India is the global spice market producing tonnes of spice each year. India is also know as the Home of Spice. No Indian food is complete with the uses of spices in it. We Indians have a liking towards food which are really spiced up. As for me I also fall into that category.
Spices can be used to produce aroma, taste and some to compliment other spices. In ancient times India used to export large quantities of spices. Even British East India Company used to export spices in late 17th century. In hindi it can also be called masala.
Spices are of various types basic, aromatic and complimentary. Apart from using them in cooking,some spices also have medicinal use. Most of them have healing and therapeutic process. We will discuss about this as we go on.
Basic spices are included in almost every dish. They are as follows:-
Jeera (Cumin seeds)
Cumin is a kind of cooling spice. There is also another variety of jeera used in cooking called shahi jeera It is mainly used in mughlai dishes like biryani, korma etc. Cumin seeds are know as the “seeds of good digestion”. They are also known to help flush toxins out of the body and provide iron for energy and immune function.
Sarson (Black Mustard seeds)
Mustard is the most common ingredient in southindian cooking. They are a very good source of selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium. Mustard not only stimulates the appetite but also has digestive, laxative, antiseptic, and circulative stimulant properties. It is also known for its anti-inflammation properties.
Dhaniya (Coriander seeds)
Dhaniya is grinded and used as coriander powder. It contains iron, magnesium and dietary fiber. It was also used as a stimulant in ancient times.
Turmeric is used for medcinal purposes in cooking and it also gives the curry a gorgeous color. It is a healing spice for the body, turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is a strong antioxidant. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, and potassium.
Lal Mirch (Red chilli powder)
Red chilli has a pungent, hot aroma with a strong bite to it. They are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C. It also helps in weight loss as it generates heat in the body.
Ajwain (Carom seeds)
These seeds are good indigestion, cough, acidity.
Garam Masala ( Ground Mixed spices)
This consist of a mixture of whole cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom (black or green), whole mace, and black peppercorns. It is used in small quantities as it gives a good aroma.
Hing is used as a digestive aid. It is used in indian curries and is widely used in south indina cooking. The smell of this spice in the raw uncooked form is strong and pungent. But as soon it is added to ghee or oil,it gives a nice flavour.
These seeds are slightly bitter in taste. But good for digestion purposes.
Aromatic spices are used to give nice aroma to the dish. They are as follows:-
Clove is extensively used in Indian cooking. The flavor it imparts to food is strong and warm. Clove is mostly used to flavor spicy food where the whole clove is cooked in oil or ghee. Clove is also a part of garam masala in the ground form.
Cinnamon is used as a stick and as well as in the powdered form. Mostly used in Indian cooking,it is added to the oil or ghee,like this it gives a nice flavour to the dish.
Choti Elachi(Green Cardamom)
Cardamom pods holds tiny little black seeds inside. The seeds are taken out and used whole in cooking or in the from of powder. Its used in a LOT of Indian cooking whether it be vegetables, meat, rice or even desserts.
Badi Elachi(Black Cardamom)
This has got an intense flavor which emerges as they are cooked slowly and for a prolonged period and that is why it is used a lot for braising food, or flavoring the Indian curries, meats stews, lentils and pulao.
Complimentary spices are as follows:-
These are black in color and is used in naan,tandori roti and sometimes in fish or curries. It is also know as onion seeds.
These might look like Cumin Seeds, but when looked closely they are actually greener and wider. These are also dry roasted and used with tiny sugar candies to make mouth fresheners after meals. Fennel seeds are known for its digestive qualities.
These are just hand full of spices which I have listed here. There are other essential spices also like Kesar (Saffron), Nutmeg, Ginger, Sendha namak (Rock salt), Ghee (Clarified Butter), Chaat Masala and many more….