Traditional Wisdom & Modern Cooking Tools

Ever since I have become a part of the Living Without Medicine group, there is a lot of traditional wisdom that I have been exposed to. Traditionally for instance, we cooked rice and lentils in open vessels with lots of water and once they were fully cooked, the water was decanted. In fact when I visited my aunt in Kanchipuram and told her excitedly about using OPOS to cook everything under 5 minutes, she refused to listen because she doesn’t use a Pressure Cooker !!

The Pressure Cooker is a modern cooking tool that has made life simpler. Lentils and rice get cooked quickly in the Pressure Cooker. BUT, the big question is, why do some people still insist on cooking rice and lentils in an open pot ? The answer came in one of the discussions that we had on the LWM group. All the daals (lentils) apparently foam when boiled and the foam is because of Saponins and other toxins.

I always thought that except for Moong dal, none of the other dals foamed despite seeing the white residue in the Pressure Cooker after the dals were cooked !! I wanted to test what I heard in the LWM discussion. I had soaked organic Lobia (black eyed beans) last night. In the morning, I decided to first cook it in an open pot just to see if it foamed.

Here are the pictures –

Traditional cooking - foam, dal
I got a lot of foam !!! It was thick enough to be spooned and it held its shape for a few seconds like a tiny cloud. I kept skimming the foam and putting it into the bowl that I kept next to the stove. Finally after the beans were partially cooked, the foaming stopped.
Traditional cooking Dal
The foaming reduced after the beans were partially cooked

The foam changed colour too… the water turned almost black.

Traditional cooking Dal
The colour of the water changed too … almost black.

I decanted all the water and OPOSed the half cooked Lobia with onions, tomatoes and other spices into a tasty curry. The taste was different ! It didn’t have the slight bitter after taste that lobia has and it was fully cooked. So a modern cooking tool was also used while adhering to the rules of traditional wisdom.

A few months back, RK, the genius who created OPOS (One Pot One Shot) cooking methodology, wrote on the FB page about Ayurveda and Pressure Cookers. Am reposting his note here as it clears a lot of myths about not using a Pressure Cooker.

Ayurveda and the Pressure Cooker

#Myth

Gyaan: Ayurveda does not advocate the use of pressure cookers.
Anti-Gyaan: Ayurveda does not advocate mixie, fridge, cellphones, cars and computers either. 

Fact:

Ayur Veda (Life science) is one of the oldest living systems of medical science. Many believe it is over 5000 years old. Legends claim Brahma taught Dhanvantari, the God of AyurVeda, who then taught the sages.

Ayurvedic principles have been recorded in the Vedas. Ayurveda is regarded as an upa-Veda or "auxiliary Veda". WHO classifies Ayurveda as traditional medicine. In India, Ayurveda comes under the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy).  

The works of Sushrutha & Charaka form the basis of Ayurveda along with the work of Vagbhata, a later physician. 

Opponents of pressure cooking repeatedly quote one Sutra from the book of Vagbhata to prove pressure cooking is bad for health and is not sanctioned by Ayurveda.

The sutra quoted is "If the food does not come into contact with air and sunlight, then it becomes slow poison".

This sutra does not refer to cooking at all. It just refers to the risk of fermentation when moist food is kept closed, away from sunlight. This encourages the growth of microorganisms and might lead to food poisoning, especially in a tropical climate.

Several more 'interpretations' of these ancient texts are designed to cause fear, uncertainty and doubt.

1. "Food which has taken more time to grow, needs to take more time to cook. Dals take about 6-8 months to grow in the fields, so they need to be cooked for more time ".
In the West coast, dals like mung & channa are not even cooked, but just soaked and used raw. These are served as Kosambari, as a prasad in many temples. The cooking time has no relation to the time food takes to grow. 

2. "Food is to be cooked only in mud pots. Food cooked in metal cookware is not healthy as metals react with food.

All cookware, including mudpots, react with food. Minute traces of any cookware used get mixed with food. These quantities are usually too small to cause any harm. Interestingly, heavy metals, even poisonous ones like  arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold are routinely used in Ayurvedic medicines. This addition of minerals to herbal medicine ('Rasa shastra') is frowned upon by modern science. To prevent heavy metal poisoning, Indian government has ruled that Ayurvedic products must be clearly labelled with their metallic content.

3. "Cooking in mud pots retains the most nutrients".
The cooking style and not the cooking vessel determines the retention of nutrients. Overcooked food in a mud pot will have no nutrients as compared to rightly cooked food in a steel pot.

4. "The pressure used to cook food softens food by breaking them. They are not cooked, simply broken. So the food thus prepared is useless for the body - the molecules are damaged".

This is quackery at its best. In a pressure cooker, food is not crushed by pressure - but cooked by heat. A tomato crushed by a 100 tonne press does not get cooked.

Now, let’s hear it from an even higher authority.

Gita cuts through the clutter.
यातयामं गतरसं पूति पर्युषितं च यत् |
उच्छिष्टमपि चामेध्यं भोजनं तामसप्रियम् 
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 17, Verse 10

Foods that are overcooked, stale, putrid, polluted and impure are for the ignorant.
Gita does not advocate one particular way of cooking. Instead it specifies the goal of all kinds of cooking. 

Avoid overcooking by cooking right. Avoid stale or putrid food by cooking fresh and storing right. Avoid pollution and contamination. How you do it is your business.

Bottomline: Indian culture and religions believe there are many roads to the same goal. As long as we avoid overcooking, stale and polluted food, any way to cook them is sanctioned!

Posted on FB by RamaKrishnan on the OPOS Support Group page.

Well, there’s no reason to not use modern cooking equipment and tools even as you follow ancient wisdom. Check out an earlier blog of mine on OPOS – Don’t Oppose cooking – Do OPOS cooking !

#Can’tStopOPOSing

Thoughts ?

Note – OPOS, OPOS logo, One Pot One Shot & CPF cooking are registered. Please learn the methodology by becoming a part of the FB page – OPOS Support group or buy the OPOS Cookbook – 5 minute magic on Kindle. There are several other OPOS Cookbook titles available on Amazon that teach you the method and share different recipes. 

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