To steal anyone’s thunder for any caveats against the Ayurvedic cuisine that the food tastes like curry, I would like to give some food for thought. This article is about the taste of the food, not about its health aspects or other uses. In Sanskrit, taste is called Rasa.
Does this type of cuisine really always taste the same? Let's examine the whole thing step by step. What is important in a healthy and full-fledged Ayurvedic cuisine when it comes to taste?
Ayurveda recommends that the dishes are served in six flavors, namely sweet (madhura), sour (amla), salty (lavana), hot (katu), bitter (tikta), and tart or contracting (kashaya). These should occur in every meal. That means in the morning, at noon and in the evening.
Below you will find a list with some examples of foods with their flavors, whilst there are of course many more. It should be noted that Ayurveda assigns food to several flavors. Do yourself a taste test, take for example spices of your choice. Put a dip on your tongue. How does cardamom or coriander taste like? Which flavors are you able to identify? Foods are reflected in the following list. This list contains various sources that I have described in the appendix as source of references, and accompanied by my recommendations of books.
Let's go to our tastes:
Which foods have a sweet taste?
1. Fruit: pineapple, apple according to variety, apricot, banana, pear (ripe), date, strawberry, fig, pomegranate, raspberry, honeydew melon, cherry, mango, nectarine, orange, watermelon, grapes, lemon
2. Vegetables: eggplant, avocado, fennel, cucumber, carrot, potato, garlic, red cabbage, pumpkin, okra, cooked onion, tomato, wild asparagus, zucchini
3. Cereals: basmati rice, couscous (wheat), spelled semolina, barley, gold millet, oats, corn (polenta), durum wheat semolina (pasta), rice, wheat
4. Legumes: Light yellow lentils (Tuweer lentils), chickpeas (Channa-Dal), mung beans, red lentils (Masur-Dal), black beans (Urad-Dal)
5. Nuts, kernels, seeds: cashew, hazelnut, psyllium, coconut, pumpkin seeds, almonds (peeled, unpeeled), pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
6. Dairy products: Appenzeller, butter, Emmentaler, ghee (butterfat), cottage cheese, yoghurt, cow's milk, Paneer (Indian cream cheese), cream, goat's milk
7. Meat fish, eggs: rabbit, chicken, guinea fowl, sheep, pork, goat, fish
8. Spices / herbs: dill, fennel seeds, pomegranate powder (Anardana Powder), dried ginger, cardamom, coriander, cumin, long pepper (Pippali), Indian verbena, licorice, cinnamon
9. Sweeteners: mango powder (amchur), honey, jaggery (from the palm juice of the sugar cane), opium poppy, raw cane sugar, sugar
Which foods have a sour taste?
1. Fruits: Amla (Indian gooseberry), pineapple, apple (depending on variety), apricot (light), pear (light), strawberry, pomegranate, raspberry, mango (light), nectarine, orange, lemon
2. Vegetables: tomato
3. Dairy products: Appenzeller, butter, buttermilk, Emmentaler, cottage cheese, yoghurt
4. Sweeteners: mango powder (Amchur), pomegranate powder (Anardana Powder)
5. Other: wine
Which foods have a salty taste component?
1. Vegetables: ginger, garlic
2. Dairy products: Appenzeller
3. Others: flavor enhancer, sea salt, soy sauce, rock salt
Which foods have a sharp taste component?
1. fruits: banana (very light), cherry (very light)
2. Vegetables: bitter cucumber, fennel, fresh ginger, garlic, radish, onion
3. Spices / herbs: aniseed, basil, mugwort (damanaka), fenugreek (methi), dill, fragrant vetch (vanapsica), caraway, cayenne, chili, true myrrh, galangal (malayavaca) cloves, garden cress, turmeric (turmeric), Clove, Indian valerian (Tagara), Indian brown mustard, Cardamom, Coriander, Cumin, Caraway, Langen pepper (Pippali), Lavender, Dandelion, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Red mustard seeds, Saffron, Opium poppy, Black pepper, Mustard seeds, Black cumin (Upakuncika) , Wormwood (Afsantin), cinnamon
4. Nuts, kernels, seeds: sesame seeds
Which foods have a bitter taste?
1. Vegetables: artichoke, aubergine, bitter gourd, chicory, fennel, carrot, garlic, megrims, lettuce, radish, celery, wild asparagus, lemon
2. Cereals: quinoa
3. Legumes: orange lentils, kidney beans
4. Nuts, kernels, seeds: walnut (walnut), almonds (unpeeled), sesame seeds
5. Dairy products: Appenzeller
6. Spices / Herbs: Ajwein, Aniseed, Basil, Mugwort (Damanaka), Fenugreek (Methi), Dill, Fragrance (Vanapsika), Hing (Asafoetida, Asant, Stinkasant, Fel Devil), True Myrrh, Fennel Seed, Garden Cress, Turmeric (Turmeric ), Clove, Indian Valerian (Tagara), Indian Mustard, Cardamom, Coriander, Cumin, Lipped Pepper (Pippali), Lavender, Dandelion, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Marrowwort, Cloves, Mustard Seeds, Saffron, Black Pepper, Mustard Seed, Black Seed ( Upakuncika), wormwood (Afsantin), chicory, cinnamon
7. Other: tofu
Which foods have a bitter flavor?
1. Fruits: apples (depending on the variety), banana, pear, pomegranate
2. Vegetables: eggplant, broccoli, cucumber, horseradish, garlic, carrot, celeriac, mung sprouts, celery
3. Cereals: barley, gold millet, oats, corn (polenta), rolled barley, quinoa
4. Pulses: chickpeas (Channa-Dal), kidney beans, mung beans (yellow, halved), light yellow (Tuweer) lenses, brown lentils, orange lentils
5. Nuts, kernels, seeds: walnut (walnut), hazelnut, pumpkin seeds (light), sesame seeds
6. Dairy products: Appenzeller, butter, cow's milk, yoghurt, goat's milk
7. Spices / Herbs: Mugwort (Damanaka), True Myrrh, Turmeric (Turmeric), Indian Valerian (Tagara), Hing (Asafoetida, Asean, Stinkasant, Fel Devil), Nutmeg, Opium Poppy
8. sweeteners: honey, Yaggery (from the palm juice of the sugar cane)
9. Other: tofu, black tea
As a take-away, the biggest selection of flavors can be found amongst spices and herbs. Therefore, these are very popular and used in Ayurveda cuisine. Now, depending on the recipe, we only need to make sure that all six flavors are present. If you ever have a recipe that does not contain all the flavors, you can choose from the variety of foods and spices to add what you need. And what you like or what suits your meal. For a type-appropriate diet (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) or used therapeutically, requires a holistic nutrition and health advice.
If you are not familiar in this field and would like to learn more about it, have a look at the recommended books, below. The first two books are easy to understand for laymen and a good guide in everyday life. The third book is for Ayurveda practitioners, such as doctors to use, but also for therapists or nutritionists interesting. Please look, if you can order this books in english.
„Die ayurvedische Ernährung - Heilkunst und Lebensenergie mit wohltuenden Rezepten zur Gesundheitsstärkung“ von Kerstin Rosenberg – ISBN 978-3-517-08696-5
„Ayurvedische Ernährung – Bei Verdauungsbeschwerden, Verstopfung und Reizdarm“ von Tamara Köhler – ISBN-10: 3-03780-259-6 und ISBN-13: 978-3-03780-259-5
„Heilpflanzen der Ayurvedischen Medizin“ von Andrea Zoller und Hellmuth Nordwig