Beneficial Herbs & Spices
Use of herbs and spices in cooking serves two main purposes. They are mostly beneficial to health, in other words are extremely nutritious. At the same time they enhance or spice up the taste.
There are roughly a dozen different herbs and spices most house wives and restaurants use. Most herbs and spices needs grinding before adding to the recipes. However some may be used as whole.
Cumin Seeds (Jeera): This is a versatile spice. Cumin seeds – dried, whole and ground. Two types – Brown and Black. Cumin has good effect on digestion. It brings relief in abdominal area in cases of colic, diarrhea and dysmenorrohea. Stimulates appetite, cleans blood. Good for pulmonary diseases.
Coriander (Dhania): This is mostly used in ground form. Coriander goes well cumin, chill, mint and garlic. It enhances the taste when cooking fish, poultry and meat dishes. Complements chutney, plum jam and pickle vegetables. Coriander contains essential oils which helps stomach and intestinal disorders and has a sedative effect on nerves. It strengthen the stomach.
Turmeric (Haldi): Generally used in ground form (either paste or powdered). It is a powerful anti inflammatory agent. Cur-cumin can correct the genetic defect responsible for cystic fibrosis.
Cur-cumin’s anti oxidant actions enable it to protect the colon cells from radicals that can damage cellular DNA. It inhibits cancer cell growth and metastases. Turmeric is believed to lower rates of breast, prostrate, lung and colon cancer.
Garam Masala: Garam Masala consist of a group of spices ground and mix together. It is the secret ingredient to the popular Indian dishes. The spice not only adds delectable taste but it helps in digestive system. The spice helps in keeping the body temperature high which leads to increased metabolism. Indian Kitchens are incomplete without this spicy ingredient in their grocery list!
Cinnamon (Dalchini): Who doesn’t love a sprinkling of cinnamon on fresh apple pie or atop a chai latte? It’s just one of those spices that taste fantastic. But taste is not the only reason to love cinnamon. Here are some good health reasons to love this super spice.
This spice is enriched in some healthy surprises and can be used all through the year. However, true cinnamon is the product of the inner bark of the cinnamon tree, which is native to Sri Lanka and South India. In North America, cassia is often used interchangeably with cinnamon; it is also native to Southeast Asia especially China and Vietnam. The flavorier the more promising it is health wise.
The basic health benefits are:
1. True cinnamon promises to control blood sugar level.
2. The bark when eaten prevents the spread of cancer virus.
3. It acts as an odor neutralizer.
4. It is nutritious and is enriched with manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber too. By adding it to any recipe, you are increasing your minerals.
5. It is a very powerful antioxidant.
6. It controls gum and toothache.
7. It helps in reducing weight.
8. Manganese, which cinnamon is rich in, reduces mood swings and cramps during PMS and cinnamaldehyde, an active compound in cinnamon, can help balance hormones.
9. It is also very good for the heart.
It is used in curries and pilafs and in garam masala. It may be used to spice up chocolates, deserts, mulled wines, creams and syrups. In Mexico, cinnamon is added to tea and brewed.
Cloves (Loung):This particular spice not only fights tooth ache or bad breathe, it helps in fighting respiratory illness. Cloves are also known to improve sexual health along with improving the digestive issues in the human body. Clove oil is also helpful in fighting tooth decay.
Brown & Green Cardamom Pods (Large & Small Elachi):Cardamoms are known for their high chemical compounds. They are not only mouth fresheners, but are well-known for their anti-oxidant properties. The spice helps in controlling blood pressure and heart rate, along with producing red blood cells. Brown cardamom pods are generally used in cooking Biriyani and other rich desserts or sweetmeats.
Five Whole Spices (Panchphoran):Panch denotes five and phoran denotes spices that add unique flavour in the dishes mainly prepared by the Bengali, Oriya and Bihari community. The mixture of spices stimulates digestion with discharge of pancreatic enzymes, Enhances appetite and heals chronic cols, asthma, migraine and palpitations.
Fennel Seeds (Mouri): Usually used in dry ground or paste form. Fennel Seeds are also taken as mouth fresheners post meals in Indian households. This particular spice is good anti-oxidants that help in strengthening the body from getting affected diseases common with growing age. Great for cholesterol absorption and fighting heart diseases.
