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Hidden Gems: Meet Prakash Jagadappa of Nourish Organic Cafe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Prakash Jagadappa. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Chef Prakash has been cooking and teaching Ayurvedic cuisine in restaurants, temples, health clinics and homes all over the world for over 30 years.

Prior to moving to Costa Mesa, CA two and a half years ago to co-found Nourish and to help bring conscious food to Orange County, Chef Prakash was managing and cooking at an Ayurvedic restaurant and also teaching at an Ayurvedic center in Santa Fe, NM for nearly 20 years.

While in Santa Fe, Prakash also regularly cooked food for students and staff at the Ayurvedic Institute. It is there that he met world-renowned Ayurvedic Doctor Vasant Lad and began to study Ayurvedic medicine, in addition to the cuisine.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Naturally, the science of Ayurveda is not too well known in America, and Ayurvedic cuisine is even more rare. While we were surprised by how many people were ready for us the minute we opened our doors, our food is quite different for most people. It is a process for new people to try our food and to begin to experience and recognize the subtle yet profound benefits of eating truly sattvic food for themselves. Our primary struggle has probably been with managing some people’s expectations, as our cuisine is new to most people and the Ayurvedic view of health and healthy food can be quite different from what most Americans have come to believe.

While our food certainly looks Indian style, we do not serve traditional Indian food. Customers expecting typical spicy, onion-, garlic- and tomato-filled Indian food might be disappointed. Our food is purposefully mild; mildly spiced, mildly salted, and mildly oiled, and our desserts tend to be mildly sweetened. Most of our food is also cooked without onions or garlic and we consciously limited the amount of nightshades we cook with — notably potatoes and tomatoes. We limit these things as we are not only cooking food that is delicious, but we are also striving to create rich, satisfying flavors and dishes that also promote health, digestion, balance and clarity.

On the other end of the spectrum, while we serve plant-based cuisine, customers looking for standard vegan fare can also be disappointed. We do not serve typical vegan junk food or fake meats. And we do not serve much of what, in America, has come to be considered typical vegan health food, like salads, juices, raw vegetables or smoothies. Ayurveda believes that true nourishment, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and long-term health and balance come from eating a diet based largely on warm, cooked, whole, unprocessed food. Such nourishment also comes not just from the food but from the intention and energy of the person making the food.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Nourish Organic Cafe?
About Nourish:
Nourish Organic is a plant-based, organic cafe in Costa Mesa, CA. It is the only Ayurvedic restaurant in Southern California and also the only restaurant in California organized as a Non-Profit. It is also one of just a handful of restaurants in Orange County that serves freshly-made, all-organic food.

Nourish was founded and is run by John and Chef Prakash, who are here to share and help spread the example of delicious, properly balanced, healthful and satisfying plant-based eating. The principles of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest and most sophisticated science of food, diet and health maintenance from India, and the literally thousands of years of experience India has in vegetarian eating serve as guides for a vegetarian diet that nourishes our whole selves.

Food and mindful dietary habits play an important role in helping create and maintain the proper physical, chemical, emotional and spiritual balance necessary for good health. Proper cooking makes food delicious and palatable, digestible, and assimilable. Vegetarian food cooked with healing herbs and energizing spices can eliminate many of the toxins that have entered the body through polluted food, water, air, or even noise.

The health of our bodies, minds, and consciousness is dependent on how we nourish ourselves; be it by the food on our plates or the food for our thoughts. The level of thoughtfulness and care that goes into Nourish food is unlike anything most people have ever experienced in their lives, and certainly at any other restaurant.

Nourish is dedicated to serving our local community by providing an oasis of delicious, nourishing, healing, plant-based food that is not available at any other restaurant. Nourish is now just over two years old.

About Chef Prakash:
Unlike at most restaurants, Chef Prakash personally cooks all of the food fresh each day at Nourish. Because of this, Nourish is able to change all of its specials dishes every day. Each day’s menu is carefully designed to create a properly balanced, satisfying plant-based meal with a variety of tastes, textures, colors and qualities, and to adjust for the season and what is freshly available. Having a different menu every day also better supports our regulars and nonprofit co-op members, many of whom eat with us almost every day.

