Pinch of Amchur that Creates a Tangy Taste to Dishes

Amchur is the dried or dehydrated product prepared from unripe mangoes to be mostly used in curries. The unripe fruits are peeled and the flesh is cut into thin slices. The slices are then dried in the sun and packed in gunny bags for sale. Amchur is also marketed in the form of powder by crushing or powdering the dried peeled mango slices. Amchur is used as an accidulant or souring agent for curries. It is also used in chutneys, soups and certain specific curries. The rind is astringent, stimulating, tonic in debility of stomach. Also it is one of the most flavoured and popular masala used in Indian dishes. Amchur is the best substitute of tamarind and lemon.

A pinch of amchur can enhance the taste and flavour of chicken, fish, meat, prawns, pork, etc. It improves the taste of paneer, biryani, pulao, kachumber, salads and several dry vegetables and vegetables with the gravy. It is good for digestion and has a cooling effect. It is acidic and astringent and has high Vitamin A and Vitamin C content. It has high iron content and so is beneficial to people suffering from anaemia and pregnant women. It aids digestion and eases acidity. Amchur lends a citrusy acidic taste that is somewhat sweet to spicy.

It improves the taste of curries, chutneys, marinades, dipping sauces, soups, stews, fish, poultry, and meats. Formerly, the spice was rarely used outside of Indian cooking. Now, it has grown in popularity as an addition to vegetarian dishes both in the whole or powdered forms for its tart, sharp spiciness.  In India, mangoes are used fresh or preserved. As Amchur is highly concentrated and has a very potent flavour, it can be used instead of lemon in recipes. You can also substitute amchur for tamarind as amchur won’t change the colour of a lighter dish the way tamarind does. It is a natural foodstuff and thus scores much above the synthetic additives. In India, the mango is known as king of fruits due to the delicious fruit as well as being rich in vitamins and minerals. Amchur has a high citric acid content that is integral to the prevention of scurvy.

It has a high concentration of phenols, and phenolic compound have powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer abilities. Mangoes are low in carbohydrates and rich in anti-oxidants. Mangoes provide a pharmacologically active flavonoid, a natural xanthine, which has a number of pharmacological actions and possible health benefits. These include ant diabetic, antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, hepatic-protective, hypoglycaemic, anti-allergic and anticancer activity. It is also an excellent tenderizer and mainly used in Indian cooking as a souring agent in many curries and other dishes.  Try adding a pinch of amchur on steamed vegetables and fold in for a tangy taste. Sprinkle it on fresh cucumbers and fresh slices of onions. It is an excellent seasoning for grilled dishes. It is difficult to imagine many dishes without their distinctive spices and seasonings. Spices lend magical flavours to the dishes they are added to.

Asofoetida Powder – A Digestive Spice that Reduces Gas & Cholesterol in Body

ASAFOETIDA…

Early records mention that Alexander the Great carried this ‘stink finger’ west in 4 BC. Used as flavouring in the kitchens of ancient Rome, this pungent, resinous gum is used widely in Indian vegetarian cooking. Ferula asafoetida, a perennial of the carrot family, grows wild to 3.6 metres/ 12 feet high in huge natural forests. The plant is indigenous to Iran, Afghanistan and in the north of India. There is a smaller species called ferula narthex. The whole plant exudes the characteristic strong smell, described by some as a stink. The milky resin comes from both the thick stems and the root, and it dries into asafoetida.

In its raw state, the resin or the powder has an unpleasant smell. This completely disappears when the spice is added to a variety of vegetables, fish, pulse, and pickle ingredients. Used mostly in Indian vegetarian cooking, in which the strong onion-garlic smell enhances many dishes especially those of the Brahmin and Jain castes where onions and garlic are prohibited. Also used in curries, and pickles from India. The lump of resin would only be acceptable to keen Indian cooks who use a very small pieces at a time. For most of us, the powdered version is easier to handle. Buy asafoetida in small quantities. The powdered resin is usually mixed with flour to provide bulk.

Asafoetida is a useful antidote for flatulence and hence its popularity with Indian vegetarian cooks, who make generous use of pulses. There are claims for it being used to cure bronchitis and even hysteria. Asafoetida is useful as a digestive spice that has the additional benefit of lowering cholesterol and reducing gas. Asafoetida warms and corrects excess vata and kapha. The strong, sulphur like smell gives rise to the common name devils dung. Like most smelly herbs it nurtures the earth element and enhances stamina. Asafoetida consists of various natural elements: two thirds of it is carbohydrates, about 16% is water, and 7 % are minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, sulphur compounds and others. This herb is also a good source of fibre, proteins and vitamins. 100 g of Asafoetida powder has 297 calories. Since the early ages it’s known for its great sedative, spasmodic, expectorant, antibacterial, anti-fungal and carminative, stimulant and other valuable medicinal properties.

AMCHUR/ MANGO POWDER…

The mango tree is a member of the cashew and pistachio family, native to India, where the mango is known as the ‘King of Fruits’. The name amchur comes from aam, the Hindu word for mango, and chur meaning powder. The unripe mangoes are sliced, sun-dried and ground to a powder. Amchur powder has a sweet and sour flavour, with just a hint of resin. In the high temperatures of the Indian continent, mango powder keeps far better than fresh tamarind or lemons, other typical souring agents. It is used primarily in vegetarian dishes, where it is usually added towards the end of the cooking so that its astringent, yet slightly sweet-sour flavour is still detectable when the food is served. Mango powder is added to soups, marinades, curries and chutneys.