Finding Culinary Inspiration In The Woods
Eating food that comes from natural sources is a good way to maintain your health. The Indian cuisine is positioned perfectly to take advantage of this, with many of the spices, oils and grains used in Indian cooking coming from natural sources.
This type of diet is so effective that one study, conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India, found that vegetarian Indians are healthier overall (though it’s important to note that meat can be natural, too). If you’re looking to take your natural food knowledge to the next level, or simply reconnect with this way of eating, there are few better ways to gain inspiration than via a food-focused trip to the forest.
Setting the scene
For the perfect trip, a good setting is important. Picking your location will be part of this. There is a diverse and plentiful amount of woodland in India, and depending on where you live, your experience will be completely different. This is because the forests range from tropical wet rainforest to tropical dry deciduous. For example, Kodagu, near Bengaluru, will offer a typical forest experience and is excellent for simple living, whether via camping or in a log cabin. Opting for this sort of outdoors experience will enhance your eating that extra bit; according to a study published in the Journal of Ethic Foods, eating outdoors is good for your mental and physical health. Bring along ambient lighting and family games for the trip to enhance it that little bit more.
Living from the land
The purpose of your trip is to find inspiration for food, and living from the land is a great way to achieve that. Safety is most important, and so ensure that you’re well prepared through guidebooks or apps on what could be harmful in your environment. Aside from that, get involved. One Indian, who states they have gone completely ‘off the grid’, has spoken about the variety of food obtained this way, and the nutritional benefit of it. Take the mahua tree. According to Vikalp Sangam, the leaves can create a hearty and delicious alternative to porridge, and its fruit consumed as a vegetable side-dish.
Bringing it back to the plate
No trip can last forever, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t bring the inspiration home with you. Indian cuisine already uses many natural ingredients and as such provides the perfect foundation on which to experiment with your cooking. First off, consider the creatures of the outdoors – could they be brought into your cooking? Insects and exotic small creatures might seem strange, but are often nutritionally desirable. Alternatively, a root vegetable or gourd that is perhaps less used in day-to-day cooking but widely found out in nature could enhance your meal.
Ultimately, bringing in all-natural ingredients to your home cuisine will be a boon to your health. Follow the traditions of Indian cooking. Find inspiration out in wooded areas is a great start, especially in India, where so much variety can be found.