We all know about the Islamic practice of halal but what about the Hindu sattvic diet?
Time Out Bahrain staff
We all know about the Islamic practice of halal but what about the Hindu sattvic diet? We spoke to Vijay Boloor, owner of Govinda’s Bahrain, to find out more.
Indian food without onions and garlic, surely not? But that’s exactly what you’ll get at Govinda’s where the fare is described as ‘food for the soul’ and the principals of a sattvic diet are followed.
Vijay explained: “It goes back to the old days of large-scale prayer meetings, it’s not nice to be close to someone who’s been eating lots of onions and garlic because of the smell, so we do not use them at all in the sattvic diet.”
In fact, the whole concept of sattva is defined as ‘the quality of purity and goodness’. Sattvic food is said to be that which is ‘pure, clean and wholesome’.
So Govinda’s is 100-per-cent vegetarian with no meat, fish or eggs though there is milk, butter and paneer in abundance. “This food originates in India and you can’t take Indians away from the cow,” said Vijay. “But you won’t find regular cheese as we also do not use rennet and if you want your food totally vegan we can easily accommodate that by simply removing the milk products.”
There’s also no tea, coffee or soft drinks containing caffeine as the Hindu holy book says you should not consume anything that can be the basis for any sort of addiction.
Hinduism recognises three types of food. Those which bring on a feeling of sluggishness and tiredness are called tamasic (mode of ignorance), those which leave you feeling over stimulated or agitated are rajastic (mode of passion) and those which leave you feeling calm, alert and refreshed – sattvic (mode of goodness).
The sattvic diet is described as promoting life, virtue, strength, health, happiness and satisfaction (all that from a vegetable curry!). Sattvic foods are supposed to be savoury, smooth, firm and pleasant to stomach whereas the rajastic diet is excessively pungent, sour, salty, hot, harsh, astringent and burnt leading to pain, misery and sickness. Tamasic foods are said to be stale, tasteless, smelly, left-over, rotten and foul – sounds a bit like our diet here at Time Out.
All that said, the basis of the sattvic diet is that food has to be cooked fresh – leftovers are decidedly tamasic – and should be light and easy to digest. They should be prepared with ‘love and awareness’ – the idea behind this is that, just as food effects our minds, our thoughts and emotions also affect our food.
According to sattvic teaching ‘you can consume high-quality food but if it is prepared or eaten in anger, it will have a disturbing effect’.
The idea is to absorb that which is nourishing, eliminate the rest and keep your thoughts positive, especially when preparing or eating food.
And pure sattvic food needs to be chewed carefully and eaten in modest portions – overeating is definitely tamasic!
Apparently the food should be enjoyed for its inherent taste and quality rather than the spices and seasonings. Too much salt and spice has a rajasic affect leading to the loss of taste and pleasure whereas a refined sense of taste leads to increased pleasure.
Well, all of that certainly sounds very good, if a little bit other worldly. However, the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating.
There are more than 45 different curries on the menu as well as snacks and chat bites and we can honestly say we didn’t notice the absence of garlic and onions one little bit.
Another part of the Govinda’s sattvic statement is that it is committed to serving hot, clean, nourishing food at affordable prices and you could have a good meal for two here and have plenty of change from BD10. Govinda’s, Juffair. Open daily noon-3.30pm and 7-11pm. Call (17 827 127).