“Spices” are familiar to us from our early childhood, through our foods. Usually, we use spices in our lives- particularly in the food as a flavoring agent. But, do you know that spices have vast applications besides flavoring. They find wide use in medicines, religious rituals, perfumes, etc. Well, am here to explain some. Spice is essentially a seed, fruit, root, bark or any other part of a plant that gives flavor, color or preservation to foods. Many spices have antimicrobial properties, thus it has extensive use in tropical countries for the preservation of food. This also explains why we use spices in meat as it is prone to spoiling very easily.
Additionally, since they are so low in calories, being ground up in small structures, there is no risk of any reactions. Actually, they contain proteins and natural components that are important for overall wellbeing.
Would you like to know the origin of the usage of spices?
It is believed that Egyptians used herbs for the mummification process. Their demand for exotic spices and herbs opened the new trade of spices. By 2000 BCE the spice trade developed in South Asia and the Middle East. We do get evidence of cinnamon, black pepper, and pepper. By 1700 BCE cloves were being used by Mesopotamians. Even the Ramayana’s- the epic of Hindu mythology shows the use of cloves. The most prominent composed records of spices originate from ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian societies. The Ebers Papyrus from Early Egyptians that dates from 1550 B.C.E. portrays somewhere in the range of eight hundred diverse therapeutic cures and various restorative methodologies.
Historians trust that nutmeg, which begins from the Banda Islands in Southeast Asia, was acquainted with Europe in the sixth century BCE. Indonesian shippers went around China, India, the Middle East, and the east bank of Africa. Bedouin dealers encouraged the courses through the Middle East and India. This brought about the Egyptian port city of Alexandria being the fundamental exchanging community for spices. In the tale of Genesis, Joseph was sold into subjugation by his siblings to zest dealers. In the scriptural lyric Song of Solomon, the male speaker thinks about his cherished to numerous types of flavors.
Now let’s check what the varieties of spices we are familiar with are:
Broadly we can categorize into two divisions;
- As per their prominent flavor:
Bitter: Bitter/severe flavors are accepted to have a procured taste.
Flavors that are viewed as severe are Bay leaves, fenugreek seeds, horseradish, mace, cloves, cumin seeds, and so on.
Earthy: These flavors have a gritty/earthy flavor, which originates from geosmin.
Cumin and saffron are spices that have a natural flavor.
Hot: Hot flavors are those that add a solid flavor to the sustenance and make it spicier.
Pepper, chilies, mustard seeds, garlic are for the most part hot flavors.
Sweet: These flavors are somewhat sweet in taste and can be utilized with harsh and unpleasant flavors. Allspice, caraway, fennel, cardamom, nutmeg, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, star anise seeds are altogether considered as sweet flavors
As per usage in Cuisine.
Indian flavors separated from being acclaimed for culinary perspectives have for quite some time been utilized to treat different medical problems that incorporate enhancing heart wellbeing (Source: Indian Spices for Healthy Heart – An Overview, distributed in Current Cardiology Reviews) The accompanying flavors are incorporated into an assortment of Indian dishes:
Cardamom, dark pepper, curry leaves, fenugreek, ginger, fennel, ajwain, tamarind, narrows leaves, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander seed, turmeric, clove, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, garam masala, curry powder, and cinnamon.
Middle Eastern Spices
Middle Eastern cooking styles incorporate these accompanying flavors:
Cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric, sumac, Baharat, caraway, anise seeds, allspice, cinnamon.
Dominant parts of Mediterranean dishes incorporate these regular flavors:
Cinnamon, oregano, narrows leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, nutmeg.
As per botanical parts
Seeds, for example, fennel, mustard, nutmeg, and dark pepper
Fruits, for example, Cayenne pepper
Arils, for example, mace (some portion of nu
Barks, for example, cinnamon and cassia
Bloom buds, for example, cloves
Stigmas, for example, saffron
Roots and rhizomes, for example, turmeric, ginger, and galingale
Resins, for example, asafoetida
Let start to know about certain spices regularly used by Indians in their life
Turmeric is another regular Indian zest. Developed as a rhizome, it tends to be utilized fresh (like ginger) or dried. It has been known to have a large group of medical advantages and is utilized in a ton of zest blends and curries. The kind of fresh turmeric is somewhat more grounded than dried, and it recolors effortlessly, so it ensures you are watchful with your garments and utensils while utilizing it. It has an impactful, gritty scent; I use it in little amounts to giving my curries delightful brilliant shading.
