Everything you needed to know about spices
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Spices are commonly used in Indian cooking to give the food
different kind of flavors. The are different kind of spices as
listed below :-
R Red Gram
About them ( Spices )
Almonds are considered a great delicacy in India and they are available in whole, flaked (slivered) and ground. Medicinal Properties of Almonds
Aniseed tastes and smell like liquorice. It looks like cumin but is more whitish and pale green in color. Aniseed contains an essential oil, composed of anethole, isoanethole and anisic aldehyde. Medicinal Properties of Aniseed.
Asafoetida is a dried resin like substance obtained from the rhizomes of several species of ferule, or giant fennel. A native to south Western Asia, it grows in the dry regions of Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. The name derives from Persian aza, resin, and the Latin fetida, which means stinking, and describes its most obvious attributes.
They have soft centered stems, finely toothed leaves and produce clusters of yellow flowers. At the beginning of summer, the stems and roots are cut and a milky liquid exudes, which dries to form asafetida, a solid gum like mass. The gum is scrapped off and further cuts are made until the root dries up. The material is used either as it is, or after being ground to powder.
In Western and Southern India, Asafetida flavors pulses and vegetable dishes, pickles and sauces. A piece of asafetida may be rubbed on a grill before cooking meat. It should always be used sparingly. In Iran the center of the stalks and the leaves are eaten as vegetables.
It has antispasmodic properties. It has been used to treat hysteria and taken as a sedative. In India it is prescribed to treat flatulence and bronchitis.
This is a type of wholemeal (whole-wheat) flour available from Asian stores and is used to make chapatis and other breads.
Basmati rice is a fine aromatic, long grain rice grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. If possible, try to use basmati rice for all savoury rice dishes the delicate flavour is unbeatable.
In ancient Greece and Rome, Bay leaves were used to make crowns of laurel worn by victors in battle or sports contests.
In the kitchen, bay leaf is indispensable. It goes with everything from savory meet and fish dishes to pasta sauces and sweet dishes. The leaves, both fresh and dried are strongly fragrant. The leaves are often cooked with meat and make it more easily digestible by stimulating the gastric and liver functions.
Bengal gram is used whole in lentil curries. The flour is used to prepare bhajias and also to flavour and thicken curries.
These are white kidney shaped beans with a black "eye" in the middle. They are available dried or canned.
One of the most ancient spices, cardamom is widely cultivated on the Malabar Coast of India, Guatemala, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
There are three varieties. Green Cardamom pods are the best in quality, white are bleached green ones and black pods are not the true cardamom, but a related variety. The green and white pods can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes or to flavour rice. The black pods are used only for savoury dishes.
Cardamom can enhance both sweet and savory tastes. It is a constant ingredient in Indian cooking. In Middle East it is used to flavor sweet meats and sweet pastries. In African countries, it is used to mellow the flavor of tea or coffee. In European countries it is added to warm winter punches and mulled wines. Medicinal Properties of Cardamom.
These full-flavoured nuts are a popular ingredient in many kinds of Asian cooking. Medicinal Properties of Cashew
This is a round split yellow lentil, similar in appearance to the smaller moong dhal and the larger yellow split pea, which can be used as a substitute. It is used as a binding agent in some dishes and is widely available from Asian stores.
Red chilies are dried under the sun and are hotter still. The heat can be toned down by removing the seeds before use. Dried chillies can be used whole or coarsely crushed.
Green chillies are not indigenous to India but have become indispensable to Indian cuisine. They are very rich in vitamins A and C.
Also known as cayenne pepper, this fiery ground spice should be used with caution. The heat can vary from brand to brand, so adjust quantities to suit your tastebuds.
Cinnamon is indigenous to Sri Lanka, grown now in India, Brazil, Indonesia, West Indies, Southern China and other Indian Ocean Islands. The branches are cut in rainy season, the bark is detached from stem, left to dry for 24 hours, and then outer part is peeled away. Then the strips of bark are rolled tightly in layers and left to dry.
It is delicately fragrant, slight sweet, lose the fragrance once ground. It is used for both sweet and savory dishes, rice dishes, chocolate desserts, cakes, drinks, to flavor ale and wine. It is widely used for making incense pomanders and potpourris.
