Spices - The Treasure Trove of Indian Cooking
Eclectic, delish and distinctive, Indian cuisine is among the most aspirational cuisines in the world. The melange of our food is fascinating with every home having its own treasure trove of recipes, leave alone the specialities of every region of the country. Indian cooking is an expression of love, of nurturing, in most Indian homes. We live and breathe food. Meals are a precious family time for us, and when we not cooking or eating, we are planning our next meal.
We are a diverse nation. Every state, region, city and home in India is unique in its own cuisine. The common thread that binds together all the cuisines of India is the use of a vast variety of spices to add flavour and aroma to the food.
We 'spice up' our food, sweets, drinks and even tea with the enticing and exquisite flavour of spices. Spices play a very central role in Indian cooking.
Frequently called the Spice Bowl of the world, India plays a significant role in the global spices market. It produces the most extensive variety of spices in the world.
Let's take a look as to how spices enhance Indian cooking:
Spices bring about a delectable fusion and taste to the Indian food
Indian cuisine is known across the world for its mouth-watering taste, vivid colours and flavourful aroma. Spices go a long way in adding and enhancing all these attributes to Indian cuisine. Each spice brings its own unique characteristic flavours to the food. Which essence of the spice gets enhanced depends solely on the method of cooking being used, like is it being cooked in oil or ghee; or being grounded or roasted.
Some of the favourite and everyday used spices are turmeric, ginger, red chillies, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, mustard, coriander seeds, fennel, asafoetida etc. Indian cooking is enhanced further with the use of blended spices (coming together of multiple spices and their flavours in a grounded form), garam masala is the frontrunner followed by chaat masala, curry masala and many more.
Spices are a boon for our health and have great medicinal value
Spices have been used as medicines in India since ancient times. Research says that now modern medicine is also recognising that fact. Indian spices are extremely rich in bioactive compounds and antioxidants, which are essential for promoting good health. Healing spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and many more are among the most commonly used ingredients in Indian cooking. That is like having medicines in our spice rack. Some of the health benefits of spices in Indian cooking are:
- Cinnamon helps in lowering high cholesterol levels, healing wounds and regulates blood sugar
- Cumin boosts digestion, treats anaemia and is good for the skin
- Ginger helps in reducing nausea, pain and inflammation
- Cardamom helps lower blood pressure, aids in digestion and may have cancer-fighting compounds
- Turmeric contains curcumin which is a powerful antioxidant and helps manage many diseases like cancer, depression, arthritis to name a few
- Fenugreek, carom seeds help manage bloating, stomach pain, cramps and IBS
- Fennel seeds are a great appetiser and digestive
The above are just a few examples. There are many more benefits of many more spices. These go a long way in improving our immunity and therefore our health and fitness levels.
Spices are preservative in nature
Some of the spices like cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric and garlic have typically protective attributes and have been used for ages in Indian medicines as preservatives. Used along with other preservatives like oil, they help keep the food from going bad by preventing the growth of fungus and bacteria. They are ideal for making pickles, chutneys and jams.
To sum it up, spices are intrinsic to Indian cooking and go a long way in making our food a sublime experience. Indian chefs have perfected the delicate and the complex art of blending spices and honed it to perfection.
Let your gourmet journey of Indian cuisine take you to mouth-watering heights.