Going Back to Roots

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Sneha Daga

The vocabulary used these days to constitute healthy living practices seems to be in sync with going back to our roots. The change as well know is necessary and very much the need of the hour. With so many health problems plaguing the Indian population even before COVID 19, it was inevitable that we re-examine our food choices.

At some point, a few decades ago Indian food stopped being ‘cool’. It was thought that eating salads and soups was the way to a fit body .This resulted in abandoning those recipes which had been constituted in yesteryear kitchens which mainly relied on food cultivated around homes.

Pulses, legumes, rice grains, country spinach, oils, butter, milk, ghee, millets were all looked down upon as being unnecessary for the calorie conscious society. What that resulted in was sudden instances of abnormality in the body due to lack of important minerals and vitamins. Popping of multi vitamins became so normal that people forgot to look inside the kitchens of their childhood.

What happened next? The same western diets which glorified broccoli, rocket leaves, cranberries and red wine etc. suddenly began mentioning ghee, virgin coconut oil, moringa, turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger and so much else which has long since been an important part of Indian cuisine.

Unfortunately, we tend to think of our native foods as inferior until we receive validation to the contrary from abroad. Turmeric latte at a posh café with a sprinkling of black pepper elevated our haldi doodh to international stardom. Next came the humble drumstick (moringa oleifera).The moringa powder is only the leaf part of this special plant species which provides vital nutrients in the flowers, fruit and seed.

It took a while to understand that the moringa which we were adding to our after gym smoothies was actually the same as the leaves from the tree in our neighborhood. Cough syrups in bottles were no match to the traditional kadha recipe made lovingly by our grandmothers and the ancestors before.

The neem, tulsi, Indian borage, pepper, honey, betel leaves are ingredients which were always given to children to build immunity and keep coughs and colds at bay. Eating these native foods did not just keep disease at bay it built a nutritional bank which could care for the entire workings of the human body.

Heritage recipes are making a comeback in a big way. Social media platforms are going amuck in sharing recipes from dog eared books written in the regional dialect of ancient hands and minds. Ghee has taken the front stage as has the inclusion of unique foods relevant to each region.

It has become the need of the hour to understand that a mango cannot and must not be consumed throughout the year. The Indian guava and chickoo have as much a role to play in boosting health as does an apple or blueberry. We have to get back to our food roots in order to find health cures which plague our society. That and an active lifestyle will put us right back on track. We owe that much respect at least to the incredible foods this country and its environment has to offer!

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