In perfect cooking, the maintenance of hygiene is very important. Unless cleanliness is maintained, it is very difficult to have hygienic food that keeps the health and the consciousness perfect. Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid purchasing precooked food from the market, As far as possible, natural and fresh ingredients should be used in preparing the healthy diet.
Before entering the kitchen, you should be clean; that is, bathed or well-washed. The kitchen and utensils should also be clean. Always wash your hands before starting to prepare quality food. Before offering to the Lord, no portion of cooked or uncooked food should be tasted by you or anyone else. While cooking, if the mouth or nose is touched, you must wash your hands before you can proceed any further in cooking. As far as possible, intoxicants such as tea, coffee or alcohol, and any kind of meat products, fish or eggs, should be avoided. Such things create clouds of sin within the mind that lead the pure’ soul to degradation. Even among the vegetables, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and beet-roots should not be used. Following such rules for perfect cooking will bring one to the standard of real and perfect health. The Vedic medical science of herbs states, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” This phrase becomes reality by following such standardized cooking guidelines. It is not true that human civilization cannot maintain their health without modern medicine. Only if the exact guide¬lines of Vedic cooking are followed properly will most of the unwanted diseases and suffering be avoided. If one can be healthy, happy and wise by following an easy procedure, then why be unhealthy and miserable? Diseases occur when one’s food is unclean or unhygienic. Therefore, cleanliness is said to be next to Godliness.
Generally, for success in any endeavor, humbly remembering and praying to the Spiritual Master is necessary. Before beginning the work, such subtle obeisances of remembering one’s Spiritual Teacher purifies the surrounding atmosphere for successful results. Unless this procedure is followed, it is difficult to receive lasting success in any field. The Vedic standard states that following such procedures will transfer a subtle power to the cook so he or she can prepare tasty and perfect dishes with little work. Indeed, many have found that the expertise of a person, combined with the blessings of a Higher Authority, can bring perfection in any field of life. Because it has revealed this secret of success, the Vedic science is accepted as all-perfect.
To be free from the consequences of Karma while cooking, it is necessary to meditate like this: “I am cooking for the pleasure of Lord Krsna.” Every ingredient should be clean and fresh. Try to avoid purchasing goods that are mixed with meat byproducts such as rennet or gelatine. Clean cooking will surely bring one to the transcendental platform, and keep one healthy, happy and wise. The Vedic histories prove that the Supreme Lord comes down Himself and accepts such cooking to purify the food for the benefit of the consumer.
Most of the spices and ingredients are available in Indian grocery stores, or from other similar stores. It should be remembered that such spices help increase the appetite and digest the eaten food properly.
As previously stated most of the unfamiliar special ingredients are easily available in Indian stores and the rest can be found in the normal food stores. The unfamiliar ingredients are:
Besan — A yellow flour made from Garbanzo beans (or Indian chick-peas) and is found in Indian stores. It is proteinful.
Garam Masala — A mixture of coriander, cumin, dry ginger, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon and big black cardamon. It is readily available in Indian stores, already ground and is used in certain vegetables to bring out a palatable and strong flavor. It increases the digestive power.
Curry Powder — A hot mixture of Turmeric, coriander, chilies, mustard, poppy seeds, fenugreek, cumin seeds and dry ginger, usually used to give a perfect and hot taste to the food. This mixture is usually found in Indian stores, but may also be avail¬able in grocery stores. It helps create digestive secretion.
Hing — A juice from a tree, mixed with wheat flour; a substitute for the taste of garlic, onions and eggs. It is found in Indian stores and used in spicing of certain vegetables. Also called asafetida. It helps remove gas from the stomach.
Panir — A light, rich, protein-full, home-made cheese which, if deep-fried, replaces the chewy texture of meat. It can be bought in Indian stores, or can easily be made at home by boiling milk and mixing in some lemon juice, and straining it through a cheese cloth.
Ghee — Usually called clarified butter. When butter is boiled until it becomes separated from the milkfat, and is then strained through a cloth, it is called Ghee. It is used either in a “chhaunk” (pronounced as ch’haunk, a mixture of hot oil or ghee and sauteed spices) or in steamy hot preparations. If prepared as above it is free of cholesterol. It is available in Indian stores, or can easily be made at home.
Dahl — This is sometimes called split-pea. There are many types of split-pea available in Indian stores: Mung Dahl, Urud Dahl, Tur (Arhar) Dahl and Chana Dahl. These Dahls provide a lot of protein, and are cooked as soup and used as an aid to eating rice.
It is recommended to buy fruits and vegetables in season; always choose the deepest colored vegetables, since they are the richest in antioxidant, disease-fighting vitamins.
The most important thing in life is to learn how to be healthy, happy and wise and be free from all problems. This book gives the criteria for how one can accomplish this. Even if one has little faith in the procedure to become happy through vegetarianism, if the rules are followed, good results are guaranteed. Just like when a doctor gives you a prescription, whether you believe it will work or not, the medicine cures the disease. So, follow the Vedic prescription, and in a short time become healthy, happy and wise.
Eat less salt. It is best to use sea salt. Each mouthful of food is to be chewed 50 times or until it becomes liquified in the mouth. Eat only when hungry, and stop eating when satisfied, but not stuffed. Walk a hundred yards after the meal and say a prayer, if possible one taught by a bonafide Guru, before starting the meal. It helps to digest the food better, and rewards you with peace.
BENEFITS FROM THE SPICES
Cumin seeds — in either their seed or powder form they are beneficial for strengthening the bones and marrow.
Fenal seeds — serve as an excellent remedy for food poisoning and/or indigestion. Fenal seeds also help promote digestive secretions.
Mustard seeds — these seeds taste great but serve no medicinal purpose.
Celery seeds — create heat in the stomach and relieve constipation.
Ginger — can be used in any vegetable dish, helps bolster a hearty appetite.
Tumeric — likewise used in any vegetable dish. Effective in curing hepatitis and jaundice. Tumeric has the additional property of cleansing the blood stream and arterial walls.
Coriander — good for increating mental acuity, helps initiate digestive juice secretion in- the stomach.
Chile — preferred in its fresh, green form. However, in every form it cleanses the blood and kills harmful bacteria in the stomach.
Cardamoms — removes fatigue, increases mental sharpness, and assists greatly in the digestive processes.