Heaven's Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way

Overview

Written with the support of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Institute, this comprehensive cookbook shows how to incorporate the timeless principles of Ayurveda into the twenty-first-century kitchen.

A result of Miriam Kasin Hospodar's twenty-year culinary journey, Heaven's Banquet draws from a rich palette of international cuisines and shows how to match your diet to your mind-body type for maximum health and well-being. The more than 700 recipes included here range from Thai Corn ...

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Heaven's Banquet: Vegetarian Cooking for Lifelong Health the Ayurveda Way

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Overview

Written with the support of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Institute, this comprehensive cookbook shows how to incorporate the timeless principles of Ayurveda into the twenty-first-century kitchen.

A result of Miriam Kasin Hospodar's twenty-year culinary journey, Heaven's Banquet draws from a rich palette of international cuisines and shows how to match your diet to your mind-body type for maximum health and well-being. The more than 700 recipes included here range from Thai Corn Fritters and Asian-Cajun Eggplant Gumbo to West African Avocado Mousse and Mocha-Spice Cake with Coffee Cream Frosting. Readers will discover the most effective methods of preparing food, the benefits of eating seasonally for individual types, and how to create a diet for the entire family. There are special sections on how to lose weight and control sugar sensitivity, a questionnaire to help determine mind-body type, and essential ingredients for a well-stocked Ayurvedic kitchen.

Fully illustrated, and written for everyone from the beginner cook to the experienced chef, Heaven's Banquet shows how to use food to tap into your body's intelligence and create lifelong health.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The Ayurvedic meal," writes Hospodar, "is designed to promote optimum digestion and maximum pleasure." Indeed, the Indian "life science" of Ayurveda has been ensuring the health of mind, body and spirit for many centuries. Applying ancient philosophical and dietary concepts to contemporary, holistic food preparation, Hospodar has spent over two decades researching and adapting recipes from three continents; the result is a wide-ranging compendium of 750 vegetarian dishes and a storehouse of practical information and advice. Twenty-six chapters, arranged by main ingredient (Grains, Tofu, etc.) and course (Appetizers through Puddings), present flavorful, healthy selections, such as Artichoke-Filo Pie, and Lentil Burgers with Herbed Ch vre Sauce. The recipes are designed to suit each of three body types--Vata, Pitta, Kapha (readers complete a questionnaire to identify their type). Introductory chapters explain the tenets of Ayurveda and offer cookware, seasoning and menu-planning suggestions. Recipes are geared to the fairly proficient cook and, though not specifically low calorie, are often wheat-, milk- and oil-free. Illustrations and an amusingly eclectic assortment of quotations enliven the text, which, although devoted to serious principles, manages to be unfailingly upbeat and enthusiastic. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Ayurveda, which means "science of life," is an ancient Indian system of medicine that Hospodar calls "an art and science of nourishment." Hospodar, who has worked as a chef and baker at Ayurvedic spas around the world, has been working on this book for 23 years. Upbeat and sprinkled with inspirational quotes, it includes a detailed explanation of the Ayurvedic diet and a questionnaire that allows the reader to determine his or her dosha, or body type. The recipes, though clearly written, emphasize Ayurvedic principles over flavor, omitting, for instance, eggs, garlic, and onions. Many of the recipes call for the spice hing, which is hard to come by for many cooks. Those looking for a vegetarian cookbook with broad appeal may prefer Deborah Madison's excellent Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (LJ 9/15/97). Recommended only where there is an interest in holistic health.--Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ., ND
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452282780
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 591,778
  • Product dimensions: 7.26 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Miriam Kasin Hospodar has received extensive training in Ayurvedic cooking and healthcare, and has worked as a chef at Ayurvedic spas in the United States, Switzerland, France, the Philippines, India, and Taiwan. A certified teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program, she lives in Santa Barbara, California.

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Read an Excerpt




The intention of every other piece of prose may be discussed and even mistrusted; but the purpose of a cookery book is one and unmistakable. Its object can conceivably be no other than to increase the happiness of mankind.
—Joseph Conrad


Chapter One


Nourishing the Mind and
Body: Maharishi Ayur-Veda
for Perfect Health


But what avail the largest gifts of Heaven,
When drooping health and spirits go amiss?
How tasteless then whatever can be given!
Health is the vital principle of bliss.

