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The Flavourful World of Spices: A Journey through History, Types, and Uses

The Flavourful World of Spices: A Journey through History, Types, and Uses

Posted by Suryamasale on 29th Mar 2024

Being born in an Indian family, we have all learnt about a plethora of Indian spices, their flavours and aromas, and their medicinal values. For example, spices like turmeric or ginger are anti-microbial and boost immunity. Indian spices are distinctive, each with its flavour and purpose. It is impossible as an Indian to imagine food without spice as they add flavour to the blandest dish.

Here, we have talked about:

  • Spices
  • The History of Spices
  • Popular Indian Spices
  • Quirky Tips to Store Spices

What are Spices?

The term spice comes from the Latin term ‘species’ meaning merchandise or wares. Derived from plant elements like seeds, fruits, barks, and rhizomes, spices are aromatic flavours used as seasonings on dishes. Spices have been a prevalent trade item for thousands of years and have been used to both preserve and season food. It has been used as medicines, dyes, and fragrances. Starting from spices to whole dried, blended spices, and more, spices are available in different forms. Albeit, spices are sold dry, their flavours fade with time, especially when exposed to light and air.

The History of Spices

Dating back to thousands of years, spices have a long and illustrious history.

Fun Facts:

  • The ancient Egyptians used spices in their cuisine and cosmetics around 3500 BC.
  • In 1947, Vasco da Gama explored Africa’s southern point, reaching Kozhikode in 1498 on India’s Southwest coast, introducing nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and peppercorns.

Throughout the middle ages, the value of spices is equivalent to gold and jewels, a driving force in the global economy. The easy availability of spices led to a drop in their value as individuals discovered a means of transporting spice plants across the globe, disintegrating the monopolies.

Popular Indian Spices

  • Turmeric Powder: Turmeric powder is a quintessential spice in every Indian household and Indian cooking is incomplete without this spice. Characterised by an Earthy undertone flavour, turmeric powder is bright yellow and offers several health benefits. Turmeric spices have anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Coriander Powder: A member of the parsley family, coriander powder is one of the most popular spices that are cultivated mostly in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It has a sweet, tangy, and a bit of tangy flavour that produces enzymes and fluids to aid in the digestion process.
  • Red Chilli Powder: The seeds from red chillies are used to make red chilli powder and should be used in small amounts as it is fiery. However, this is a must-have spice in every Indian household that is used in every Indian dish. Red in colour, this spice enhances the appearance of any dish. Ensure that you consider every person’s tolerance to spice before adding red chilli powder to your meals. A rich source of vitamin C, red chilli powder helps in weight loss, and blood pressure, and alleviates congestion.
  • Black Pepper Powder: Black pepper powder is one of the most extensively used spices in the world and is one of the few spices that go perfectly with most cuisine. Black pepper powder is made of peppercorns, and fried berries from the Vine Piper nigrum. When the berries are almost ripe, they are collected, the sun-dried after harvesting which darkens their exterior. Black pepper’s antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties are capable of fighting free radicals, protecting the body from several other health problems
  • Dry Mango Powder: Commonly known as amchur powder, dry mango powder is mostly added to curries, chutneys, soups, and marinades, giving them an additional tangy flavour. To prepare amchur powder at home, all you need to do is, peel unripe mangoes and cut them into small slices. Sun-dry the slices and ground them into powder once they are fully dry. The taste of dry mango powder is similar to tamarind and lime juice. Know the Uses of Amchur Powder

P.S. Dry mango powder helps pregnant women to cope with morning sickness and nausea.

  • Cumin Seeds: A common ingredient in almost every Indian cuisine, cumin seeds are known for their Earthy, warm, bitter flavour. Not only does it help with digestion but they are also known to boost immunity, and cure skin problems, sleeplessness, and respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, and anaemia. Whole cumin seeds are mostly used at the start of any Indian recipe and cumin powder is usually added during the cooking process.
  • Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek seeds offer a bittersweet taste that fades away when fried. It helps with digestion, helps with eating disorders, and lowers inflammation.
  • Mustard Seeds: Another essential ingredient that aids in cooking Indian cuisine, providing a nutty tune to curries, mustard seeds and fried at the start of the preparation of any cuisine. Mustard seeds offer different health benefits like reducing body aches, stimulating appetite, and stimulating appetite. However, mustard oil can be disadvantageous to your heart health if consumed daily. Since it is high in MUFA, it lowers bad cholesterol in the body, lowering blood fat levels and enhancing circulation.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon or dalchini is known for the sweet flavour it adds to Indian traditional dishes and beverages, giving them a distinct taste, and making them more delicious. Cinnamon comes with a high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cardamom: Cardamom or elaichi offers a fragrant and savoury flavour and is used in curries and sweets. Cardamom is the third most expensive spice and is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, calcium, iron, and zinc. It is known to promote heart health, boost digestion, enhance oral health, help combat diabetes, depression, and asthma, prevents blood clots, and treat skin infections. Know More Benefits of Cardamom for Skin

Quirky Tips to Store Spices

  • Make sure you don’t put spices over a hot pot
  • Make sure the containers are opaque
  • Store spices in airtight containers
  • Do not use wet utensils to measure spices
  • Make sure you check spices frequently
  • Do not store spices in bulk

Wrapping Up,

Other than the listed spices, there are several other spices that you can’t miss out on including kasuri methi, cloves, sesame seeds, asafoetida, salt, and more.

Surya Masale has a reputation for manufacturing and marketing premium quality spice powders, blended spices, and ground spices for over 38 years, all at competitive prices. We have a well-equipped laboratory, certified for ISO (9001-2000) and HACCP ensuring a quality product. Adhering to our primary motive to manufacture and deliver the best spices, Surya Masale is a popular name in every household in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

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