‘Ayurvedic Cooking For Self-Healing’ by Usha Lad and Dr Vasant Lad – Book Review

There is a quote, from the scriptures about Ayurveda, in one of the web pages of Dr. Vasant Lad’s site. It is given as follows: “Ayurveda is beyond beginning and ending. A science of eternal healing, it is compared to a vast ocean, and studying Ayurveda to swimming across. A true teacher can teach one how to swim, but the swimming is up to the student;…it is a lifelong journey.”

From using it as a heart-warming cookbook, I succeeded to experiment and then appreciate the simple and natural ways of healing some common ailments, such as fever and cold. But as I open myself to the depths of learning that has been designed into this work, the book reveals the microcosmic journey of swimming the seas of Ayurveda. The fundamental principles that make-up a human body, like the five elements, the three bodily humors or doshas, the step-by-step processes of digestion according to Ayurveda, and much more are covered in this book.

This book has been written by Dr.Vasant Lad and his wife, Usha Lad. Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc, ‘is a world-renowned Ayurvedic Physician from India with more than 40 years of Indian medicine clinical experience.’ He is also the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The book shows the painstaking work of the authors to present to readers the complex details of food and cooking, uniquely derived from the fundamentals of Ayurveda. Even those readers who have little background in this ancient method, will find it easy to understand because of the simplicity and clarity in the presentation.

Tables are used wherever possible, making it easy to look things up. Sketches drawn by Dr.Lad himself, lend a distinct attraction for readers. It tends to unburden the reader from feeling any kind of heaviness while going through the exhaustive information provided. It would be beneficial to also consider publishing a ‘large print’ version of the book, which I have not come across as yet.

If you are not a healer, particularly not familiar to the Ancient Indian system of Ayurveda, this book can make an excellent introduction to other life enhancing works of Dr. Lad. Another book of Dr. Lad’s called, ‘The Complete book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies’, covers the same details of the foundational principles of Ayurveda given in this text, ‘Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-healing’. But I found this work as a gentler introduction to this ancient system of healing. Both the works are extensively packed with details, but have their own unique focus.

One of the issues in the process of changing one’s diet to vegetarian food is said to be, according to a Q&A section with Dr. Weil, getting enough protein. If you are one among those trying to adapt to vegetarian diet, this book can give you the wholesome picture required to keep your health in balance. It provides an ample amount of recipes and an exhaustive list of simple fruits, vegetables and spices. Dr. Weil mentions this as ‘varied vegetarian diet’ and also as a healthier alternative.

One of the works of Andrew Weil, M.D., that I first read was, ‘Spontaneous Healing’. The works of Dr. Weil and Dr. Lad are quite comparable in the distinct field of healing, predominantly through natural means. Years before I was introduced to the works of Dr. Vasant Lad, I was using the works of Andrew Weil, M.D. Dr. Weil’s website is a well of resource, and the information that is provided is from his unique expertise in the field of health, healing, food and more.

I also learn that many of us have a longing for connection with the ways of our ancestors to live our lives better. ‘Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing’ is definitely a book that renders such wisdom. It also contains in it an ambiance that caters to readers from both the Eastern (India) and the Western (U.S.) countries. A copy of this book, which I have, has become antiquated in appearance. It has been kept open several times, on my kitchen counter.

254 pages; The Ayurvedic Press (N.M.); 2nd ed., 1997; $19.50; http://www.ayurveda.com