—James Thomson


The name Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words, ayus, or "life," and ved, meaning "knowledge" or "science." Ayurveda is translated as "the science of life" or, more precisely, "the knowledge of life span." Maharishi Ayur-Veda creates health by enlivening the body's own inner intelligence. Instead of focusing primarily on disease, Maharishi Ayur-Veda puts the emphasis on health, It can even be said that the programs of Maharishi Ayur-Veda do not treat disease; rather, they promote health from within. This is an extremely important distinction: Maharishi Ayur-Veda states that perfect health is a natural, normal state of life, and anything less than perfect health is abnormal.


Healing from Within:
Enlivening the Body's Inner Intelligence


From the perspective of Vedic science, the source of life is a unified field of infinite, pure intelligence. It is the home of all the laws of nature, theunderlying, all-pervading principle that governs the entire universe in perfect harmony and without a problem. It keeps the cycle of the seasons flowing in their natural rhythm and sequence, and the planets remaining in their orbits instead of randomly flying through space and colliding with each other. Nature's intelligence creates orderly growth and change, ensuring that kittens always grow up into cats, not elephants, and that when you plant an acorn it will always blossom into an oak tree, not emerge as a cornstalk.

    The pure creative intelligence that governs all of creation is found within every human being, permeating every cell of the body. It guides the orderly functioning of all bodily processes perfectly and automatically, without any problems whatsoever. By enlivening the body's inner intelligence—the same intelligence that governs the entire universe—the physiology is revitalized and renewed, and healing naturally occurs from within. When we enter a dark room and flick on the light switch, darkness automatically disappears. It is the same fundamental principle at work with healing: establish health, and dis-ease and dis-order automatically disappear.


A Picture of Health: From the Individual to the Cosmos

Revere the healing power of nature.
—Hippocrates

What is perfect health? A modern medical definition might be a body free of disease. A holistic health practitioner might call it a balanced body-mind system. Maharishi Ayur-Veda takes the expanded view that health not only encompasses the mind, body, emotions, and spirit of the individual but extends to the health of the entire environment. Since the intelligence within everyone is the same intelligence that governs the entire universe, each individual is not an isolated organism but is intimately connected to all of life, from the most infinitesimal subatomic particle to the entire cosmos. We are all threads in the exquisite and intricately woven fabric of creation. Another analogy would be that of a vast, lush forest: for the forest to be green and healthy, the individual trees that comprise it must be green and healthy.

    The programs of Maharishi Ayur-Veda form a bridge between mind and body, consciousness and physiology, and between the individual, the environment, and the universe. They serve to help individuals live a long life in the natural state of health and harmony that is their birthright, and promote a healthy, harmonious world that is the collective birthright of all humankind.


A Timely Revival of Ancient Vedic Wisdom

In ancient times Ayurvedic doctors, or vaidyas, were highly trained and greatly respected. But over centuries of foreign rule in India, Ayurvedic institutions were not supported and Ayurvedic medicine was suppressed, so that much of the ancient knowledge was lost or became distorted. Today Ayurveda can mean anything from a vaidya trained at an Ayurvedic medical college, to a corner pharmacy in India where a shopkeeper recommends and dispenses generalized formulations, to a Western health-care practitioner who has read a few books on the subject and purports to practice "Ayurvedic medicine."
All too often, practitioners combine Ayurveda with other systems of health care and self-development, resulting in a mishmash of Ayurvedic information that has been combined and diluted with other more recent and frequently unproven systems. Some pharmaceutical companies are capitalizing on people's regard for Ayurveda by producing products with isolated "Ayurvedic" herbs that have little to do with traditional Ayurvedic formulas.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the transcendental meditation program and Maharishi's Vedic science, concerned with the widespread disease in the world, recognized the inability of allopathic approaches to health care to stem the tide of illness. He knew that there was an effective, natural, cost-effective approach to health care, Ayurveda, described in the Vedic literature. In the early 1980s he began working with leading Ayurvedic scholars and vaidyas, in conjunction with medical doctors, to bring to light the complete knowledge of Ayurveda, offer it in practical programs, and to make such programs widely available. It was a heroic effort, involving identification of which among the many Ayurvedic texts represented the original, authentic authority, making accurate interpretations of those texts, and correcting the misunderstandings and misinformation that had resulted from the centuries-old suppression of indigenous health care. Vaidyas from the few remaining unbroken traditions of Ayurvedic practice lent their support and their participation to fulfill Maharishi's goal of bringing authentic knowledge of Ayurveda to humankind.
Maharishi also felt that Ayurvedic knowledge could and should be verified by modern medical science. Physicians and researchers from around the world began conducting research studies at universities and research institutions to test the effectiveness of Ayurvedic formulas and treatments. A large body of scientific research documenting the effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatments has already been published, and research is ongoing at major institutions around the world.
Last, Maharishi felt that the knowledge should be verifiable by people's experiences—in other words, people should feel better from Ayurvedic treatments, not just believe in them because they are told to by an "expert."
The names Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health were given to the very specific authentic system of theory and practice of Ayurveda brought to light by Maharishi and the council of vaidyas and physicians working with him.


