Visit any Indian kitchen and you will see a host of spices on the shelf. Depending on the part of the country, the selection of spices changes. While some spices such as turmeric and red chili powder remain constant, different parts of India are partial to different spices based on the local produce, weather and dietary requirements. Some cuisines feature certain spices predominantly such as saffron in Kashmiri dishes, mustard in Bengali cuisine and so on. There are also spices which aren’t used frequently, but provide a special, exotic and unique taste whenever they are used while cooking.
Take a look at some unique spices from the Indian kitchen shelves.
Predominantly used in coastal areas of India, Kokum is a souring spice used in multiple ways. Kokum is a fruit called Garcinia Indica belonging to the mangosteen family. It is halved and used in a dried form. Kokum imparts a deep pink to purple colour when added to a dish. It can effectively replace tamarind in different culinary preparation. Along with adding it to curries, dal and fish, kokum is also consumed in form of a sherbet and sol kadhi due to its many health benefits that help with digestive issues.
Kokum has been traditionally used to manage rheumatic pains, bowel complaints, haemorrhoids, ulcers, inflammations, sores, dermatitis, and dysentery. It is readily available as spice and concentrate in the market.
As one of the most expensive spices in the world, saffron is used in small qualities in many savoury and sweet preparations to add a royal touch. It imparts a distinctive aroma and a subtle taste. In India, saffron is grown in Kashmir, it is harvested from the flower of Crocus sativus, which is also known as the "saffron crocus." It is soaked in water or milk before it is added to dishes. In terms of taste, saffron has a slightly sweet taste with earthen notes. It adapts to the dish, adding its own distinguishable touch to it. Along with desserts such as kheer and kulfi, saffron is also added to biryanis and curries.
Saffron’s health benefits include having a positive effect as an antidepressant, anticonvulsant, and analgesic. It has therapeutic effects on different parts of our body namely cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, genital-urinary and central nervous system.
Methi (fenugreek) is one versatile plant. It is used in multiple forms in Indian cooking. Dried methi leaves, Kasuri methi are used as a spice in a lot of North Indian dishes. These leaves impart a slightly bitter yet distinctive taste and an irresistible aroma to every dish. Often sprinkled right before the dish is taken off flame, adding kasuri methi transforms every dish to a restaurant-like culinary creation.
Fenugreek is highly recommended to people with diabetes. Its seeds contain fiber and other chemicals that may slow digestion and the body’s absorption of carbohydrates and sugar. It stimulates appetite and acts as a laxative. Try Tata Sampann Kasuri Methi brings to you highest quality Kasuri Methi, sourced from Nagaur in Rajasthan. It has the correct amount of moisture, no twigs and is greener than other variants.
While there are many more spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, coriander, etc. these three spices add a different level of subtlety and sophistication to every dish. It is extremely important to use pure spices with their natural oils intact to get culinary and health benefits.
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