Dietitian Swati Bathwal explains why traditional kitchens are preferable to modern ones for promoting good health

Why Are Traditional Kitchens Better Than Modern Ones For A Good Health? Explains Dietitian Swati Bathwal
Why Are Traditional Kitchens Better Than Modern Ones For A Good Health? Explains Dietitian Swati Bathwal

I often ponder, “How can something that isn’t fresh on the kitchen bench be fresh on supermarket shelves?” It’s a reflection on the busyness of our modern kitchens. Have you noticed that as our kitchens become busier, so do our hospital beds? Our health is profoundly influenced by our dietary choices, lifestyle, and environment. Are the foods we consume contributing to expanding waistlines and increased medication intake compared to our ancestors? As both a dietitian and a public health nutritionist, I firmly believe that our health journey begins in the kitchen. In this article, I aim to explore some ancient wisdom from our ancestral kitchens.

Outlined below are several reasons why traditional cooking methods tend to be healthier than the practices commonly observed in modern kitchens today

  • In modern kitchens, various vegetable oils are commonly used, but these are often refined and processed at high temperatures, leading to the loss of nutrients. Additionally, they are stored in plastic containers and transported, which may affect their quality. Conversely, our ancestors preferred homemade ghee from desi cows, as well as sesame oil and coconut oil for cooking. Going further back in history, vegetables were often cooked in water, amla or pomegranate juice, or other vegetable juices to retain nutrients. Meat and vegetable dishes were flavored with water infused with asafetida.

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  • Unlike today’s aluminum, stainless steel, or non-stick frying pans, traditional cooking utilized iron woks or clay pots. Aluminum, being highly reactive, oxidizes when exposed to heat, forming aluminum oxide. Hence, switching to iron woks or clay pots is recommended. Cooking over low heat, especially when dealing with milk, was common practice in the past. However, modern lifestyles often lead to cooking on high flames, which may compromise the nutritional value of food. It is advised to cook meals slowly to retain their nutritive content and to avoid foods with preservatives.

  • Traditional measuring units like “Anjali” (palms) were used to quantify food portions, with adults typically consuming two Anjalis and children one Anjali per meal. Mixer grinders have replaced pestle and mortar in modern kitchens, but grinding spices manually retains their freshness and aroma. It is also suggested not to cook when feeling angry or emotionally drained, as negative emotions may affect the taste of the food.

  • Historically, the wealthy used gold and silver utensils, while others ate from earthenware, leaves, or wooden bowls. Eating from wooden plates may reduce phlegm secretion, while gold plates nurture the body’s doshas and reduce eye disorders. Silver utensils can help regulate bodily fire and aid digestion. Copper, earthenware, and glass containers are recommended for drinking water.

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  • Maintaining a clean and uncluttered cooking space and gradually minimizing electrical appliances in favor of hand-operated utensils is advisable. Kneading dough by hand transfers energy into the food, creating a deeper connection with nature. It is also encouraged to express gratitude to the universe and share meals with others rather than eating alone.


While it may not always be feasible to implement all the practices of an ancient kitchen in our modern culinary spaces, even small changes can have a significant impact on our health and well-being. Adhering strictly to every rule of traditional cooking may not be practical, but every initiative towards healthier choices will contribute positively to our overall health.