So many of us love to go to our local Indian restaurant to get a flavor of the Far East. Our senses crave those exotic aromas and mouth watering curries. We would love to be able to cook like that at home, but sometimes trying to recreate those flavors on our own seems daunting. It is actually quite simple when we understand the basic ingredients that make up those curries. Curry or Masala just means a blend of 5 or 6 basic Indian spices. These spices were sought out for centuries around the world. Even Christopher Columbus was set to sail on the famous spice trade route, when he accidentally landed in North America.
Not only do these spices make Indian cuisine taste so unique and delicious, but they actually serve a higher purpose. They are digestive aids that kindle Agni (digestive fire), and help the body to breakdown, absorb and assimilate the foods we eat. These common household culinary herbs are a virtual medicine cabinet and have many therapeutic values. By cooking with them on a regular basis, we can keep our agni strong, strengthen immunity, and continually detoxify all the organ systems.
Turmeric – detoxifies liver and blood. Anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal actions.
Cumin – kindles agni, aids absorption of minerals, reduces gas, helps stomach pain, nausea, menstrual cramps.
Coriander – supports kidney and bladder functions, diuretic, reduces fever, relieves pitta skin rashes, in conjunctivitis tea is used as eye wash.
Fennel – good for upper respiratory congestion, indigestion, diarrhea, hot flashes, helps to rid intestinal worms.
Cardamom – aids digestion of milk and dairy, cough and breathlessness, hemorrhoids, prevents cavities.
Black Mustard Seeds – heals bronchial system, asthma and cough, helps remove intestinal worms. Mustard oil used in heating massage .
Saffron – blood cleanser and thinner, liver detoxifier, brain/nerve tonic, heart tonic and aphrodisiac.
*Spice info – (Lad, Vasant, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing, The Ayurvedic Press, Albuquerque, NM, 1994.)
These spices are used in different dishes, and often times layered very specifically to create a rich and complex taste. None of them give a lot of heat, so if one prefers hot spicy foods, they can add a bit of green or red chilies to their cooking. Other common spices used in Indian cuisine like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, salt and black pepper are all familiar to western cooks.
Most Indian households will keep many of these spices in one round metal container in their kitchen, close by to the stove. When all the common spices are stored conveniently in this spice tin, it makes it much easier to sprinkle them into the foods on a daily basis. If interested in purchasing an authentic Indian Spice Tin, please contact Avani Sukhadia. These make wonderful holiday gifts!
For Indian cooking classes, Ayurvedic consultations, spa treatments, and medicinal herbs, please contact Avani Sukhadia.
Authentic Ayurveda of Sedona