Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Yoga of Masala Blending…Unveiling the Magic of Spices!

My favorite Wise Earth Ayurveda cooking sadhana is grinding spices to prepare a seasonal masala (spice blend). When studying with Mother Maya (Maya Tiwari), I learned that according to the Vedic tradition, the mortar represents “Parashakti, the primordial feminine power” and the pestle represents “the lingam, or Parashiva, the masculine force.” I also learned to grind spices in a clockwise rhythmic manner as sadhana while squatting or kneeling on the ground to help ignite a sense of wholeness and contentment.

In The Path of Practice, Swamini Mayatitananda says:

“Spice grinding is more than just a way to make masala. It is meditation in motion—a practice that helps us grow into maturity and splendor…When we grind our spices, we bring our masculine and feminine forces into a state of balance” (313).

In Women’s Power to Heal, Swamini Mayatitananda also reveals that in the Yogachudamani Upanishads it states:

“The purpose of yoga is to unite these two principles so that Shiva and Shakti (feminine principle) become one within the self.”

The idea of Yoga as the union of the masculine and feminine energies is also revealed in this popular image of Lord Siva who is understood as the “Lord of Yoga” in the Vedic or Hindu tradition.

March 15th marks the beginning of spring on the Ayurvedic calendar. This is a great time to blend a fresh seasonal masala to join in the rhythms of spring time. Masalas are not just for Indian inspired dishes, but also add a nice flavor to most Western dishes. Simply add 1 TBSP of your masala early in preparing a dish and allow the spices to simmer with the other ingredients. You can also add some a few minutes before a dish is ready. Preparing a masala in the traditional Vedic way adds a very sensual dimension to preparing food for those you love. I am always delighted by how much people enjoy smelling freshly ground spices, both before and after they become part of a dish. There is nothing like unveiling the magic of the spices!

Spring Masala Recipe:

1 TBSP Cumin Seeds
2 TBSP Coriander Seeds For inspiration
1 TBSP Yellow Mustard Seeds (may substitute with brown mustard seeds)
1 Tsp Black Peppercorns
1 Tsp Cardamom Seeds
(Adopted from The Path of Practice)

*Lightly roast (1-2 minutes) and then grind each spice individually before blending them together. Place the masala in an air tight glass jar or food safe tin and try to use within a month.

* For inspiration and more information, watch the film Mistress of Spices or read Swamini Mayatitananda’s books, The Path of Practice and Women’s Power to Heal.

With love, Kathryn
An aspiring Mistress of Spices…

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