Let's Begin Cooking:
spicesThey come in different colors, red, yellow, green, brown, black, and brighten up you food palette! They add taste, color and variety to the human existence and cause you to cringe in their absence. Just a pinch here or an extra there, can make a world of difference!
Enter, the great Indian spices! From the tiny rai, to the big fat, kaali meeri, from the exotic kesar to the pervading haldi, spices have always been help on a pedestal in India.
Merchants from England and around the world came over to explore the infinite benefits of spices here, and rejoiced at the sight of each of them. These, determine your standards of perfection and every cook worth his salt appreciates the contribution of spices towards the taste of his dishes.
Now, even the scientists are dipping into the kitchen cupboard and discovering to their pleasant surprise the significant health benefits of some of the most common Indian spices that contribute towards a tastier and a healthier life.
Some of the most infamous ones, and why without them you are incomplete -
- Cinnamon (dalchini)
DalchiniThese are long sticks, and seldom do you realize its presence in your food, unless of course you are a culinary expert. But this spice that does its job, covertly and effectively, is much more beneficial than the taste it offers.
Good for the heart: Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.
- Diabetes under control: Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it beneficial for people with Type 2 Diabetes.
- In a study that was published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
- In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
- Preservative: When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
HeengThis is the spice with a pungent flavor, the strong taste, and is so strong in itself that a pinch of it is enough to set the delicacy rocking! If taken in excess, it would teach you a lesson, and if taken too little, it won't work. That's asafetida for you!
The various health benefits and medicinal value of this culinary herb, used often as a flavoring agent, makes it invaluable in maintaining the overall health of a person.
- Wonderful for: It is useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders like whooping cough, asthma and bronchitis.
- Asafoetida is considered useful in the treatment of several problems concerning women such as sterility, unwanted abortion, pre-mature labor, unusually painful and excessive menstruation.
- Treats Impotency: It excites the secretion of progesterone hormone. It is also beneficial in the treatment of impotency.
- It is one of the best remedies available for flatulence.
SaffronKnown as the "golden spice" saffron is referred to as the "spice of richness". It is expensive and exotic and is often used on occasions, be it during any auspicious occasion. It's presence gives color to a dish and absence, makes the occasion incomplete. What makes the saffron so wanted? Besides, being used for its saffron color as a spice, it's commanding appearance ensures:
- Improvement of digestion and appetite: It is used for the treatment of kidney, bladder and liver disorders and improves circulation to the organs of digestion.
- Matters of the heart: Saffron is known to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides among heart patients.
- Skin treatments: Saffron is used in many cosmetic preparations for enhancing and lightening the skin tone.
- During pregnancy: The use of saffron during pregnancy is recommended as the herb possesses the property of raising the body temperature.
ClovesYou often find these in biryanis and pulaos, and more often than not, you find it a hindrance while chewing, and keep nit in one corner of the plate and discard them. Ever wondered why is this spice, which actually is not even consumed, in fact discarded, put in food in the first place? Well, the reason is not surprising, cloves which are the dried flower buds of the clove tree, are have been known to possess medicinal properties for centuries. They are known for their
- Anti-properties: Cloves are stimulating and have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic properties.
- Natural anesthetic healing toothaches: They are also a natural anesthetic, which is why they are used for dental procedures to remedy toothache, by placing them on the aching tooth. Clove oil can also be used by soaking in some cotton wool and then placing the cotton wool on the aching tooth.
- Acne: This oil contains compound that helps with blood circulation and can stimulate the skin when applied directly to it. Hence is often recommended especially to acne patients.
- Flatulence: They are well known for relieving flatulence and can actually help promote good digestion as well as metabolism. Cloves also help relieve vomiting and diarrhea to an extent.
The compound eugenol from cloves prevents blood clots.
Black PepperThis is the spice that you see daily on your dining table at home and in restaurant, and you simply sprinkle some of it over your pizzas pastas and relish the unique flavor it offers as you have simply used it as a taste enhancer, reassured in the fact that it is edible. But besides being edible, while you have been consuming this spice for taste, it has been:
- Improving your digestion by stimulating the taste buds to notify the stomach to increase its secretion of hydrochloric acid thereby improving the digestion of food once it reaches your stomach.
- Reducing intestinal gas: Black pepper provides a natural solution to the embarrassing problem of intestinal gas. The stimulation of hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach reduces the intestinal gas problems.
- An Antioxidant: Black pepper is an antioxidant such that it prevents and curtails oxidative stress. Black pepper also reduces the damage caused by a diet full of saturated fats which is found to be the main cause of oxidative stress.
- Preventing infections: Black pepper also prevents bacterial growth in the intestinal tract
TurmericThis spice gives curry powder and mustard their deep yellow colour. Rich in antioxidants, researchers have discovered that it may help in the fight against cancer as well as containing inflammation fighting compounds called curcuminoids.
Is helpful for: Studies show that curcuminoids may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and joint inflammation. Turmeric also helps in minimizing liver damages caused by taking excess alcohol regularly or using pain-killer. It helps relieve wound inflammation and in treating arthritis and reduces reducing cholesterol levels.
To know more about Health benefits of some common Indian Spices