When the mercury soars, tempers run high and the appetite all but disappears.
The way out lies in opting for Calming Foods. These are preparations which have a cooling and calming effect on the nervous system. They are made of ingredients which are easy to digest and are sure to boost the mood and spirits.
For Ashis Rout, Executive Chef, Courtyard by Marriott, Gurgaon, preparing food according to seasons is a passion. The inspiration for him is the ayurvedic concept that states that food should be prepared based on the principles of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
“In summers, Pitta dominates as it is hot by nature. It governs digestion and metabolism and the processing of food, air and water throughout the body. So one must opt for foods that do not generate heat in the body,” he says.
Considering the fire element that dominates in the Pitta , Ayurveda advises one to cultivate a handful of simple habits. “Favour cool or warm but not steaming hot foods. Have less butter and oil. Consume food with moderately heavy textures. Reduce the consumption of salt, oil and spices, all of which heat the body. Salads are good, so are milk and ice cream. Avoid pickles, sour yogurt, sour cream and cheese. Avoid vinegar in dressings, use lemon juice instead. Alcoholic and fermented foods should be avoided. Their sour Rasa aggravates Pitta and increases acidity. Coffee is also Pitta aggravating due to the acid in it. Herbal tea is certainly good,” he says.
Rout’s favourite of the season is Chilled Raw Mango and Peppermint Salad in which each ingredient plays a very important role in summers.
“The raw mango protects the body from the adverse heat and prevents the excessive loss of sodium chloride and iron during summers that takes place due to sweating. Mint works as a natural cooler. Likewise, due to the “cooling” qualities of coriander, this spice is considered to be very beneficial for restoring the Pitta balance and helps to keep you cool and protects you from sunstroke,” he says.
Also out with summer specific dishes is Chef Shamsul Wahid, Executive Sous Chef of Smoke House Grill and Smoke House Deli. His signature dish of the season is Chilled Melon V Feta.
“The dish is refreshing as well as satiating as you are refreshed by the melons and the Greek feta has a good satiety value. The dish is very ingredient centric and based on the Yin and Yang of sweet melons and salty feta. Herbs like mint and basil have a very good cooling effect,” Wahid explains.