When it comes to Ayurvedic cooking, the use of herbs and spices is a must. This beautiful life science teaches us how important taste and flavour is in the foods we eat. The taste is what gets our digestive organs “excited” and start the agni (digestive fire). Aside from taste and flavour, we use spices in our foods to enhance or sometimes even change the quality of the food as a whole meal. For example, if a meal is cooling & light, then we can add herbs and spices which bring more warmth and heaviness (in a good sense) to the meal so that it can balance out. Whilst there are so many herbs we can use, in my opiniom these are the top 4 because they balance out all three doshas.
Cumin is a wonderful spice used in plenty of Ayurvedic dishes because of its benefits. Cumin helps with digestion, and soothe an upset stomach with gas & bloating. It is commonly used to enhance flavour/taste. Cumin is bitter, pungnet and astringent in taste and has a pungent vipak (after digestion quality).
Known as the king of all spices in Ayurveda, ginger is one of the most popular spices used. It comes with many benefits, from supporting the immune system, help with digestion and even healing. Ginger helps to kickstart the agni, so it’s a great one to use if you have Vata and Kapha predominant dosha. Because of its heating quality, if you have Pitta predominant dosha, it is best to use ginger in small doses. Ginger has a pungent taste and it may help detoxify the internal organs.
Known as the queen of the spices in Ayurvedic cooking, cardamon is essential to have in every kitchen. Its sweet and pungent taste give a delicious aroma to the foods. It can also be used in deserts and in coffee to purify the qualities caffeine. Therapeutically it is said that cardamon helps with mental clarity and it supports digestion. If you have Pitta predominant dosha, it is still ok to use but take in smaller doses as cardamon is a heating spice, making it ideal for Vata and Kapha.
This widely known and loved. spice is also essential in every kitchen. Turmeric is popular for its anti-inflammatory properties, supports digestion and helps purify the digestive organs. My Ayurveda teacher once taught me that one should have one teaspoon on Turmeric a day in their meal for good digestive health. It must always be cooked, combined with either oil such as coconut or with ghee. Some say black pepper must be used to activate Turmeric properties, but you can also use without. Turmeric is bitter, pungent and astrigent in taste and has a heating quality, so for Pitta dosha have in small quantity.