Have you ever eaten a meal that you absolutely LOVED and been blown away by the way all the flavors come together? The wisdom of Ayurveda might be able to offer you a little insight into why some meals inspire and excite, and why others fall flat.
Ayurvedic cooking divides the flavors of our foods into six distinct tastes. In order for the body to feel completely satiated after eating, we must strive to incorporate all six tastes in to each meal. When you finish a robust meal and still feel like you need something more, it’s probably less of an issue of hunger, and more of a taste that was lacking.
Each of the six tastes comes with a unique set of qualities (just like the doshas). For example, some tastes are considered heavy while others are considered light, some considered oily while others are considered dry, and some tastes are more heating while others are more cooling. When we understand tastes in this way, we can easily see how specific tastes excite or soothe specific doshas — bringing more or less harmony to different mind body types.
Furthermore, did you know that digestion actually begins on the tongue? Each organ of the body corresponds with a different place on the tongue. The moment the tongue experiences a taste, it starts signaling to corresponding organs to prepare for what’s to come.
The six tastes
Pungent (aka. Spicy)
I am excited to share with you a recipe that is simple and easily incorporates all six tastes! This means, that you can eat it with ANY meal and know that all six tastes are automatically being incorporated. This sauce is also relatively balancing for all constitutions, so it’s a great item to have at a dinner party. The primary ingredient is inexpensive, easy to come by, and can be grown in your own backyard — cilantro! As we step into farmer’s market season and start preparing our own gardens, it’s a great time to start thinking of ways to use cilantro in your own recipes.
Ayurvedically speaking, cilantro has tons of benefits. One of which being its cooling property — which is exactly why it comes into season in the warmer months. Fortunately, it’s not too cooling to use year-round, as long as you’re using it in correlation with other warming spices! Cilantro is great for the skin, it kindles digestive fire, while calming (or preventing) nausea and indigestion.
Cilantro is also a chelator, which means it helps the body detoxify metal toxins. Toxic metals (such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury) — which have no beneficial role in human homeostasis — are pervasive in our modern world and can contribute to chronic diseases. Essentially, the chelating agent in cilantro has a natural mechanism which binds to the toxins, causing the metal to lose its harmful chemical effect within the body.
Another key ingredient in this recipe — and something that I don’t leave the house without — is cardamom. I use cardamom in teas, porridges, and baked goods, but never thought to add it to a pesto! It wasn’t until I tried to the Trader Joe’s Zhough Sauce (which unfortunately uses canola oil) that I was inspired to try it for myself. In addition to lifting the mood, cardamom is said to improve the favor of the foods it is paired with. What a DREAM.
1 medium-size bunch of cilantro — astringent
¼ - ½ c sunflower oil — sweet, astringent
½ tsp cardamom — sweet
½ tsp cumin — bitter, pungent
¼ tsp salt — salty
- black pepper to taste — pungent
- squeeze of lime juice — sour
Take the bunch of cilantro and chop a couple inches off the bottom, so that what remains is mostly leaf. Composts the stems.
In a blender or food processor, combine the cilantro and sunflower oil. Blend for 1 minute.
Add salt, spices, and lime juice.
Blend for another minute.
Refrigerate and enjoy for up to 5 days.
sub lemon juice for vata
add coconut flakes for pitta
add cayenne or garlic for kapha
Because this sauce has a balanced combination of all six tastes, it is balancing for all three doshas!