Have you ever wondered why Indian food is so different from other cuisines? For that matter, why is each cuisine from different parts of the world so unique and distinctive? Each area, even within India, has a different environment, food produce, staples, and culture. And these have a marked effect on the cuisine as well.
Indian food, which follows many ayurvedic principles, uses fresh produce which is easily available locally and complements it with spices to ensure that this food nourishes the body and mind. Authentic Indian food works as a fuel for the body when prepared and consumed consciously. Indian food uses spices generously to not just add flavour but to ensure good health.
Here’s a look at the most common spices used in every Indian kitchen and their benefits.
Red Chilli Powder (Mirchi)
This powerful spice packs in tonnes of flavour and helps protect the heart, reduce inflammation, increase immunity and aids metabolism. Capsaicin, the key component of red chillies is responsible for its health benefits and strong taste.
Apart from adding beautiful colour to our food, turmeric helps fight inflammation, improve digestion and immunity, lower cholesterol levels, and is full of antioxidants. Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, lends these powers to turmeric.
Added to food as a whole spice or a powder, coriander helps maintain blood sugar levels, treat osteoporosis, relieve abdominal pain, and heal skin infections.
Used as seeds or a powder, cumin is a part of most tadkas as it promotes digestion, helps treat anaemia, prevent diabetes and has many other healing properties.
Along with elevating the taste of food, cardamom is beneficial to the heart, gastrointestinal and metabolic health. It has antimicrobial properties that help us fight infections.
Used in both savoury and sweet dishes, cinnamon helps maintain blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. It relieves inflammation, protects the heart, and preserves brain function.
Black Pepper (Kali Mirch)
Black pepper helps with digestion, increases nutrient absorption, aids in weight loss, and protects against heart disease. It is also used as a home-remedy for the common cold and cough.
While these spices have extraordinary power to heal and protect us, it is necessary to use them in their purest form to avail of these benefits. A lot of the spices available in the market are spent i.e. they have their natural spice oils extracted for other purposes. To ensure that you get all the nutritional benefits of these spices, pick masalas that are certified and promise to have retained all the natural oils.
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