While scientists across the world are busy discovering the ability of Indian spices to cure a variety of diseases from Cancer to Alzheimer’s, Indians have used the spices stocked in their cupboards to cure a variety of ailments with home remedies for ages—- from nausea to insomnia to chills & fever, there is a spice to cure it all!
So, if you are new to Indian cooking or simply want to make sure that your spice stock adds flavour as well as a dose of ‘good health’ to your everyday meals, here are 5 Indian spices that are a must-have in any well-stocked kitchen.
Call it ironic, but the spicy-sweet cinnamon that chef’s worldwide love to use in desserts for some extra depth of flavour, actually helps to control blood-sugar fluctuations! Scientists theorize that cinnamon mimics the action of insulin in the body, allowing excess sugar to move out of the blood and in to cells. It may also prevent and treat cholesterol problems, heart diseases, hypertension, cancer, PCOS, ulcers, vaginal yeast infections, and promote healing of wounds and cuts.
How to use cinnamon? Ground cinnamon usually begins to fade in flavour after a few months, no matter how well stored. It’s best to use whole cinnamon sticks while frying masalas for a dish, or grind a small quantity of cinnamon and sprinkle on vegetable curries, meat dishes and desserts. Do store in an airtight container and use quickly.
Scientists believe this may actually be the reason for low incidences of chronic illnesses founds among people of India when compared to most Western countries.
We all know that turmeric helps reduce inflammation and comes with a wide range of preventive and curative properties, thanks to an active ingredient called ‘curcumin’.
This is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that protects and promotes the health of every organ in the body. It may also help prevent and treat akin allergies, asthma, cancer, colitis, depression, type 2 diabetes, eye infections, gum diseases, heart diseases and much more.
How to use turmeric? It is almost always sold in the ground form since it’s very hard to grind at home. Sprinkle a teaspoon of turmeric into any dish while frying the masalas, and make sure you use up a pack within a couple of months, or the aromatic flavours are lost.
A grounded powder made from the sweet nutty seeds of the coriander plant, it contains two volatile oils, namely linalool and geranyl acetate, both of which are powerful antioxidants. These are the secret behind coriander’s curative cell-protecting powers and also soothe digestive ailments.
In fact, coriander seeds bring quick relief from diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, IBS and abdominal discomfort. It may also prevent insomnia, eczema, high BP, liver diseases, ulcers, colon cancer and much more.
How to use coriander? You can buy coriander seeds and grind them into a scented powder in your mixer, or buy the ground variety sold in small packs. Add a teaspoon to all cooked dishes and roasts, even in the stuffing you make for paranthas.
4. Black Pepper
Not many people might associate black pepper with Indian cooking, but peppercorns are used very commonly in aromatic cooking. However, pepper adds more than just flavour to your food – it also aids in digestions, upset stomach, congestion and flu, and also stops bleeding when applied directly to a cut topically.
What is amazing is that pepper helps the body generate heat, and that boots the metabolism as well as the immunity by promoting sweating.
How to use pepper? For most Indian cooking, black peppercorns are fried or roasted with the masalas. The idea is for the peppercorn to release aromatic, curative oils into the food. You may alternatively also use a pepper mill to sprinkle freshly ground pepper into a dish while cooking, or even after preparation.
It is extremely beneficial for those with motion sickness and chronic stomach related ailments. Ginger also helps prevent or ease symptoms of asthma, arthritis, heart attack, indigestion and heartburn, migraine, cancer, stroke, elevated triglycerides and more.
How to use ginger? Fresh gingerroot is more potent than the dried, ground spice. Store fresh peeled ginger in paper bags in the fridge and grate a piece to the base masalas for both dry dishes and gravy dishes.