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  • Role of Indian Spices or Masala in our food and daily life.

    Have a query about Indian spices and masalas? Looking out for detailed information regarding the role of each spice in our food and for health? On this page our ISC experts shall provide you the answers.

    India is known for spices and we know that there are many spices that are commonly used by us in our i) food to add flavor, ii) as used as medicines from ancient times, iii) to enhance beauty and iv) even to prevents rotting of food or aids in preservation. As we are habituated to using these spices that if we are asked, why it is added, we may not be able to answer. I would like our cooking, medicine and other experts to answer some queries about some of the common spices that we use in India on a daily basis.

    Some of the common spices that we use in India as a whole or powder form are given below. Kindly provide an answer to each category as the use of it in any dish, its other benefits and other related information.
    a) Turmeric(Haldi)
    b) Coriander(Dhaniya)
    c) Chili (green or red)
    d) Mustard seeds(Sarason)
    e) Fenugreek (Methi)
    f) Cinnamon(Daal-chinee)
    g) Cardamom(Elaichi/ilaayachee)
    h) Cumin and Fennel Seeds(Jeera aur Saumph)
    i) Black pepper(Kaalee mirch)
    j) Clove(Laung)
    k) Ginger(Adarak) (Fresh and dry)
    l) Garlic(Lahasun)
    m) Onion(Pyaaj/Kandha) (big or small)
    n) Curry leaves(Karee/Kadi patte)
    o) Nutmeg and mace (Jaayaphal aur gada)
    p) Saffron (Kesar)
    q) Asafoetida (Hing)
  • Answers

    5 Answers found.
  • Turmeric: It is used in Savory items and in sweet items also. It will be good for treating indigestion, throat infections, colds. Many people apply this on wounds and skin sores also, In Telugu States we make a dish Called Chaaru (Many call it as Rasam). In this, we will be adding many of these Indian Spices including turmeric which will be very good for many common problems.
    Coriander(Dhaniya): It is good for immunity development. Blood sugar patients can use it. This will be added in many preparations and we can make a powder and just mix in a small quantity of rice and eat. That will be very good for many common problems.
    Chilli (green or red): Consumption of this item may reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke. It may also reduce bad cholesterol. Almost all curries, Rasam, powders pickles and many other dishes will have these chillies.
    Mustard seeds(Sarason): There are two types of seeds. Black mustard seed and yellow mustard seed. The south Indian recipes generally use black mustard seeds (rai)while Bengali cuisine and other north Indian cuisines use yellow seeds (Sarson). They will be useful to reduce migraine. They will be useful for improving appetite and digestion. Good for menopausal women to have a good sleep.
    Fenugreek (Methi): Used in many places and methi parathas are very famous. They are good for Diabetes, Dysmenorrhea, Increase interest in sex and improve sexual performance.
    Cinnamon(Daal-chinee): This is being used in masala only and some people have it with the pan. It is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Good for Diabetic complaint.
    Cardamom: Used in masala chai for better flavour and used in masala powders. Good for reducing Blood pressure. Cancer and also anti-inflammatory.
    Cumin and Fennel Seeds(Jeera aur Saumph): Fennel seeds are good for Blood Pressure, Constipation, Indigestion. Cumin seeds are good antioxidants cancer-fighting, diarrhoea etc, It is used in masala powders.
    Black pepper(Kaalee mirch): This is a very good material for cold and fever. By boiling these deeds in water and drinking that will bring down the cold., Cough, Tumour, ulcers and fights cancer. This is mainly used in South India and will be added in all preparation with salt.
    Clove(Laung): This is used for making masalas and also in the pan. Many foods contain this. They are low in calories and high in nutrients. They contain antioxidants. Good for cancer patients and good for liver health.

