Spices add that Extra Zing to North Indian Food

Indian cuisine is known world over for its immense variety and taste. Each region has its own unique cuisine which is influenced by culture, region and the climatic conditions of that area. The Northern states of Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have a rich variety of cuisine which is popular all over.

The food of Punjab and Delhi like stuffed parathas, sarson ka saag with makki ki roti, dal makhani or lentils  prepared with cream, red kidney beans, chickpea and bhature, potato and puri, paneer dishes, tanduri chicken, chicken tikka etc. is known for its rich spicy taste.

In Rajasthan sweet dishes like Imarti, ghevar, balushahi are eaten not only after a meal but also before a meal or during a meal. The main course vegetarian dishes include shahi gatte, lauki key koftey, besan gate ki sabji etc. and the non vegetarian dishes are mohan maans, laal maans etc.

Uttar Pradesh is known for its Awadhi and Mughlai cuisine, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. It is known for the Nawabi food of Lucknow. Some of the popular dishes are kebabs, dum biryani, mutton dishes, kofta etc.

The climate in North India is extreme, hot summer and very cold winter. Fresh vegetables and fruits are available in plenty. Dairy products like curd, cheese, milk, ghee, cream etc. are an important part of the cuisine.

Spices add that extra zing to the delicious food of these states. The many spices used to make these dishes are:

Bay leaves – Bay leaves have a sharp taste, and the light green coloured leaves give a magnificent flavor to the dish.

Cloves – It adds a strong, sweet, pungent smell to the food. It is also used as a mouth freshener.

Black Cardamoms – These large brown pods are used to flavor vegetarian as well as non vegetarian dishes.

Pepper Corns –It adds a pungent, hot taste to the dish. These are used whole or in powder form.

Ginger – This is hot and pungent to taste and has a sweet flavor. It is used in almost all types of dishes and it helps to digest the food.

Garlic – Garlic cloves are used to add flavor to curries, soups, sauces, salads chutneys etc.

Coriander –Its fresh green leaves and the dry seeds, both are used to spice up the dishes. The seeds have a sweet tangy flavor with a touch of lemony aroma.

Cumin – With their warm nutty flavor, these are used to flavor rice, vegetables, curries, curd etc.

Turmeric- Turmeric adds a bright tempting yellow colour to the dish. It is known for its curative and digestive properties.

Cinnamon – This has a sweet woody aroma. It has a pleasant smell which calms the nerves. It is used to add flavor to hot drinks, sweet dishes, and curries.

Saffron – Its honey like pungent aroma and the bright yellow colour give a rich look to the dish. It is used in sweet dishes as well as in rice and soups.

Ajwain (carom)- The strong pungent aroma of ajwain gives a beautiful flavor to the dish.

Fennel (soonf) – When added in moderation, it gives a sweet flavor to the dish. After a meal these are chewed for digestion and to make the breath fresh.

Conclusion

When you think of any dish from North India, you think of the lovely aroma, fragrance and the taste and also the spices that go in the dish to bring out that yummy aromatic taste.

Spices Add the Tangy Taste to Indian Pickles and Chutneys

No Indian meal is complete without pickles and chutneys being a part of it. This pungent accompaniment is fruit or vegetable based and can be sweet or salty. Pickles and chutneys are made from a range of fruits and vegetables like mangoes, plums, lime, chillies, mint, tomatoes etc.

A number of spices are added to give a tangy taste to these pickles and chutneys. Chutneys are a ‘must have’ with a number of Indian cuisine like, dosa with sambhar and coconut chutney in South India, vadapav and chutney in West India. These accompaniments make an ordinary meal ‘great’. These are simple and easy to make, and all the magic is added by the spices.

A usual Indian chutney is made by grinding together raw fruits like mango, apple etc. with green chilli, green coriander leaves, mint leaves and spices along with lemon juice, vinegar or tamarind. This ground paste stays in the fridge for few days only.