One of the earliest known spices, cinnamon has an aromatic and sweet flavour. It is sold ready-ground and as sticks. Medicinal Properties of Cinnamon.
Cloves are the unopened flower buds of a small evergreen tree. Cloves are picked when the buds reach full size, but before the petals open. The buds are then dried over several days in the sun; they lose two-thirds of their weight and turn dark brown.
It has an assertive, dark aromatic odor, pungent and burning taste; leaves a lasting numb sensation in the mouth when bitten alone. It is that quality that makes it an immediate remedy for toothache.
Cloves go well with sweet or savory foods and are used to stud a baked ham by Americans, by Germans in spiced bread. Indians use them to flavor curries and other dishes. They are used for flavoring deserts, fruit salad, mulled wine and liquors. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of discarded parts of the plant. It has antiseptic, stimulant, stomachache and digestive properties. It is used in dentistry for it antiseptic and analgesic properties.
This spice is used to flavour many sweet and savoury dishes and is usually added whole. Medicinal Properties of Cloves
Used to flavour both sweet and savoury dishes, fresh coconut is now frequently available from supermarkets. Shredded coconut and creamed coconut make acceptable substitutes for most dishes.
A species (also called Chinese Parsley) originally from North Africa, now cultivated in Southern Europe as well as Middle and Far East, India, United States of America, Central & South America, is one of the most popular herbs in cuisine's worldwide.
All parts of the plants are used for cuisine's in different areas. The root is used in Thai curries and other South East Asian dishes; the leaves are used in cuisine's in Middle East. Spain. Portugal and Mexico, the seeds are used for flavoring gin or as ingredient in pickling spices in Northern Europe. It is the Indian sub-continent, who exploited both seeds and leaves, to be essential ingredients in curries.
This beautifully fragrant herb is used both in cooking and sprinkled over dishes as an attractive garnish. Medicinal Properties of Coriander
The spice comes from the seed of the plant. The seeds are sown under glass and the seedlings transplanted out early, preferably in sandy-calcareous soil. Fruits appear after two months. The inflorescence are removed with the plants begin to wither. The stalks are cut when the seeds begin to turn yellow and they are thrashed and dried in the sun.
The smell of cumin is quite pronounced, strong and heavy, with acrid or warm depths. It tastes slightly bitter, sharp and warm and their pungent favor persists for some time.
It is used for flavoring drinks, employed for seasoning kid, chicken and sweetbread, in Arab Countries, used in pickles, relishes and salads in North Africa. In India, it is mixed as an essential ingredient of garam masala. "White" cumin seeds are oval, ridged and greenish brown in colour. They have a strong aroma and flavour and can be used whole or ground. Ready-ground cumin powder is widely available. Black cumin seeds are dark and aromatic and are used to flavour curries and rice. Medicinal Properties of Cumin
Similar in appearance to bay leaves but with a very different flavour, these can be bought dried and occasionally fresh from Asian stores. Fresh leaves freeze well. Medicinal Properties of Curry Leaves
Fenugreek seeds are small, flat mustard or light brown coloured seeds which are used whole or ground. It has a strong aromatic smell similar to celery or lovage. Its aromatic smell dominates curry powder. Medicinal Properties of Fenugreek
This is a mixture spices which can be made from ground spices at home or purchased ready-made. There is no set recipe, a typical mixture might include cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and black cardamom pods. Roast the ingredients and grind them together in fine powder.
Garlic is widely used in Indian cooking. It can be chopped, sliced, used whole or ground into a paste.
It is used for seasoning and flavoring meat sausages, sauces, salads, soups and vegetables.
This is clarified butter and was once, the main cooking fat used in cooking. Nowadays, vegetable or vegetable oil - particularly corn are used in its place, being lower saturated fat.
Ginger is a root of which grows underground and is extensively used in cuisine's of Asia. Gingerroot is appreciated in many dishes, both sweet and savory, even though in the Orient, it is used to its full potential.
It is used in different forms, fresh, dried, pickled, preserved in syrup, crystallized, powdered. It adds a clean, fresh bite to seafood, picks up the flavor of dull foods, cut the fattiness of rich meats. In marinades, it has affinity for citrus fruit, garlic, onions, and soy souce.