Prakash believes that food truly is medicine and that Americans have forgotten that cooks, like our traditional grandmothers of long ago, have a caring responsibility to the people they feed. Since Nourish opened, he has never taken a day off when the restaurant was open and no one else has ever cooked the food. He believes that the most important ingredient in cooking is the love and respect he brings to the food he personally prepares and serves every day. He plays holy mantras and ragas 24 hours a day in the kitchen and restaurant.

As a trained chef and Ayurvedic practitioner, Prakash is truly a healer. He strives to cook, eat and live by Ayurvedic principles of health and well-being. He also offers Ayurvedic consultations and cooking classes. He has come here to serve our community and to share his gifts; and while he is here, Nourish customers are very lucky to have access to his wisdom and to his unique healing foods.

The Nourish Way:
Our food is organic or farm-direct spray-free whenever possible.

We change our dishes every single day and throughout the year to adjust for the season and for what is available that is fresh, organic.

We generally do not use frozen, canned or package food. We do not have freezers or microwaves in our kitchen. We do not use or serve ice.

Our food is made by hand in our kitchens directly from vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

We use only purified, mineralized, structured water in all of our cooking, drinks and vegetable washing.

We stone grind most of our own grains in house.

For wheat, we generally use ancient-, whole-grain Kamut and Spelt flours.

For cooking oil, we usually only use organic sunflower oil.

For salt, we use only Himalayan pink salt.

We consciously limit our use of onion, garlic and nightshade vegetables in our cooking.

For legumes, we cook regularly with organic moong lentils as they are prized in both Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for their health benefits and their easily digested protein.

We use natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, molasses, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, fruit purees and juices and organic raw Turbinado sugar.

All dressings and sauces are made fresh in our kitchens.

We play holy ragas 24 hours a day in our kitchen.

We roast and grind most of our fresh, organic spices in-house.

Our flatbread is yeast-free and cooked to order.

Our chai is made from scratch using whole organic spices, fresh ginger and black assam tea.

Our “to go” containers are compostable whenever possible.

Our food is cooked by flame in 18/10 stainless steel cookware.

Ayurvedic Cleanse:
Ayurveda considers the practice of cleansing, or regular purifying, a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. The junctures between the change of seasons in the Spring and Fall are particularly potent times for a cleanse, as our bodies undergo a physiological change to prepare for the new season.

Clearing accumulated waste and toxicity from the tissues and the mind encourages optimal health. These days, a periodic cleansing regimen is more vital to our health than ever before. Our bodies are being asked to process a literally endless barrage of harmful inputs such as environmental toxins, processed foods, unresolved emotions, psychological stress and excessive information, stimulated compromise our health. A periodic cleanse helps to clear these accumulations from the body.

A Kitchari Cleanse is based on just eating a mono-diet of Kitchari. A kitchari cleanse can also be a part of a full Ayurvedic cleanse, or Panchakarma, which involves eating Kitchari, oil massages, herbal steam therapy, herbal enemas and nasal clearing.

Kitchari, which consists of basmati rice, mung beans, vegetables, oil and spices, was specifically created by Ayurvedic sages to be the most balancing, digestible, nourishing, complete meal possible. Ayurveda believes that one could live well entirely on Kitchari, and apparently many do. It is served in Ayurvedic hospitals to basically all patients.

Because Kitchari is so simple, balancing and easily digested, a Kitchari diet helps slow the flood of harmful inputs and provides the body, mind and soul with an important opportunity to rest, recuperate, and repair themselves. A Kitchari cleanse can be undertaken at any time of year, whenever you feel the need to re-balance.

Nourish is the only restaurant in Southern California that serves Kitchari every day. We offer organic kitchari and support Kitchari Cleanses for many customers during the year.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
We define success simply on a day by day basis. If we offered our best, with the purest of intentions, it was a successful day.

As described in the Bhagavad Gita: We have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working. Never give way to laziness, either. Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord.

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