These chutneys are not only appetizing but also nutritious due to the fresh ingredients and the spices used.

The spicy tangy pickles are made from raw fruits and vegetables. These have a base of vinegar, lime juice or cooking oil which act as preservatives and the pickles can last for a long time.

The Indian pickles have an array of flavours and variety, like sweet pickles, sour or salty pickles.

Raw mango pickle is the most popular one and its recipe differs from region to region. Raw mango pieces are first marinated with salt and turmeric powder for a day. Then all spices are mixed together.

Amla pickle is a very popular spicy pickle. Amla is very rich in vitamin C, and A, calcium and phosphorus. It helps in digestion of food, improves liver and reduces ulcers.

Garlic is a good resource of manganese. Garlic pods are peeled and mixed with mustard, salt and jiggery to make pickle.

Many vegetables and fruits like green and red chillies, carrots, lemon, cauliflower etc. are used to make yummy delicious pickles.

A number of spices and some nuts are used to add that spicy tangy flavor and taste to pickles and chutneys. Some commonly used spices are fenugreek, coriander, cumin, asafetida, cloves etc. These impart spicy, pungent, sour, sweet-smelling taste to the food. Their healing properties are valuable to our health.

Health benefits of Pickles

Pickles are rich in antioxidants. Raw vegetables and fruits are used to make chutneys and pickles so their antioxidants are preserved.

Salt pickles are naturally fermented, these help in the growth of probiotic bacteria which in turn help in the digestion of food.

Chutneys made from fresh vegetables and herbs not only taste good they are a good source of vitamins like C, A, and K and also minerals like iron, calcium etc. These improve our immune system, make our bones stronger and they are good for our eyes as well. Vinegar based pickles and chutneys help to perk up hemoglobin.

Conclusion

Almost all vegetables, herbs, or fruits can be used to make chutneys and pickles. In India people made pickles some 4000 years in the past. This was a way to preserve vegetables and raw fruits. When eaten during summer season these help to digest the food.

Indian Sweets with the Aroma of Spices

You cannot think of Indian food without spices, they are an important part of Indian cuisine. When you think of any dish, be it a main dish, a snack, or a sweet dish, herbs and spices are sure to be a part of the dish.

Spices add a flavor, an aroma and colour to the food. These are also known for their health benefits and curative properties. In a recipe spices are normally added at the end of the cooking in order to retain their fragrance and if they are cooked for a long time their essential oils evaporate.

Mithai or the Indian sweets are a very important part of Indian culture. On any happy occasion sweets are offered to friends and relatives. On festivals, puja, ceremonies etc. sweets are a part of the festivity. We have a wide range of sweets of different colours, form and sizes. Each variety of sweets has a discrete taste and flavor.

Indian sweets have either milk as the base or are flour based. Sweets like rosgollas, sandesh, rabri, burfi have milk as the base and ladoos, halwa are flour based. Besides the basic ingredients these sweets also have herbs and spices to add that extra aroma. The spices include saffron, cardamom, sesame seeds, mint, cloves and rose petals.

Spices in Indian sweets

Saffron – It is the orange red stigma of the crocus flower specially cultivated. This orange coloured spice is the most expensive of all spices. It adds a strong flavor like honey and a beautiful yellow colour to the dish. To bring out its full aroma, these are dipped in warm water and then used for colouring and flavouring sweets and puddings.

It contains chemical compounds which are anti-oxidant, they promote health and prevent diseases. It is also rich in many vitamins.

Cardamom – These are the seeds of a tropical plant. Both the seeds and the fruit have a pleasing aroma and a spicy sweet taste. When added to sweets dishes and mithais it adds a sweet lemony flavor to them. Normally it is added to sweets along with almonds and saffron.

Cardamoms are known to cure urinary and skin problems. These help in digestion,  prevent flatulence and burning sensation.

