Six Tastes

A truly elegant taste is generally accompanied with excellency of heart.
– Henry Fielding

Ayurveda Cooking Class: The Six Tastes

Nature’s evolutionary, self-regulating, nourishing, harmonizing intelligence is conveyed to us through her foods. Each flavor of nature’s bounty expresses a different ray of this intelligence. There is Sweet giving us comfort, strength, fortitude. Salty gives protection, lubrication, stability, and helps us “taste” life. Sour gives courage, clarity and the power of digestion. Pungent gives enthusiasm, adds spice to life and increases metabolism, helping us convert elements and experiences into things useful, beneficial. Astringent helps us pull it together, focus, extract the essential from food and the essence from life. Finally, Bitter gives expansion… but only by helping us let go, release, detoxify, purify.

The six tastes, or Shad Rasas as they are called in Ayurveda, are made up of the five elements. Sweet is Earth and Water. Salty is Water and Fire. Sour is Earth and Fire. Pungent is Fire and Air. Astringent is Earth and Air.  Bitter is Air and Space.

When we include all six tastes in a natural, whole food meal, all five elements are fed, so the body is fully nourished. It feels satisfied, so cravings diminish. Most importantly, you build healthy tissue, increase energy, strengthen the immune system, feel light and comfortable in your body, and more clear and concentrated in your mind. When you eat a meal balanced with all six tastes, you feel peace ~ the peace of all that intelligence harmonized within you.

We don’t need to count calories, or measure protein-carbohydrate-fat ratios. We need to taste our way to wellness – remembering that vigorous, vitalized, optimal health is really never more than six flavors away!

Photo by Gregg Weber

Our food brings us the intelligence of the sun through the six rays of taste.

To learn more about the application of Ayurveda’s Six Tastes, read about my  adventures
Six-Tasting the World ~

From Russia, With Love
Ireland and the Fleeting Beauty of Spring


27 thoughts on “Six Tastes

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  8. I just caught up with your food blog. Wow! Mouth-watering and so well written. I see a book emerging with all of your eloquence, elegance, wisdom and wit. It will definitely explode any stereotypes about vegetarian food or Ayurvedic cooking. I remember the tasty stuffing you brought to Diane’s. Wonderful to be able to make it now. Will get the ingredients for the New Year’s cleanse. Most of my holiday visitors still eat meat — and there were far too many cookies and fudgey chocolates around. Next year I’ll have your recipes to draw from instead.
    With gratitude and lots of love!

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