Ever since I started this journey I have met many people who have been curious to know more about spices and my blends. It's really amazing to see so many people being interested in learning about the food culture that I grew up in. It also has opened my eyes to know that the food and techniques I grew up eating and watching and I take for granted can be totally new for somebody, especially when it comes to using spices. So I thought I'll write a little about spices.
SPICES ARE NOT SPICY
One of the common question I get asked is are spices spicy? The short answer is No, spices are not always spicy. Indians don't generally eat very spicy food but they cook with lot of different spices. Spices that are actually spicy to taste are chillies. Pepper and cloves are also known to have some amount of heat. Most spices carry their unique flavours. One can use most spices without worrying about it being hot.
HOW TO USE SPICES?
A) USE FRESHLY GROUND SPICES
Spices that are added to different foods are added not only to enhance the flavour of food but also are known to give lots of health benefits. But you have to make sure to consume only freshly ground spices and in small amounts to get any benefits. This is where supermarket spices won't do any good, because you don't know when and how long that spice has been sitting on their shelf. Freshness of spices determines how strong and active the compounds in it are which will directly effect your body on consumption. You wouldn't drink your coffee that was roasted and ground 3 months ago right? Then why do that with spices.
B) USE IN SMALL AMOUNTS
The other thing to remember when using spices are to use it in small amounts. When you use fresh spices you only need small amount to flavour the dish and get maximum benefits. Too much spices makes the same dish taste very unpleasant to eat and potentially do more harm than good. One of the ways to not overuse spices are by adding them in small amount and then waiting for dish to cook for little time, and then have a taste and adjust accordingly. Flavours of spices is released when they come in contact with heat and you have to give it time to mingle with food and do its thing. If you taste the food instantly after adding spices you'll get a false tasting where it'll feel like there isn't enough spices and you'll end up adding way more. So like every good thing in life give it time and watch the magic unfold.
SPICES AND HEALTH BENEFITS
When you add spices to your food in above said ways you not only get sensational taste but lots of its health benefits too. But one has to know that adding them in their natural form, in food while cooking, is the only way to get its proper benefits. Taking curcumin pill is not the same as adding a pinch of turmeric in your food which when cooked in good fats and mixed with other spices like pepper tends to help blood circulation, keeps inflammation down and immunity up.
Given below are some common spices that good for your taste buds and you.
Cinnamon - Great for lowering blood sugar levels
Cardamom - Antioxidant and has diuretic properties keeps blood pressure low
Turmeric - Anti-inflammatory properties, great to build immunity
Ginger - Keeps cold, flu away, builds immunity and healing nausea
Pepper - High in antioxidants, benefits your brain
Fennel - Soothes stomach, diuretic properties, and mouth freshener
Cumin - Keeps digestive tract healthy and aids in digestion
Chillies - Improves metabolism, reduces pain, promotes red blood cell growth
HOW TO STORE SPICES
Spices have to be stored in cupboards, or if keeping on open shelves don't let it come in contact with sunlight and keep it in dark bag or jar.
HOW LONG SPICES LAST
Whole spices can last upto 2 years, though they don't really go off in taste like fresh food does, but they do lose some of their benefits and flavours. Ground spices however, should be consumed within few weeks of grinding. Keeping it for 6 months or more is not recommended.
I hope you get an idea about how amazing spices are if used in the right way. Hopefully this blog will encourage you to incorporate spices in your daily life more often so you can get benefits of these nature's gems.