Turmeric rich in curcumin is best known for its calming properties. It helps in healthy skin, avoids malignant growth, facilitates monthly cycle, and detoxifies the body, as per an examination directed by Dr. Susan Hewlings, Department of Nutrition, Central Michigan University, US.
B.Cumin: Cumin is utilized regularly entire and in flavor, blends to add a trademark smoky note to Indian dishes. It tends to be distinguished by its unmistakable furrowed dark colored seeds and serious scent. It is here and there mistaken for fennel, caraway, and anise seeds, however, you can differentiate by seeing its shading (dark colored, rather than green fennel) and taste (smoky, instead of a more grounded licorice taste). Cumin is best utilized newly ground for the most exceptional flavor. One thing to remember while dry-broiling this zest is that it consumes truly effectively, and consumed cumin tastes unpleasant and will be truly discernible your dish. Toast this zest until your nose just gets a whiff of smoke and aroma (around 30 seconds max), and afterward given it a chance to cool before mixing into blends.
Cumin seeds are cancer prevention agent, calming, and carminative ordinarily. They enhance processing, increment sperm tally, manufacture solid bones, enhance visual perception, and forestall macular degeneration. Different advantages of cumin seeds incorporate their capacity to oversee pulse, bring down circulatory strain, go about as a co-factor in numerous enzymatic responses, increment red platelet check, and counteract different sorts of malignant growth.
C.Coriander: Coriander is likely the most pervasive of flavors in the Indian zest rack. It is one of the most established known flavors on the planet, and it’s described by its brilliant yellow shading and tenderly furrowed surface. The seeds are extremely sweet-smelling with citrus notes. Entire coriander is utilized as a base for some, flavor blends, and ground coriander is a standout amongst the most ordinarily utilized ground flavors in Indian food. Like cumin, it should be dry-broiled until the point that you can begin seeing a light brilliant dark color tinge to the seeds and they begin “moving” and flying in the skillet.
D.Black Pepper: black pepper is really local to India, essentially from the Western Ghats and Malabar area. It is a shockingly hard flavor to develop, as it relies upon numerous common cycles, similar to a set measure of precipitation, which is the reason costs for fresh pepper fluctuate a ton. Like most flavors, dark pepper should be toasted before mixing. For the best flavor, in any case, fresh dark pepper can likewise be ground specifically into dishes.
Dark pepper is a standout amongst the most widely recognized flavors on the planet pressed with numerous medical advantages. It has the capacity to diminish irritation and overabundance gas, advance gastrointestinal activity, and direct enzymatic responses. Dark pepper helps control pulse and circulatory strain and forestalls malignant growth because of its cancer prevention agent properties.
Some spices used in special preparations-Garam masala
Cardamom: There are two sorts of cardamom utilized in Indian cooking: green and dark. Green is the more typical assortment, utilized for everything from flavor blends to lassis to Indian pastries. The flavor is light and sweet, with a gentle eucalyptus note. Green cardamom can be mixed entire when making zest blends, like garam masala, anyway when utilizing them in desserts or pastries, you would pop the unit open and softly crush the fragrant dark seeds previously utilizing.
Dark cardamom, then again, is incredible and smoky and should be utilized with a great deal of alert. Typically just the seeds would be utilized, and if utilizing the entire unit, it’s best to haul it out before serving the dish, as it tends to be extremely zesty to chomp into. The medical advantages of cardamom incorporate its capacity to help assimilation, lessen fits, bring down circulatory strain, increment the digestion, and enhance dissemination and increment recurrence and volume of pee. It likewise gives basic nutrients like riboflavin, niacin, nutrient C, and minerals like iron, manganese, and potassium.
Clove: Clove is a typical flavor in Indian cooking and its anise notes are effectively unmistakable in numerous Indian arrangements. The solid, relatively restorative kind of clove originates from the concentration of basic oils. Cloves are actually blooms, and plenty of their oils are squeezed out before they are dried and utilized in cooking. Cloves can be utilized entire or mixed into spice blends. They should be utilized with an alert, in any case, as they can will, in general, overwhelm increasingly fragile flavors.
