Rasoi
 
 
Introduction
   


The Indian Art and Science of food-making can be termed as RASOI. The word Rasoi has a basic similarity with the Indian word 'Rasa' which literally means 'tasty liquid'. It has a relation with preparation of food, as well as it's consumption.

The preparation of wholesome food requires precise knowledge of the proportion and processing required. This involves the mixture of several 'rasas' or various tastes. On the otherhand, the consumption of right food also involves the reaction from our body in the form of secretion of Saliva (which is a digestive liquid), as also several complex reactions within the body.

Food For thought:Food is not only necessary for the nourishment of the body, but knowingly or unknowingly it also influences our mind and soul. In order to realise this influence of food, one needs to be competant and patient to analyse the same. All those things which we consume as food (liquid or solid) will either have a good or bad effect on the body and mind. One needs to develop the capacity and sensitivity to understand these effects and use this knowledge to develop immunity and maintain good health.

Cooking is considered as one of the essential arts. Out of the 64 arts which a human being is supposed to possess, cooking occupies a place of pride in our society. The various techniques involved (Tantra) are the methods of cooking.

A pleasant frame of mind, loving thoughts, positive conversations and pleasing surrounding form the mental frame (Mantra). The use of pure wholesome ingredients of cooking form the 'Atmosphere' (Vatavaran). All these contribute to the taste, digestibility and assimilability.

The Indian RASOI-GHAR or Kitchen: The kitchen reflects the health and culture of the people. The Indian kitchen, like its people, is a happy mixture of the past, present and future. Here, we want to take you on a journey and bring to you the best of every age and culture. The kitchen is a place which not only nourishes the people but also it's cultures. We may not know when exactly the kitchen came into existence. But we can estimate that it must have come into being only after the discovery of "Fire".

Mother's love and her tender fostering care is a very important part of the welfare and nurturing for the family. The added ingredient of love which a mother adds to the family meals can only be available in a home and nowhere else. In earlier times many mothers would be mentally chanting "japa" prayer, or "mantra" while preparing the meals and going about their daily chores.

This chanting leads to positive energy in the food she prepares and the divine vibrations not only nourish the family physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. In keeping with the saying "We are what we eat", the mother maintains her purity of thoughts while preparing the meals. It was their love which Shivaji Maharaj received from his mother since his childhood which moulded him into a physically and spiritually strong human-being,a jewel among Indian heroes.

Over the centuries a wide variety of food have been evolved in India. India being a very vast country, different types of food exist over the various regions. Some people believe that Indian food is too hot and spicy. This may be partly true in the case of a few old recipes. But these recipes can be toned down without loosing out on its flavor, aroma and texture of the food.

Many spices and herbs which are added to the Indian cooking actually aid digestion. Actually, some of these herbs also form the basis of science of Indian Ayurvedic medicines. The grandmother of the house (dadima) was supposed to be a walking repertory of homely remedies and surefire cures for common ailments.

In order to have the best of Indian cooking the housewife requires the right combination of experience, knowledge of food, some common sense and a bit of experimentation to try her combinations. The modern Indian Housewife realizes, that, to give her family a healthy, balanced, and nutritive diet ,is, of utmost importance.

The traditional Brahmins still continue to do "NAIVEDYAM" and then eat their food. It is a systematic process of invoking the "Pancha -Pranas" and then offering it to the body as a temple. The stomach that has the power to digest food is compared to the Homa-Kunda (or sacrificial fire) to which we offer food as a matter of divine's offering to our life.

Just as our body is made of the "Pancha Mahabhootas", so also the food we eat is made of the five basic elements. A little understanding of this can go a long way in regulating our food and thereby our health. For example: Water is available in abundance and is valuable for life. The human body is composed of 70% water. Water is the only substance, which actively quenches our thirst.

Other beverages will relieve thirst only in proportion of the water they contain. Most drinks (apart from fresh fruit juices and herbal drinks) are injurious because of unwholesome substances added to them. Hence water in its pure form is the best beverage. Through water, nutrients enter the blood stream and reach the critical areas of the human body, which need repair and growth.

MATA ANNAPOORNESHWARI is revered traditionally as the provider of food to humanity. Anna means "food" and poorneshwari means the "Goddess who gives fullness". In south-India, there is a temple dedicated to Annapoorneshwari.Our forefathers believed that whatever we eat should be first offered to the source from where it has come, and then alone should it be eaten. PANCHA KOSHA Shuddhi: Cleaning our five bodies. Every human being exists at five levels; or one can say that man has five bodies or "sheaths".

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1) Annamaya Kosha : This is the gross body, including all the tissues, organs etc. Nourishment to the body in the form of food and liquids is absorbed directly into this physical level. The purity and health of this body will determine the health of a person. By eating Indian health foods, you can increase health, vigor and vitality.

