on October 30, 2001
My partner and I have tried over a dozen recipes in this book and everytime they work like a charm. I feel like a gourmet cook when I use it. It is true the Ayurvedic classifications are not as clear as Morningstar's Ayurvedic cookbook, but I find myself reaching for Miriam's whenever I want to try a new recipe. My partner scoffed at me when I told her this is all the cookbook we'll need. Now she is a believer.
Thank you Miriam.
Update: After communicating with Miriam, I now understand why she avoids classifying meals by dosha. Single food items are easy to classify by dosha, but when they are combined the net result is not easy to classify by dosha. ** She recommends using the eight-pointed guideline on page five to determine what works best for the individual.
on February 19, 2001
Before this book, I'd be a devoted Ayurvedic cook for about one week and then fall off the wagon when I got bored "eating Indian" at every meal. Hospodar's recipies are varied (providing Ayurvedic versions of well-loved dishes from around the world) and their flavours and seasonings diverse (even finding favour with my non-vegetarian husband who claims the Moussaka on p. 96 is the "best dish" I make). Other family faves--scones, paella, squash with wild rice succotash, dal II, chili (be prepared for a taste surprise--it's not your traditional chili, but if I don't call it "chili" I always get compliments on the unique seasonings in this dish). Not only are the recipes simple to make, they're also easy to adapt, allowing even the non-experimental cook like me the joy of substituting ingredients and still having it turn out okay!
Hospodar's introduction to Ayurveda is an adequate first overview, but those interested will learn more about this ancient practice by reading Robert Svoboda or Nancy Lonsdorf's books. I also found a better background on Ayurveda in the first Morningstar cookbook (although her recipes, while delicious, are pretty much all "Indian" in taste).
I recommend this over any other Ayurvedic cookbook--and I've used several over the past 8 years. These recipes allow practitioners of Ayurveda to eat standard fare ("what's available elsewhere") without straying from a path to good health and balance. No need to be suspect of this review: I was introduced to this book at a panchakarma retreat so can't be counted as a friend or relative--just a grateful reader!
on April 9, 2001
I seem to be somewhat less enthusiastic about this book than the other readers. It's terrific, of course. But I don't think it's as useful for a beginner as Morningstar's or some of the other ayurvedic cookbooks. It can be challenging to determine what recipes are appropriate for your body type. And, in frankness, Maharishi ayurved can be somewhat stricter in its definitions of balancing and aggravating foods than other forms of ayurveda. That may be a positive, but it places greater burdens on the beginner. Still, this is an inspiring and very beautiful book that I look forward to using for many years.
on April 27, 2003
Any cookbook that has a winning recipe for cookies is, at the very least, worth the paper it's printed on...so don't miss the almond crescents on page 433. This, then, is thy commandment: honor thy cookbook and buy not from Nabisco.
The recipe for kitcheri on page 189 is very easy and tasty.
I haven't the time to try the rest of the items in the book and deeply desire that someone comes to cook for me soon. When she does, I'll throw this book at her, all in good fun, of course.
on December 15, 2000
As you can guess from my name, I'm related to the author - I'm her brother. Though this review has an admittedly built-in bias, I thought I'd let you know something about the years of work and dedication that went into this book, and why I think Heaven's Banquet would bring cooking and eating pleasure to people with diverse food preferences. Ever since she was a child, the author has been cooking family meals. She was always an adventurous cook, trying out different recipes on our family when it was her night to cook. Cooking and seeing people enjoy a good meal seems to be in her blood. At 17, she became a vegetarian and then in her early 20's, took a professional interest in cooking. This interest took her to several countries, working as a hotel chef. Everywhere she went, she picked up ideas and recipes, and in 1980 wrote her first cookbook. Heaven's Banquet was first conceived as a revision of that first book, but in time, took on a life of its own, incorporating the author's almost 20 years of cooking, travelling, and teaching experience since then. Several precepts have always been a part of her cooking. 1. The health of the person one cooks for is important. 2. Recipes should be easy to follow, and work. 3. Cooking is a creative act. More than merely printing recipes, her book gives you the knowledge and freedom to create your own recipes and cooking style. Heaven's Banquet is, then, the culmination of a lifetime of cooking, learning and experimenting, world travel, and a burning passion for delicious, healthful eating. Heaven's Banquet contains recipes from all over the world. Whether or not you're a vegetarian (I'm not), this book's recipes are just downright delicious! Lastly, her non-preachy personality and great humor are evident in her writing. Heaven's Banquet is a pleasure to read!
