True sattvic cooking is meant to be simple nutritious fare that is light on spices and ingredients that do not over-stimulate the nervous system. The kind of food served in most ashrams because it allows us to sit better and deeper during meditation. And I must say, there’s a lot of truth in that.
My collection of spices and condiments is purposely kept simple. These are my cumin seeds, panch phoron, coriander powder, tumeric powder, sumac, black peppercorn, pink himalayan salt, salt and pepper.
Spices and the Sattvic diet
According to the ladies in Delhi who taught me Sattvic Vegetarian cooking, you don’t really need that many spices. Cumin (jeera) seeds are a must, so is turmeric and coriander powder, and salt. I call these the Magic 4. No garlic, onions, green chilli, or asafoetida. All these ‘rules’ which I knowingly broke by cooking my sambar dish but like I said, I just wanted a wicked sambar for a change.
Eating well and joyfully is important
I think most folks would agree that eating well is important but eating joyfully is even more so. In fact, if we want to be truly sattvic we probably should also be chanting a mantra during the cooking. If you read up on the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto, and then carry out a little experiment for yourself, you might be inclined to believe it’s true. Thoughts can change the food you cook and the water you drink.
Your mood can affect your cooking
Then again, there is this story of Shri Mata-ji and how she tasted a dish made by an ashramite and could tell it was made with less than nurturing thoughts while in the act of cooking. Basically, it’s the water content, water being an excellent carrier of energy that picks up your thought energies. If you are keen to know more, I have written an article here and here about the power of your thoughts and how you can harness it in a conscious way.
Between thought and spice – which makes a good person?
Let’s just say we know that it isn’t really the type of spice mix we use or whether we are vegetarian even but it’s our thoughts that count while in the kitchen and out of the kitchen. I mean, it’s all about how we relate to other people and the world at large, isn’t it? And since we are all on our own unique and trying journeys, let’s not beat ourselves up over whether to spice or not to spice.
My Panch Phoron – 5-spice masala
Now, according to these ladies again, if you need more than just cumin, there is always the Panch Phoron or 5-spice mix/masala and I shook out some of mine to show you what’s in the mix:
Although I have the cumin on its own, it is this mix that I turn to when I cook a dish that requires more than just cumin. That way I don’t stock up on too many different spices that would take forever to finish. This little packet costs less than a dollar and goes a long way because like I said earlier, the Magic 4 is frequently all that’s needed to make a simple but surprisingly tasty dish.
My Magic 4
The thing about this simple mix is that coriander powder and tumeric powder combine to make the most basic of a curry mix (aka garam masala). Why not give it a try in your kitchen with just these two powders? Add them to hot oil with aromatics such as sliced onions and folks at home will soon come running into your kitchen wanting to see if you are cooking a curry!
What else would you need to simplify your vegetarian cooking? Here’s what I have in my pantry and what’s available in the supermarkets around my place thus making it easy to pick up what I need.