Spice Garden Of India Experiences Poetry of Spices
Updated: Apr 24
Spices Of India
Spring is the time when we start moving from warm comfort food such as soups and feel the need for lighter, cooler and possibly healthier dishes. Here, I have highlighted some Whole Spices that help you create those. These spices are also full of immune-boosting properties, and lift your food creations with their colours, flavours and aromas – truly invigorating your senses.
A spice is defined as primarily a seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substance used for flavouring, seasoning or colouring food. From historic evidence and all our ancient texts, we know that whole spice in diguise have been considered very important in almost every kitchen all across the world – especially in India. India produces close to 70% of the global production of spices, mostly in the southern regions around Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala also know as the Spice Garden Of India; and perhaps obviously, is also the world’s largest consumer of spices - creating an exemplary image of indigenous consumption.
Whole spices are primarily used because they retain their aromatic oils, along with their unique magical spice flavours. Whole spices generally have longer shelf lives than pre-packaged ground spices, retaining freshness until their intense flavour is extracted at the time of being used. This perhaps explains why most cooks whether professional or at-home, in India and also from several other regions of the world, will just not contemplate keeping just store-bought ground spices in their kitchen. The exceptions to this would probably only be turmeric and red chilies; both are best bought as whole spices, and then ground for you by a trusted spice merchant.
Uses For Spices
Almost all spices are known to provide key health benefits. Well known benefits of some of these spices are listed below – and the health benefits that usage of spices can give you are endless and should not be ignored.
Cinnamon - ability to reduce blood sugar levels
Cardamom - has diuretic properties
Turmeric - cancer fighting attributes
Cumin Seeds - helps with digestion
Whole Coriander - potential in lowering bad cholesterol
Dry Red Chili - considered rich in antioxidants
HOW TO EXTRACT THE BEST FROM YOUR SPICES: There is no single method to get the best out of whole spices. Each spice can be used in one or more different ways to get the flavour and benefits that you desire! Some common methods are roasting, toasting, grinding, boiling, infusing – and these have been tested, improvised and perfected by cooks over generations! I will share some of these methods that you are likely to use most often…
1. INFUSION : Adding whole spices to cooking liquids or broths helps to extract and infuse the food with their flavours - a method best seen when making Basmati rice or Chai (Indian tea) , Chinese Chilli oil - also for stews, soups and certain milk-based desserts like Kheer (Indian rice pudding) and caramel pudding.
2. ROASTING : This process is thought to ‘wake’ or extract the flavour of the spices quickly. Tempering (or tadka in Indian cooking), where oil is heated and then a combination of whole spices, ginger, onion etc are added – helps in getting the best out of these ingredients. There are a couple of points that you should note when tempering or making a ‘tadka’ – first is to have everything on hand before heating the oil as you will need to access them quickly as spices can burn quickly; and second is to take care with the splatter to avoid accidents or burns.
3. CRUSHING : Certain whole spices like coriander seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, black-pepper, nutmeg etc are crushed just before use. This will release the fresh spice flavours to any meal that you use them in – and gives you the home-made version of store brought ground spices. Usually a mortar-pestle or spice/coffee grinder are best for this process.
4. TOAST AND GRIND : This probably releases the most fragrant flavours and is a popular method used in India to bring out the intensity of the spice oils. The process for this is to toast the whole spices on a hot griddle or cast-iron pan (without using any oil or liquids). Then these are ground using either a mortar and pestle for small quantities – or a coffee grinder (keep one aside for spices only if you use this often because coffee has a strong aroma of its own and you will not want that to mix with the spice flavours). These toasted/ground spices can be stored for perhaps up to 6 months in an airtight jar.
Spices Help In Preventing Infections
A great way to shield you and your family from the flu, cold, and other illnesses is to fortify yourself from within by eating the right things. Here are some Indian spices that can help you prevent sickness and also boost your immunity. In The Spice Garden Of India Experience Poetry of Spices with the 5 magical infection preventing spices such as Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove and Black Pepper.
Variety is the key to proper nutrition. Just eating foods won’t be enough to help fight off the flu or other infections, even if you eat it constantly. Pay attention to serving sizes and recommended daily intake so that you don’t get too much of a single vitamin and too little of others. Start with these flu prevention basics and then read vegetarian soul-food recipes curated by Mini Bhuwania at Poetry Of Spices on her website www.poetryofspices.com
Perhaps most importantly, get your annual flu vaccine to protect yourself and others.
Mini Bhuwania at Poetry Of Spices
Hello!! I am Mini, a London based, India born food blogger and recipe curator, and I am passionate about creating vegetarian soul-food recipes for the way we eat today.
My mother is the best cook I know, my biggest inspiration and the most influential person in my life. Growing up in a joint family in India, my family’s culture has taught me that good food transcends borders, and a plate of good food can fix anything!
After moving to London not cooking was not an option for me, and when my two sons came along, I wanted them to appreciate and enjoy simple home-made food like I had grown up with, rather than just get hooked to the ready-meal, fast food culture. Now both my sons have become my biggest critics.
I started Poetry of Spices as I am passionate about good food and believe that everyone has the ability to make it. I believe food should be fresh, it should have variety and it should look and taste great. I challenge myself to create recipes that suit a variety of palates, not just my own.
Nothing would delight me more than to know that people were getting together with their friends and family and sharing a dish or meal inspired by my recipes. And remember, the secret ingredient is love….Bon appetit!
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NDTV INDIA. “SPICES.” Indian-Spices-That-Can-Prevent-You-from-Falling, 1 Dec. 2017, www.ndtv.com/food/9-indian-spices-that-can-prevent-you-from-falling-sick-during-winters-1787090#:~:text=Turmeric%3A%20A%20glass%20of%20turmeric,make%20you%20strong%20from%20within.