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REFERENCE

About Indian Beauty

About India and its History

Indian Culinary History

India's Vegetarian Culinary Culture

The Jain Influence on India's Cuisine

The Muslim Influence on India's Cuisine

Indian Cuisine

What is Curry?

The Role of Indian Spices

North Indian Cuisine

South Indian Cuisine

Indian Cooking Techniques

Indian Restaurant Guide
North Indian Restaurant
South Indian Restaurant

Indian Entertaining

Food Pyramid

Glossary

Ayurveda

Healthy Eating


The Role of Spices in Indian Cuisine
Shop here for Indian spices
Indian Spices    Indian Spice Blends     Indian Curry Pastes

Now find a whole range of Indian spices and seasonings in our online store.  Also check our our whole Garam masala blend and Panch Poran spice blend.  We also have mango powder and tamarind paste to add a sour taste to curries

Here are some popular Indian spices - the soul of Indian cuisine.  We have an extensive line of spices in our store and we have listed descriptions of the spice and uses of the spice - in many cases we have also included a recipe.

Spices in Indian food are not heavy and although Indian food is not bland, most Indian dishes are delicately spiced to enhance the flavor of the main cooking ingredient.  Curry powder sitting on the grocers shelf may be like saw dust when one compares it to the fine spices roasted, combined  and dry ground or wet ground in the traditional Indian traditions.    Fresh ground spices are the order of the day in an Indian home and will be chosen according to the nature of the dish, season, individual and family.

The role of spices and herbs goes beyond just cooking.  Ancient ayurvedic texts prescribe the herbs and spices for curative and therapeutic functions.  Ayurvedic scripts dating back to 3000 years, list the preventive and curative properties of various spices.

1. Curative Properties:  An Indian cook has learnt to use this knowledge and weave them into everyday dishes.  Ginger prevents dyspepsia, garlic reduces cholesterol and hypertension and fenugreek is a good resistance builder and with pepper often serve as antihistamines, turmeric is used for stomach ulcers and for glow of the skin.
2.  Preserving Foods: Spices have been used to make the food last longer in the days when refrigeration was absent.
3.  Aiding Digestion: India substitutes for the western after dinner mint are fragrant spices such as fennel, cardamom or cloves. Effective mouth fresheners, they aid digestion, prevent heartburn and curb nausea. Others such as asafetida and ginger root, have been known to counteract flatulence and colic, and are added to lentils, a must with every Indian meal.
4.  Balancing Tastes and Properties of Food:  Each spice has a property not just a taste property but warm or cooling property to it.  It also has many other properties.  The cook generally understands these properties and cooking is elevated to yet another level by using this knowledge of spices into the cooking.

Spices2.jpg (11850 bytes)
Masala
is a word that is often used in an Indian kitchen. It literally means a blend of several spices. Garam (hot) masala is the most important blend masala and an absolute essential to north Indian preparations, added just before serving the dish to enhance its flavor. The rational garam masala is a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. Masala may be in dry, roasted ground or paste form.   Each State in India has its own blend and each family is partial to their own blend and each cook is partial to his bend which may be many and which change daily.
South India has a wonderful blend of wet spices where the spices are ground with various combinations of spices, fresh herbs and nuts.

 

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This work is dedicated to my mother Shanta who taught me the tenants of Ayurvedic Cuisine and Knowledge.

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1990 to 2001 - Kavita Mehta.  All Rights Reserved.
Kavita has been giving classes on Indian Cuisine in Minneapolis for the past 10 years.  She now shares her work on her website for all to enjoy.

 

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