Unsung heroes of the spice rack
Dr. Shweta U. Shah

Dr. Shweta U. Shah
11 June 2021

This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah. A practicing homeopath, she follows a patient-centred perspective, emphasizing the benefits of natural remedies and herbs, homeopathy and whole food nutrition.

Whether you like your food mildly spicy, zesty and tangy, there are scores of aromatics to add to your dishes, to lend them a wonderful kick! Interestingly, besides adding serious flavour to your meals, spices are a fantastic way to boost your health and metabolism! Used as medicines by healers right from the world's earliest civilizations, several spices are not as well-known. Let’s explore these highly underrated special ingredients and their many benefits.

5 seriously neglected spices

Experts have discovered unbelievable health and nutritional properties in these spices. From staving off a multitude of disorders, balancing blood sugar levels, soothing the GI tract, revving up the metabolic rate to boosting brain power, here are 5 super healthy, but oft ignored spices!

  1. Dagad phool: A rather overlooked spice, the dagad phool is an amazing source of nutrients that offer powerful health benefits whilst introducing a ton of flavour into the dish. Dagad phool or Black Stone Flower is a strange spice in the Indian spice inventory. It is a black edible lichen and enjoys a prestigious status in Chettinad, Hyderabadi and Marathi cuisines. This aromatic imparts a strong earthy flavour to the dishes and also promises you some major health benefits. Apart from being a potent anti-bacterial, it peps up the working of the GI tract and also reduces inflammation in the body. Tata Sampann Pav Bhaji Masala crafted by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, is an amazing spice blend that is made from the best of spices. This gorgeous spice blend contains dagad phool, which lends the dish an earthy flavour and promises you street-style pav bhaji at home!


  1. Chakra phool: We may not consume spices in big amounts; however even small quantities they can provide a potent punch of nutrients, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, vitamins, and minerals. Such is the case with the chakra phool or star anise, which is a huge gastronomic star. Also known for its powerful medicinal properties, star anise has a strong, charming fragrance, and is an essential component of biryanis, sea food as well as certain vegetarian dishes. The spice has a generous amount of vitamins A and C, which battle free radical damage and prevent scores of disorders. The spice also helps manage various GI troubles, such as gassiness and bloating, indigestion and constipation. 


  1. Mace: When you wish to up your health game with spices, mace is simply perfect. The red casing surrounding nutmeg, it has a similar profile to that of nutmeg, but tends to be a little bit peppery. It is wonderfully versatile, and works well in savoury as well as dessert dishes. It has been used to tame troubled tummies and to boost digestion; and also works at dissipating queasiness. Mace is excellent for regularizing the menstrual flow and helps allay painful joint conditions successfully too.


  1. Jaiur: Jaiur proffers loads of health benefits and adds a nice texture to the plate too. Often referred to as the Winged Prickly Ash, its bitter-sour-pungent taste lends a unique flavour to rice, meat, fish and vegetables, and gives the dish a very distinct tang. Jaiur is just what the doctor ordered for people with diabetes and is as effectual as diabetes’ drugs at stabilizing the blood glucose profile. It is a blood-sugar balancer by stimulating insulin receptors on cells and making the surplus sugar move out of the blood. There are other uses too as it helps deal with a toothache, improves digestion and speeds up your metabolism.


  1. Kokum: With kokum, a little goes a long way, and lends an awesome nourishing addition to your meals. It’s a dried fruit, deep purple-black in color and gives your dish a sweet-tangy flavour. Native to the Konkan coast of India, kokum or kokambi is seldom used beyond this area. This preserved fruit plays a pivotal role in all coconut-based curries. The recipes add the entire fruit, allowing the floral sourness to disperse beautifully all through the dish. Kokum is a fantastic coolant; making it just right for the scorching summer months. A fun way to consume this delight is by having a chilled glass of kokum sherbet to beat the heat!


A lot of our spices have faded into the shadows and we tend to use the same ones repeatedly, forgetting the enormous number of options that we have and the fabulous benefits they offer. These spices make excellent additions to your pantry – taking your recipes to the very next level and giving you special health gifts in every bite. 


Choose authentic spices with natural oils.




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