The Mistake of the Intellect: Source of Imbalance

Maharishi Ayur-Veda describes the lack of connection with the body's inner intelligence as the primary source of human suffering. In the ancient Ayurvedic texts this condition is referred to as "the mistake of the intellect," or pragyaparadh. Pragyaparadh is the mistaken perception that the ever-changing display we experience through our senses is all that there is; we do not perceive the underlying wholeness of life, the home of all the laws of nature. It is as if we sailed out into the sea, looked out over the waves on the surface, and concluded that they comprised the total reality of the ocean—without perceiving that there are unfathomably vast, silent depths beneath from which those waves spring.

    Wholeness is a state of perfect balance, invulnerable to disease. When we aren't living with the awareness of this reality of life, the door is opened wide for myriad imbalances at any level of the mind and body. We lack the most basic form of immunity to disease: an anchor to the stable, silent home of all the laws of nature, the source of the body's inner intelligence. We are not established in the state of perfect balance into which no imbalances can enter, the state of perfect orderliness into which no dis-orders can take root.


The Doctor Is In—Within

A unique feature of Maharishi Ayur-Veda is its nonjudgmental and nondictatorial approach. The bottom line is your own experience. The body's inner intelligence is the ultimate authority, the perfect physician. If you go to a doctor and say, "I don't feel well, I have a pain," and the doctor tells you, "There's nothing wrong with you—it's all in your head"—well, you still don't feel well! A health care practitioner trained in Maharishi Ayur-Veda recognizes that if you are experiencing discomfort, then something must be wrong. He or she does not view a patient in terms of a single symptom, organ, or body part that may be causing a problem, but looks at the whole person: your constitutional makeup, attitudes, lifestyle, behavior, and environment.


Avurvedic Diet and Nutrition

Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.
— Hippocrates

Most people would agree that a blissful, healthy mind and body require nutritious foods. Ayurvedic texts emphasize wholesome diet as vital for promoting health and happiness. What comprises a "wholesome diet"? There is no single formula that applies to all individuals, though there are some universal and unchanging principles that do.


Modern Nutritional Science: What's Wrong with This Picture?

From the point of view of Ayurveda, contemporary nutritional science often misses the point by searching for universal prescriptions. Nutritionists tend to identify certain foods as "bad" and others as healthy and beneficial for everyone, yet these foods fall in and out of favor, depending on the latest research "discovery." The first wave of research is widely acclaimed, sets off a fad, and then is negated by the next wave. "Everyone should drink at least one quart of milk per day." "Everyone should reduce milk intake." "Eat margarine instead of butter for a healthy heart." "Well, maybe margarine isn't as great as we first thought." Sometimes we eat a food promoted as having wonderful health-giving properties and feel terrible afterward. Yogurt, for instance, is promoted as being a universally healthy food. However, for each person who feels nourished by it, there is one who gets an acid stomach and another who gets a stuffy nose. The modern approach to nutrition consistently produces partial answers and partial truths. Fragmented observation—seeing only one part of the picture—all too often leads to mistaken conclusions.

    Each human physiology is a marvel of exquisitely individual components, relationships, and transformations that are constantly changing yet are based on eternal and unchanging laws of nature. Maharishi Ayur-Veda explains how even subtle differences in individual constitution can make what is good for one individual not necessarily good for another—and recommends how to nourish both.


How Do I Determine the Most Nourishing Foods for Me?

Ayurvedic texts identify eight overall considerations, each one a world of knowledge in itself, that determine how nourishing any particular food or meal will be for an individual. All are addressed in the following pages:


1. Nature of the food. This refers to a food's natural qualities, such as lightness or heaviness, whether it is heating or cooling, etc.
2. Method of preparation. Whether or not the food is cooked, what type of vessel it is cooked in, how it is flavored, how clean it is, etc.
3. Combination. How different ingredients and dishes are combined.
4. Quantity. The amount of food needed to thrive on. A highly individual consideration that changes with one's amount of activity, age, environment, etc.
5. Place or habitat. The influence of the type of environment one lives in or is eating in.
6. Time. Considerations such as the age of the person eating, the season, and whether it is daytime or evening.
7. Guidelines for the best way to partake of food.
8. The eater. A vital and often overlooked influence. Whether or not a food is nourishing is ultimately dependent upon the person who eats it. One's unique physiology, one's state of consciousness, and general state of health influence any food's effect.


