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The Six Flavors of Ancient India

April 04, 2015

Hey again guys!

As you may know, we recently tweeted a small mention of the six flavors of Indian cuisine. Immediately, we were asked questions on all mediums about what that exactly meant! It's fantastic to see such interest in such an important topic as culture and health, and it's our pleasure to bring to you the information. Now, if you want a very indepth look on how this ancient theory works, we suggest getting a book or spending some time researching long articles. For our purpose, we simply want to give you an overview so you can understand the basics!

The six flavors of ancient Indian cuisine actually Ayurveda medicine system of ancient India. Not surprisingly, Indians have always believed that food should not only be delicious, but healthy as well. In it's most simple format, consider the Americanized way of looking at nutrition in the food pyramids, or the statistics involved in certain foods ( carbs, sugar, so on ). It is very normal here to look at those and break down your daily meals based on numbers. With the six flavors, Indians have long focused on a a more natural, holistic approach to eating and nutrition. They believe that it is a careful balance of these six flavors that bring health, control your mood and bring your mind, body and soul at peace.

These six flavors are the following: Sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent. Here is a very quick overview of examples of each one:

Sweet: Anything sweet, but remember we want to focus on natural, so fruits, cream and certain vegetables like sweet potatoes.

Sour: Pickles, vinegar, anything citrus.

Salty: This is an easy one!

Pungent: Spice people! Chilli peppers namely. But anything with a bit of a bite too, so ginger, onions, garlic all classify as well.

Bitter: Spinach, kale, eggplant, spices like turmeric, fruits like grapefruit.

Astringent: Cranberries, pears, broccoli, coffee and tea. This is the rarest of the six flavors, but still readily available!

So the idea of the six flavors is to maintain balance on all of these. Make sure you're not neglecting one flavor or sense, or else that part of your soul is void of it and it causes an imbalance. Conversely, if you have too much of one thing, again, you'll find an imbalance. Unlike it's American cousin, this system focuses on the most natural path to maintain a proper diet and balance.

In the culinary arts of India, it has been accepted to never go for all six flavors in one dish. Instead, each dish is to highlight one or two of these and the rest of what you eat ( your desert, earlier meals, later drinks and so on ) will find the balance, and it is to that one meal to cover it's one job. This is why curry often has such a complex flavor without going overboard!

Again, this has been just a very very breath overview of how the six flavors of Indian cuisine work. There is a much deeper, more intricate path we can go on, but it's a lot to take in and we want to go slow. If you have any questions, concerns or requests, feel free to contact us directly!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!