Mustard Seeds (Sorse): Used in dry ground and paste for fish curry in every Bengali kitchen. Mustard seeds are used with oil and curry leaves to add a zing to the flavor. The spice benefits the human body from gastrointestinal cancer, asthma problems and also helps in reducing weight for obese people.
Pepper (Marich):It not only adds as a garnishing spice on omelets and stew, the spice helps in facilitating digestion. Helps in promotion for sweating which removes harmful toxins from the entire body. Pepper helps in breaking the fat cells leading to weight loss and healthy life.
Chilli:Fruit, fresh and dried, crushed or ground. Chilli fruits are Round, pointed, green, yellow or red.
Used for eating and seasoning. They contain Capsaicin, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Chilli promotes blood circulation, has anti bacterial properties. If consumed in high doses induces perspiration.
Star Anise: With a licorice flavor, Star anise has multiple health benefits. The spice is dark brown in color and looks typical like a flower with a sweet taste. It helps in digestion with enhancing female reproductive organs. It helps new lactating mothers with better breast-milk flow.
Jaiphal: Jaiphal is commonly known as Nutmeg in English is also used in powder form in various gravies and fried items. Considered as one of the best sleep inducing agent, Jaiphal also helps in increasing sexual drive along with fighting skin problems like acne and wrinkles.
Joitri: Joitri or Javitri in Hindi and Mace in English is extremely good for digestive issues. The oil extracted from Joitri helps in curing rheumatism, arthriris and other joint pains. This spice also checks blood pressure while increasing blood circulation.
Saffron (Kesar): Known to have chemical components that fight diseases and maintains overall well being of the human body, Saffron emits an unique flavor along with its typical rich color to the food. It is also used as a therapeutic spice in food for detoxification and body healing methods.
Bay Leaf: Generally termed as ‘Tejpatta’, Bay Leaf is widely used in Indian curries and also in making perfumes. This particular ingredient helps in controlling diabetes type 2 while reducing blood glucose, triglyceride and also protects the body from cardiovascular diseases. Many ancient Ayurvedic experts prescribe to have powdered bay leaves for a month to fight sugar levels in body.
Tamarind (Tetul): It is categorized as fruit. Has a pungent sweet taste. Usually used in pickles and chutney. Tamarind has laxative effect, rich in vitamin c, is available in dried or paste form. The sour and fruity taste of tamarind goes well with sharp chilli. It is sometime used similarly to lemon juice or vinegar ans is added to meat and fish dishes as well as to vegetable dishes and stew. Since tamarind is rich in pectin. It is used to thicken chutney, jelly and marmalade.
Ginger (Adrak): Root fresh, dried, ground or pickled. Ginger tea or ginger baths are prescribed as alternative medicine for rheumatism, muscle pain or colds. Ginger stimulates the appetite. Promotes digestion and relieves stomach cramps.
Garlic (Rasun): Bulb used as whole or paste. The Romans regarded garlic as an aphrodisiac. Regular use of garlic improves poor blood circulation as garlic has sulfur compound. Roasted in oil or when cooked it looses it’s piquancy.
Onion (Peyaj):There is no end to the advantages of having onions in its raw form or cooked versions. The commonly consumed vegetable maintains body heat, helps in digestion, reduces inflammation and the juice of the wonderful item helps in shiny and voluminous hair. Onions also fights Osteoperosis if taken on a regular basis.
Coriander Leaves:A must for garnishing on Indian dishes, Coriander Leaves is such a treat for the nose as well as the skin diseases. This leafy ingredient helps in controlling cholesterol levels, fighting conjunctivitis and balancing blood sugar disorders. It is also used in dried and powdered form.
Curry Leaves:Typical of the Southern cuisine in India, Curry Leaves has innumerable medicinal benefits. The leaves have anti-oxidant properties and the capacity to control stomach problems, indigestion and peptic ulcers. Curry Leaves are also known in protecting the liver.
Cellery: If you are trying to lose some extra weight then consuming one large stalk may solve your problem. Celery helps in fighting joint pains, asthma and reducing lung infections. This magical ingredient is a great snack for the evening which also induces better sleeping habits.
Basil Leaves (Tulsi):The holy leaf of the Indian Hindu household, the leaves have great health benefits. Mixed with lime and sugar in a glass of water, the basil leaves makes an outstanding summer drink for the thirsty. It has anti-biotic and anti-bacterial properties that fights fevers and beats stress while regulating blood circulation.