    "This sounds overwhelming! How can I figure out all that when I have 30 minutes to get a meal on the table for five hungry people?" You can't intellectually decipher all the different factors that make a particular food healthy for any individual at any given point of time. There is a saying, "Nature knows best how to organize." Only the infinite organizing power of all the laws of nature can possibly figure .out all the thousands of factors that go into making a perfect decision when it comes to choosing foods to eat. When one is living in accord with the laws of nature, one's decisions are spontaneously life-supporting. All the information given here is to help us increasingly enliven our bodies' inner intelligence and from there to do the best we can to create healthy meals, without strain, and with tidings of comfort and joy.


Digestion: Key to Good Health

Heaven is largely a matter of digestion, and digestion is mostly a matter of mind.
—Elbert Hubbard, A Thousand and One Epigrams

Maharishi Ayur-Veda emphasizes the vital importance of good digestion for ideal health. Food is the substance through which we bring Nature's energy and intelligence into our bodies. When we are in balance, food is fully digested; its nutrients are absorbed by the body and what is not needed is eliminated. In fact, we could say the same thing about all our experiences. When we are able to fully process, or "digest," our experiences, we absorb that which nourishes our mind, body, emotions, and spirit and let go of those experiences that do not.


Digestive Fire, or Agni

The Agni which digests food is regarded as the master of all agnis because increase and decrease of other agnis depend on the digestive fire. Hence one should maintain it carefully by taking properly the wholesome food and drinks, because on its maintenance depends the maintenance of life-span and strength.
—Charaka Samhita

The physiological processes used to digest food are defined by Ayurveda as Agni, or digestive fire. There are various Agnis with specific metabolic functions. According to Ayurveda, the digestive process starts from the moment food enters our mouth and we taste it. Digestion is similar to fueling a fire. The food is "cooked" by Agni—converted into the forms in which nutrients can be utilized by the body. When the Agnis are strong, digestion is strong. When the Agnis are weak, digestion is sluggish or incomplete. One must then "kindle" them with heating foods and spices, such as ginger and black pepper, so that they will function more efficiently.


Nourishing the Seven Vital Tissues, or Dhatus

Ayurveda defines seven basic tissues that support the body, called the dhatus:

    Blood plasma, lymph: rasa

    Red blood (hemoglobin): rakta

    Muscle: mamsa

    Fat: medha

    Bone: ashti

    Central nervous system and bone marrow: majja

    Sperm and ova: shukra

    Each vital tissue has its own metabolism that extracts and utilizes the nourishment it needs from the food we eat. When food is thoroughly digested, it nourishes, in order, the seven vital tissues, each drawing nourishment from the one before. When digestion is complete and the vital tissues are in balance, each area is completely nourished and formed, and the next in line responds accordingly and is completely nourished and formed.


The Biochemical Component of Bliss, or Ojas

Increase of ojas makes for contentment, nourishment of the body and increase of strength.
—Ashtanga Hridaya

When all seven vital tissues are completely nourished and working in balance, a biochemical substance called ojas is produced from the finest essence of the food. This is a subtle substance that permeates the entire body and mind. A person with a good supply of ojas is often described as having a glow about them or as looking radiant. Indeed, ojas literally brings a glow to the skin. According to Ayurveda, ojas is responsible for nourishing the most subtle aspects of mind and body. It keeps the balance of all bodily systems and therefore creates bliss. The ultimate physiological goal of cooking, eating, and digestion is to produce ojas.


Microcirculatory Channels, or the Shrotas

Ayurvedic physiology defines the body as being filled with intricate networks of channels through which its intelligence moves through and between cells, nerves, and all the bodily systems. These microcirculatory channels are collectively known as the shrotas. They are the transporting passages for all tissues, the channels through which nourishment enters and wastes are removed. The shrotas take different forms in different tissues, just as cells do. There are thirteen basic types of channels, some specific to the vital tissues and others dealing with the transport of major forms of nourishment and waste matter. According to the Charaka Samhita, one of the principal Ayurvedic texts, as long as the circulatory channels are fully functioning, a person will not have diseases. When the body is in balance, ojas flows unobstructed through the shrotas, bringing refined nourishment to all aspects of the physiology and personality. However, when there is imbalance or the presence of impurities, the body's microcirculatory systems can become blocked, impeding the flow of intelligence and causing myriad problems.