Sesame Seeds – Sesame seeds have a nutty flavor which is enhanced when the seeds are dry roasted. These are used in cooking, sprinkler over toasts, cakes, deserts etc. These are used in many sweet preperations like sesame ladoos, chikke ( sesame seeds roasted and mixed with peanuts and jaggery) which are eaten in cold season.

These seeds are rich in minerals, anti-oxidants, and vitamins. They are a rich source of proteins, B-complex vitamins, folic acid, calcium, and many other minerals.

Nutmeg – Nutmeg is known for its warm sweet nutty aroma and its curing properties. When added to food it lends a delicate flavor and saffron colour to the sweet dishes.

Nutmegs are antioxidants, and promote health. They are a good source of minerals and vitamins.

Fennel (saunf) seeds – These seeds are widely used in different cuisine. They impart a sweet fruity flavor when added to sweet dishes.

Fennel seeds are known to reduce flatulence and indigestion.

Conclusion

Indian sweets and desserts are very popular world over for their authentic and unique taste, flavor and style. No Indian festivity is complete without Indian sweets. The spices added to them help to add that extra aroma to the mouth watering taste.

Various Spices used in South Indian Cuisine

India is a vast country with diverse geological regions, cultures and food. The food and the food habits of each region, East, West, North and South are completely different. The climate of each region influences the type of food eaten in that area.

In South India the climate is sultry and hot. They receive a good amount of rainfall and also fruits and vegetables are easily available. Their main food is rice, and the popular south Indian dishes are sambhar, rasam, dosa, idli, vadas, payasam etc and not to forget a range of chutneys.  The chief spices and ingredients are lentil, tamarind, curry leaves, chilies, and mustard, cumin, cinnamon, etc. Coconut oil is commonly used.

All the spices and ingredients used in South Indian cuisine have dietary as well as therapeutic benefits. The food is hot and spicy and it has a blend of taste, aroma, smell, and seasoning.

Tamarind – This is a commonly used spice in South Indian cuisine. It is rich in dietary fibre and helps to excrete bad cholesterol from the body. It is anti-oxidant and is rich in iron, calcium, copper, potassium etc. It is also rich in a number of vitamins.

Turmeric –The rhizome of the plant is dried and powdered. It is a part of almost all South Indian dish, it adds colour to the food. It is a natural antibiotic and when added to food its healing ability is beneficial to the body. It has calming effect on the stomach, it is anti –inflammatory and kills inner parasites and also purifies blood.

Coconut – Grown in large quantity, coconut is the main ingredient of South Indian cuisine. Fresh grated coconut or its milk is used to make the curry thick, to add flavor and taste to a dish.

Cinnamon – This is the bark of the tree. It lowers LDL cholesterol, is beneficial for diabetes, it gives relief to people suffering from arthritis. It is a natural food preservative so when it is added to food it averts the growth of bacteria and prevents the food from spoiling.

Asafetida ( hing) – This has a pungent flavor and a strong taste. It is beneficial for respiratory disorders, flatulence, impotency etc.

Black Pepper – When added to food it improves digestion, it reduces intestinal gas, it is an anti oxidant and prevents the growth of bacteria in the intestines.

Cardamom – It helps to offset acidity in the stomach and when the powder of cardamom is sprinkled on coffee it act as an aphrodisiac. When added in food it improves digestion and helps to lessen stomach gas.

Cumin seeds – Cumin has a strong discrete flavor, it improves digestion, helps to cure heart burn and stomach pain. The seeds are anti oxidants and anti- flatulent, these help in digestion. These are rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, copper, calcium, vitamin E, A, and C etc.

Mustard seeds – Mustard seeds are used in almost all dished in South India. These add a pungent aroma to the food. These are used in vegetarian as well as non vegetarian dishes, and also in pickles and chutneys.

Mustard seeds are rich in anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are a rich source of B-complex vitamins, and vitamin E. It helps to lower blood cholesterol and regulate the metabolism.

Conclusion

All the spices used in South Indian cuisine are of pant origin. These prevent diseases and promote health. They also increase the flavor of a dish.