We are what we eat! My ‘gift of good health’ came from a spiritual reawakening through Indian food because it promotes creativity, life, vitality, strength, health, laughter, joy, and cheerfulness.
Curry the provocative, yellow spicy concoction evolved out of India’s five-thousand-year-old healing system called Ayurveda (science of life: body, mind and spirit) and has traveled a fascinating voyage through time. Based on sensible beliefs that developed during the Vedas (ancient knowledge), centuries of study, testing, and observation and nourishment of the body and contentment of the mind proved vital to the eating habits of the people of the Indian subcontinent.
The precepts of the six rasas or flavors developed and became part of every meal. Each flavor is believed to have its therapeutic health remedy and was prescribed in a particular proportion to the others. Since food was believed to influence behavior as well as physical well-being, these beliefs were taken seriously, evolving through time. Today it is an important function of the Indian subcontinent’s consciousness, and could be the reason why most Indians tend to be on friendlier terms with their stomachs.
The word curry comes from the South Indian Tamil word kari, meaning a richly spiced sauce with kari podi or curry powder. Tasty and tantalizing to the palate and the senses, curry is essentially a stew or a casserole of meat, fish, or vegetables sautéed and cooked in a mixture (masala) of several pungent spices. Chili peppers, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions, coriander, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, mace, saffron, and other healing spices form a part of many mouth-watering curry dishes.
These spices and herbs are Nature’s gift to us. They are the heating and cooling energy specialists of the body and aid the digestive process in keeping balance and harmony. They
- stimulate the taste buds and increase the flow of saliva
- relieve gas, and reduce nausea
- soothe the nervous system
- increase internal body heat to relieve chills
- strengthen and promote digestion, absorption, metabolism, elimination, and circulation
The much talked about ancient curry spice curcumin or turmeric (haldi) powder, has been used for thousands of years in India to strengthen and tone the stomach, promote appetite, and help to rid the intestinal tract of parasites. As a natural antioxidant substance, turmeric has few equals in helping to prevent disease; slow the oxidation of oils, fats, and so forth; and check the deterioration of cells and tissues in the body. To the Hindus turmeric is a sacred spice used in every religious ceremony. The mangal sutra, or sacred marriage thread, that is tied around the bride’s neck by her husband-to-be is dipped in turmeric paste to ensure an auspicious start for the newlyweds.
Western researchers now claim turmeric powder “is arguably the most potent anti-cancer nutrient in existence… There is definitely no shortage of scientific evidence these days to show that curcumin, the believed to be primary active ingredient in the spice turmeric hold incredible therapeutic value, and just might be the most advisable medicinal spice of our day. Besides quelling anti-inflammatory pain and promoting wound healing, turmeric is a seemingly miraculous anti-cancer nutrient of the highest order… Curcumin regulates inflammation that plays a major role in most chronic illnesses, including neuro-degenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases and aids in healing by ameliorating the chronic inflammation associated with a multitude of ailments and illnesses, from toothaches to cardiovascular disease… Curcumin is an all-round health agent that promotes vibrant health…”
Add turmeric to your diet. For starters, try this simple vegetable recipe.
Mushrooms and Broccoli sautéed in Turmeric, Garlic & Green Chili
2 packages fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 pounds broccoli heads, cut into pieces
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
8 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 small green chili, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Steam the mushrooms and broccoli for 5 minutes. Rinse and drain.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the turmeric, garlic and green chili and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until they change color to a darker shade. Add the mushrooms, broccoli and salt, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Remove and serve hot with lunch or dinner.
Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.