It has numerous applications in sweet and savory cooking. For curry powder and other spice blends, it is an essential ingredient. It is also used in cakes, puddings, pickles, cookies, etc. Medicinal Properties of Ginger
The dried lentils are brown and split resembles split peas in color and shape. The split gram is used in dhal curries, vegetables and even koftas. This lentil when ground becomes pale yellow powder and is used to make savouries. It can also be used to thicken gravies.
Mace is the dried covering of nutmeg. It has a slightly bitter taste. Nutmeg is the hard kernel of the seed. Mace is the lacy growth known as the aril, surrounds the seed.
These spices are similar in aroma and taste, but mace is more refined. These are used in both savory and sweet dishes. Nutmeg has a warm flavor and affinity for rich foods. In Italy, it is used for filling pastas. In India these are used mainly in Moghul dishes. Arabs add it to Mutton and Lamb. Europeans use it extensively in sweet and savory dishes. Dutch recipes include nutmeg as a seasoning agent. In Indonesia, flesh of the fruit is used to make sweet meat. Medicinal Properties of Mace
Ripe fresh mangoes are used in sweet dishes, while green or unripe mangoes are sometimes used in curries and to make mango chutney.
Made from dried ripe mangoes, this has a sour taste.
These split red lentils are actually orange in colour and pale yellow when cooked. Whole lentils are a type of red lentil with husk intact.
Indian mint is stronger than the varieties available in the West.
This teardrop-shaped split yellow lentil is similar to, though smaller than- chana dhal.
Round in shape and sharp in flavour, black mustard seeds are used for flavouring curries and pickles. When popped in hot oil, they impart an early sweetness. Medicinal Properties of Mustard Seeds
Nigella is an aromatic spice with a sharp and tingling taste. It is mainly used in vegetable dishes.
Although not widely used in Indian cooking, nutmeg is sometimes used either freshly grated or ready ground to add a sweet flavour.
The seeds are small and light brown in color with a bitter flavor. It is usually used in the preparation of savouries.
Black in colour and triangular in shape, these seeds are widely used in pickles and to flavour vegetable curries. Medicinal Properties of Onion Seed
This is a white, smooth textured cheese. It has excellent use in combination with meat and fish or as a vegetarian replacement.
Pepper plant is a climber with dark green leaves and spikes of white flowers. Black pepper comes from whole fruit, picked just before they are completely ripe, white pepper from ripe fruits with the endocarp of the pulp separate for fermentation.
Pepper has a warm, woody smell that is fresh, pungent and aromatic, Ground pepper quickly loses its aroma. Pepper is neither sweet nor savory, thus, can be used in both types of dishes. Medicinal Properties of Pepper
These sweet, green nuts are not indigenous to India and are therefore an expensive ingredient.
These can be extracted from fresh pomegranates or bought in jars from stores and impart a delicious tangy flavour.
These seeds are usually used toasted to bring out the flavour. Medicinal Properties of Poppy Seeds
Red gram is available dry or lightly oiled.
The world's most expensive spice is the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus. It takes 250,000 flowers to make, just 450 g/l lb saffron. Fortunately, only a small quantity of saffron is needed to flavour and colour a dish, whether sweet or savoury. Saffron is sold as strands and in powder form, and has a beautiful flavour and aroma. Medicinal Properties of Saffron
This is a dried brown star shaped fruit of a plant. It has a liquorice like flavor and odor. Medicinal Properties of Star Anise
The dried black pods of the tamarind plant are sour in taste and very sticky. Tamarind can now be bought in paste form in jars, although lemon juice can be used as a substitute.
A shiny split lentil, toor dhal is similar in size to chana dhal.
A member of the ginger family it is the underground
rhizome of a robust perennial plant that grows to a height of 1 meter.
It is usually propagated from fingers or small sections of rhizomes of
previous year's growth.
Although available fresh sometimes, it is
most often sold dried and ground. It adds a warm, mild aroma and distinctive
yellow color to foods.
In Indian vegetarian dishes, it is an essential
ingredient. In the west it is used commercially in sauces and processed
Medicinal Properties of
Also known as black gram, this lentil is similar in size to moong dhal and is available either with the blackish hull retained or removed. Inside, the lentil is a cream white. It takes a long time to cook. It has a slightly drier texture than moong dhal.
These hair-like strands made from wheat and are use savoury and sweet dishes.
Walnuts are used in meats, salads and raitas.