    The remaining items are also used in masala preparation. They add taste to the food and people who like spicy food may use this. Many of the above-mentioned items are used in biryani making and veg fried making also. Almost all these items will be useful as immunity developing items and antioxidants.

    always confident

  • In Ayurveda, there is detailed descriptions of the benifits of each spice for which the author is interested to know the emerging benifits of such spices. Here the benifits of such herbs has been enlisted precisely and these may please be seen -
    a) Turmeric- It is a natural anti inflammatory compound due to presence of active agent known as Curcumin. It can thin up blood and helpful in regulating blood pressure. It would reduce weight due to strengthening metabolism. It can take care cough and cold and would expedite the healing process of wounds.
    b) Coriander - Coriander is the best source of enriched fibre containing Manganese, Iron, Magnesium etc. It is helpful in good digestion. If one table spoon of Coriander is boiled in 150 ml of water till the volume of water subsides to half and if the same is used regularly after decanting it and using the filtrate as tea can reduce body weight if used regularly. It can regulate blood sugar level. Helpful in eliminating constipation due to presence of high fibre.
    c) Chilli - it would clear congestion of the lungs. It would boost up metabolism thus helpful in shedding body weight. It can be used as pain reliever if red chilli is fried in mustard oil and leaving aside the chilli, this oil can be massaged on the part of the body causing pain, it will subside the pain.
    d) Mustard Seed - It can regulate High Blood Pressure and can reduce Asthama due to presence of Selenium. It can be helpful in arresting In Rheumatoid Arthiriritis.
    e) Fenugreek - It is helpful in the enhancement of body - metabolism and its regular use in the empty stomach, can shed body weight. It can reduce both high blood pressure and high blood sugar in the blood stream.
    f) Cinamom - It is anti inflammatory in nature and helpful in relieving pain. It can reduce blood sugar if used regularly while making tea mixed with Cinamom.
    g) Cardamom - It could reduce blood pressure due to its diuretic effect.
    2) It may elevate certain enzymes of the body fighting cancer.
    3) It may arrest nausea and vomiting due to presence of digestive Engymes.
    4) It would support the liver - function.
    5) Bad breath of the mouth can be arrested because of its antibacterial nature.
    h) Cumin and Fennel -
    Cumin can promote weight loss if 2 gm of cumin powder is regularly used after half an hour of the principal meals along with hot water and the results would be amazing within a couple of weeks.
    2) It can take care of anaemia because of high content of iron in it.
    Fennel helps in proper digestion.
    It has the diuretic effect and as such it keeps kidney in healthy condition.
    i) Black Pepper - 1) Regular use of black - pepper powdered in a small amount would take care of cough problem.
    2) Keeps the body in trimmed condition because of fat loss.
    3) Excess cholesterol level can be checked.
    j) Clove - It can promote healthy bones because of presence of calcium.
    2) It would arrest the elevation of high blood sugar
    3) It may fight Cancer because of high antioxidant properties.
    k) Ginger - Ginger is an excellent herb in arresting nausea if taken 20 minutes before the principal meals. It would take care of cough and cold.It can aid weight loss if used regularly in minute quantity.
    The remaining herbs not mentioned above are also useful and provide you numerous health benifits.
    The garlic - If 2 buds are taken regularly in the morning, it can take care of high cholesterol and can arrest high blood pressure due to high Allicin content.
    Onion is a wonderful herb in regulating both high blood pressure and high sugar. Moreover it is ant acidic in nature. Onion may eliminate constipation if used regularly as salads.
    Nutmeg is sedative in nature. If one GM of Nutmeg - powder is added in 150 ml of hot cow - milk and consumed for a few days half an hour after the dinner, it would relax the entire nerves causing sound sleep.

  • Masala and spices have to be used only in less quantity than the main ingredients in food preparation.
    Masalas and spice add to the aroma, colour and taste to the food.
    Each one of the listed spices has different uses and curative properties. So it is not easy to narrate all here. Some properties may overlap also
    Some Masala and spices work as preservatives
    Some Masala and spices have general and specific medicinal values.
    Certain spices balance the body energy indifferent seasons and weather changes.
    Ayurveda considers food itself as preventive medicines. Hence our ancestors have devised menus according to weather, season, requirements and remedies.
    Onion is not considered as a Masala or spice, but it is a major ingredient in cooking food.
    Though each spice may have a particular curative property it does not ensure cure of an ailment in a particular person, a dosages, mixing of co-ingredients also matter as per individual health and body status.
    Some spice-Masala mix medication may give some instant relief in certain common illness, some may need long term use.

