Top Indian spices: Know all about your favourite flavours

  • Deepa Gupta | New Delhi

    May 12, 2017 | 02:26 PM
Indian spices

(Getty Images)

Spices not only add flavour and taste to the food, they are also nutritious and loaded with antioxidants.

Spices not only add flavour and taste to the food, they are also nutritious and loaded with antioxidants. The powerful ingredients with plenty of health benefits protect life from degenerative diseases. They contain properties that work against many microbes that are resistant to conventional medications. Learn more about the spices that are commonly found in Indian kitchens.

Cinnamon: Buy as whole quills as grounded version begins to fade in flavour with time. You may ground it fresh whenever required to maintain its flavour and healing properties. You may add a whole cinnamon quill in soups or stews, curry vegetables, vegetable rice or biryani and tea. Sprinkle its powdered form on fruits like apple or banana and in desserts or puddings to give them an exceptional taste. Having antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and even anti-carcinogenic properties, it may lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and control fasting blood sugar levels. Cinnamon can help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Its consumption can reduce both systemic and specific inflammation. Due to a number of characteristics, it can be a prime element to manage PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome). Be careful while buying then. Being expensive, it is often illegally replaced with Chinese cinnamon.

Ginger: ginger spice comes from the roots of ginger plant. Besides a flavouring agent, it contains chemicals that may treat various types of stomach problems like pain, ulcers, indigestion etc., nausea, menstrual pain, chest pain, backache, headache, migraine, cough, respiratory disorders, diabetes and cancer. Ginger extract is also applied to treat skin burns and insect bites. It is also used in manufacturing cosmetic products to give them its fragrance and medicinal qualities. Surprisingly, it is the most widely used dietary condiment in the world today. With its anti-blood-clotting ability, when it is eaten with a combination of garlic and onion, it may act as potent prop against heart attack and stroke. Ayurveda has also accepted the ability of ginger to boost the immune system and fight bacterial and fungal infections. This spice is truly a nature’s blessing to the mankind.

Cumin: Cumin is extensively used in culinary practices of the Indian subcontinent as a condiment or spice. It is generally considered as an overall health booster and aids in digestion, improves immunity, treats piles, diabetes, insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, anaemia, skin disorders and cancer. It is extremely good for digestion and improves appetite. Loaded with iron, it is very beneficial for lactating mothers. Add some cumin to your daily meals and enjoy even more benefits. You may use it as whole or in ground form. Add it to vegetables, curries, rice, salads, fruit chats and curd. The flavour is great!

Red chilli powder: It is not just fiery hot for the dishes, but has nutritional value too. In India, red chilli powder has a significant position in all culinary preparations. A powdered form of dried, ground red chillies produces different tempting seasonings with other ingredients. Containing sufficient amount of vitamin A, it helps maintain eyesight, takes care of bones, teeth, skin, internal membranes and reproductive system. It acts as an excellent antioxidant and strengthens the immune system, heals injuries and fight against damage caused by free radicals. With beta carotenoids present in red chilli powder, it may give protection from major heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It is a natural pain killer and enhances flow of fresh blood to the sight of infection or injury. It enhances metabolism rate and brings relief to nasal congestion and open lung airways. While buying it, read the label carefully. The salt content should be from zero to 30 percent. Generally it has a long shelf life if you store it in an air tight container and keep it away from heat and light. Store it in refrigerator if you want to use it after a year.

Turmeric: The bright yellow powder is used for colouring and flavouring food in a rich and unique way. It is used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes also. It is almost a no calorie spice having zero cholesterol used in almost all Indian curries. It is rich in dietary fibre, iron, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6. It has a good therapeutic value mainly because of its immunity boosting, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may play an important role in curbing a variety of chronic diseases such as cancer. It may provide protection against certain liver diseases and type 2 diabetes. Turmeric aids weight-loss. It is a safe treatment for RA. The spice is a good home-remedy to cure cough, cold, throat infection, sprains and swellings. In India, turmeric is considered sacred, auspicious and a symbol of purity, prosperity and fertility. So, it has an important place in Indian weddings and Godly rituals. Turmeric is safe when used optimally. Use it with caution if you are pregnant, suffering from gall bladder problems or undergoing a surgery.

These five spices are must to have in your kitchen for many experiments. Having heart-warming flavours, they add heat and taste to bland dishes. You should start cooking with them more often now. They are certainly your kitchen’s pride. Even knowing all wonders, don’t start guzzling them. They can be unsafe in large doses.Ok madam. Will do.

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