Ten must have spices in your kitchen
Ever cooked biryani without its aroma-spilling spices? Did you try eating halwa without a dash of elachi? Not even in the wildest of dreams would we find ourselves eating food sans spices and condiments. In India, they are a part and parcel of our lives. These spices did not evolve overnight but have been in extensive usage since the day ancient Ayurveda came into existence. Major spices were derived straight from the plant and used in medicinal preparations that were aimed to treat various ailments of the body.
Let’s take a sneak peak at the top ten spices you must have in your kitchen. If they are not found in your cabinet, time to visit the grocery store.
1. Ginger (Adrak) – Tea lovers just cannot survive without ginger tea. An important element in Indian food, ginger is an excellent medicine for lung-related disorders. Cold, cough, stuffy nose, headaches and other respiratory diseases can be effectively healed with ginger decoction.
2. Turmeric (Haldi) – A popular condiment that imparts colour to food isn’t just a colouring agent. Haldi or turmeric is a popular antiseptic agent and plays a key role in preserving food for longer durations. A pinch of turmeric to the food helps in smoother body metabolism and also fights unwanted fat globules from depositing in the body.
3. Cardamom (Elachi) – All Indian desserts are incomplete without elachi pods. Literature calls them ‘Grains of Paradise’ due to their sheer flavour enhancing property. Purifying blood, relieving gas and stomach cramps, improving digestion and treating sexual dysfunctions are all the responsibilities of cardamom.
4. Cloves (Lavang) – Though a little strong on the tongue, there’s no better medicine for the throat than a couple of cloves. All disorders related to the throat and sinuses can be effectively treated with these black floral pods. A strong flavour enhancer, the clove is extremely beneficial for sore and bleeding gums. This is the sole reason why clove oil is an important ingredient in toothpastes.
5. Asafoetida (Hing) – An integral part of the Indian tadka, asafoetida aids digestion like no other spice or condiment. Its food preservation property makes it an important component for pickles and chutneys in Indian homes. Babies usually suffer from colic cramps and a bloated tummy. Ayurveda suggests that a mix of hing in little warm water can be massaged on their tummies to relieve them from the pain.
6. Cinnamon (Dalchin) – A sweet spice, cinnamon must be a part of every diabetic’s diet because of its blood sugar controlling properties. It works better than many medications especially in those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon leaf oil is an excellent remedy for toe nail fungus where the nail is eaten up by fungi.
7. Aniseed (Saunf) – Is there any spice on the planet that freshens your breath within seconds of consuming it? Saunf is extremely beneficial in killing mouth bacteria, aiding digestion and preventing nausea in pregnant women. Those who are struggling with weight loss can solely depend on aniseeds. Consuming saunf regularly suppresses appetite and keeps you full for longer durations thus making you consume less food.
8. Caraway (Jeera) – The cousin of aniseed, caraway is a very popular spice in Indian households. Its distinct flavour and aroma make every dish special and appetising. Jeera contains the highest iron content among all spices and works best for those suffering from anaemia. Consuming warm jeera water on an empty stomach cures heartburn and indigestion too.
9. Black pepper (Kali mirch) – A recent study revealed that black pepper seeds can prevent breast cancer in women. Pepper seeds are rich in antioxidants and they flush free radicals from the body thus reducing the chances of cancers. These black seeds also scrape off cholesterol from the blood vessels and keep the circulatory system clean and allow smooth blood flow.
10. Chilli flakes (Lal mirch) – South Indians have a great affinity towards chilli flakes. Pickles especially are studded with chilli powder because it is a great preservative. Chillies contain a special enzyme called capsaicin which improves insulin regulation, fights cancers, boosts immunity and burns fat deposits near the belly area. On the flip side, too many chillies can damage stomach walls and lead to ulcers.