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Yogic fast food in Thermos

Kumbhaka style

The foreword

Taste reflects the presence of prana in food; insipid food does not give a normal feeling of saturation. Fresh and raw products, not treated by heat, have more saturated taste, but they are harder to digest and consequently are less nutritious. Cooked food is easy to digest, however, many microelements are being destroyed during boiling or in case of superfluous culinary operations, for example, frying followed by cooking etc. “Golden mean” is processing food at temperature below the boiling point, baking in oven or cooking according to “interval” principle – short-time heating followed by “ripening” at lower temperature. Energy and time consuming process of “cooking on a low flame” in modern conditions can be replaced by a usual Thermos. This wonderful household item was first made by German company Thermos GmbH in 1904. Dewar bottle (in the name of Scottish scientist, who invented it in 1892) used by chemists and physics for liquid gas was taken as the basis for Thermos.


Prana and kumbhaka

Kumbhaka and thermos visually reflect the application of the same principle but in different “spheres of knowledge”. In yogic practice – prana, a vital force, - is collected, kept and transformed in a body with the help of kumbhaka. Specific effect of pranayama is strengthening all kinds of Agni (internal fire) in a body. What happens in a body of a hatha yogi at physical level during a delay of breath? There is oxidation, heating, thermo-genesis and, depending on type of delay and bandhas, stimulation of tissue’s growth or detoxication. Speaking the language of classical texts “prana is sacrificed to prana”, i.e. there is a process of transformation of vital energy. It is also mentioned in texts that Agni is a digestive fire “devouring” various forms of prana received by a body from food and air. Agni, a transformation principle, is presented in a body not only as a digestive fire. According to Ayurveda besides jatharagni, generally localized in thin intestines, there are four more kinds of Agni. Together they are responsible for thermo balance, skin condition, tissue formation, sharpness and clearness of sight, ability to “digest” impressions correctlyKumbha is translated as a vessel; a body is like a vessel containing energy of consciousness. Impressions are food for consciousness; they as well as products can be digestible and not quite. To facilitate digestion of both the mankind has invented ware and yoga. A small resume: A yogi practicing kumbhaka is a thermos. :)



Probably, seeing the name of this article many have already hemmed mistrustfully: to eat out of thermos? However you should agree that in the most cases everyday life assumes two variants of food: 1) there is not enough time for meal 2) or there is almost no time. In the first case the majority heads to the nearest cafes, restaurants or Japanese pizzerias, in the second case the options are chocolates, tea, sandwiches and “lunches to the office”. As a rule due to ordinary circumstances a simple normal hot meal is not always possible not saying about a “special” one. Besides, in Moscow there are not enough vegetarian cafes or restaurants, and mainly they are not good. It does not mean that they cook badly; very often they do not cook food that is needed for a “captious” organism of a yogi or do it improperly. Irrespective of a café’s category food there is rarely charged with sattvic vibrations of a cook. Finally, food is hardly prepared according to ayurvedic rules: with ghee, with spices according to the season and your individual constitution. Therefore, continuing to develop the topic of fast food it is impossible to ignore a whole direction of yogic culinary thought – “fast food” in thermos.


Common mistakes

Certainly, if you are not affected by similar confusions, there is no reason to eat from a thermos. Even for the majority of those who have already “taken communion” to sticky mats, udjayi breathing and ghee, a perspective to use this “device” causes approximately the following number of associations:

1. “Professionally-ethical” Picking in a thermos as well as in ones nose with an iron spoon in the presence of colleagues and business partners is not ethical!

2. “Coquettishly-metro sexual” Thermos is so inconvenient; it does not fit the beautician and does not fit a purse.

3. “Courageous-aggressive” It is not tasty, because it is useful. It is impossible to prepare nothing but porridge, and what if I suddenly feel like to eat something different?

4. "Surrealistic" Thermos is rigid - there is no time to chew it for long!


Taste habits etc…

Let’s ask ourselves a question how taste habits and predilections are formed. The basic problem the majority of people willing “to eat correctly” face is an absence of pleasure received from such food. It is important to take into consideration a simple fact: there is food for peeping body maintenance, and there are impressions received from food’s taste, composition, appearance and social importance. Giving too much importance to mineral and vitamin composition, we lose sight of a current emotional condition, not quite realizing, what we eat for. As we understand “what for”, it naturally becomes not all the same - what, when and with whom we eat.

