A journey through the pantry of Indian culinary experts, one spice at a time...
“All those spices and herbs in your spice rack can do more than provide calorie-free, natural flavorings to enhance and make food delicious. They're also an incredible source of antioxidants and help rev up your metabolism and improve your health at the same time.”
–Suzanne Somers, Actress.
Spices are fascinating condiments. They wrap within them a sea of flavour that adds magic to almost every culinary preparation and lifts it from the ordinary to extraordinary. They contain NO calories and are amaxingly flavourful - can you think of any other food group that can boast of this! Rich in aromatic compounds that are chock-a-bloc with medicinal properties, every spice has its unique and plentiful benefits. Throughout time, with the discovery of new spices, people learned the real value of these magic little ingredients, not just for gastronomy, but also for curing different types of conditions. In modern times, more and more studies are supporting ancient beliefs, which is why we decided to let you in on some spice secrets, and get acquainted on how to make the most from these magic powders. We will talk about one or more spices at a time in detail as there is a lot to cover, so let’s see what the best spices are, and what you can use them for, health-wise:
For most of us, spices are just colourful little bags we buy because the recipe says we have to. But for people who inhabited the earth long before we did, spices were much more than just something they added to food in order to improve its taste. Spices are considered to be nature’s very own pharmacy and is near synonymous with Indian cuisine. So when you have Indian food, you are actually taking in loads of healthy goodness as well!. Think Indian food and the aroma of exotic spices (or 'Masala' as called in Hindi) wafts in almost imperceptibly. A spoonful of a nicely spiced Indian dish and subtle flavours explode deliciously in the mouth leaving the eater someplace inside the gourmet paradise. Indian cuisine uses spices both whole as well as powdered. The powdered spices are often blended in ‘top family secret’ proportions to create masala blends. India has a plethora of spices that are ground, powdered, dried, soaked or used as they are, to create some of the most special and popular delicacies in the country. Did you know that pepper was once worth its weight in gold? Or that nutmeg was responsible for starting a riot and numerous financial loses?
If you’re concerned about the added fat and calories in a restaurant fare, incorporate these spices into everyday dishes you make at home. Some Indian spices make flavorful teas you can sip for what ails you. Just a quick advisory note here that, though spices have been known for ages to complement other treatments, they should never be used in place of medical care for serious conditions. Now that we have covered that, let's move on to our first spice - the humble Turmeric.
Turmeric, known as 'Haldi' in India, is one of the most known Indian spices, and also one of the most used in ancient India, especially for curing wounds, cuts and scars. Most people know it as a dried powdered spice, but it is actually a root similar to ginger. It can be had in its raw form as well, and many cusines use raw ginger to cook with or use it for medicinal purposes.
Studies have shown that turmeric helps prevent Alzheimer's disease, joint inflammation, improve arthritis, dental pains, and can also keep your blood sugar levels low. It is also antioxidant-rich and a great immunity booster. It is known to kill cancer cells, protects heart from arterial deposits and also helps in minimising liver damages caused by regular use of pain-killers or alcohol damage. It also cures cough and colds and if these benefits aren’t enough for you, it is also a powerful antiseptic. In Indian cuisine, turmeric is used in cooking almost dish on the menu. Turmeric has an intense flavor, so you should not exaggerate when using it. Add it in various meals, such as chicken, duck or turkey dishes, or in rice, for a beautiful color. A lot of people also use it as a dressing, alongside olive oil, for vegetable salads.
A warm glass of milk mixed with turmeric helps in cold and cough. If you want to improvise on this centuries old concoction, try the modern version 'Turmeric Latte' that is taking the health world by storm. We have provided a recipe for you below.
Turmeric Latte - The Healing Sip
- 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh turmeric root, grated (or use approximately 2 teaspoons turmeric paste – see note below)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root (or 1 teaspoon ground)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- Raw honey or sweetener of choice to taste
- Pinch of black pepper (optional)
Note: To make the turmeric paste, combine 2 parts turmeric powder with 1 part boiling water. Mix and store any extra in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Gently warm the almond or coconut milk in a small saucepan. Do not boil. Add turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. Next, combine the coconut oil with the mixture and gently heat together until melted. Use a wire whisk or immersion blender to create a foam. Continue to stir until frothy and heated through.
Stir in honey or sweetener of choice to taste. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Sip, savor & enjoy.
Alternatively, to create an extra frothy latte, pour the contents into a high-speed blender in place of a wire whisk or immersion blender.
When buying turmeric we advise you be selective and buy from reputed stores, as it is very easy to be adultrated with cheaper powdered spices using yellow food colour.
Looking for innovative ways to incorporate flavour into your vegetables without compromising the health benefits?
Why not start simple and try your hands on a famous Indian style stir-fry vegetable side-dish bursting with flavour? Jump to our video below for the recipe...
Video: Mixed Vegetables Indian style made with Nimkish Ready to Cook Spice Mix
Want to get even more creative in the kitchen?
Try your hands on many other healthy Indian dishes using our ready-to-cook spice mixes. We will be back soon with more spice knowledge and amazingly healthy recipes that are a breeze to cook up!
Till then - happy cooking!