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June 8, 1999


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Ayurvedic Cooking Goes International

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Mabel Fernandes

Heaven's Banquet Hungry stomachs and healthy minds are timeless topics. In Heaven's Banquet, first-time writer Miriam Kasim Hospodar offers over 750 recipes gathered from across the world, to prove that India's ayurvedic principles about food have universal applications. The book is also a general guide to a holistic lifestyle that balances mind, soul, and body.

Hospodar has received extensive training in ayurvedic cooking and health care, and has worked as a chef in ayurvedic spas and centers in the United States, France, Switzerland, the Philippines, Taiwan, and India. A certified teacher of the Transcendental Meditation Program, Hospodar has also served as the director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center in St. Louis, Missouri, and of the Health Center in Pacific Palisades, California.

Her book, published by Dutton (a division of Penguin Putnam Inc) may seem to offer daunting challenges - can one really create wonderful food, for instance, without using garlic and onion. But try any one of her recipes, and you will be pleasantly surprised, even if you do not care for her ayurvedic talk. One certainly does not have admire the maharishi to gain from this book.

She also offers options for sugar-free, salt-free, dairy-free, and wheat-free diets, and provides a full complement of recipes in every category -- from appetizers and finger foods through main courses and desserts.

The recipes come from all over the world --Europe and the Mediterranean; China, Japan, Southeast Asia; the Jewish and Middle Eastern culinary traditions; and the Americas. Hospodar has guidance for the "new vegetarian" and for those cooking on "terrible schedules".

What sets her book apart from many other vegetarian cookbooks, she says is that it is not just a cookbook with a philosophy, a voice, and a mission - it also goes on to prove that vegetarian food is anything but bland and boring. It challenges the reader to enjoy cooking, then to serve and eat the food in an atmosphere that pleases the senses.

Using recipes that have been tested in places ranging from a five-star Swiss hotel kitchen to a charcoal-filled pit in the Philippines, Hospodar brings us such exotic dishes as Thai Corn Fritters, Asian-Cajun Eggplant Gumbo, Persian-Style Millet with Dried Cherries, Moussaka, Scottish Shortbread, West African Avocado Mousse, and Mocha-Spice Cake with Coffee Cream Frosting.

Heaven's Banquet also offers effective methods of preparing food, the benefits of eating seasonally for one's type, and how to create a diet tailored to the entire family.

A special feature of Heaven's Banquet is its dessert section, which features egg-free cakes, cookies and puddings. There are also special sections on how to lose weight and control sugar sensitivity, a detailed questionnaire to help you determine your mind-body type, and essential ingredients for a well-stocked ayurvedic kitchen.

Timeless and timely, Heaven's Banquet shows one how to use food to tap into your body's intelligence to create lifelong health.

Hospodar's Prescription for Optimum Digestion

  • Eat in a settled atmosphere.
  • Avoid eating when you are upset.
  • Sit down when you eat.
  • Eat only when you are hungry.
  • Don't talk when chewing.
  • Eat at a moderate pace, neither too fast nor too slow.
  • Wait until one meal is digested before eating the next (that is, an interval of two to four hours after a light meal, four to six hours after a full one).
  • Sip warm water with your meal.
  • Eat food that pleases all your senses.
  • Don't rush through a meal. There should be no feeling of hurry, of having to wolf down the food and jump up from the table.
  • Eat in the most harmonious, most pleasant atmosphere possible. Options may be limited, but there are always some choices (like pulling over to the side of the road to eat instead of whipping out a sandwich while waiting at a red light).
  • Eat at regular times as much as possible. Our bodies, including our digestive systems, thrive on routine. You will be surprised how good you feel by simply adopting this practice.
  • Be grateful for the food you receive. It is a gift of Nature's abundance and a human being's efforts. Taking in food is a precious link between you and everyone and everything that provided it. Gratitude is an acknowledgement of that link, and sets up a positive attitude for digesting your food.
  • Praise the cook. Yes! This is an ayurvedic prescription for good health. It gives a positive, uplifting tone to the whole relationship that brought you the food.
  • Sit quietly for a few minutes after your meals.
  • Don't feel guilty if you are not regularly practising all these points all of the time! They are general guidelines, not rigid prescriptions to dogmatically force on yourself and those you dine with.

    Eggplant Pate With Crostini


    3 tablespoons melted ghee
    Pinch of asafoetida (optional)
    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    1 stalk celery
    4 cups (280g) peeled, coarsely chopped eggplant
    Liquid seasoning or salt
    1/2 cup (60g) dry bread crumbs
    1/4 cup (70g) blanched toasted almonds
    1/2 cup (65g) toasted hazelnuts
    1/4 cup (60g) cream cheese or creamy chevre
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    Black pepper


    1. Heat the ghee in a large skillet. Add the asafoetida and ginger, and saute on a low heat for 1 minute. Add the celery and eggplant, sprinkle with liquid seasoning or salt, cover, and saute until tender, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool to room temperature.

    2. Toast the bread crumbs in a dry pan or a toaster oven until lightly browned.

    3. Place the eggplant in a food processor with the toasted bread crumbs, toasted nuts, cream cheese or chevre, and lemon juice. Process for several minutes, until completely smooth. Add black pepper to taste and adjust the salt or liquid seasoning.


    Place sliced baguette rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in a 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) oven until crisp, about 5-10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

    Mocha-Spiced Cake With Coffee


    3/4 cup (145g) unsalted butter
    2 cups (420g) raw or packed brown sugar
    3 cups (420g) unbleached white flour
    1/2 cup (75g) whole wheat flour
    2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    3 tablespoons herbal coffee substitute powder
    1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or sour milk
    1 cup (240ml) water


    1. Heat the oven to 350'F(180'C). Butter and lightly flour two 8" (22cm) round cake pans.

    2. Cream the butter and sugar.

    3. Mix the dry ingredients and sift into the butter-sugar mixture.

    4. Mix the buttermilk or sour milk with the water. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.

    5. Spoon into the pans. Bake about 35 minutes.

    Coffee Whipped Cream With Cream Cheese Frosting


    1/2 cup (120g) cream cheese, softened
    2 tablespoons honey or 3-4 tablespoons confectioners sugar
    1 cup (250ml) heavy (whipping cream)
    2 teaspoons herbal coffee substitute powder


    1. Beat the cream cheese and honey or sugar until completely free of lumps. Set aside.

    2. Whip the cream until stiff. Beat in the herbal coffee substitute powder and cream cheese just until thoroughly blended.

    3. Frost.

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