2) Pranamaya Kosha: This is the next subtle body which cannot be seen but can be experienced.It is energised by the pranic energy.This energy is also called as Prana-shakti.One of the most efficient method to cleanse this body is Pranayama.

3) Manomaya Kosha : This is an even more subtle body.It mainly comprises of all the thoughts and the beliefs which a person carries in his mind.This body can be cleansed by regular self-study and awareness.

4) Vignanamaya Kosha : This is the seat of understanding. There are some universal principles which even guide the thoughts in the mind.The Vignanamaya Kosha can even be called as higher intellect.

5) Anandmaya Kosha : This is the source of all the energies of the body.One may call it Soul also.It is that essence which his all energy. Being in touch with it,one experiences total bliss amidst the apparent duality of the world. By bringing about cleansing in all these levels, You can be healthy and even grow younger This is also known as Kaya-kalpa."

Nutrition and Health: Food and Nutrition are important from an individual point of view, as well as from the view point of the society as a whole. Nutrition is intimately related to health. Inadequate, improper and non-nutritious food adversely affect the mental and physical abilities of a person and in turn affects the society.
Malnutrition results in ill-health and invites many diseases of the Liver, Heart, Kidney, Digestive system, etc.

It is likely that social, cultural and/or religious traditions have more influence on daily diet, ignoring the most important Nutritional aspect. This leads to misconceptions about diet, nutritional and health. Scientific research has established various facts regarding nutrition and health. These include;

1)The energy requirements during various stages of life-cycle.
2)Energy requirement for various functions inside the body.
3)Process that the food undergoes from the time we eat till it is converted into utilizable form by the body.
4)How the body maintains it's own temperature.
5)The diseases due to deficiency or excess of nutrients, etc.

To be vegetarian or not? There are many debates going on regarding this question. If we trace the history of mankind, we find that the early man was probably omnivorous - eating both wild roots, tubers as well as the flesh of other animals. Gradually with the discovery of fire and with cultivation of crops, the culture of cooking food assumed importance. Man tried to make the food more tasty and soft.

Now, in these modern times, we see the trend of processed foods being popularised. On the other hand, many people are waking up to the advantages of natural foods like fruits, vegetables, sprouts and herbs. Even here, there are two ways of consuming these foods. One method is to have them raw with minimum processing whereas the other method is to have them cooked. We are going to discuss at great length the various schools of thoughts regarding advantages of Vegetarianism, as also the disadvantages of cooking.

The ancient science of Health in India is known as Ayurveda. It has originated from the ancient veda. This science not only focuses on diseases, their causes and treatment, but also on the Lifestyle (Dinacharya), food and nutrition. It also teaches us the natural way of living. It provides a deep insight into the preventive dimension at the various stages of the life-cycle.

India is a country of diversity. It has great socio-cultural variations. Yet, the undercurrents are common, i.e. spirituality, ethics and food habits. If we travel the length and breadth of the country, we find the use of rice, pulses (lentils) and wheat throughout most of the parts.

The Quantity:Ayurveda prescribes that one must regulate the intake of solid food so as to fill 50% of the stomach. 25% of stomach can be filled with liquids and the remaining 25% is to be kept empty for the free movement of air within the stomach.

The Quality:In India, we give attention to the physical, emotional, psychological and behavioral changes as influenced by food and nutrition. The types of food eaten and the influence it has on the mind have been systematically studied. The traditional and mythological scriptures also mention these. The ancient Rishis have classified the food into three major categories. They are also known as the Trigunas.They are as follows:

Rajasic foods:This category of foods makes a person very active and highly energised. However, they can also arouse strong emotions and passions.

Tamasic foods: Stale or fermented products come under this category of food. They can make a person dull and lethargic.

Satvic foods: These are the ideal and balanced foods, which are recommended for having a balanced attitude in life. These foods are, ideally recommended for those who want to lead a life of creativity and awareness.

Many people have researched into the Architecture of kitchens. You can study it. You can know the various factors considered by Indians before they chose the location, design, function and contents of their kitchens. Our forefathers have made this into a science.

Vaastu is the Indian Science of architecture, which gives rules for planning every structure. The placement of the kitchen also assumes great importance. It is from the kitchen that the lady of the house administers her "Kingdom" (Or Queendom!).

Vaastu is very scientific. For example, it says that the source of fire (for cooking) should ideally face the east direction. Since the sun's rays come from the east for a greater part of the day, so it provides light. Sun's rays are infact now found to have the quality of destroying several bacteria too. The food, while being prepared, receives added energy. The cook also, while cooking receives that extra energy needed to do the cooking with enthusiasm.

 

 
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