In Ayurvedic cooking, spices are used for their flavor and their medicinal properties.
Ayurveda uses spices for flavor, medicine and to ensure that all six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent and bitter) are present in the meals.
By the way, Ayurvedic cooking is NOT Indian cooking, it’s the use of spices in cooking for perfect health.
According to Ayurveda, when all six tastes are present in accordance to our particular needs, we feel more content, satisfied and we are healthier.
The main role of the spices is to ensure good digestion.
The root cause of weight gain and many other symptoms is a build-up of toxins and impurities due to faulty digestion.
When we don’t digest food well, it creates a kind of slimy sludge in the gut. Some of us will have reactions like gas and bloating (Vata symptoms). Others will have reactions like burning indigestion (Pitta symptom). A few more will experience sluggish digestion and feel heavy and tired (Kapha symptoms).
It really doesn’t matter how “healthy” the food you eat is if you can’t digest it!
And if you can’t digest it, any food will become impure!
Therefore, adding spices in your meals is one of the biggest strategies you can implement to improve your health.
My 6 favorite Ayurvedic spices
Here are my 6 favorite spices found in the Ayurvedic cooking pantry list:
Cumin is pungent and bitter. It aids digestion, helps flush out toxins, and dispels gas. Cumin improves the absorption of minerals in the intestines; it relieves stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.
Coriander is sweet and astringent. It’s excellent for urinary tract discomfort because of its diuretic properties. Coriander helps reduce fevers and combat allergies and purifies the blood.
Fennel is sweet and astringent. It’s a digestive aid, and helps get rid of intestinal worms.
Turmeric is bitter, pungent and astringent. It has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, as well as an antibacterial and antifungal; excellent for the skin because it purifies the blood. Turmeric also helps with respiratory problems like cough, congestion and sinusitis. It maintains a healthy intestinal flora, and reduces gas. This spice also affects the mind and reduces anxiety and stress. The traditional Ayurvedic texts say that turmeric cleanses the chakras, the psycho-somatic aspects of ourselves. Finally, it helps digest protein and promotes a balanced metabolism.
Cinnamon is sweet and pungent. It helps regulate blood sugar levels, reduces indigestion, and increases circulation, owing to its blood thinning properties.
Saffron is sweet, astringent and bitter. It’s prized as a wonderful “brain” spice because it helps nourish and calm the mind and excess mental activity. It’s also a digestive. Saffron regulates the menstrual cycle, and soothes PMS symptoms. The traditional Ayurvedic texts say that it increases love, devotion and compassion.
Use these spices in any dish or as a tea!
I use these spices at least once a day, in a meal or as a tea. Whenever I make a grain, I’ll throw in a few saffron threads. I’ll have cinnamon in my morning oatmeal. And I’ll add the other spices in my vegetables.