India is known as the ‘The home of spices’. There is no other country in the world that produces as many kinds of spices as India. The climate of the country is suitable for almost all spices. Spices constitute an important group of agricultural commodities which are virtually indispensable in the culinary art. In India, spices are important commercial crops from the point of view of both domestic consumption and export.
Spices are the natural way of caring for yourself. In fact, special preparations of spices are an integral part of Indian culture and society and help the doctor away. Spices can’t only improve the taste of your food, but can also improve the state of your health. Spice provides a wealth of flavors to a range of colourful, aromatic, multi – textured cuisines across the country.
Indian Spices :
Mango Powder :Made from sun – dried mangoes, it’s used as a souring agent or to tenderize meats.Substitutes: lemon juice, tamarind, chopped fresh mango (use more) or chopped fresh fresh papaya (use more).Green Chillies :
Chillies are available fresh, dried powdered, flaked, in oil, in sauce, bottled and pickled. The fresh ones (when unripe) come in various shades of green. The ripe ones are red. When dried, they look like crumpled rubies.
preparations are used as counter – irritants for lumbago and rheumatic disorders.
Medicinal Value: Chillies are highly in Vitamin A & C . They are also added to medicines to relieve sore throat.
Red Chillies :
They are deceptively beautiful. Their taste ranges from mild to dynamite. While they scorch your taste buds, they also blend a little heat and a whole lot of fragrance and flavour to Indian cuisine. They add the zing to Indian Cooking.
Garam Masala :
Black Peppercorn : 1 teaspoon, Cumin seed : 2 teaspoon, Bay leaves : 3 nod, Cloves : 1 teaspoon, Cinnamon stick : 3/4 in stick, cardamom : 1 teaspoon.
In north India where winters are bitterly cold, a blend of spice called garam masala is preferred to Chillies which cool body by promoting perspiration. Some of the most expensive spice go into its making. Every house hold in India has their own recipe for it. Depending on individual taste, the proportion of the various ingredients can be adjusted.
Sambhar Powder :
Red Chillies : 12no, Black peppercorns : 1 tea spoon, Coriander seeds : 1 teaspoon, Cumin seed : 2 teaspoon, Fenugreek seed : 1 teaspoon, Black Mustard seed : 1 teaspoon, Turmeric powder : 1 teaspoon, Asafoetida : 1/4 teaspoon, Split yellow lentils : 3 teaspoon, Split gram lentils : 3 teaspoon, Split black lentils : 3 teaspoon. It’s the special spice blend of south India. It acts as a flavouring as well as a thickening agent. This mix is so called because it is used to flavour a dal (lentils) of the same name (Sambhar), popular in this region. It is a Preparation of lentils and vegetables, spiked with different spices and laced with coriander.
Tandoori Masala :
Cumin seeds : 2 teaspoon, Coriander seeds : 2 teaspoon, Chilli powder : 1 teaspoon, Cloves : 1 teaspoon, Cinnamon : 3/4 in stick, Garlic powder : 1 teaspoon, Mace powder : 2 teaspoon, Red food colouring : 2 teaspoon, Ginger powder : 2 teaspoon. In Punjabi, huge earthen or clay ovens (called tandoors), half buried in the ground are made red-hot with a coal fire at the bottom. Marinated fish, meat, chicken and cooked cheese is threaded on to skewers and cooked in it. The food gets flavored by a special tandori mixture of spices and charcoal. Tandori masala has a distinctive aroma. Very fragrant and spicy. It tastes hot, sour and salty with a predominant of cumin and coriander.
Panch Phoron :
Nigella seeds, Black mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Fennel seeds. In the northeastern side of India lies Bengal. The most popular spice here in panch phoron – Bengal’s equivalent of the Chinese 5 – spice powder. It is added to hot oil before adding vegetables, lentils or pulses. As it begins to splutter, the rest of the ingredients are added. The unique aroma of Bengali cuisine is largely due to it.
Saffron requires over two hundred thousand stigma from crocus sativus flowers to make a pound of saffron. That’s why saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Fortunately, a little of the good stuff goes a long way – it only takes a few threads to add saffron’s distinct yellow colour and earthy aroma to a family meal. Saffron threads should be red with orange tips. Threads lacking orange tips may dyed, so avoid them. The quality of powdered saffron is measured by its Minimum Coloring Strength. The higher the Minimum Coloring Strength, the less saffron you need to use.
Substitutes: turmeric ( for color, not flavor ; use 4 times as much) safflower (use 8 times as much; less expensive and imparts similar color, but its taste is decidedly inferior), marigold blossoms (for color, not flavor; use twice as much) or read and yellow food coloring.
Black Mustard Seeds :
Indian cooks prefer these over the large yellow mustard seeds that are more common in the west. Substitutes: brown mustard seed (very close), Yellow mustard seeds.
White Mustard Seeds :
Smaller and hotter than the yellow mustard seeds that most western cooks are familiar with. Mustard is believed to posses the ability to calm the mind, create a peaceful personality and sharpen intelligence.
Brown Cardamom Pods :
Cardamom figures prominently in various type of Indian Cuisines. It is the best to buy cardamom seeds still encased in their natural flavour – protecting pods, which can discard after you remove the seeds. Brown cardamom is a similar spice that Indians use in savory dishes.
Substitutes: brown cardamom, equal parts ground nutmeg and cinnamon, equal parts ground cloves and cinnamon, nutmeg or cinnamon.
Medicinal value: cardamom is aromatic, stimulating and refreshing. It rekindles. It rekindles digestive fire, refreshes the mind and is a heart stimulant, It also relieves gas.
This adds an earthy flavour to the curries, chutneys, and sauces. It’s available as seeds or powder. Medicinal value: useful in inflammatory disorders, joint pains and in diabetes.
It has a subtle flavour that’s often used to enhance vegetable dishes. To bring out the flavour, it helps to toast the seeds briefly before using them. Substitutes: cumin seeds, sesame seeds or oregano. Medicinal value: relief from painful menstruation.
Pomegranate seeds :
Bits of pomegranate pulp remain on the seeds as they dry, so they’re a bit sticky and serve as a souring agent in Indian cuisine. The seeds also come ground.
White Poppy seeds :
Indian cooks use these as a thickener in their curries and as a filling in baked goods. Substitute : Poppy seeds (black) .
With its warm, sweet flavour, cinnamon is one of the biggest workhorses on the spices shelf. Cooks often use it to flavour baked goods and drinks but cinnamon also works wonders in stews and sauces.
Substitutes: nutmeg or allspice. Medicinal value: Useful for those suffering from acid peptic disease.
Cloves are nail-shaped dried flower buds that have a sweet, penetrating flavor. They can be ground and used to flavor baked goods or sauces or left whole and poked into roasted hams or pork. Use clove sparingly. A little of it goes a long way too. Substitutes: allspice (as a substitute for ground cloves).
Fresh turmeric :
Turmeric has a pleasant enough flavor but it’s prized more for the brilliant yellow colour it curry powder, pickles, and prepared mustards. Medicinal value: It is a traditional remedy for jaundice in both Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicine. It is also used to ease liver complaints and ulcers.