What began as ingredients with high “medicinal” value, are now condiments on our kitchen shelves. Traditional Indian cuisine relies heavily on a wide variety of spices for flavour, colour and taste. The quality of the spices depends purely on their purity and source. Each variety comes from a distinct geographical precinct known for a particular strain. Hence, sourcing, processing and packaging is the key to the supply of pure top quality spices.
Known the world over as the new wonder herb, turmeric has taken the world by storm. Curcumin the active ingredient in turmeric has shown to be highly effective both as an antioxidant and as treatment for some of the most debilitating diseases like arthritis, Alzheimer’s and even colon cancer. Though research is still in a nascent stage, turmeric continues to lend its bright yellow hue and spicy flavour to most Indian curries.
Red Chilli Powder
Popularly known as Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the dried chilli fruit is pulverized to a powder form. In some parts of the world, a certain variety is also called Cayenne Pepper. The Indian Chilli Powder is available in a range of genetic variants. They vary in colour, pungency and flavour.
Red Chilli Whole
The whole chilli fruit is also dried and consumed in its complete form. They are sometimes added whole in Indian cooking. Some chefs prefer to grind them along with other whole spices, to infuse the precise flavours and colour to the dish. Chinese, Korean, Mexican and Thai cuisine all use whole red chillis.
The seeds of the Fennel plant is another interesting and essential spice used in Indian cooking. The seeds impart a sweet taste like licorice and form an integral part of most Indian cuisines.
Cumin seed has been in use since 5,000 years. Originally found in the Mediterranean region, it found its way to different ends of the earth. Besides being known as an antibacterial and antiseptic, its distinct aroma and strong woody flavour make it a must in almost every Indian recipe.
Cumin seeds are also ground and used in a powder form. Besides convenience and ease of use, cumin powder forms a part of most curry powder mixes. Some chefs prefer to use powders in customized proportions.
The word pepper is derived from the Sankrit word pippali. It is the most traded spice worldwide and is popularly used in almost every international cuisine. The Indian state of Kerala is famous for its high quality pepper production. The spicy flavour comes from the chemical piperine which is known to have great medicinal value.
White pepper is the same corn grown on the same plant as black pepper. The difference lies in the processing of the pepper corn. When the whole pepper corn is sun dried along with its outer layer, it turns black in colour. When the layer is removed and the corn is dried, it turns into white pepper. Scientists are researching the anti-cancer properties of white pepper.
Clove is the flower bud of the clove tree. Much has been researched and written about the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of clove. Besides, it provides a sweet and spicy flavor to meats and vegetables while baking and cooking.
The allure of cinnamon has spanned many millennia. Explorers travelled to remote places to procure cinnamon. Traditionally, Ceylon was the main producer of cinnamon which was traded across the world. Today, India and Indonesia are the major growers of cinnamon.
Nutmeg is the baker’s favorite spice made by grinding the seed of the fragrant nutmeg tree. With a distinctive pungent fragrance and a warm slightly sweet taste; it is used to flavor many kinds of baked goods and other confectionery. Sun dried seeds are broken to extract the kernel, which is the valued nutmeg.
Vanilla is a flavoring obtained from the Mexican orchid by the same name. Growing vanilla is labor intensive. This makes it the second most expensive spice after saffron. Its unique flavor makes it one of the most popular additives in the ice cream, baking and food product industries.
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