Meals and the taste effect

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Longer nights and warmer days means that summer is around the corner and its time to change our diet again to suit the seasons patterns. You may have noticed the improvement in groceries which are more available. The softer veggies and fruits with a more colourful selection when you hit the markets. I adore nothing more than to pass the markets stalls and notice the blush and glow of a juicy tomato, greens, artichokes, beets, chard and squashes. In Spain we are a great growing region for tomatoes, fine asparagus and beans with soft fruits like strawberries, cherries and apricots grow locally outside and they are in season already.

Here is a recipe which really capture that early summer feeling to me using fresh from the market supplies.

Flava Fava Bean & Artichoke with Turmeric Rice

serves 4


1 cup Fava beans de-shelled (instructions below)

7 medium/small artichokes or 5 cups of hearts

1 lemon

2 tbsp coconut flakes

2 tbsp ghee

1/2 tsp smokey paprika

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder


2tbsp desiccated coconut

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp olive oil

Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh coriander chopped

Place the oven on 170c/gas 3.

In a pan of boiling water cook the fava beans for 4 mins on high boil. Straight away add them to the bowl full with water and ice, this will help the skins come off. Peel off the skins and put aside.

Prepare the artichokes by peeling the layers until you get to the softer inner layers and cut off the corse tops. Slice in half and with a small spoon dig out the fluffy choke hearts and immediately place them in a bowl with cold water with ice and 1/2 a lemons juice. (You may want to use gloves for this as artichokes leak bitter fluid, which have a way of staining your fingers.) Once the artichokes are peeled drain the water and pat dry. Next in a bowl add the ghee & spices; paprika, coriander and cumin powder into the bowl thoroughly coating the artichokes with all the spices and some salt.

On a baking tray lay a sheet of parchment paper and place the artichokes face down. Add another squeeze of lemon and add the ghee. Roast for 20 mins on 170c/gas 3/ 375f in a fan assisted oven.

Make the dressing by adding the sauce ingredients together and mixing them well.

Back to the oven and the artichokes, once they have become crispy and browned at the edges take them out and whilst on the tray smother with the sauce and fava beans. You could serve with a slice on lemon.


1 cup Basmati rice

2 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp cumin powder

1tbsp cardamon powder

1 inch turmeric root micro grated

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of boiling water

Wash the rice till no more white starch is in the water. In a lidded heavy bottom pan heat the ghee on a low flame and add the spices to the oil for 30 seconds then add the rice and water.

After 10 mins of cooking add the turmeric root. Check to see if all the water is evaporated out. Turn off the heat and leave the rice with the lid on for another 10 mins. Stir with a folk and serve.


Rasa and Vipak

All food has unique attributes which gives it taste, colour and smell and this causes an action in the body. For our palates of tastes to feel satisfied in ayurveda we encompass six tastes in our meals. The yogic word for taste is Rasa and the action it has on the body is called the vipak. Having an idea of the vipak in meals will tell you if the meal is balanced. That information will help us to inquire if it is healthy for the body and mind or to acid, or sweet or heavy. You will find the recipe above has all the tastes Salty, Sweet - Coconut, Sour - Lemon, Pungent - Paprika, Bitter - Turmeric, Astringent - Beans.

The vipak of Salt is heating, heavy, oily and dehydrating. Salty rasa is enhancing the flavors in a dish and vital for life if you eat the 'good stuff'. Even though it has had a bad rap in the past SALT is back on the mesa. And FYI, its quality and rasa widely changes from table salt, flor de mer, mineral salt to rock salt. For example table or plain table salt is devoid of any nourishment for the body and full of caking agents so stay away from that stuff, its dangerous. What you are looking for is the mineral and rock salts such as Himalayan or Celtic salt with its 72 plus minerals to help the body. Rock salt is Vata's dosha does well with salt when in moderation, sea salt is very dehydrating so try to mix that up, with the right stuff, I mainly just use it for salting water for pasta. When in balance salt promotes growth, stimulates appetite and in water electrolytes keep the body hydrated, which is essential for the body. Salt is stimulating and creates salivation and aids greatly in the digestion of meals. It was known in Rome that salt was an important component of the diet and preservation of food. Romans were paid their wage in salt, man is measured by salt, and still, salt is still used as a currency in parts of Ethiopia.

Sweet tastes have an oily, cooling and heavy effect on the body. Sweet taste is aggravating for Kapha and in moderation can be eaten by vata and pitta with good effect. My personal favourite is the sweet flavours of honey, rice, dates, maple syrup, licorice, and milk. Often we find ourselves drawn to these because they assist in the bodies growth in tissues - blood, plasma, muscles, marrow, sexual fluids, fat, and bones.

Sour tastes are light, heating and oily in action. They feel refreshing to the palate, and stimulate digestion and energize the body, Such as fruits like mango and grapes. More nourishing and healthy for digestion cheeses, yogurts, and other fermented foods, enlighten the mind and cause salivation yet if eaten in excess may cause acid and burning. Sour is not okay for Pitta or Kapha in excess, but vata dosha will find it balances them.

Pungent tastes are light, heating and drying for the body. Pungent tastes come from herbs & spices and are wonderful for the digestion. Pungent roots such as ginger, turmeric, and garlic are all known for their healing properties. The benefits of pungent tastes when not overused are the antibacterial, antifungal anti-inflammatory properties. Yet if they are over used can lead to pitta imbalances such as ulcers, diarrhea and nausea and Vata imbalances such as insomnia, pain, and dizziness. So keep this in mind when making meals, use about a 1/4 tsp per person in meals unless you are a Kapha who can afford a bit more for that stimulating quality.

Bitter tastes are found to affect the body by cooling the body down. They are light and drying also, so not useful to pure Vata types. Bitter herbs are great for detoxing and have a cleansing effect on the body which is perfect for Kapha and Pittas. The taste of bitter is promoting other flavours, yet they may not be enjoyed so much on their own. They reduce fever, gas and work as a digestive tonic and at reducing fat. If you eat to much, of which I doubt is likely (it just doesn't taste that great! I think of how much dandelion root, aloe vera, and fenugreek you can have in one sitting?) will deplete the tissues. Yet do watch out coffee is also a bitter taste and in excess may cause dryness, roughness, anxiety, weariness and reduce sexual drive.

Astringent tastes are drying, cooling and heavy for the body. They calm Pitta and Kapha dosha but excite Vata. What they effect in the body is healing any wetness in mucus like when you have a cold you take golden seal or turmeric. Astringent tastes absorb water and may cause dryness of the mouth or constipation. They heal ulcers and bleeding by causing clotting of the blood. Overuse of astringent foods such as okra, split pea, sprouts or chickpeas could lead to obstruction in the throat, heart spasms and stagnation of circulation of blood and lymph which would impact the nervous system and accelerate vata disorders.

In Ayurveda we consciously want to balance meals by bringing each flavour to the table and in doing so bring harmony to the body. This leads to all the divinities in the body to dance with happiness and joy. So this quick look into the six tastes should help you to use them in your daily cooking and be more aware to notice what flavours your meals are made up of and the qualities they bring you. You want to notice if its cooling or heating, light or heavy, drying or hydrating. You should be noticing these sensations in the body.