Serving Of A Meal

Now I shall describe the mode of serving out the different dishes. Clarified butter should be served out in a vessel of steel (Kanta-Loha); Peya, in a silver bowl; and all kinds of fruit and confectionary (such as the Laddukas), on leaves. The preparations of meat known as the Parishushka and Pradigdha Mansam should be served on golden plates; fluid edibles and meat essences in silver bowls; Katvaras and Kharas in stone utensils; and cool boiled milk (Payah) in copper vessels. Other drinks, wines and cordials should be given in earthen pots; and Raga-Shadavas and Sattakas, in cool pure glass bowls, or in vessels made of crystal and Vaidurya gems. The cook should place the bowls containing preparations of pulse, boiled rice and lambatives on clean, spacious trays of fanciful design, and spread them out in front (of the king.) All kinds of desserts, confectionary and dry viands should be served on his right, while all soups etc., meat-essences, drinks, cordials, milk, Khada-Yusha, and Peya should be placed on his left. Bowls containing preparations of treacle, Raga-Shadava, and Sattaka should occupy a place midway between the two sets of bowls described above.

The intelligent physician, well conversant with the rules of serving dishes as above laid down, should attend upon the king at his table, and spread out on the purified level floor of a solitary, beautiful, spacious, blissful, perfumed and flower-decorated chamber, and the king should partake of those sacred and pleasant dishes, served neither hot nor cold, and cooked and seasoned in the desired mode, and possessed of their specific tastes.

The physician in attendance should see that the king first partakes of the sweet dishes, then of the acid and saline, and of the pungent and other ones at the close of the meal. * First or at the forepart of a meal, such fruit as the pomegranate, etc., should be eaten, after that, Peyas and boiled rice and prepared dishes, as well as confectionary. Certain authorities maintain that solid or thick viands should be eaten at the outset, while others aver that the contrary should be the rule. Of fruits, the Amalaka has the greatest humour-destroying properties, and is the most harmless of them all. Amalaka (fruit) is therefore recommended at the outset, middle and the close of a meal. Such things as the Mrinalam (the stem of a lotus plant), the Visham (the lotus bulb), Shaluka, Kanda and sugar-cane should be eaten at the beginning of a meal, and never at its close. A man, who is well-read in the Science of medicine (Ayurveda), should sit during his meal in an easy posture on a high seat and partake, at the right time, with his body erect and his whole mind engaged in the act of eating light, wholesome emollient and warm viands, which are congenial to his temperament and abound in fluid preparations, with an adequate quantity of boiled rice, neither too hurriedly nor too slowly, even when feeling the pinch of a keen and piercing hunger.

* The taste of sweet viands eaten at the outset would naturally go to subdue the Vayu located in the stomach; acid or saline taste partaken of at the middle of a meal would rouse up the fire of digestion located in the pancreas (Agnyashaya), while the pungent taste enjoyed at its close would tend to subdue the Kapham.

Food eaten with a good appetite tastes pleasant and relishing. The food which is congenial to one's temperament begets no discomfort after the eating. Light food is soon digested. Emollient food gives tone and vigour to the system. Warm food improves the appetite. Food eaten neither too slowly nor too hurriedly is uniformly digested. Food abounding in fluid components is not imperfectly digested, nor is attended by any acid reaction. Moderation in food leads to a happy and perfect digestion and tends to maintain the fundamental principles of the body in their normal state. *

During the cold months, when the nights are longer, substances, which tend to subdue the bodily humours which are naturally deranged during that season, should be eaten in the morning, while during the seasons, when the days are inordinately long, things which are congenial in those seasons should be eaten in the afternoon. (In spring and autumn) when days and nights are equal, the meal should be taken just at the middle part of the day and night. *

A meal should not be eaten before the appointed time, nor before the appetite has fully come. Similarly, over or insufficient eating should be equally refrained from. Eating at an improper time and before the system feels light and free brings on a large number of diseases, and may ultimately lead to death. A meal eaten at an hour long after the appointed time tends to aggravate the bodily Vayu, which affects the digestive fire, and offers serious obstacles in the way of its digestion. The food thus digested with difficulty, in the stomach creates discomforts and destroys all desire for a second meal. Insufficient diet gives but in-adequatesatisfaction, and tends to weaken the body. Over eating, on the contrary, is attended with such distressing symptoms, as languor, heaviness of the body, disinclination for movements, and distension of the stomach, accompanied by rumbling in the intestines, etc. Hence it behoves a man to take only as much food as he can easily digest, which should be well cooked and made to possess all the commendable (adequately nutritive) properties. Moderation in diet is the golden rule, besides taking into consideration the demerits of a particular food before partaking thereof and the nature of the time (day or night) it is eaten.

* This rule holds good in the case of persons, who eat a single meal in the course of a day and night. Those, who are in the habit of eating two meals a day, should eat a light half meal at one and quarter Prahara in the morning and another between the third and the fourth Praharas in the afternoon (Panjikakara). According to Jejjada, the meals should be between the third and the fourth Prahara both in the day and night.