Cloves have antimicrobial properties, which help in battling oral maladies. They likewise are useful for boosting the immune framework, counteracting malignancy, and protecting bone wellbeing.
Cassia Bark or Cinnamon: Cassia bark is an intriguing zest. Cinnamon is not the same as cassia, and typically separated by being designated “genuine cinnamon.” Cassia is cheaper, and the lion’s share of ground cinnamon is really produced using cassia bark. Indians use cassia rather than genuine cinnamon in their cooking, as it has a milder flavor and can be utilized in bigger amounts. Cassia is used entirely or ground in zest blends. It is effortlessly recognizable by its harsh, tree husk like surface, and the most ideal approach to check for freshness is to rub a little on your fingers. On the off chance that you can smell a cinnamon scent, the bark is new.
Cinnamon is effective in diminishing aggravation, dispose of torment, treating diabetes, dispense with contaminations, lessen overabundance gas, and enhance heart wellbeing. It likewise helps in expanding subjective capacity, building solid bones, forestalling malignant growth, and enhancing the vision of the eyes and skin.! The National Institutes of Health has given a point by point data about the advantages of this zest and its wellbeing
SOME COSTLY SPICES
Nutmeg & Mace: Two of my most loved flavors, nutmeg, and mace are utilized a great deal in Indian cooking. Mace is the dull red external covering of the nutmeg. Crisp nutmeg is prepared by evacuating the thick outside and sliding off the mace. It has an intense external covering that should be split off before grinding. Whenever dried, mace turns brilliant orange and includes insights of warm flavor. When nutmeg is dried, it keeps going basically perpetually, so it is best to get it entirely and mesh as required into your dishes. I once in a while ever use ground nutmeg, as it is one of those flavors whose enhance debase quick once it is ground. Nutmeg shouldn’t be toasted before mixing into flavors, as toasting wrecks its sensitive flavor.
Nutmeg is an extraordinary wellspring of cancer prevention agents, nutrients, and minerals essential for human well-being. It can battle parasitic contaminations, function as a sexual enhancer, enhance processing, lessen overabundance gas, enhance hair and skin wellbeing. It likewise counteracts macular degeneration and decreases the odds of treating cancer. Mace can help the invulnerable framework, manufacture solid bones, lessen gloom, increment sexual drive, animate processing, and diminish overabundance gas and sleep deprivation. It additionally helps keep the skin sound, support hair wellbeing, and increment dissemination to all parts of the body.
Saffron or Kesar:
This spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, generally known as the “saffron crocus”. The vivid crimson stigmata and styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as flavouring and colouring agent in food. Saffron was long among the world’s most costly spices by weight. It is believed that saffron originated in Iran. However, Greece and Mesopotamia have also been suggested as the possible region of origin of this plant.
Health Benefits of Saffron
The benefits and medicinal properties of this highly priced spice make it a valuable culinary ingredient globally. The major health benefits are
- Protection against cancer: Crocin (responsible for the golden yellow color) has been found to trigger apoptosis [programmed cell death] in a number of different types of human cancer cells, leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, and soft tissue sarcoma. Researchers in Mexico who have been studying saffron extract have discovered that saffron and its active components display an ability to inhibit human malevolent cells.
- Enhance Vitality: In low libido saffron aids as a sexual stimulant and can be consumed in a dose of a pinch in a glass of milk at bedtime.
- Protection against Cough and cold: Kesar is a nourishing tonic and very effective to treat cold and fever; saffron mixed in milk and applied over the forehead quickly relieves cold.
- In Baldness: Saffron mixed in licorice and milk makes an effective topical application to induce hair growth in alopecia.
- Manufacturing Sector: Saffron extracts are used as a fragrance in perfumes and as a dye for cloth.
A spice commonly called star anise, star anise, star anise seed, Chinese star anise, or badiane that closely resembles anise in flavor is obtained from the star-shaped pericarps of the fruit of I. verum which are harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpaste, mouthwashes, and skin creams.
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of star anise are useful in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and dry cough. For this reason, some cough mixtures contain star anise extract.
