flavour. This sensitive ingredient makes or breaks a meal and at Rasam, we use sea salt, volcanic salt (black salt) and rock salt (pink salt from the Himalayas).
This is necessary to balance all the flavours and the body system. Bitter foods have high medicinal values eg turmeric, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds etc.
Sourness sharpens flavours, stimulates tastebuds and has a wake-up quality for example green mango, tamarind, kokam etc.
Spices bring out the flavour in any dish and is an integral and indispensable part of every Indian meal. The spice here means aromatic flavours, not heat.
Apart from desserts, sweet fruits, honey etc are used against various spices to balance a dish. e.g. mango pulp, jaggery and apricots are widely used.
The intricate and delicate use of the above in correct combination and proportion are key to extracting the perfect flavours.
Garam masala is a mixture of many different spices and garam masala itself comes in various combinations. We use different garam masala for every dish (garam means warm).
And not just food, women use jasmine bracelets and marigolds, and men use sandalwood paste on their forehead on formal occasions, sprinkle water on grass and dinner is traditionally served in the open air, to awaken all the senses.
Bitterness symbolises struggles and realities; salt symbolises moderation; sourness awakens the spirit and sharpens the mind, and spices symbolise the endeavours of life.
At Rasam we do follow these principles by and large.
We use fresh whole spices, soak and strain assorted roots, use low glycemic indexed rice, slow-cook meat on the bone and also rely less upon onions to thicken sauces.
We always aim to strike a delicate balance of assorted flavours, freshly ground spices containing natural healing oils, pickles and chutney acting as taste stimulants – all these assisting with digestion and a feeling of well-being after having eaten.