Is Ayurvedic food worth a try?
I derive a lot of pleasure from food. In most cases, my taste buds are titillated by decadent desserts and rich savoury dishes. However, such meals do not a virtuous diet make. I confess that when I first heard the concept of an Ayurvedic restaurant, I was less than excited. My mind jumped to mild and insipid “healthy” food, definitely nothing that would delight the palate. Suffice to say I was very wrong. Ayurvedic cuisine is created to balance the three doshas or elemental materials—Vata (Ether), Kapha (Water), and Pitta (Fire). It is believed the human body comprises of these doshas, which can be manipulated to balance life forces. The mainstays of Ayurvedic cooking are pairing the right ingredients with the right cooking methods, and the use of turmeric roots, curcuma aromatic or kasturi, flowers and berries.
Ayurveda recognises six rasas or tastes—sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, salty, and astringent. It also propounds reversing the order of your meals by eating sweeter foods at the start, followed by savoury and salty dishes, and ending with bitter like salads which aid digestion. It is believed the digestive fire/agni in the life force is activated by heavy food, processed by salty flavours, and doused by astringents, thereby completing the whole cycle in every meal.
My first Ayurvedic meal
Perhaps the best and most authentic Ayurvedic meal I’ve had the pleasure of eating was as Somatheeram at Chowara Beach in Kerala. Known as the world’s first Ayurvedic resort, this seaside retreat offers Ayurvedic therapies, yoga, and authentic Ayurvedic meals. While it is an unforgettable experience, it isn’t very practical to book a stay at a resort whenever you want to try Ayurvedic foods. Here are a few authentic restaurants in Mumbai and Bangalore that serve the purpose for a fraction of the cost.
1. Swadshakti: Located on the ground floor of Ayushakti Ayurved Health Centre at Bhadran Nagar in Malad West is a quaint Ayurvedic eatery called Swadshakti. The menu contains a few odd names like ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Indira’ (in an effort to appeal to the pop culture-driven masses, perhaps), but the food is very economically priced, homey, and yummy to boot.
2. The Yoga House: If your sore throat is bothering you, head to The Yoga House at Carter Road in Bandra for a kada chai brewed with black pepper, clove, lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger, and a dash of honey. The Yogi’s Meal is also a great option and includes quinoa taboule, granola yoghurt, mini-fig salad and such like. A slightly pricier option, you will have to shell something like Rs. 1200 for two here.
3. The Yogisthaan Café: In Bengaluru, head to Indiranagar to nosh here. I recommend the Booster Juice made from root vegetables, ginger, and amla, and the “I am detoxifying” Quinoa burger served with fresh hummus. These meals will set you back by about Rs. 600 for a couple.
So have I been converted yet? Yes and no. Though not ready to let go of my beloved chicken tikka masala just yet, Ayurveda has made a lasting impression on my palate. I can assure you I will be back for more.
How to Get There:
Where: Bhadran Nagar, Cross Road 2, S.V. Road, Malad West, Mumbai
Contact: 022 28065757
Timing: All Days 10 AM to 10:30 PM
Cost: ₹400 for two people (Cash only)
The Yoga House Bandra West | Opening soon at Versova, Andheri West
Where: Nargis Villa (Water Bungalow), Sherley Rajan Road, Opposite ICICI Bank, Carter Road, Bandra West
Contact: 022 33126014
Timing: Mon Closed | Tue – Sun 8 AM to 9:30 PM
Cost: ₹1,200 for two people
The Yogisthaan Café
Where: 89, Near BDA Complex, 11th Cross, 60 Feet Road, Off Double Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Contact: 080 40914888
Timing: All Days 8 AM to 9:30 PM
Cost: ₹600 for two people