Star anise, in its natural form, can help the body’s immune system fight off many strains of flu, as well as many other health challenges. Shikimic acid, a compound present in star anise is used for preparing the drug for curing influenza or the flu virus. Star anise can also be used for its sedating properties to ensure a good sleep.
The oil of star anise is useful in providing relief from rheumatism and lower back pain. Star anise can also be used as a natural breath freshener. Linalool, a compound present in star anise contains anti-oxidants properties.
OTHER Important Spices:
Mustard seeds: Mustard seeds are sometimes of yellow, brown, or black finds application conversely in Indian cooking. The distinct aroma of mustard seeds is discharged once they are crushed or roasted in oil. Their smoky, nutty flavor may be a staple in curries and curry powders, and mustard oil is generally used in the North of Bharat.
Mustard seeds are full of natural mixes and unstable oils that help your general wellbeing. They are likewise a magnificent source of B-complex nutrients, which are fundamental for the normal working of your organs.
The Bay leaf is an aromatic leaf commonly used in cooking. It can be used whole or powdered.
Sweet bay is an herb. The Greeks made it famous by crowning their heroes with wreaths made out of sweet bay leaves. In addition to decorative use, the leaves and oil are used to make medicine.
Sweet bay is used to treat cancer and gas; stimulate bile flow; and cause sweating.
Some people apply sweet bay to the scalp for dandruff. It is also put on the skin for pain, especially muscle and joint pain (rheumatism).
The fruit and fatty oils of the sweet bay are used on the skin to treat boils (furuncles) caused by infected hair follicles.
In food: sweet bay is used as a seasoning in cooking and in processed foods.
In manufacturing: The oil is used in cosmetics, soaps, and detergents.
Bay leaf and bay leaf oil is LIKELY SAFE for most people in food amounts. Ground bay leaf is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts, short-term. But, if you cook with whole bay leaf, be sure to remove it before eating the food. Taking the whole, intact leaf by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE. The leaf can’t be digested, so it remains intact while passing through the digestive system. This means it can become lodged in the throat or pierce the lining of the intestines.
Cuboid-shaped, yellow- to amber-colored fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, used both whole and powdered in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, dal, and spice mixes such as panch phoron and sambar powder. They are often roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavor.
This is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae, with leaves consisting of three small obovate to oblong leaflets. It is cultivated worldwide as a semiarid crop. Its seeds and leaves are common ingredients in dishes from South and Central Asia.
Fenugreek is used as a herb (dried or fresh leaves), spice (seeds), and vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens). Sotolon is the chemical responsible for the distinctive maple syrup smell of fenugreek
Benefits of Fenugreek:
Fenugreek is taken by mouth for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation, inflammation of the stomach (gastritis). Fenugreek is also used for diabetes, painful menstruation, menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, arthritis, poor thyroid function, and obesity. It is also used for conditions that affect heart health such as “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis) and for high blood levels of certain fats including cholesterol and triglycerides.
Fenugreek is used for kidney ailments, a vitamin deficiency disease called beriberi, mouth ulcers, boils, bronchitis, infection of the tissues beneath the surface of the skin (cellulitis), tuberculosis, chronic coughs, chapped lips, baldness, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and exercise performance.
For Male: Some men use fenugreek for hernia, erectile dysfunction (ED), male infertility, and other male problems. Both men and women use fenugreek to improve sexual interest.
For Woman: Breastfeeding ladies sometimes use fenugreek to promote milk flow.
In Panchakarma: Fenugreek is sometimes used as a poultice. That means it is wrapped in cloth, warmed, and applied directly to the skin to treat local pain and swelling (inflammation), muscle pain, pain and swelling of lymph nodes (lymphadenitis), pain in the toes (gout), wounds, leg ulcers, and eczema.
In foods: fenugreek is included as an ingredient in spice blends. It is also used as a flavoring agent in imitation maple syrup, foods, beverages, and tobacco.
In manufacturing: fenugreek extracts are used in soaps and cosmetics.
Fenugreek is LIKELY SAFE for people when taken by mouth in amounts normally found in foods. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts used for medicinal purposes (amounts larger than normally found in food) for up to 6 months. Side effects include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, gas, dizziness, headache, and a “maple syrup” odor in urine. Fenugreek can cause nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, facial swelling, and severe allergic reactions in hypersensitive people. Fenugreek might lower blood sugar.