Spices are synonymous with India. People who otherwise may not know much about India or Indian food, still easily associate it with spices. And yes, there is definitely a wide usage of spices in the Indian kitchen. They add flavor, aroma and colour to our food. They also have medicinal properties, so consuming them in right amount is good for health.
There are a number of spices that an Indian kitchen stores in its drawers and shelves. Let’s just quickly go over them one by one. This will be part one on the Indian spices posts. I will do more in future, and hopefully on individual spices and there benefits too.
Along with salt, turmeric, or haldi, is the most common ingredient in most of our vegetable recipes. It gives the yellow colour to curry. Turmeric also has medicinal properties; turmeric milk helps in cold and can also take away body pain. Turmeric water can work as immunity booster and pain reliever. The usage of this spice is not restricted to just kitchen. It goes beyond and is used as a dye in textile industry as well. It is used in cosmetics too.
There is the small green cardamom and then there is the bigger black one. The green cardamom is used in a variety of recipes, ranging from curries to sweets. When added, it gives a distinct flavor to tea and lassi too. It is also a good breath freshner. Black cardamom, is used to add flavor to gravies and pulao.
Cumin is used in both its whole and powder form. The whole form is used as the first ingredient in various tadkas and veg recipes. Jeera rice is a hugely popular rice dish. In its raw powdered form, it is added to curries for taste. In its roasted powdered form, it is sprinkled over dishes and has another flavor. Remember Dahi Vadas?
When a dash of hing is added to dal and curries, it transforms the simple dish into more aromatic and flavourful. The spice is good for digestion.
Cinnamon is used in its both small pieces form as well as powdered form. It adds a sweet aroma to a dish. The small sticks are used as base ingredients in making pulao. Drinking cinnamon water has a lot of health benefits too.
It is again used in both whole and powdered form. In its whole form, it serves as the base ingredient for tadka. In its powdered form, it is often combined with cumin powder and added to vegetable recipes.
Small yellow and black seeds. The black ones are usually called rai. They are added to hot oil and as they pop, they release their flavor. In grounded form, they are used in curries like fish curries. Mustard sauce has a distinct strong taste. Mustard oil is widely used in many parts of India.
They add flavor to food. They are used for coating chicken with crushed pepper, sprinkling over fruits.