A big round of thanks goes out to Shruthi Bajaj of Cardamom Kitchen for spending the evening of April 24th with five Co-op fans and helping us "demystify spices." (And trust me, for someone like me whose experience with spices is the cinnamon on my toast and the black pepper on my eggs, it was a demystifying experience.)
Shruthi started the evening off by having us each take a quiz (good thing I studied!) to determine our constitutional type (or dosha). Our group had a healthy mix of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. (For the record I was a Vata with a side of Pitta, meaning that I when I am out of balance I can be a little scattered and anxious.)
Just after the quiz, Shruthi shared with us a sprouted mung salad that included one of the four spices she would go on to talk about later - cumin. The salad was fresh and delicious with an herb and spice mix that really made it pop. And, as her recipe notes, the sprouted mung beans enhances their digestibility and increases the content of vitamins C and B complex. (Considering what else I had to eat that day, it was good that I got something this healthy in my system!) I'd share the recipe but since I don't have Shruthi's permission to do so you'll just have to email her if you're interested.
Shruthi then went on to talk about the types of food one should eat depending on the season of the year and how eating the wrong types at the wrong time can throw a person out of balance. A Vata person who eats light foods in the spring or fall will almost float away and should balance themselves out with foods that have heavier textures.
Does this seem like too much for you to keep track of? No worries. Shruthi can do it for you. Check out her website where she offers customers a service in which she'll visit your home and give cooking classes based in Ayurvedic insights or she can cook meals for you either as one-time deal or on a continuing basis.
Finally, we talked about Shruthi's four "go to" spices: coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cardamom. In fact, she was so convincing about the healing properties of turmeric when mixed with sesame oil and applied as a balm that I came home yesterday to find the bottom and sides of my bathtub stained yellow because a certain someone used this on her ailing ankle.
Rather than re-hash what we talked about, I refer you to Shruthi's website where she explains what makes these four spices so special.
Thanks again to Shruthi and everyone else who made it out on Sunday.