Ministry of Tourism showcases Vedic culinary wisdom

The Ministry of Tourism as part of its Dekho Apna Desh webinar series featured ‘Vedic Food and Spices of India’, in an attempt to showcase ancient culinary wisdom. Two renowned chefs, Rajeev Goyal and chef Gautam, held centre stage.

While Rajeev Goyal is a culinary tourism expert and the president of India Food Tourism Org, the first of its kind food tour company in India, chef Gautam has been closely associated with some of the leading premium brands such as Radisson, Oberoi before heading to the Beverly Hills in the US.

From adding a sprig of tulsi in the water we drink to enjoying haldi doodh (turmeric milk), eating water rich veggies during summer and cooking food in terracotta, brass, or copper vessels, India’s ancient wisdom on Vedic food and spices remains an unexplored culinary territory. Anything you can easily hold in your hand is good for your body to maintain your body’s inner temperature, according to Vedic literature.

A fascinating fact shared by chef Rajeev Goyal who made a presentation was that Jain priests and ‘munis’ used to eat everything in their hands – the logic was that if ‘my hand can hold it, the body can take it’.

“Your fingers are your body’s temperature,” says Goyal. Simply put, any food item that is too hot or too cold to hold in your hand impacts your body’s intake and the internal organs of the body can struggle to strike a balance.

For most Indian families, this ancient wisdom comes to life through word-of-mouth, from grandmothers, so to speak, and is passed on from generation to generation.

Chef Goyal shares that the best way to do a tadka is to take a cold pan, add butter or ghee to it and then chili, rest of the spice and then switch on the flame. Among the food grains, for instance, the Rig Veda repeatedly mentions barley, particularly fried barley, he says.

When it comes to the medium of cooking, chef Goyal says that Vedic wisdom recognized not only what types of cookware are best for a specific kind of food that is being cooked but its cooking time as well. Copper pots were known to have antibacterial properties. In fact, Vedic literature advised people to drink water next morning after keeping it overnight on copper vessels.

Chef Gautam delved into the Vedic wisdom underlying different kinds of cooking vessels. For those who are low on ‘Pitha’, he explained how Vedic wisdom suggests the intake of food cooked in copper vessels. Silver cools down the body and relaxes those who tend to ‘heat’ up soon. Brass is known to increase your immunity levels, which is why it is commonly used in rural areas. Bronze also offers good immunity and increases your appetite and metabolism. Iron gives lots of minerals. Clay pots and terracotta keep you grounded and bring you earthy flavours, which is ideal for ‘vata-pitta-kapha’ according to Ayurveda. These are all various aspects highlighted by chef Gautam from Vedic literature.

Any fat which melts in your palm is good for your body and seed oils like sesame oils are recommended in Vedic literature, explained chef Rajeev Goyal. When you eat fruits than fruit juice, the nutrition value lasts longer in the body. While fresh fruit juices offer a hydrating element, the actual nutritional value of eating a fruit offers more benefits of the body. Another aspect is to restrain refined flour and maida as it does not benefit the body.