on May 5, 1999
This is no ordinary cookbook! In addition to giving hundreds of scrumptious-sounding (yet easy to prepare, thank God!) recipes , it provides interesting and very useful information about such things as how to store and prepare various beans, grains, vegetables, herbs, etc., fascinating histories about various foods, what types of cookware are best, etc. etc. And it is so entertainingly written (including quotes about food from the famous and others sprinkled throughout), I find myself sometimes sitting down with it like a favorite novel. What makes it really stand out the most, however, is its description of the ancient science of health, Ayurveda. Finally, there is a system that defines "health food" as something more than "fat-free"! The beginning of the book includes the comprehensive but simple Ayurvedic system of body types and what foods are good for each. It also points out that other factors like how fresh the food is, how happy the cook is, and how settled you are when you eat also affect how healthy the food is for you. This cookbook should be the bible of every cook (and non-cook!) who wants to enjoy food that is both yummy and healthy.
on April 27, 1999
This will be the classic, all-purpose cookbook I will give my friends for their bridal showers, father's day, birthdays, and graduation. I can't think of an occasion for which it wouldn't be suitable. The world desperately needs to be nourished in mind, body, and soul. It is as complete as Joy of Cooking, the old standard, but more relevant to today's more health conscious and environmentally aware cooks. It is wise and wonderful, the story of good food told with wit and timeless experience. Try the artichoke-filo pie or light-as-air eggless cakes flavored with ayurvedic coffee. The instructions are clear, easy to follow even for the novice, and the results are, well, heavenly. I read cookbooks the way detective story buffs read mysteries. This is a thriller, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating -these are some spicey meatballs! If you are more of an egg head than an egg beater, this is a treasure of rare quotes and eternal verities, a scholars tome of our cultural heritage.
on January 13, 2000
Hospodar has produced a vegetarian cookbook that executes a rare triple play: incredibly delicious recipes, healthful, and very entertainingly written text. As well as giving us many unusual dishes, the author has a knack for taking popular dishes, and giving them a twist that makes them something very special. For example, I've enjoyed the middle Eastern spread Hummus for many years, but found myself in hummus hog heaven when I tried her recipe which uses cashews and coconut. This book also imparts such valuable cooking knowledge, I find myself making up my own recipes as well as using hers, armed with my new-found knowledge of spice combinations and cooking techniques. Finally, this book is one great read! Check out "The Ten Commandments Of Bean Cookery" and you'll see this is a book for the living room chair as well as the kitchen.
on October 25, 2004
This ayurvedic cookbook covers every old and new foods from around the world yet easily available in your city's grocery store or ethnic store. The beautiful quotes all over the book sometimes made me forget that it was not a spiritual book. It teaches about grains and tofu and panir, breads, soups and receipes for busy time-challenged people and for those days that you DO have some time to cook with a focused mind and enough time, etc. If you love to eat and feed your family and yourself a nourishing meal (simple or elaborate),than this is the book to have.
on April 22, 1999
I have accumulated many recipe books over the years. What most impressed me about "Heaven's Banquet" is that it is much more than a cookbook. It presents a philosophy of life and a philosophy of cooking and eating that create health by bringing mind, body, spirit and environment together. The author's warmth, humor and excellent writing style make this fascinating knowledge easy to understand and absorb. The recipes are easy to follow and scrumptious! I will be reading, thinking about, and using this book for a long, long time.