Include these 4 spices to improve the taste of your dishes as well as your health
The last of 4 great spices
Spices are an essential ingredient in many cuisines around the world. They not only add flavor and aroma to food but also have many health benefits.
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In my previous two articles, I discussed eight of the most commonly used spices that you can find in any kitchen. Today, we will explore the remaining four spices that are equally important in cooking any dish.
These spices are Fenugreek, Green Cardamom, Curry Leaves, and Bay Leaves. Each of these spices has its unique flavor and aroma that can enhance the taste of any dish. Whether you are a professional chef or a home cook, understanding the properties of these spices is crucial to creating delicious and nutritious meals.
So, let’s dive into the world of spices and discover how these last four of the 12 spices can elevate your culinary skills.
Spice no. 9 – Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a spice native to the Mediterranean region, and it has been used for centuries in both cooking and medicine.
It is derived from the dried fenugreek seeds, also known as methi, and the leaves of the fenugreek plant. The seeds and leaves are commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisine to add a unique flavor and aroma to dishes.
Fenugreek seeds are rich in nutrients such as protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium, which makes them a healthy addition to any diet.
They also contain a unique active ingredient called trigonelline, which gives fenugreek its distinct bitter taste and flavor. This spice can be used in a variety of dishes, including curries, soups, and stews. Useful resource- Fenugreek
The dried fenugreek leaves are also known as kasuri methi, and they are commonly used to add flavor to Indian dishes such as butter chicken and dal.
Health benefits of Fenugreek Seeds
Apart from being a flavor enhancer, fenugreek seeds and leaves also have numerous health benefits. They are known to aid in digestion and gut health, as they contain soluble fiber that helps to regulate bowel movements.
Fenugreek has also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, as well as improve cholesterol levels.Clinicaltrials.gov
Side effects of consuming too much fenugreek
However, it is important to note that consuming too much fenugreek can have side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, and bloating. It is recommended to use fenugreek in moderation, and to consult with a healthcare professional before using it as a supplement.
Some enticing recipes using fenugreek
If you’re interested in incorporating fenugreek into your diet, there are plenty of easy recipes to try. For example, you can add fenugreek seeds to a vegetable stir-fry, or sprinkle dried fenugreek leaves on top of roasted vegetables.
You can also use fenugreek seeds to make a tea or a spice blend for meat marinades.
Overall, fenugreek is a versatile spice with a range of health benefits. As long as it is used in moderation, it can be a great addition to any diet. So, go ahead and try out some new recipes with this unique and flavorful spice!
Spice No.10- Green Cardamom
Green cardamom is a highly prized spice that is used in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. This fragrant spice is native to India and is widely grown in other countries such as Guatemala, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.
The green cardamom pods are picked when they are still immature and then dried in the sun. The seeds inside the pod are then removed and used as a spice.
What gives Green Cardamom its unique aroma and flavor?
The active ingredient that gives green cardamom its unique aroma and flavor is called cineole. This compound is also present in other herbs such as eucalyptus and rosemary.
The essential oil extracted from green cardamom seeds is used in perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetics.
Health Benefits of Green Cardamom
Not only is green cardamom a delicious spice, but it also has many health benefits. It is known to aid digestion, improve oral health, and reduce inflammation.
Green cardamom is also rich in antioxidants, which help to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
In addition to its culinary uses, green cardamom has medicinal properties that have been used for centuries. It is known to have a calming effect on the body and can be used to treat anxiety and depression. It is also used as a natural remedy for coughs and colds.
Recipes that use Green Cardamom
Green cardamom is regularly used in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. In India, it is commonly used in masala chai, a spiced tea that is consumed throughout the country.
It is also used in biryanis, curries, and other savory dishes. In Scandinavian countries, green cardamom is used in baking and is a key ingredient in traditional Christmas treats such as gingerbread cookies.
Spice No. 11- Curry Leaves
Curry leaves, also known as kadi patta in Hindi, are aromatic leaves that come from the curry tree. They are commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine to add a unique flavor and aroma to dishes.
These leaves are used in various forms, whether fresh or dried, and are an essential ingredient in many recipes.
Curry leaves are widely used in South Indian cuisine, especially in dishes like sambar, rasam, and curry. They are also popular in Sri Lankan and Malaysian cuisine.
