As we all get ready to sit around the table together with family and friends in the festive season, tis the season for enjoying pickles and such. With their often warming effect on the body and zingy taste on the tongue, chutneys and pickles are a wonderful complement to wintertime as they add heat to the body and the six tastes using seasonal herbs to the table. Making your own means you can add the spices and flavours you enjoy the most and increase the health benefits. Leaving out the harmful commercial pickles which have added colours, synthetic emulsifiers or chemical preservatives like sodium benzoate an oil layer added on the top as a barrier which is harmful to human DNA.
The fresh taste of seasonal herbs can express love and care given to accompany the side of any plate. Chutneys, variety of ketchups, hot sauces, moles, all add the finest taste pairings to many dishes from around the world. They are so important, I think you would agree, we would miss condiments with their complex sour and simple sweet arrangement of spicey taste and fresh herbs.
1/4 cup Apricots (rehydrated in water overnight) 1/4 cup Flaked almonds 1/4 tsp Kashmir chilli 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds 1 tbsp Ghee 6 Curry leaves (optional)
1 tsp Fresh rosemary (diced up small)
Quarter the apricots and place in a bowl with Kashmiri chilli.
In a small pan add ghee and mustard seeds on a low flame for 1 minute or until they "dance" and turn golden.
Next, add in the rest of the ingredients for 30 seconds on a low flame. Pour onto the apricot and mix well.
This ancient way of preserving food is used by many cultures as a way to make fruits and vegetables last longer and to ensure seasonal produce is not wasted. Pickles are fun and easier to make than you may imagine. They enable you to use the flavours and ingredients you enjoy the most and bring them to life! Pickles have a sharp, zesty and vinegary flavour which is best in small doses that add life and colour to the side of a dish.
One of our favourite pickles is the Lemon Pickle, and the Celeriac Pickle seen in the picture below. We have an abundance of citrus fruits from the Mediterranean and the sour taste is wonderful with rice dishes. See recipes for the method for preparing both Lemon pickle and Celeriac pickle.
Some of the healing benefits of fermented foods are:
Preserves foods nutrients,
Stimulate the digestive system,
Creates beneficial enzymes,
Increases B-vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids in your diet,
Boost your immunity,
Increases bowel health,
Slows down the effects of ageing.
Six Tastes of Ayurvedic Cooking
Why are the six tastes important? We don’t really talk about this in western nutrition except that to much salt in your diet is bad for blood pressure. In Ayurveda, we look at the energetic component which has a reactional impact on the doshas. The six tastes are a mixture of the Mahagunas the five elements of nature.
Elements Within Food
Finding the foods you need to stay in balance for your dosha becomes an intuitive knowledge once we get to know the six tastes and the elemental qualities they hold.
Sweet - Earth & Water Pure tastes: Sugar
Sour - Earth & Fire Pure tastes: Vinegar
Salty - Water & Fire Pure tastes: Salt
Bitter - Air & Space Pure tastes: Mung sprout
Pungent - Fire & Air Pure tastes: Chilli pepper
Astringent - Earth & Air Pure tastes: Unripe banana
In order for the meal to be fully satisfying, Ayurveda agrees that all doshas need all six tastes on a dish. If you look at the thali dishes from Asian countries, with the small portions for each dish, they all include the six tastes. From a healing view, this way of eating also relates to all our nutritional requirements being met at each meal, as well as increasing the enjoyment of a satisfying meal.
What is your favourite chutney or fermented food? How do they make you feel? Let us know in the comments below.