- Spices is a commodity which has entered India by crossing many hurdles like islands and places from Malabar coast.
- Malabar coast which was one of the important trade routes for Chinese, Greek, Roman traders for the popular silk and spice business.
- In ancient times there were spices which were as precious as stones like cloves, pepper, ginger, cinnamon.
- It was Vasco Da Gama in 1498 who identified the spice trade to Europe instead of Arabs.
- The three main role of spices from ages are medicine, seasoning and preservative.
- Since ancient times spices are being used in Ayurveda as an important ingredient in preventive and curative medicines.
Few homes remedies common is:
- Pepper as curing digestive ailments.
- Turmeric paste on burns and itchy skin.
- Ginger in case of treatment of liver issues, anemia, rheumatism.
- Cardamom in used to treat nausea, fever, headaches, eye diseases.
- Coriander to cure insomnia.
- Cloves aids to help disorders in spleen, kidney, and intestine.
It is usually said that a recipe is cooked well when all the spices are blended well in the gravy and food both. In the end spices should not have separate flavors or the taste remains uncooked. Neither of the spice should overpower each other or lower the taste of other ingredients used.
The method of grinding and how it is done is very vital in case of final aroma and taste of spices.
Health benefits of some common Indian Spices
- Cinnamon (dalchini)
These are long sticks like wooden pieces and very seldom its presence in food is noticed. But the function of the spice is highly effective and is more beneficial than the taste it offers.
Good for the heart: If we have 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day it aids in lowering LDL cholesterol.
Diabetes under control: Cinnamon may regulate blood sugar, making it beneficial for people with Type 2 Diabetes.
Prevents Cancer: Reduces the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
Relieves Arthritis: If we have half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast it might be helpful in the relief of arthritis pain.
Preservative: It can be added to food, to inhibit bacterial growth and food spoilage, and hence making it a natural food preservative.
- Heeng (asafoetida)
This spice has a unique pungent flavor and a strong taste. It can change the complete flavor of the dish.
It is simply wonderful for: in the treatment of respiratory disorders like whooping cough, asthma, and bronchitis.
Treats Impotency: It helps in the secretion of progesterone hormone and is also beneficial in the treatment of impotency.
Cures Flatulence: It helps in constipation and bloating issues.
Good for Women: It is useful in the treatment of several problems related to women such as sterility, unwanted abortion, premature labor, painful and excessive menstruation.
It is also coined as the “golden spice” or the “spice of richness”. Its addition gives color to a dish.
Improves digestion and appetite: It helps in the treatment of kidney, bladder, and liver disorders and aids circulation to the organs of digestion.
Linked to heart: It helps to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides among heart patients.
Skin treatments: Saffron is used in many cosmetics for enhancing and lightening skin tone.
During pregnancy: This spice is recommended during pregnancy since it has the property of raising the body temperature.
These are the dry flower buds of the tree.
Anti-properties: It possesses antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.
Natural anesthetic healing toothaches: They act as a natural anesthetic, and is used in dental procedures to remedy toothache, by placing them on the aching tooth. Clove oil is also be used by soaking in some cotton wool and placing the cotton wool on the aching tooth.
Acne: The oil of this spice contains a compound that helps in blood circulation and can stimulate the skin when applied directly especially in the case of acne patients.
Flatulence: They help in relieving flatulence and promote good digestion as well as metabolism. It also helps in case of relieving vomiting sensation.
Blood Clots: Clove has a eugenol compound that helps to prevent blood clots.
- Black pepper
Used as a taste enhancer and is edible.
Improves Digestion: It stimulates the taste buds and helps in increasing the secretion of hydrochloric acid from the stomach and hence will improve digestion of food once it reaches the stomach.
Reducing intestinal gas: Due to the stimulating effect of hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach there is a reduction in the intestinal gas issues
An Antioxidant: It acts as an antioxidant by preventing oxidative stress. It also reduces the damage caused by a saturated fat diet which is the main cause of oxidative stress.
Preventing infections: It prevents bacterial growth in the intestinal tract.
- Turmeric Haldi
This spice gives its deep yellow color to cuisines.
Fights Cancer: Rich in antioxidants and helps in the fight against cancer as well as prevent inflammation by its fighting compounds called curcuminoids.
Is helpful for Alzheimer’s disease and joint inflammation. It also helps in minimizing liver damages caused by consuming excess alcohol regularly or using painkillers. It also helps in treating arthritis and reduces reducing cholesterol levels.
- Cardamom (Elaichi)
Also known as Choti elaichi.
Acidity: Helps in relieving stomach acidity. It also acts as an aphrodisiac when its powder is sprinkled on coffee. It triggers appetite, aids in nausea, and prevents bad breath problems.
Improve digestion and reduce flatulence: The fragrant seeds of cardamom contain an oil, that helps in stimulating digestion and relieves flatulence.
Based on a 2000 calorie diet we require RDA as:
Nutrition Information of Spices per 1 tsp:
TIPS ON STORING SPICES:
- Spices should be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.
- It is always preferred to store spices in their whole form.
- They usually lose their freshness and flavor once they are ground, hence they must preferably be ground only a while before use.
Comparison between Spices and Condiments
- Spices are ingredients that are usually used to enhance or add flavor to any cuisine. They are often added during the cooking process. There are few herbs which are also spices like – Salt, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic powder.
- Condiments are items that are usually added after the cuisine making is finished. The likely condiments used are sauces, ketchup, mustard, relish, and tabasco. These are there to enhance the taste of cuisine based on the preference of taste by an individual.
- Spices such as chilly & salt have the slight aroma and are used as a choice by individuals for taste.
- Condiments such as coriander, ginger, mint, nutmeg, garlic, saffron, etc. have a lot of aromas and are used as flavoring material to enhance the quality of the food.