Undigested Food, or Ama

Clogged with yesterday's excess, the body drags the mind down with it, and fastens to the ground this fragment of divine spirit.
—Horace

What happens when we eat indigestible foods or food combinations or too much food? What happens if digestion is weak and the vital tissues are out of balance, so that we cannot fully process the foods we eat? Improperly digested food remains in the body and forms ama, a sticky substance that creates havoc wherever it goes. Ama is the functional opposite of ojas. It causes blockages, and the body's communication systems cease functioning well. When Ama disturbs the digestive process, it causes incomplete formation of the vital tissues. Ama tends to settle in areas of the body that are already weak and out of balance, bringing on disease. It can take on many forms of unwanted deposits, such as calcium deposits in the joints, plaque in the arteries, and growths such as cysts and tumors.

    The same is true about all our experiences in life. When we experience something that is "indigestible"—overwhelming or traumatic—or something that overloads our senses and we cannot fully process, we can be left with emotional ama, a "clogging" of our emotions that adversely affects our emotional health and well-being.

    How can you tell if you have ama? A coated tongue, particularly foul-smelling breath, dullness of the senses, loss of appetite, depression, or unclear thinking can indicate the presence of ama. An assessment by a doctor trained in Maharishi Ayur-Veda can best determine if and where there is ama present. There are numerous ways to help remove it, including dietary changes, herbal formulations, and treatments.

    How can you prevent ama? Ayurveda describes the most digestible foods, food combinations, and methods of preparation to ensure that nourishment is fully accepted and utilized by the mind-body system. It also suggests methods of strengthening digestion, so that the body better utilizes the foods it is given.


Guidelines for Optimum Digestion

The fate of a nation has often depended upon the good or bad digestion of a prime minister.
—Voltaire

Here are some simple, enjoyable things you can do to ensure optimum digestion and assimilation. If you follow these recommendations at least some of the time, you should experience a variety of health benefits. Many people report that their weight normalizes, they have more energy, their digestion improves, and they sleep better. These are all the natural results of restoring balance.


* Eat in a settled atmosphere.
Unquiet meals make ill digestion.
—William Shakespeare


* Avoid eating when you are upset.
Joy, temperance and repose,
Slam the door on the doctor's nose.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


* Sit down when you eat.
It isn't so much what's on the table that matters, as what's on the chairs.
—W. S. Gilbert


* Eat only when you are hungry.
A good meal ought to begin with hunger.
—French Proverb


* Don't talk when chewing.
—Your mother


* Eat at a moderate pace, neither too fast nor too slow.
Food eaten neither too slowly nor too hurriedly is uniformly digested.
—Sushruta Samhita


* Wait until one meal is digested before eating the next (that is, an interval of two to four hours after a light meal, four to six hours after a full one).
Now good digestion wait on appetite, and health on both!
—William Shakespeare


* Sip warm water with your meal.


* Eat food that pleases all your senses.


* Eat to only two-thirds to three-quarters of your capacity. (Leaving one-third to one-quarter of your stomach empty aids digestion.)


* Don't rush through a meal. There should be no feeling of hurry, of having to wolf down the food and jump up from the table.
He sows hurry and reaps indigestion.
—Robert Louis Stevenson


* Eat in the most harmonious, most pleasant atmosphere possible. Options may be limited, but there are always some choices (like pulling over to the side of the road to eat instead of whipping out a sandwich while waiting at a red light—my old trick while in college).


* Eat at regular times as much as possible. Our bodies, including our digestive systems, thrive on routine. You will be surprised how good you feel by simply adopting this practice.
Irregularity of diet brings about ill health.
—Sushruta Samhita


* Be grateful for the food you receive. It is a gift of Nature's abundance and a human being's efforts. Taking in food is a precious link between you and everyone and everything that provided it. Gratitude is an acknowledgement of that link and sets up a positive attitude for digesting your food.


* Praise the cook. Yes! This is an Ayurvedic prescription for good health. It gives a positive, uplifting tone to the whole relationship that brought you the food.


* Sit quietly for a few minutes after your meals.
To eat is human, to digest divine.
—Charles T. Copeland


Don't feel guilty if you are not practicing all these points all of the time! They are general guidelines, not rigid prescriptions to dogmatically force on yourself and those you dine with. Assimilate them gradually and comfortably. As always with Ayurvedic suggestions, see how you feel.


