Adopt Traditional Indian Culinary Techniques and Kitchen Hacks

Dr. Madhumitha Krishnan

Dr. Madhumitha
02 September 2020

A Consultant Ayurveda Paediatrician practicing in Bengaluru, she specialises in treating special children, and believes that a proper diet is the greatest medicine.

Look up healthy eating and you’ll find tons of articles on diets, nutrient profiles and the like. Nowadays, when we think of nutrition and diet, we tend only to think of the ingredients with which our food is cooked.

Ayurveda tells us, however, that healthy eating has to be seen from a holistic perspective. Seeing the broader picture, how food is cooked is just as important as what food is cooked and eaten.

Coming the full circle with cooking methods

In the past couple of generations, cooking methods underwent a world of change. From wood stoves to gas and induction stoves, microwave ovens and electric grills, and from brass, copper and cast iron to non-stick materials, our cooking methods have undergone a revolution.

But even as we’ve modernised our kitchens for speed, convenience and taste, it seems that many of the old ways may have been much healthier. Many of us are attempting to move away from turning every kind of cuisine into fast food. Instead, there is a small, but growing, slow cooking movement. Whether it’s taste or nutrition, enthusiasts promise that the slower the cooking, the better.

Healthy traditional cooking

Eat Breakfast

Traditional Indian cooking has always been conscious of hygiene and nutrition. Thus, a variety of methods have been in use for ensuring food is cooked in the healthiest ways possible, while teaching us how to build immunity. Steaming, roasting on hot pans, stove-top cooking, baking in tandoors, and grilling over charcoal are some of the most common traditional methods.

As we move down the line through these methods, we find that they make foods lighter for digestion, thanks to differences in temperature as well as cooking times.

Integrating healthy cooking into your diet

Using traditional utensils and cooking methods is not a difficult task. Here are four simple changes to make to your cooking processes:

Using earthenware vessels: Cooking in earthenware adds several important nutrients to food, including calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and sulphur. What’s more, clay is alkaline, neutralising the acidity of food and making it easier to digest.

Using cast-iron vessels: While non-stick vessels might be easier and more convenient to use, cast-iron vessels provide a great way of fortifying foods with extra iron, especially for those who are at risk of getting insufficient iron in their diet. From making dosas and rotis to sautéing vegetables and cooking curries, cast-iron vessels can cater to versatile needs, though it’s advisable to avoid long cooking with acidic ingredients.

Steaming food: Radish Steaming is one of the most nutritionally sound cooking methods. While it aids digestion by softening fibrous content and making nutrients easily available, it also preserves the nutritional integrity of foods that would be lost by methods such as frying.

Baking/tandoori cooking: When it comes to proteins like fish, chicken or paneer, baking and tandoori cooking are the best ways to add more taste and flavour, while also retaining the nutritional balance. Since, tandoori dishes don’t rely on excess oils and fats or thick, heavy gravies, they are excellent substitutes for fried, creamy or gravy-heavy dishes.

If you’ve ever wondered why the food in the hinterlands of our country tastes better, the difference in cooking methods is one of major factors that contribute to the authentic tastes. The growing awareness about slow cooking methods is reintroducing these age old methods to us. Along with this, it is always important to use authentic ingredients to make your food healthy and delicious, while understanding how to build immunity.


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