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Essential Spices of Indian Cooking

The history of spices is as old as the history of civilization. They have been an essential part of cooking from the very ancient times. And, India is known for its spices producing more than 60 varieties of spices alone in the world. Indians have a penchant for spicy food and curries which is reflected in their culinary tradition. The earliest references of trade were also related to spice trade between Asia, Europe and north east Africa.

Indian Cooking Spices are not only famous for the taste and flavor that they impart to any food but also to the enhanced texture and color. Apart from the culinary benefits, they also have many medicinal benefits. Amongst the variety of spices that India produces, some are pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, clove, etc. They can be used as paste, grounded, dry or roasted.

There are many health benefits of spices ranging from improving digestion and salivation, reducing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, treating sore throat, heart ailments and much more. Some of the popular spices and their health benefits are listed below.

Essential Spices of Indian Cooking

  • Turmeric- It is known for its healing properties. It adds a yellowish color to the curries and vegetables in various cuisines. Its excellent properties as stomachic, tonic, blood purifier, carminative and antiseptic make it widely used in medicinal oils, poultice, ointments and cosmetics.
  • Asafoetida- Used for flavoring curries, vegetables and pickles, it is known for its anti-biotic properties. It helps for a better digestion and also offers good remedy for stomach ache and whooping cough. It is available in two varieties, one is pale and white and other is dark or black variety.
  • Clove- As a flavoring agent, it can be used either in grounded or in whole form. Clove is used both in sweet and spicy dishes. It is highly valued as aromatic, carminative and stimulant. It’s antibiotic and antiseptic properties are utilized in dentistry, pharyngeal and oral treatments. It is also used in preparations of mouthwash, toothpastes, soaps, perfumes, etc.
  • Bay leaf- It is used as flavoring in meat, fish, pulses, etc. Both bay leaves and fruit contain stimulant, aromatic and narcotic properties. It also possesses excellent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which makes it beneficial as a cold remedy. Apart from its usage in food, it also has wider application in the traditional medicines.

Nachiket Joshi