Did you know why every Indian dish is incomplete without a tadka of cumin or mustard seeds? That’s because a tempering of hot oil efficiently absorbs all the nutrients from the spices being used for the preparation! While we might undermine our mother’s labour or take her for granted, she has been making sure from generations that we don’t have to pay monthly visits to a doctor for nutritional deficiencies.
Traditional food products are essential on a social, cultural, and economic level. Traditional foods serve a vital role in providing food security and have the ability to reduce malnutrition. For thousands of years, landforms, vegetation, climatic zones, rivers, and watersheds have collaborated to shape and build indigenous land and food systems. It is because of these indigenous food systems that dietary diversity and nutritional security is made possible. In India, traditional knowledge regarding food processing, preservation procedures, and therapeutic effects has been passed down through the centuries. Be it the multigrain flour in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases or the role of probiotics in ensuring gut health, scientific research has been finding indigenous food systems as robust and efficient.
HOW DO FOOD SYSTEMS HELP OUR BODY?
Food systems can provide a variety of biological services to the human body via dietary components. Because food contains necessary elements such as body-healing compounds, antioxidants, dietary fibre and probiotics, Indian traditional foods are also known as functional foods. These functional molecules aid in weight management, blood sugar regulation, and immune system support. Processing processes such as sprouting, malting, and fermentation improve the useful characteristics of foods. Thus, food acts as a medicine for our body.
IS INDIAN FOOD NUTRITIOUS?
According to the ancient seers, a complete meal is the one that encompasses six tastes, namely, sweet, sour, salty, pungent (spicy), bitter, astringent. That’s why the Indian diet usually has a lot of side dishes like pickles, papad, chutney, lassi, salad along with the main dish. This ensures nutrition and better digestion along with a sense of fulfillment so that we don’t crave for unhealthy bites later on. Moreover,
Indian food contains a wide range of foodgrains. While India is famous for its spices worldwide, it has got more than that. Diversity of cereals like rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, millets with countless pulses like moong, masoor, tur, chana ensure a six pack abs like that of a farmer. Topped with a variety of vegetables, spices, fruits, dry fruits, Indian food not only makes for better nutrition but also ensures a robust mechanism for personal as well as community health.
The recipes are more local and regional which ensures environmental sustainability as well. Moreover, it operates as a complex system where each producer and consumer work in consonance with the natural environment in order to create healthy food for the community.
BENEFITS OF INDIAN FOOD
Our food system ensures nutritional diversity. The cells of our body do not just eat, digest and produce energy but also perform the impeccable task of repair and reconstruction of newer cells. Indian thalis ensure that all necessary micro and macro nutrients are supplied to each mighty cell of our body. Through a blend of fruits, vegetables, different cereals, spices, dairy, meat produce, medicinal herbs and nuts, the Indian food system ensures we don’t have to swallow vitamin pills every now and then. Eating local and seasonal foods ensure optimum health and a robust immune system.
In India, bajra, nachni, and jowar and a diverse variety of rice grains are widely grown. Rice consumption is discouraged for weight loss in the age of low-carb diets, which is disheartening. Even diabetics can consume hand-pounded rice. Indian cuisine also includes a wide range of pulses. Dal rice and rajma rice have been prominent in Indian cuisine for centuries. These are complete protein meals that include all of the essential amino acids. Each of the bowls of a traditional Indian thali is compact. It consists of 2-3 types of dal, sabzi, rice or roti, or both. A modest portion of sweet food is also included in the thali. This thali is a complete meal, as it contains all of the necessary elements in the proper proportions.
In India, a vast range of cooking oils are available. Many healthful forms of cooking oil are available in India, ranging from mustard oil and peanut oil to coconut oil and groundnut oil. However, the way they were prepared in the past was far healthier than the way they are now. While we blame our rice and wheat for a vast number of cardiovascular ailments, it is the lack of grain variety from our food that has brought us to such a situation. If we adopt the rural culture of eating diverse food grains like jowar, bajra, millets, ragi, sattu, it would improve our longevity as well as quality of life. Pickles are one of the best probiotic foods you can eat when cooked with the appropriate salt (rock salt) and oil. The classic Indian chutney is nutritious, as it is made with ground leafy greens and seeds. One of the reasons that Aachar is served with most of the delicacies in India is that these pickles improve the process of digestion in your body. Our naturally fermented Indian pickles have the ability to encourage the growth of these bacteria which will help you to restore your digestive health. Achar, also known as Indian pickles, have been a part of the culture and history for 4,000 years. The process is as ancient as our civilization.
According to ayurvedic wisdom and growing scientific evidence, freshly prepared food has the most ‘pranic’ value, also called the life force. It nourishes each cell of our body and ensures good mental and physical health. India has a long culinary tradition that has developed over time. Traditional Indian dishes provide a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural past. The Indian food system has developed over thousands of years where our mothers have experimented in their kitchens through continuous trial and errors to make our food nourishing, wholesome, and healthy. There is probably no dish as healthful as Indian food if you cook it with natural and traditional ingredients. It is a beautiful blend of many cultures and eras.
In our country, food does the job of a medicine where the ingredient of love and compassion heals all our problems!