In Ayurveda, there are six tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent. A meal should ideally contain all of them to improve digestion and stimulate your whole being.
Western diets are generally too sweet, too salty and sometimes overly pungent (hot, spicy). The other tastes (bitter, sour and astringent) tend to be infrequent or entirely missing from our diet. To ensure you are getting enough of each taste, use my Ayurvedic ‘Six Taste Spice Mix’ which has all the tastes included. Sprinkle it like magic powder on your food. It stimulates your six taste buds and activates the Ayurvedic energies in your body.
Fennel and cardamom provide the sweet taste in this mixture; ginger and pepper are the main pungent (hot) flavours. The salt makes it salty and fenugreek gives it the bitter taste. Amchur is dried unripe mango powder, which is very sour. The remaining astringent taste comes from the turmeric.
The Daily Grind!
Some spices are better freshly ground, this time I used fennel seeds, cardamon pods and coarse ground black pepper and ground them myself in a pestle and mortar.
Found this old grinder in my Mum’s loft—it sparks a bit and fused the house briefly, but was handy when my arms got tired!
Although cardamom is available ready powdered there is nothing like the aroma of the freshly ground seeds, especially when someone else is doing the work! First you need to remove the shells and peel enough so you have 1 tsp of the seeds.
The cardamom is a ‘sweet’ taste in ayurveda which increases decreases the elements of air and fire in your system. It’s great if you feel too fiery or agitated, or airy and ungrounded.
I then added the fennel seeds which are also a sweet taste, and the pepper which is a pungent taste. The pungent taste is the opposite to sweet, it increases air and fire, strengthening digestion and energy.
After grinding the spices to a fine powder, I added a teaspoon of salt and sugar, and ground it a bit further. The sugar, obviously is a sweet taste and the salt, salty! Salty Ayurvedic taste decreases air so grounds airheads, but increases fire so use with caution if you already feel a bit hot and bothered!
I then added the powdered spices turmeric, fenugreek, cumin and ginger. Keith’s Tip: You can use whole fenugreek seed but they are very hard and difficult to grind The turmeric is an astringent taste which increases the air element. The cumin and ginger are pungent like pepper, and increase fire and air,
The last spice I added was mango powder (amchor powder). This is the sour taste, which is good for anyone with too much air in their constitution.
Then I ground it a bit more to create the final powder. Use it like table salt to sprinkle over your plate as a condiment.
If you want to know more, check out my ayurveda and detox retreats in Snowdonia, North Wales see this link for more info.
Ayurvedic 6 Taste Spice Mix
20 green cardamom pods
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground fenugreek
½ tsp dried mango powder (amchur)
- Open the cardamom pods to release the seeds.
- Put the seeds into a grinder or pulverise them using a pestle and mortar.
- Add the fennel seeds and peppercorns to the cardamom seeds and grind into a powder.
- Add the salt. Stir in the remaining ground spices.
- I recommend using this at the table instead of salt and pepper.
- If stored in a sealed jar, it will keep for a few weeks.
You can also watch me make it in the video below.
I like the way you forget to switch the video recorder off at the end…
Thank you Keith! May I ask how to replace the astringent taste in this recipe? Not easy to find amchur in food stores.