Undisciplined mind absorbs impressions by a principle “what I see is what I want”, simply because momentary satisfaction is pleasant to it (mind), and it does not want to stay in discomfort caused by “desired - not received”. There are lots of impressions around. Catching up too much at once the mind stays in an absent-minded condition. Receiving sensual information it differentiates it according to the internal inquiries and preferences, that is why it “sees only that it wants”. And the mind always wants a lot of different things.

Full pleasure – bhoga, differs from superficial pleasure – upabhoga, in a way that at superficial pleasure contact with object and pleasure happens without comprehending the process of getting pleasure. While there is a duality in mind there is also a desire that contains energy for its realization, this energy feeds our habits and attachments. Desire of pleasure cannot be satisfied if there is no full awareness while implementing the desired action. It disappears when the desired is completely reached and simultaneously it becomes clear that its full satisfaction is impossible. To feel the taste of life without feeling a thirst of desire - santosha – self-sufficiency, being satisfied with what there is.


Reasons and conditions

Einstein, as it is known, had clothes consisting of five-six absolutely identical suits so that their variety did not distract him from work. A yogi after 2-3 hour sessions of asanas or pranayama, being late for work, does not want to be distracted either, therefore sometimes he eats whatever his hand can reach. To form correct habits, it is necessary to realize the reasons of this desire and to create conditions for its realization. In case you practice yoga asanas and pranayama a thermos gives an indisputable advantage - everything that is “self-cooked” in it while you were busy in class or at work can be taken and eaten immediately, without thinking. The prize is not just an economy of time, but also is a quality of food. “Something wrong” often gets into the stomach not because we strongly desire it, but just because there are conditions created when “wrong” is always at your hand.



So, what are the advantages of using a thermos compared to usual cooking? 1. Economy of time. Hot meal is always at your hand at the moment you need it. 2. An individual approach to nutrition. You cook for yourself what suits you to the greatest extend. 3. Minimum thermal treatment of products – it keeps taste, nutrient density and sattvic quality.

Kichari – a culinary minimalism for “dummies”

Technology. The principle of culinary minimalism and thermal treatment

Culinary minimalism is when there is nothing superfluous, neither in a dish or a process of its preparation. Preparing any “kumbhaka-style” dish requires no more than fifteen minutes. Following this principle, we automatically exclude all superfluous culinary operations. Taking minimum of time this method demands the maximum accuracy in actions, not giving your mind a chance to wander ☺. It is possible to cook not only buckwheat in thermos, but any other products as well. Soups, ragout, pilafs, kissels, almond milk, khir – everything that can be cooked in a usual pan. The most convenient are unbreakable metal thermoses with a wide throat and with volume of 0,5 - 0,7 liters. Differing from glass thermoses they do not break though they do not keep stable temperature for very long. As a rule 4-6 hours are enough for cooking the majority of products, and food remains warm up to 10 hours.


Simple Kichri

Let's start with a simple national-yogic dish called “Kichri”. Having mastered with it the main principles, you can possibly without any effort pass to the composition of your own recipes. Ingredients of this dish are rice and dhal. There is a set of variants of their combinations with spices and vegetables. It can be sweet, spicy, hot or salty dish or it can have a bit of every taste. Usually mung-dhal is used. In our region it is named mash, it is possible to successfully replace it with red lentil, yellow or white shelled dhal. Basically any sort of shelled beans can be used if its cooking time corresponds to the cooking time of rice. Kichri will not come out of more coarse sorts of beans such as nut, string bean, lentil, peas, but they are used for pilaf. For cooking kichri for one person you will need the following ingredients:

1. Thermos for 0,6 liters 2. Basmati rice – ½ of a cup (or other sort of long rice with the cooking time not exceeding 20 minutes) 3. Shelled mung-dhal – ¼ of a cup (if there is no this type of dhal in nearby shops it is possible to replace it with red lentil or mash (non-shelled mung) which should be preliminary soaked in warm water till it germinates. Usually it takes from 12 up to 24 hours. Germinated and dried it can be stored in a refrigerator for four-five days) 4. Ghee - one table spoon (drawn butter) 5. Spices: cumin, fennel, curcuma - in equal parts - one teaspoon 6. Salt – up to your taste (non-refined mineral or sea salt)