Mind-Body Types: The Three Doshas


* You are tall and willowy. Your body always seems to be in motion, mouth included. Your mind moves quickly, picking up new bits of information—and often just as quickly forgetting them. You eat erratically and it's hard to pin you down to a specific mealtime. However, you can consume mountains of the rich food you crave and never gain an ounce.
* Your brother is of average height and weight. His hair is graying and thinning, although he is only thirty-three. Highly intelligent and dynamic, he speaks articulately and passionately about the things he believes in and, truth be told, tends to be a bit fanatical about his causes. He loves milk shakes, chilled salads, anything cold—and has to have his meals on time, or else he gets cranky and you have to run for cover.
* Your sister has thick, wavy hair and a warm, friendly face with big, beautiful eyes. She hates rushing and tends to be slow walking and slow talking. She is also initially a bit slow on the uptake, but once someone has repeated his phone number to her a couple of dozen times, she'll remember it long after he's moved. She is on the zaftig side and feels like she only has to look at food to gain weight. However, unlike your brother, she can easily skip meals.


    According to Maharishi Ayur-Veda, each of these family members contains combinations of physiological and psychological traits that can be categorized into specific groups called mind-body types. Each mind-body type responds differently to the same foods and to many other things, including environmental factors such as the weather. Eating the foods most suited to his or her mind-body type will help each person maintain balance and good health. Everyone has a distinct mind-body type, which is determined by the combination of three basic components, called doshas.


What Is a Dosha?

The three doshas are basic governing agents, or controllers, of every aspect of the universe. The Sanskrit word dosha literally means "impurity." Why impure? Because they no longer represent the undifferentiated wholeness of the home of all the laws of nature—they are separate entities and, as such, have potential for imbalance. The home of all the laws of nature, of creative intelligence, is without any qualities whatsoever—it is one unified, undifferentiated whole, beyond the experience of the five senses. Just as the vast, silent ocean manifests as active, moving waves on its surface, so everything in creation is unbounded wholeness at its basis, though it takes on different, active forms on the surface.


The Five Senses and Five Elements: Basis of the Three Doshas

Vedic science identifies five basic building blocks of creation through which creative intelligence expresses itself. Each has a nonmaterial aspect and a material one:


* The nonmaterial, or subtle, aspect consists of the five senses: hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell.
* The material aspect consists of the five elements: space, or akasha, air, fire, water, and earth.


The three doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are structured from the five senses and the five elements. They therefore each have specific qualities colored by the particular set of senses and elements of which they are comprised. It is important to understand this to make sense of the specific qualities each of the doshas possesses.


Vata is a combination of space, the essence of hearing; and air, the essence of touch.
Pitta is a combination of fire, the essence of sight; and water, the essence of taste.
Kapha is a combination of water, the essence of taste; and earth, the essence of smell.


    In human beings, the three doshas regulate the thousands of different functions in the mind-body system through their basic governing activities:


Vata governs bodily functions concerned with movement.
Pitta governs bodily functions concerned with heat, metabolism, and energy production.
Kapha governs bodily functions concerned with physical structure and fluid balance.


    Their areas of influence are generated by the elements they are made of. Space and air are related to movement; fire and water to heat and metabolism; and water and earth to structure and fluid balance.


Qualities of the Doshas

Besides controlling the basic functions in all organs and systems of the body, the doshas have specific tendencies, or qualities. These qualities can also be identified in the environment, foods, and all other material substances and conditions. The qualities are, again, based on the elements that make up each dosha.


Vata is moving, quick, light, cold, rough, dry, and leads the other doshas. Anything with these qualities indicates the presence of Vata—a cold, dry wind; a rough, dry, light food such as popcorn; a fast-moving, anxiety-provoking action movie.
Pitta is hot, sharp, light, acidic, slightly oily. Hot salsa, noontime sun in summer, a piercing trumpet note, all indicate the presence of Pitta.
Kapha is heavy, oily, slow, cold, steady, solid, dull. Ice cream, the gait of an elephant, the grogginess one feels following an afternoon nap, all have qualities of Kapha.