  • All items mentioned by the author are in our cooking daily except items like Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg. saffron.
    Elaichi used in our house only on the occasion of some festival while preparing Payasam (kheer) and sweets,
    Normally in our house, my mother and wife used to prepare items differently day by day.We are not eating same type of cooking daily. In our house we use to prepare sambar normally by grinding masala (instead of sambar powder) by dry fry of Coriander seeds, red chilli, pepper,fenugreek and some chana dal - in which the role of coriander seeds,pepper and fenugreek is high in digestion as well taste.
    On the otherday, they prepare kuzhambu with curryleaves and pepper
    They used to prepare rasam with garlic one day, only pepper on another day.

  • Here are the benefits of the spices mentioned by the author:

    1. Tumeric: This is yellow colored spice used to give color to the dishes. A relative of ginger, this spice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its valuable work as a flavour and colour additive in curries. Turmeric is also for skin beautification. It also has a healing effect. When a person has some internal injury when it is given mixed with milk is effective.

    2. Coriander: its leaves are used in Indian cooking as a spice and also to garnish. Coriander seed is a key element in garam masala. It is effective to be used when someone has an upset stomach and its good for digestion as well.

    3. Chilly: These are healthy for us and provide us with various health benefits, apart from the taste. These are a good source of vitamin C, helps in weight loss, lowers blood pressure and relieves congestion.

    4. Mustard seed: This seed has a spicy flavour. Mustard helps in reducing pain, stimulates appetite and relieves symptoms of arthritis. It lowers bad cholesterol in the body, thus keeping a check on blood fat levels and helping in good blood circulation.

    5. Fenugreek: It improves digestion, promotes milk flow in mothers, helps those suffering from eating disorders and also reduces inflammation.

    6. Cinnamon: It has a large number of antioxidants which protects the body from body diseases . Cinnamon forms a part of many exotic dishes and is currently trending because of its ability to reduce a tummy.

    7. Cardomom : It is a rich source of vitamin A and vitamin C, calcium, iron, and zinc, this spice promotes heart health, helps in digestion, promotes oral health, helps in diabetes, helps fight depression, fights asthma, prevents blood clots and treats skin infections.

    8. Fennel seeds : This spice is a rich source of dietary fiber. It's a powerful antioxidant which helps in removing harmful free radicals from the body and makes us healthy. It helps fighting degenerative neurological diseases.

    9. Black pepper: Black pepper is also known as the king of spices. It helps in weight loss, helps relieve cold and cough, improves digestion, boosts metabolism and treats many skin problems.

    10. Clove: These are antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic. They are antioxidants and are rich sources of minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and vitamins and minerals. Clove oil is widely used as antioxidants. It is used as an antiseptic and pain reliever especially for toothaches and stomach pain. It is often mixed with other oils to treat various disorders.

    11 Gineger: It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold. Ginger is an important ingredient in the traditional kadha recipe too.

    12. Garlic: It is widely used in cooking and it has been used as a medicine in ancient times because of its anti-microbial properties. Consuming garlic on a daily basis (in food or raw) helps to lower cholesterol levels because of the anti-oxidant properties of Allicin. It is also immensely beneficial to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

    13. Mace: Mace is the outer coat of the nutmeg seed and is quite similar to nutmeg in actual taste and flavour. Mace helps to manage stress and enhances blood circulation. It also acts as a fragrance, has anti inflammatory properties and protect your kidneys.

    Nutmeg is famous for its health benefits. In ancient times, nutmegs were used for numerous remedies to improve health. It improves bad breath, helps detox the livers, helps you to sleep well and is known to improve the texture of your skin.

    14. Saffron: It is often used in cooking to give its color and essence to the food. It helps manage asthma, aids in menstrual problems and soothes dry skin.

    15. Asafoetida: It is a medicine for stomach problems including gas, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal worms and flatulence.Consume a dash of hing on a daily basis by adding it into gravies and dals. Another option is to dissolve some hing in water and drink it daily.

    16. Curry leaves are not only highly flavorful but also packed with beneficial plant compounds that can benefit your health in many ways. It help in improving antioxidant defenses in your body. Doing so may likewise fight cancer cells, reduce heart disease risk factors.The best part is that curry leaves can be added to a wide array of recipes to enhance both the flavor and health benefits of your meals.

    17. Onion: The onion offers so many benefits for the prevention and treatment of disease that they are often considered a medicinal food. While consuming raw onions is the most beneficial, even cooked onions offer superior benefits in protective compounds, immunity support and overall health.


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    – Mark Twain

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