Interview with Harish Johari on the 6 tastes
in Ayurvedic cooking.
What are the six tastes in Indian
There are six
tastes and six taste buds with which to appreciate them:
sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. All foods
produce one of the six tastes. Each taste is a combination
of two of the five basic material elements - earth, water,
fire, air, and ether ( space ).
The sweet taste results from the combination
of earth and water. This is a sattvic
taste that produces calories for energy, removes nervousness
created by glucose deficiency, removes acidity, and provides
radiance and a healthy glow to the skin.
The sour taste is a mixture of water and fire.
This taste is rajasic
and therefore it excites the mind. Sour taste increases appetite,
provides saliva, and helps digestion.
The salty taste is produced from the merging
of earth and fire. This taste is also rajasic and therefore
it also excites hunger, attracts water, and liquefies mucus.
The bitter taste results from a combination
of air and space. It is rajasic and serves as an appetizer
and blood purifier and rids the body of toxins.
The pungent taste is a combination of air and
fire. It is both rajasic and tamasic simultaneously. Pungent
taste excites the sense organs, for example making the eyes
water and the nose run. This taste increases circulation and
The astringent taste is a mixture of air and
earth. Rajasic in nature, it purifies the blood, helps the
skin, creates dryness, assimilates fats and oils and aids
An intelligent, creative cook will provide all
six tastes in his or her preparations rather than sticking
to only one or two tastes. We are meant to experience all
six different tastes. Unless we use all the tastes, some taste
buds will remain unsatisfied, and the system will experience
a certain imbalance and chemical deficiency. Balanced meals
should include all six tastes.