In fact, curry leaves are a staple ingredient in many households across the world, thanks to their unique taste and aroma.
Active ingredients in Curry Leaves
The active ingredients in curry leaves are essential oils, which are responsible for their distinct flavor and smell. These oils contain compounds like alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, and limonene, which give the leaves their characteristic aroma. These oils are also responsible for the many health benefits of curry leaves.
In addition, curry leaves are used in many traditional medicines, as they are believed to have numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Curry leaves
Curry leaves have many medicinal uses, thanks to their high content of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. They are believed to improve digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, and even help prevent cancer.
In addition, they are also used to treat skin conditions like acne and dandruff.
There are many benefits to using curry leaves in our food. They not only add flavor and aroma, but also provide a range of health benefits. Curry leaves are also used commercially, in products like soaps, cosmetics, and essential oils.
Recipes that use Curry Leaves frequently
Curry leaves are used in various ways in cooking. They can be added to dishes whole, or they can be crushed and used as a seasoning or garnish.
The leaves can also be used to make chutneys, which are a popular condiment in Indian cuisine.
Some popular recipes that use curry leaves are curry leaf rice, coconut curry with curry leaves, and lentil soup with curry leaves.
These dishes are delicious and easy to make and showcase the unique flavor and aroma of curry leaves. Whether you’re an experienced chef or a home cook, incorporating curry leaves into your cooking is a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your meals.
Spice no. 12- Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are an integral part of many cuisines around the world. They are aromatic leaves, which are dried and used as a spice to add flavor to various dishes.
These leaves are obtained from the bay tree, which is a member of the laurel family. Bay trees are native to the Mediterranean region and are grown in several other parts of the world. Countries like Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, and Italy are some of the leading producers of bay leaves.
Uses of Bay Leaves
Bay leaves are used in many forms, including whole, ground, and crushed. They are commonly used in soups, stews, curries, and other dishes to add a unique flavor and aroma.
These leaves are also used to enhance the flavor of marinades, sauces, and pickles. The leaves are known for their subtle, slightly bitter taste and their ability to infuse the dishes with their flavor.
The unique aroma and flavor of bay leaves come from the presence of essential oils, such as eucalyptol and cineol. When these oils are released through cooking, they impart a distinct flavor to the dish.
Health benefits of using Bay Leaves
The leaves contain a compound called lauric acid, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. The oils present in bay leaves are also said to have a calming effect on the mind and body.
Bay leaves are known for their many health benefits. They are a rich source of vitamin A and C, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin and hair. These leaves are also rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Bay leaves are believed to help improve digestion, reduce stress, and lower blood sugar levels. They are also said to have anti-cancer properties.
Recipes using Bay Leaves
There are several recipes that use bay leaves as a key ingredient. One such recipe is the classic French Bouillabaisse, which is a fish stew made with a variety of seafood and vegetables.
Another popular recipe is the Indian biryani, which is a rice dish flavored with spices and cooked with meat or vegetables.
Bay leaves are also used in the preparation of tomato sauce, vegetable soup, and many other dishes.
Another popular recipe is chicken curry. To make chicken curry with bay leaves, you will need chicken, onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, curry powder, and of course, bay leaves. Learn here how to make chicken curry.
Start by sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger in oil until they are soft. Then add the chicken and cook until it is browned. Add the tomatoes, curry powder, and bay leaves and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with rice or naan bread.
I have now come to the end of this series on 12 spices. Before I finish and conclude, let’s learn how to incorporate/use these spices in our kitchens. Read on-
How to incorporate spices in your diet
Use these spices as a flavorful addition to your favorite recipes or as part of your daily diet. If you are new to adding spices to your diet, start by trying one per week. Using spices is always a trial-and-error method unless you are following some recipes.
To make it easier, try purchasing a bottle of spices with a label that tells you the health benefits of each spice. Once you’ve tried one, add it to your weekly meal plan and refer to it.
Here’s an example-
Incorporating spices in your diet is a great way to add flavor and health benefits to your favorite recipes. It’s easy to get started- just pick one spice per week and use it in a meal.
To make it simple, look for a bottle of spices with labels that tell you the health benefits of each spice. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes, and soon you’ll have an array of spices to add to your list of curries you serve out.
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