Book review

Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners

What is ayurvedic cooking? Ayurvedic cooking goes beyond seasonal and fresh cooking.  It also identifies, flavors, digestive action and matches it to the individual eating the food within the season the food is being eaten.  Sometimes cooking in this manner takes into account the time of day.  

Book review
Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners Book review
Title: Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners

Author: Amadea Morningstar

Tagline: Familiar Western Food Prepared with Ayurvedic Principles

Details: First Edition 1995

An innovative book which teaches about ayurveda and changes the view of what ayurvedic recipes should be.

“As the Ayurvedic “eater”, your first aim is to be able to take in what you are eating well and easily”

As Ayurveda becomes more popular, there are more and more Ayurvedic cookbooks arriving on the shelves.  Most of the new cookbooks arriving on Amazon and elsewhere, as fantastic as they are, still have many recipes and techniques that come out of Indian Culture.  There are many foods described that are not available in US markets unless you go to an Indian market.

Amadea Morningstar recognized the need for Ayurvedic recipes to be converted to the western pallet and ease of purchasing the ingredients. This is truly an innovative book and I hope to see many more like it.

Audience: 

This book is for the beginner ayurvedic cook as well as the advanced.  It is also a great book for understanding some of the basic concepts in Ayurveda according to dosha, guna.  I would not however recommend this book to someone who is a meat and potatoes type of person to use as a convert to vegetarianism.

Summary: 

Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners is Amadea Morningstar’s follow up to the Ayurvedic Cookbook. Amadea takes on western foods cooked with ayurveda in mind.  The book is also a textbook for living the ayurvedic lifestyle.

Details:

The first part of the book is dedicated to ayurvedic principles of digestion. Amadea write about the six tastes, the five elements and the process of digestion. She also writes about the affect of food on the body and the mind.

The second part of the book contains the recipes with the usual markings.  Preparation time and serving Size. A nice touch is Amadea’s tagging the recipes with other details like  sattwic, rajasic, and tamasic the effect on the mind as well as how the recipe affects the doshas.  I particularly like the icons she uses for the seasons, meals should change with the seasons and the icons offer a quick view of when the recipe is most appropriate. Throughout this section along with the recipes are scattered boxed of tips.  Like, how to choose a ripe pineapple or a discussion about Miso.

The third section of the book is dedicated to charts, lists and glossaries, handy references each one of them.

Other uses: 

Utilize the book as a great introduction to vegetarian cooking.  There are many  tips on how to choose, store and prepare fruits and vegetables.

The Pros

  1. This book is an excellent way to learn the principles of ayurveda. Preventing dis-ease with food and lifestyle is a higher practice than combating dis-ease with herbs and treatments.
  2. Amadea discusses her thought process when creating recipes according to ayurveda.  She tries to stress that the qualities of food and cooking changes according to season and environment.  As an example, Amadea discusses the use of Miso from an environmental perspective. Miso is not a “ayurvedic food” as it was not known to most East Indians.  There are many cases of foods that do not fit into the traditional Indian diet. She shares the value of adding it to the diet and why it should be included as part of an Ayurvedic regimen.

The Cons 

  1. This cookbook was written before the prevalence of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) in our foods.  Although she speaks about using clean, fresh foods the situation today requires greater stress on organic foods especially when it comes to using soy, corn and wheat products.
  2. As much as I love the Food Guidelines for the three doshas in the back of the book.  The lists are still a bit confusing.  One can easily mistake the guidelines for rules.  Do not make that mistake, use the lists as a guide rather than law.

Bottom Line

I love the recipes in this book.  Contemplating  on food, environment and lifestyle are thought provoking and still relevant today. I’m surprised I still have my copy as I’ve loaned it out so many times!

Ayurvedic Cooking
Ayurvedic Cooking Class

Amadea, if you ever read this review, please consider updating this book, your insights are valuable and thought provoking.


***Recipe for Pear Mousse is divine!


 

Purchasing the book is easy:

I’d love to hear your experience with the recipes from this book.  Please comment below:

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