The Ten Mind-Body Types

The three doshas exhibit their qualities in specific, identifiable physical and mental traits within each individual. Every aspect of the mind and body is influenced by the combination and proportions of doshas present. Knowing which doshas are dominant in an individual gives us a psycho-physiological blueprint of his or her personality and physiology: height and weight patterns, behavior patterns, physical characteristics, likes and dislikes, sleep patterns, which diseases one is prone to develop, even such subtle traits as what one dreams about. In most people one or a combination of two doshas predominates. A small number of people have all three doshas in more or less equal amounts. The various combinations and properties give rise to ten general mind-body types. They are:


Mono-doshic:
Vata
Pitta
Kapha

Bi-doshic:
Vata-Pitta
Pitta-Vata
Pitta-Kapha
Kapha-Pitta
Vata-Kapha
Kapha-Vata

Tri-doshic:
Vata-Pitta-Kapha


Characteristics of the Ayurvedic Mind-Body Types

Pure mono-doshic types show some specific characteristics reflecting the qualities of that dosha. Bi- and tri-doshic types combine some of the traits exhibited by each dosha. The people described a few pages ago are classic mono-doshic types—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Bi- and tri-doshic types have a combination of some of the traits of each dosha. In bi-doshic types one dosha usually dominates. A Vata-Pitta type has a higher proportion of Vata than Pitta. A Pitta-Vata type has more Pitta than Vata. These are generalities—each individual is different. Usually a person has a majority, but not all, of the characteristics of his or her mind-body type.


    Characteristics of a Vata Type

Lighter, thinner build
Performs activity quickly
Tendency toward dry skin
Aversion to cold weather
Irregular hunger and digestion
Quick to grasp new information; also quick to forget
Tendency toward worry.
Tendency toward constipation
Tendency toward light, interrupted sleep
Speaks quickly, with irregular speech patterns


    Characteristics of a Pitta Type

Moderate build
Performs activity with medium speed
Aversion to hot weather
Prefers cold food and drinks
Sharp hunger and digestion
Can't skip meals
Medium time to grasp new information
Medium memory
Moles or freckles
Good public speaker
Tendency toward irritability and anger
Enterprising and sharp in character


    Characteristics of a Kapha Type

Solid, heavier build
Great strength and endurance
Slow, methodical in activity
Oily, smooth skin
Slow digestion, mild hunger
Tranquil, steady personality
Slow to grasp new information; also slow to forget
Slow to become excited or irritated
Sleep is heavy and long
Hair is plentiful, thick, and wavy


Do Our Doshas Always Remain the Same?

Just as we are born with a specific set of genes and DNA, each individual has a unique combination of the three doshas. The proportions of the doshas we are born with is called our prakriti, or "nature." Our nature constitutes the ideal proportion and balance of the doshas for our particular mind-body system, and never changes throughout our life. However, our doshas tend to deviate from their original pattern of balance and become imbalanced. The impermanent, changeable pattern of imbalanced doshas is known as an individual's vikriti.


Balance of the Three Doshas
for Perfect Health


He whose doshas are in balance, whose appetite is good, whose tissues are functioning normally, whose elimination is in balance, whose body, mind and senses remain full of bliss, is called a healthy person.
—Sushruta Samhita


The high ideal of health described in the Sushruta Samhita, one of the main classical texts of Ayurveda, is the result of maintaining our perfect balance of the three doshas. Achieving perfect balance does not mean that all three must be present in equal amounts. Rather, it means that the doshas are present in the ideal proportion for each person's individual mind-body system and that they are working in a balanced state of harmony with each other. All aspects of Maharishi Ayur-Veda are designed to bring the doshas into the correct proportion that constitutes perfect balance for that particular individual. Some indications of balanced doshas are:


    Balanced Vata

Mental alertness
Proper formation of body tissues
Normal elimination
Sound sleep
Strong immunity
Sense of exhilaration


    Balanced Pitta

Normal heat and thirst mechanisms
Strong digestion
Lustrous complexion
Sharp intellect
Contentment


    Balanced Kapha

Muscular strength
Vitality and stamina
Strong immunity
Affection, generosity, courage, dignity
Stability of mind
Healthy, normal joints


Imbalance and Mind-Body Type

Similarity of substances is always the cause of increase and dissimilarity is the cause of decrease.
—Charaka Samhita

When the doshas significantly increase or decrease in the physiology, they tip the scales and go out of balance. The doshas increase and decrease on the principle of "like attracts like." If you have a predominance of Vata dosha, you will have the tendency to accumulate more Vata. A variety of physical, behavioral, and environmental factors can cause a dosha to increase or decrease to the point of creating an imbalance. The eventual result of imbalanced doshas is disease. The types of symptoms or diseases that manifest when a particular dosha goes out of balance are based on the qualities of that dosha: light, heavy, oily, cold, etc. Some of the more common symptoms of imbalance in the doshas are:


    Imbalanced Vata

Dry or rough skin
Insomnia
Constipation
Common fatigue (nonspecific causes)
Tension headaches
Intolerance of cold
Degenerative arthritis
Underweight
Anxiety, worry


    Imbalanced Pitta

Rashes, inflammatory skin conditions
Peptic ulcer, heartburn
Visual problems
Excessive body heat
Premature graying or baldness
Hostility, irritability


    Imbalanced Kapha

Oily skin
Slow digestion
Sinus congestion
Nasal allergies
Asthma
Cysts and other growths
Obesity


How Do I Determine My Mind-Body Type?

1. Appendix A contains a questionnaire to help you determine your mind-body type. It is intended to help clarify some universal characteristics of each dosha.
2. There is a wealth of books, pamphlets, and audio- and videotapes describing each dosha and the characteristics of the ten mind-body types in detail. These will give you a deeper understanding of the three doshas and all their characteristics to help you better understand your own traits and tendencies. Many can be sent to you at home. Some centers offer invaluable courses in pulse diagnosis so that you can evaluate your own doshas on a daily basis. See Appendix B for addresses and telephone numbers.
3. Have a consultation with a health-care practitioner trained in Maharishi Ayur-Veda. He or she will use a variety of diagnostic techniques to determine your individual mind-body type. The first technique is to feel the pulse in your wrist. Pulse diagnosis is a highly accurate and sophisticated Ayurvedic science for determining your overall state of health. The proportions of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha indicating mind-body type can be identified, and imbalances and the presence of ama can be located through pulse diagnosis. The second technique is to observe your physical characteristics and ask questions about your physical and emotional makeup. The health-care practitioner can then design a personal program of diet, exercise, herbal formulas, behavioral recommendations, and any other recommendations that will help restore you to balance, keep you there, and prevent future imbalances from arising before they can give rise to disease.
If you are already under the care of a physician, your personal Ayurvedic program will be designed to work in harmony with your present doctor's recommendations—there is no conflict between Maharishi Ayur-Veda and modern Western medicine. See Appendix B to locate a Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center or a health-care practitioner trained in Maharishi Ayur-Veda.

(Continues...)

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Table of Contents

The Banquet Is Served xi
Nourishing the Mind and Body: Maharishi Ayur-Veda for Perfect
Health 1
Creation 101: Let There Be Dinner 30
How to Cook Wonderful Ayurvedic Food on a Terrible
Schedule 30
Operating Instructions for Novice Cooks 31
For Experienced Cooks 32
Words of Encouragement for New Vegetarians 33
Restricted Diets 34
The Ayurvedic Kitchen: Stage for the Drama of Creation 36
Ayurvedic Cookware 37
Some Useful Tools for the Contemporary Ayurvedic
Kitchen 38
Menu Planning and Menus: Creating Ayurvedic Meals for
Health, Harmony, and Happiness 40
Vegetables 43
Grains and Cereals 144
Beans 183
Tofu, Panir, and Seitan 206
Soups 217
Pasta 251
Appetizers, Finger Foods, and Savories 276
Salads and Salad Dressings 299
Yeasted Breads and Pizza 322
Unleavened and Quick Breads, Biscuits, Muffins, and Pancakes 349
Cakes 380
Pies and Pastries 406
Cookies 429
Puddings 440
Candies and Dessert Sauces 452
Fruits 459
Frozen Desserts 471
Beverages 483
Sauces, Condiments, and Chutneys 497
Dairy Products 524
Basic Ingredients for a Heavenly Banquet 541
Appendix A: Mind-Body Type Questionnaire 577
Appendix B: Sources of Information on Maharishi Ayur-Veda 581
Bibliography 583
Index 586
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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    Cooking for Bliss

    I was inspired to chronicle my way through Heaven's Banquet in a blog entitled cooking for bliss. I picked Heaven's Banquet because of the emphasis on Ayur-veda. Since I have made over 135 recipes from Heaven's Banquet in the last few months, I feel uniquely qualified to write a review for this wonderful cookbook. All the recipes I've tried have been nothing short of fabulous. Miriam makes her recipes friendly for the beginner and flexible for the experienced cook. I've tried recipes that I've never attempted before (such as Samosas and Dosas) because her recipes are so easy to follow. The added bonus is the Ayur-vedic knowledge that is woven throughout the book comes to life with each new recipe.

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