Spices have always been a part of Indian cuisine since ancient times. They have always made our lives more flavourful and fragrant. Different kinds of spices have different medicinal and nutritional properties which help in maintaining our body’s health. A pinch of it can change the taste and flavour of your food. It gives an aromatic smell and makes the food more delicious. They contribute rich flavour to the food without adding any calories, fat, sugar or salt. Adding different varieties of it to your food helps in boosting nutrition.
Every variety of it has its health benefits. As it has different types they also have different nutritional value, different health benefits and different medicinal properties. It also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which are beneficial for health and the body. They also help in digestion and weight management. Authentic homemade Indian food is considered to be one of the healthiest food consumed as it has a huge variety of spices in it while cooking. It is also used in meat to make it more flavourful and tasty.
They are also used for preservation in the olden days when there were no refrigerator or any other preservation sources. Until 18th century people who had variety of them were considered wealthy as they were exported from from Far East and exotic locales. They have always been considered important in cooking as well as in medicine. They enhance the natural flavour of cuisines as well as adjust the appearance of the food. They also add very nice flavour with health benefits in tea. They add flavour to meats, vegetables, soups and seafood.
Kerala is known as the land of spices and they use it for various purposes. They are mostly grown in the southern part of India and are also exported from there to various parts of the country. You can be creative with it if you have the proper knowledge about every use of it. India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of it as well as it has the largest domestic market of it in the world. Half of the varieties are produced in India and also hold the account for half of the global trading.
The term masala is used for it in India as it adds that twist and tang in any food. Every state in India has a different way of cooking and different ways have lots of varieties of spices in it. Throughout the country, some general ones used in every dish are turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli. People also have special containers for it so that it stays dry, doesn’t lose its essence and it helps in keeping the flavour of it.
They are also categorised botanically according to their source of plant part. The leaves of the aromatic plants include bay leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, rosemary, thyme etc. The seeds or fruits include fennel, nutmeg, vanilla, coriander, fenugreek, mustard, mace, black pepper, cumin, allspice, poppy seeds etc. The roots or bulbs are garlic, ginger, turmeric, asafoetida etc. And lastly from the bark are cinnamon, cassia etc.
They contain essential oils which are used in the production of cosmetics, perfumes, toiletries, lotions, toothpastes, hair products and soaps. Some other uses of it are:
Potpourri: Buying scented candles or spraying your home with air freshener can be be expensive. Boiling water with your favourite spice fragrance can give your home a nice smell and will also cut you some cost.
Freshening carpets: This thing also works on smelly carpets especially if you have pets. Sprinkle a little bit of ginger or rosemary and voila you have a fresh carpet. Be careful with the ones which causes stain.
Freshening the laundry: When washing clothes adding two tablespoons of black pepper prevents fading and the colour of clothes stays for longer period of time.
Spice sachets: Making spice sachets and keeping them in drawer prevents them from smelling bad. It also helps in deodorising the closets, basement and garage.
Apart from cooking and medicinal purpose spices can be used various creative ways. Spices have always been in our kitchen but were only used for limited purposes but has various uses if used with proper knowledge.