The following sequence of actions should be remembered and carried out in order to spend the minimum of time for cooking and to get a guaranteed result:

1. Fill thermos with boiling water. This simple procedure is important for keeping up optimal temperature conditions.

2. Measure rice and dhal and wash out in a pan. Fill with boiling water in a proportion 1:2

3. Bring to the boil and add spices, salt, ghee and cook for one minute.

4. Put the “dish” into a warm thermos.

There should not be any delays! It is important not to allow the food to become cooled down. We pour out boiling water and quickly put a mixture of rice and dhal into a thermos with fast and exact movements using a big table spoon. Kichri is ready in 1,5 or 2 hours. Nothing bad will happen to it in 3-5 hours either. However if you have cooked kichri in the morning and have opened it in the evening, taste is not quite the same; food may cool down or become overcooked.


Sweet kichri

The previous variant is combined with natural sweeteners:

1. For example, add some dried fruits: raisins - one table spoon, dates - 3-4 pieces, figs - 2-3 pieces, etc.

2. Or brown sugar 0,5 - 1 teaspoon

3. Spices: cloves - pieces, cardamom - 2 boxes, cinnamon – ½ teaspoon, curcuma - 1/3 teaspoon


Temperature conditions

There are high-quality thermoses and there are not. As a rule in due course any thermos holds heat worse. If it is a pity to throw it away, you can prolong terms of its service for several years using a simple national method - wrapping it into newspapers. Thermos filled with meal is wrapped into 2-3 layers of “Free advertisements newspaper” and then into a cellophane package from supermarket, and thermal protection is ensured.


Soup from red lentil (Medjemek chorba)

This remarkable national Turkish dish is very simply to cook. Red lentil possesses a small drying up property and sweet aftertaste. Out of all sorts of beans it is the easiest to digest. For one portion (thermos for 0.5 liters) you need:

1. Red lentil – one cup

2. Carrots - one piece of an average size.

3. Leek (sweet onions) - amount equal to carrots.

4. Spices: oregano, thyme, grounded coriander, red pepper - mixed in equal parts - 1/3 of a teaspoon

5. Ghee – one table spoon.

6. Salt (non-refined mineral or sea salt) – up to taste. Procedure and cooking time are the same as described above for cooking kichri.



Khir is a sweet celebratory dish that takes a lot of time to cook. This dairy delicacy demands the observance of certain rules to insure you get the real khir, and not a substitute. Natural cow milk is used and it should be preliminary boiled out on two thirds with added sugar, actually it should come up to the consistence of the condensed milk, and then rice is cooked on slow fire for some hours till it gets a homogeneous weight. An obligatory ingredient in this dish is cardamom which promotes better digestion and neutralizes the ability of this dish to increase kapha dosha. Khir is served cold as a dessert. By its qualities it is sweet, heavy, therefore as a rule it comes after the main meal to smooth traditional hotness of the Indian cuisine.

Cooking of khir in a thermos allows saving a lot of time though this variant cannot compete with a traditional time-consuming method of cooking. If you want to get the real celebratory khir, milk still should be boiled out, but you would not need to keep an eye on cooking it on slow fire. Khir is cooked only from sorts of round rice or from a special sort of thin Indian vermicelli. A celebratory variant of khir is usually combined with various nuts: almonds, pistachios, or, what is considered to be a special glamour, cheroul nuts. As a rule besides cardamom they put saffron as well. Sometimes few raisins also can be added. Let's consider a variant of preparing khir for 4 persons (it fits a thermos for 0.5 liters). We will need a little bit more than one liter of milk, four-five boxes (pods) of cardamom, granulated sugar (5-8 table spoons, depending on how sweet you prefer khir), 10-12 almonds, a pinch of saffron, 4-5 table spoons of round rice.

If we go for a full variant with boiling out milk, boil it out on two thirds, or at least on a half. If we go for a “fast food” variant, we simply take 400 ml of milk, add sugar, and we lead it up to boiling slowly stirring. Then we put rice, cardamom kernels (preliminary we take them out of pods) and divided in two parts nuts of almonds. We cook it for 5-7 minutes continuing to stir slowly, in the end we add saffron and put the contents into a well warmed thermos. We leave it for a night (for 5-8 hours), in the morning khir is ready! It is usually cooled before serving.

Jay Annapurna Ма!

Jay Mahalakshmi!