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Vegetarian Cuisine


A delectable vegetable dish with a crunchy topping, good enough to serve at any
dinner party. Fennel is a low calorie vegetable with a good fibre and potassium
content in the bulb. Raw, it is sweetly aromatic with delicate anise-like aroma
and flavour. When baked till tender, it has a delicious flavour. Ricotta cheese
complements fennel in this recipe, or for a vegan diet, use silken tofu instead
of cheese. The fennel bulb is first steamed for a short while on stove top then
baked in the oven. Choose medium sized fennel bulbs that are fresh and pearly
white. The fronds contain folic acid and B vitamin and can be used raw for
garnishing. Serves 4.

2 bulbs fennel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons drained ricotta cheese
2/3 cup milk or soy milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Slice the fennel bulb fairly thinly, or cut thicker slices in lengths on the
diagonal. Reserve the feathery fronds for garnishing.
Place the slices in a steamer pan, pour the lemon juice over them. Cover and
steam over simmering water on medium heat for 5 – 10 min, or just until the
fennel begins to soften.
Transfer the fennel to an oiled baking dish.
While the fennel is steaming, toast the caraway seeds in a dry skillet over high
heat for a few seconds, then crush them slightly.
Melt butter or margarine in a separate pan and fry the bread crumbs over medium
heat until lightly brown.
Beat the ricotta cheese with milk, caraway seeds and salt.
Pour the mixture over the fennel. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and then the
chopped parsley.
Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 min, until the fennel is tender.
Serve hot.

This recipe is an edited contribution for the Sivananda Gurugram, sourced from The Yoga Cookbook: “Food for Body and Mind – Recipes from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres” – 1999.

Do not tell anybody, except your Guru, the realizations, the visions and other experiences that you receive during your Sadhana. – Sri Swami Sivananda

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SATTVA, RAJAS, TAMAS: The three Gunas: three forces; the three qualities

The natural medical system of Ayurveda has been practiced in India for thousands of years and bases its teaching on three Gunas, or primary qualities, that are said to exist in all natural things. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Each represents a different quality: Sattva is purity, Rajas is activity or passion and Tamas is inertia or darkness. In every material object, person or action, the characteristics of all three gunas are present; one, however, is always dominant. Whether a person’s diet consists of Sattvic foods, Rajasic foods or Tamasic foods determines which Guna influences their thoughts and actions.
Sattva is harmony or light or wisdom or equilibrium or goodness. Rajas is passion or motion or activity. Tamas is inertia or inaction or darkness. During Cosmic Pralaya these three Gunas exist in a state of equilibrium. During Srishti or projection a vibration arises and the three qualities are manifested in the physical universe. The three qualities bring bondage to the Jiva or the individual soul. Though Sattva is a desirable quality, yet it also binds a man. It is a golden fetter. Rajas is the source of attachment and thirst for life. It causes attachment to action. Tamas binds man to heedlessness (Pramada), laziness (Alasya) and sleep (Nidra).

These three qualities are inseparable. No one is absolutely Rajasic or Sattvic or Tamasic. Sometimes Sattva prevails in man. He is calm and serene. He sits quietly and entertains sublime, soul-elevating thoughts. He studies religious scriptures. He talks on divine topics. When Sattva prevails, the other two qualities are overpowered for the time being. At other times Rajas prevails. He does action. He moves about. He plans, schemes, speculates. He craves for power, wealth and action. When Rajas prevails, Sattva and Tamas are overpowered for the time being. Sometimes Tamas prevails and the man becomes slothful. He feels lazy, indolent and lethargic. He is dull and feels sleepy. When Tamas prevails, Sattva and Rajas are overpowered for the time being.

The Bhagavad Gita describes the nature of Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic natures in Chapter XVIII as follows:
That which knows the path of work and renunciation, what ought to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation-that intellect is Sattvic (pure), O Arjuna. That by which one wrongly understands Dharma and Adharma and also what ought to be done and what ought not to be done-that intellect, O Arjuna, is Rajasic. That which, enveloped in darkness, sees Dharma as Adharma, and all things perverted-that intellect is Tamasic.”

Light, positive, Sattvic or pure thoughts are calm and can be more easily transcended. Rajasic (extrovert) and Tamasic (dull) thoughts like anger, jealousy and greed are difficult to control. The question is how to purify the thoughts and experience positive thinking…

Do not allow the mind to wander about in sensual objects. Practice Nirodha/self-restraint. – Sri Swami Sivananda