Setting Up Your Ayurvedic Kitchen
Let food be your first medicine and the kitchen your first pharmacy. —Taittiriya Upanishad
The kitchen was once the hearth, the heart of a home, where food was cooked and family gathered for warmth and merriment. Whether your kitchen is large or small, professional or simple, Ayurveda suggests that your kitchen should be like the heart - red, pulsing, and full of love.
Red stimulates digestion. Consider adding a painting, a vase of flowers, bowls or linens with strong colors of red to invoke fire power.
Pulsing because a kitchen should be a hub of buzzing life— a creative space full of living foods where you can share vibrant joy with family and friends while you cook.
Love, because as the poet Rimbaud wrote, “The sun, the hearth of affection and life, pours burning love on the delighted earth.” The kitchen is where the hearth pours burning love into our meals, those delights from the earth.
Long ago, Swamini Mayatitananda recommended using hands, fingers, sight, sound and taste to determine amounts and I guess I just breathed a great sigh of relief upon hearing that. It may even have been the start of my own separate peace with the kitchen: the reclaiming of my own intuitive relationship with food, and therefore nature, put to the service of love, and the creative cycle of life.
So, I recommend using fewer measuring utensils, in the hope that you will find a similar freedom, trust, creative expression, authenticity and empowerment by your own perfect measure and innate wisdom. But here are some essentials.
In addition to a favorite soup pot and saucepan, I often use a blender, and a box grater for shredding sweet potatoes and carrots. A lemon squeezer is a great help, and a citrus zester will encourage you to add healthy zest to more of your meals.
Mason jars are excellent for storing nut milks, sauces, and really anything, and are essential for making fermented foods. An electric spice grinder will help with spice blends, although there is almost nothing more Ayurvedic than grinding by hand, for which a mortar and pestle offer better control and muscular rewards.
I like to always have cheesecloth available are for making ghee, and empty paper tea bags to fill with spice blends to share. I use glass measuring cups to determine ingredient amounts when baking. Otherwise, they stay on the shelves tucked away. In general, amounts are determined by a pinch of the fingers, a scoop of the hands, a seasoned eye, and the very personal artistry of taste.
Ayurveda recommends using hands, fingers, sight, sound, and taste as a way of developing your feel for the kitchen. Trust, empower, and liberate your creative juices by using measuring tools less and your five senses and intuition more. See what comes from cooking with your own two hands, and enjoy the process of trusting your own perfect measure.
Excerpt adapted from Ayurveda Cooking For Beginners by Laura Plumb.