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Healthy Cooking

Sonia Mazumdar

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Mint Leaves: (Pudina). Mint leaves are widely used in India. There are several varieties grown worldwide. While excellent in rice, dhals, and vegetable dishes, they are superb in mint chutneys. Most mints can be used by all three doshas. Boil 8-10 leaves in 20ml water. Boil till one fourth is left. Drink this decoction in cases of painful menstruation.

Fennel Seed: (Saunf). The fennel plant is similar to the dill plant; both the leaves and the seeds are used in cooking. Fennel is delicate and fragrant. The bulb and the stalks are valued for their post-digestive qualities. The roasted seeds are ground in masalas or used as a breath refresher after meals, and as a digesting aid. Fennel seeds are excellent for the Pitta constitution. It is an excellent seed for all three-doshas. Place a bowl containing saunf and water in moonlight. Let it stay overnight and drink it next morning. It improves eyesight. A hot infusion of saunf is given in ammenorhea (absence of menses) or in cases where there is no br**st milk formation. It is also used to digest food.

Cardamom: (Elaichi). The cardamom plant is native to South India. The black seeds are encased in either small green pods or large black pods. The green pods are high in volatile oils, with a taste that resembles eucalyptus. The seeds of the green pods are mostly used in beverages, sweets, and pulaos. Cardamom has been used for centuries in Avurvedic medicine. This seed is best for Vata and Kapha, but may be used occasionally by Pitta due to its aromatic flavor.

Cassia Leaves: (Tejpatta). Native to Sri Lanka and South India,Iong sun-dried leaves are olive green color. They are pungent in nature and are used as a fried seasoning in cooking. They may be used by Vata and Kapha types.

Black Salt, Kala namak. This is a dark crimson-grey salt that has a strong and pungent flavor, It is high in trace minerals and iron and is found almost exclusively in India. This salt is to be used mostly by Vata types and occasionally by Kapha types.

Charoli Seed:(Chironji). These large seeds, which have an almond flavor, are toasted and frequently substituted for almonds in many Indian desserts. These are best for Vata and, on occasion, for Kapha types. Powder of chironji with rock salt is useful in patients with join pains.

Cinnamon: (Dalchini). Cinnamon, the dried bark of the Cinnamomum cassia tree, is native to South India. Both the bark and the cassia leaves are used extensively Indian cooking. The cassia cinnamon is more pungent with a thicker stick than the thinner bark found in the West. Cinnamon is another essential ingredient in Ayurvedic remedy. It is good for Kapha and Vata because of its heating energy. Pitta may use it occasionally.

Cloves: (Laung). Cloves are the small pointed dried buds of the evergreen tree. They contain the antiseptic volatile oil and are used in small amount as a ground spice in masalas. Cloves are used extensively Ayurvedic pharmacology. They are good for Vata and Kapha types. It is a s*x**l stimulant (an aphrodisiac)

Fenugreek Seed: (Methi). This seed is more like a small bean than a seed. It has a golden yellow color and has an odd shape. Generally methi is dried and moderately roasted before use. Like the leaves, the fenugreek seeds are also bitter; they are used mainly in pickles, dhals, and masalas.

The fenugreek seed is also used in Ayurvedic pharmacology to promote hair growth. For this purpose, the seeds are soaked overnight and mashed by hand into a paste. This paste is massaged into the scalp and kept on the hair for 30 to 45 minutes before rinsing. The hair is left gleaming with subtle oils. Fenugreek seed is good for Kapha types, although Vata may use occasionally. All types may use externally. Methi seeds taken empty stomach in morning contol diabetes (sugar).

Nutmeg: (Jaiphal). This sleep-inducing nut is found in the center of the fruit of the evergreen tree. The nut should be grated fresh. It is used in many milk beverages and in masalas in Indian cuisine. Nutmeg is excellent to induce sleep and relaxation for Vata types. Kapha types may also use it.


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