What is Soul Cooking?

Cooking food on an Autopilot Mode:

The 21st century has led to the biggest discoveries and phenomenal breakthroughs in the history of mankind. The urban centres throughout the world are witnessing an evolved lifestyle, especially among its youthful population. With the advent of international brands, one witness mind blogging variations within the fashion world globally. These brands occupy the centre stage among the blue collared working class, entrepreneurs and social elites. The lifestyle choices of the millennials are driven by better job opportunities which in turn offer paycheques. Though this supersonic lifestyle seems thrilling if one looks at the disadvantages of this lifestyle is everyday cooking. To most of us who are a part of 9 to 5 job system or any other professional arrangement, cooking our own food take a backseat. It is more pronounced in single working professions. The moment the alarm clock goes off, we go on an autopilot mode, take coffee from the dispenser, make a quick fix breakfast and dash out of the house. Both at the office or home, we automatically reach for the take-out menu or microwave the ready to make meals. It is as if the food that is essential and a prerequisite for working of a healthy body is merely an interruption to our routine (exception are the people who are connoisseurs of food and love what they cook). For those of us who do love cooking, especially after a long day when we return home, and decide to cook for ourselves. Many times we are so caught up in replying to the text messages, pending emails or catching up our social media, that we prepare our food on an auto mode and eat in the company of our smartphones. This is mindless cooking sans any soul.

Soulful Cooking or Meditative Cooking

If we take few minutes out to reflect and trace back our steps, we will realise that how little importance do we give to the most important and nourishing thing of our lives- cooking our own delicious and healthy food. The focused time that we devout to cooking is equivalent to meditation as meditation literally means breaking away from all the distractions, living and focussing on the present moment. Cooking itself is proved to have therapeutic effects.

This is also explained in 5000 years old system of alternative medicine popularly known as Ayurveda. Even in the western parts of the world, there is a growing interest in eating ayurvedically. Cooking ayurvedically helps us to undertake a mindful journey that will not only affect our body but also our mind and spirit. It describes in detail the process of mindful cooking, use of spices, herbs, variegated textures, smells that have a cathartic effect on the human mind and body.

Traditionally, in South Asian homes when grandmothers entered the kitchen, they would have taken bath, changed in fresh clothes, performed their morning rituals, lit oil lamps in front of gods and goddesses. The whole household would be immersed in beautiful and soothing fragrances arising from the incense sticks. Especially, for homemakers a morning routine is pivotal to set the tone for the day, it not only helps to organise the day better but a positive start to the day sets the tone for the next 14 to16 wakeful hours. The energy that we carry, the emotions that we exude, actually affect the food that we cook. The simplest meal cooked with love can become one of the most exotic things a person does or eats during the day. As grandmother often says, “no matter how angry, sad or upset you are, never cook carrying heavy emotions, rather in your heart chant a mantra or put on some music that shifts the heavy energy”. This is so true, each emotion, feeling permeates our cooking and finally affects our mental and emotional well-being. That is the reason why the best cooks in the world love everything that is cooked by their mothers. Time and again, when people, television anchors or newspapers ask famous chefs that who is the best cook they know of, they often say “my Mom”. Because when our mother cooks for us she has the purest of emotions that exude from the tiniest of the food particle forming even the simplest of the dishes.

In the beginning, it will take us some time to develop our culinary skills and learn from the small incidents that will occur while cooking- but every painstaking process has its own gratifying rewards. So, next time when we step inside our kitchens let us first reflect, make a healthy choice of what we would like to eat, be mindful, give ourselves gratitude for understanding and undergoing this soul-stirring journey. Being mindful of ourselves and our emotions is quintessential for soulful cooking.

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