Spices are an integral part of every Ayurvedic kitchen. Exotic, aromatic & therapeutic spices play a predominant role in kitchens across the globe, be it a simple meal or a grand feast.
The earlier blog on ‘Rasas’ highlighted the six distinct taste elements and spices are a flavorful way of including all the six tastes in your cooking.
This blog is a celebration of the six most accessible & staple spices, highlighting their numerous benefits.
It is commonly referred to as the ‘Classic Golden Spice’, it contains an anti-inflammatory flavonoid called curcumin. This bright golden yellow spice is used to add a dash of colour when cooking lentils, rice & gravies.
An anti-oxidant, rich spice found in every Indian kitchen, turmeric fights allergies, detoxifies the liver, maintains healthy cholesterol levels boost immunity, sights allergies & stimulates digestion.
Ayurveda regards turmeric as a heating spice, defined by taste elements (Rasa)- bitter, pungent and astringent.
Turmeric combines well with other spices, including cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper & fennel. It can be consumed fresh and powdered and is suitable for all three dosha types.
It is best enjoyed as immunity boosting drink with hot milk before bedtime.
It is a cooling spice; extremely good for digestion and strengthens the digestive fire (Agni). It is common in India to consume a few light-toasted fennel seeds after a meal.
Fennel has a mild, sweet taste, and coarsely ground fennel seeds can be added to various vegetable dishes after cooking.
Ayurveda suggests not to cook fennel as it kills its cooling properties. Fennel is highly aromatic, woody, less pungent and sweet to taste.
This mild spice combines well with cumin and coriander. It helps to maintain the balance between Vata, Pita & Kapha doshas.
Fennel is beneficial for stomach, and digestive disorders, bad breath, cramps and soothes heart burns. A soothing cup of fennel tea is another way to enjoy this spice and detox the body. Its Satvic qualities promote mental alertness.
It is a popular superfood and one of the healthiest spices. As per the Ayurvedic texts, it is considered a universal medicine. This pungent yet sweet root spice is a digestive aid for mainly Vata imbalances.
Ginger reduces nausea and menstrual cramps and eases common cold & flu. It is anti-microbial and is a great immune system booster. Indian recipes include a lot of ginger in various forms, including dry, pastes, grated for gravies, sauces and many other recipes.
Ginger is high in gingerol, which is a substance with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Ginger can be used to treat travel sickness, respiratory issues, indigestion, joint pain and muscle soreness, amongst other conditions. It can be consumed in various forms, including dry ginger powder or liquid.
It is a fragrant spice belonging to the carrot family; widely used worldwide. Fabled for its versatility, cumin is used as a whole, roasted or ground to season foods, including soups and stews, to enhance their taste.
It is defined by a smoky & pungent flavour and is used to treat a range of imbalances, including inflammatory bowel, digestive ailments, high blood sugar & improved cholesterol levels.
This power-packed spice can promote weight loss and reduce body fat. When consumed on an empty stomach in the morning, a few cumin seeds soaked overnight in water detoxifies the body and improve metabolism.
It is known to pacify Vata & Kapha doshas and increases Pita. Cumin is a rich source of iron & boosts the cognitive functions of the brain.
It is a sweet, warming spice from Sri Lanka, it is used to pacify the Vata and Kapha doshas because it increases metabolic fire.
Cinnamon is known to boost the appetite and improve digestion and liver functions. This exotic spice helps address cardiovascular and respiratory issues. Cinnamon barks are used in curries, savouries, sweets, breakfast dishes and beverages.
A pungent spice it stokes the digestive fire and can be consumed in a variety of ways, including sprinkling cinnamon powder over rice and vegetables to aid digestion.
A tropical spice it compliments a variety of other spices, including ginger, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg and saffron. Cinnamon promotes healthy joints and regulates blood sugar levels & vitality.
Like turmeric, cardamom belongs to the ginger family. Often referred to as a warming spice with floral notes, sweet and pungent in taste.
Originally a native of the Asian sub-continent it is one of the most expensive spices after saffron & vanilla and is used extensively in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. It comes in a pod and contains tiny seeds.
Both the pod and seeds are ground and used in various ways, including as a flavouring agent in coffee, tea, and turmeric milk, garnished on fruits, used in combination with other spices as a marinade and can even be chewed as an after-meal digestive.
There are two types of cardamom – Green and Black. Both are uniquely distinct in flavour, aroma and health benefits.
This spice is known to balance all three doshas. It restores blood circulation, possesses detoxifying qualities, helps reduce Kapha and pacifies Vata when out of balance.
This multi-purpose spice is excellent for digestion difficulties, cleanses the stomach, relaxes muscle tissues, enhances respiratory health and is a mood booster.
This blog is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the world of spices and their significant influence on our health and wellbeing.
The treasure box of spices is rich and plentiful. We have hand-picked a few pantry staples familiar to our readers, illustrating their key benefits, taste elements (Rasas) and culinary uses.
We hope you find creative ways to use them in your daily diet and discover the jam-packed goodness that mother earth offers in each of them.