Great Escapes

A Taste of the Divine

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A TASTE OF THE DIVINE

Surprise of surprises. Here, in this spiritual retreat of a heaven- on- earth, I am being exposed not only to life-changing philosophies but also blowingly new perspectives on food.

Here I am in Isha Ashram. It sprawls below the majestic Velliangiri mountains, Coimbatore. The crisp, cool air of the 200 acre ashram  is  fragrant with flowering trees and plants. Champa and jasmine weave their heady magic. God paints his canvas with a riot of vivid colored flowers and fruits.

And in this paradise too, the fruit trees are heavy with smooth-cheeked papayas, fresh green lemons, glossy mangoes, plump custard apples and more. Each fruit bursting with goodness and flavor and color. Aptly enough, it is here that  my perspectives on food get overhauled.

FOOD AND SELFLESS LOVE

Sure! Its through three decades of food writing, that I have learnt that there are some universal truths…gifted  chefs skilled and experienced in the art and science of cooking produce great food. Tried and tested recipes are paramount. But I had no idea that selfless love can result in such tasty fare. Selfless love alone which drives total novices and amateurs. Here in this ashram Annadhanam ( An offering of food) is served to almost 2000 persons daily. It is totally free and is for  the ashrams residents, volunteers & guests.  Sattvic, positive pranic and 100% vegetarian food (a variety of salads, cereals, vegetables, fruits and porridge) is cooked here. Here’s the riveting part,
all the food here is cooked by volunteers.
Even more interestingly, these residents and volunteers in the center are from US, UK, Europe, Lebanon, of course Indian, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and many more countries. I  trip out on the delicious flavors and textures of many a cuisine here and the salads surprise with their cheeky ingenuity of combinations and then they seduce. I eat them in the cool winter-sunshine, and request the two volunteers  Sriram Kumar and Bharathi.V. (who have made the salads) to pose with them.Please see the photograph. They’re both  full time volunteers at Isha Yoga Center and both have lovingly cubed and chopped and mixed and matched fruits and vegetables, nuts,  coconut and more and produced an astonishing symphony of tastes and textures. They generously share their salad recipes with us…

TANGY, CRUNCHY SALAD

Cucumber – Pineapple Salad:
- 1 cup cubed cucumber
- 1/2 cup cubed pineapple
- 1/4 cup pomogranate
- Little finely chopped Corriander
- Salt and pepper to taste

SWEET BLISS SALAD

Carrot Chikki Salad:
- 1cup grated carrot
- 3/4 cup apple ( Julian cut)
- 2 table spoon Grated coconut ( add more if needed)
- Pomogranate for colour
- 2 table spoon of broken groundnut chikki
- 1 tablespoon honey
- cut pieces of cashew nut, Raisins
- 1 teaspoon roasted white sesame seeds

RED RICE SALAD

  
- 1/2 cup cut Orange pieces
- 1/2 cup cut Apple
- 1 cup torn Spinach
- 1/2 cup semi boiled red rice
- 1 cup cut cucumber
Dressing: make a paste of the  below mentioned ingridients in a blender
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup peeled apple
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and Pepper to taste.

MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF GORDON RAMSAY IN THIS ASHRAM

When the celebrated , revered and feared London based chef Gordon Ramsay’s team approached me to be his South India guide for his Channel 4 TV show “Great Escapes” I insisted he go to Isha ashram, Coimbatore and pick up not just spiritual principles but also great vegetarian cooking tips and recipes. Having done that, the committed carnivore that he is , Gordon came back to Mumbai totally impressed and converted.

Michelin-starred Chef Gordon Ramsay
Michelin-starred Chef Gordon Ramsay

He couldn’t believe how tasty the vegetarian fare was in the ashram and ofcourse he was bowled over by the erudite and enlightened, (fluent in English) Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev.Here its not about vitamins, minerals or proteins. Here, food is  categorized as positive pranic food ( increases vitality in the body), negative pranic food,(drains energy) and zero pranic food. While Negative pranic food comprises of Garlic,Onion,Asafoetida,Brinjal,Chili and

Coffee / tea.everything else is positive or zero pranic.

Interestingly, lime and all citrus fruits, as well as coconut are highly prized positive pranic foods.

Needless to add all the salad recipes given above are positively pranic. What is it that the hardened carnivore, globally acknowledged  Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay got bowled over by? It’s the high-voltage combination of positive pranic energy and spectacular taste that is unbeatable. And addictive!