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I’ve got to admit, that before receiving Nandita Godbole’s new book, Seven Pots of Tea, I had heard of Ayurveda, and while I have always been intrigued by it, it wasn’t something that I put much effort into learning. I knew it was good for you, but knew none of the principles.
She explains Ayurveda as a combination of three factors: our body type, the foods we eat, the weather and importance of seasonal eating. It helps identify your body type, and what foods you should eat for optimal health, while also identifying the foods and their own different qualities that help the different body types normalize. For instance, a certain food may be great for one body type, but not necessarily the best for another. I found my body type at The Joyful Belly by taking their quiz. I’m mostly Kapha and Pitta, with a little sprinkle of Vata.
Another aspect that I found very intriguing in the book is that according to Ayurveda, foods have their own “rasa”, which is essentially their flavor profile. Foods can have any combination of 6 different flavors: sweet, sour bitter, astringent, pungent and salty. But the definition of rasa doesn’t end there, as it also determines how the body reacts to those different flavors, which is known as the post-digestive effect. This raises or lowers the different qualities of the body, and helps to either normalize, or cause an imbalance.
Nandita’s book isn’t only brews and beverages of India, it also has quite a few food, or nosh recipes as well! I made the Cilantro & Corn Cakes, which reminded me of a cross between potato croquettes and panisse, which is made with mainly chickpea flour. The chickpea flour tightens up the mixture, and is seasoned heavily with cumin and jalapeno, a touch of turmeric, and a whole bunch of cilantro! Nandita also gifted me with this gorgeous teapot, hand-painted with muscari flowers, and some tea to go with! Since the Cilantro & Corn Cakes had turmeric as one of the spices, I decided to pair it with a Turmeric Chai tea. They paired beautifully. The tea was earthy, and the cakes were spicy and herbaceous. Easy to make too!
Overall, Ayurveda is a very holistic approach to how we care for our bodies. Nandita dives into a plethora of herbs, spices, nuts, grains and flowers that help aid our body in staying balanced and healthy, while also exploring the history of amazing beverages of India. I’ve never been much of a tea person myself, but after seeing her premiere and demonstration on YouTube, I’m excited to explore this vast facet of brews! Being that I’m fascinated by balancing flavors, I’m sure that her book, Seven Pots of Tea will be an invaluable asset to my collection, and yours!
Cilantro & Corn Cakes
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- 1-2 tbsp cooking oil plus extra for shallow frying
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 finely chopped jalapeño OR 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 large Idaho potato peeled, boiled, and mashed
- 1 cup cilantro* leaves and stems included finely chopped
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- ¼ cup water or more for steaming
- Dry roast the chickpea flour in a large skillet and set aside. Warm 1-2 tbsp of oil in the same saucepan, season the oil with cumin seeds. Add the ginger, jalapeños or cayenne powder, and turmeric and remove from heat.
- Combine these spices in a large bowl with chickpea flour, mashed potato, cilantro leaves, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well until combined. This will make a very soft dough. Do not add the water. Portion the dough into small nuggets, about 2” in diameter. Softly flatten each into cakes and set aside.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil into a large shallow nonstick fry pan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, place each flattened cake in the hot oil and move it out to the edge of the pan. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, on medium until each side is lightly brown. Add 2-4 tablespoons of water into the pan, and cover with a tight-fitting lid to steam the cakes. Turn each cake after the first batch of water has evaporated and add 1-2 tablespoons more water and repeat the steaming process.
- Serve with chutney of choice, or even ketchup.