The basic Indian spice palette contains ground turmeric and coriander, cumin, fenugreek and mustard seeds and chili powder or ground cayenne pepper, as well as the blend called garam masala. - Jim Craven

‘Soul’ Food

At 66 years old, Kumud Gokani and her 73-year-old husband Krishna, haven’t a single health complaint.

They don’t count the fats or cholesterol in their diets. They don’t take supplements. They credit the ancient Indian health philosophy of ayurveda, which influences nearly every aspect of their cooking.

“Always, we feel my food is the best,” Kumud Gokani says.

The sentiment is shared by numerous Rogue Valley residents, who have watched Gokani’s weekly public-access television show “Cooking With Kumud,” purchased her self-published cookbook of the same title and attended hundreds of her classes. Next week, Gokani brings her ayurvedic approach back to Ashland Food Co-op, where she got her start teaching almost a decade ago.

“The food is terrific,” says Annie Hoy, Co-op outreach manager. “She is such an engaging person.”

The Gokanis’ move to Ashland in 1999, Hoy says, happened to coincide with a heightened interest in ayurveda, the health system that assigns “doshas” or constitutions to its patients. Yet the town lacked practitioners, making Kumud Gokani a prime candidate for teaching. Within a year, she had launched her RVTV program and written a cookbook.

“The response was so great,” Gokani says. “People have appreciated just beyond by own ideas.”

Cooking strictly vegetarian dishes doesn’t limit Gokani’s appeal, Hoy says, adding that the recipes incorporate copious dairy products, including milk, yogurt and clarified butter, typical of Indian cuisine.

“We drink lots of whole milk,” Gokani says.

And, being vegetarian, the Gokanis consume large quantities of vegetables, legumes and whole grains, including quinoa, which Kumud Gokani first encountered on her RVTV show courtesy of a guest. Now she often employs the South American grain rich in protein instead of rice.

Gokani’s food is liberally seasoned, too, with the basic Indian spice palette of ground turmeric and coriander, cumin, fenugreek and mustard seeds and chili powder or ground cayenne pepper, as well as the blend called garam masala.

“Only chili powder makes the food hot,” Gokani says, adding that it’s a misconception that Indian food is overly spicy.

Also illuminating principles of Indian philosophy, Gokani’s classes demonstrate reverence for eating. She says she hopes people learn to cook in “the meditative space” and always cook with love.

“Be in a very good mood — never cook if you are depressed or angry,” Gokani says, adding that happy diners enjoy “real nourishment to the soul.”

Appropriately, Gokani’s second, unfinished cookbook is titled “Feed the Beloved Soul With Ayurvedic Cooking.” Rather than self-publishing, she hopes the work will merit interest from an agent and publishing firm. Her first book is sold for $20 at local, independent grocery stores, Bloomsbury Books in Ashland and during her classes.

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

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