Spices in order to release their essential oils, most of them except for a few like nutmeg are dry roasted before being ground into spice mixes. Normally using a spice grinder rather than a mortar and pestle is preferable to blend to make sure that your mixes are ground finely. This is because a few spices like the bark of cassia are very tough and hard to blend into a fine powder.
Aren’t you tempted by the thought of having a hot cup of spicy tea, hot coffee or even a steaming bowl of cooked rice in vegetables with ghee or a warm bowl of vegetable soup in the evenings? Life without spice isn't that tasty! Let’s have a look on the regularly used spices in the Indian kitchen.
Cardamom is famous for its addition to preparing biryani to add that extra delicious aromatic flavour to the dish. Most people aren’t much into this spice while cooking the rice dishes but believe that it is one of the best spices in winter to comfort your body with warmth. The spice also helps in clearing the congestion from the air during the winter season. Cardamom is the primary central spice in Indian Cuisine used in a variety of sweets, curries and mainly in masala tea.
Black cardamom is smoky and powerful on the other hand. Its need to be used with a lot of attention and caution. Before serving the dish, it is usually best to pull it off the whole pod as it might be a little bit spicier to bite directly.
A classic spice having a pungent but intensely sweet and bitter flavour is cloves. Like other winter spices, cloves are also great for both savoury and sweet dishes to compliment the dish with a kind of deliciousness. Using ginger with honey-roasted ham adds a great winter usage of the spice wherein the flavour of the cloves infuses with the sweetness of the honey and the meat saltiness to bridge the main flavour of the dish.
The ample amount of anti-inflammatory compounds present in cloves, help in handy situations of cough, sore throat, sinusitis and cold. A lot of people admit and also use clove oil to clear any blocked nasal passages since cloves have a cooling effect on the throat and nasal cavity.
Black Pepper has been included as a part of Ayurvedic medicines to cure cough, cold and boost up immunity naturally. A healthier alternative that goes easy on the stomach for red chilli powder is black pepper for people in the case who doesn’t like to use the former. A pinch of black pepper to any sabzi or curry you make not only elevates the flavour but also heats up the body's warmth. Black pepper spice mixed with honey is used as a tonic all over Indian households to suppress natural cough.
CUMIN / JEERA
Cumin is almost used in all Indian dishes and spice mixes to add the smoky flavour characteristic frequently. It has an intense fragrance and is best when used in freshly ground texture as it gives an intense flavour then. Always remember to toast cumin until you get a fragrance for about just 30 seconds max and then let it cool for blending into the spice mixes.
Probably the most appearing and used spices in the Indian kitchen is Coriander. Popularly it's the oldest of the spices in the world. The aromatic seeds have a little bit of citrus flavour to them. For many spice mixes, the whole coriander is used as a base and the most commonly used ground spice in Indian cuisine is definitely the ground coriander. The coriander seeds are often dry roasted until they show a light golden brown tinge and pop up in the pan.
Fenugreek is popular for its usage in different ways like as a herb, spice, medicine and also as food advised in many conditions such as high cholesterol, fever, asthma, digestive problems, diabetes, cancers, extreme swellings, impotence, mastitis and burns. Eating fenugreek in winters helps improve the body's immunity and also protect the heart, other vital organs and the brain through its medicinal properties.
There are black, yellow and brown mustard seeds that are often used interchangeably in the Indian kitchen for the dishes. When the seeds are crushed or cooked in oil, they automatically release the smoky or nutty flavour. The smoky flavour is a staple in the curry powders and Indian curry dishes.
Turmeric, also known as Haldi (in Hindi) is a daily used cooking spice after all. It is not possible to complete Indian Cuisine without using turmeric in their dishes preparation. Turmeric is a spice that can be used in different ways apart from being used in a healthy daily dose of our lives. Having a pinch of Haldi/turmeric in hot milk during the winter mornings and nights helps keep your throat away from soreness and helps in keeping the body warm from inside.
An intense and world’s most expensive rarest spice is saffron for a reason. Saffron’s aroma is robust and delicate at the same time so its flavour is both bitter and sweet. Its earthy flavour and sweetness highlight and compliments a dish without making it overpowering. Saffron texture is like threads with deep red colour and once the threads come in contact with hot liquid or food, the threads turn into a vibrant yellow colour. Popularly used frequently in biryani dishes to add extra flavour and colour rice dishes.