The term spices derives from the Latin species and it means commodity of value and distinction. Ever since ancient times, spices have been considered to have more value than gold or precious stones. One of the first mentioning of spices in history is from the Hindu scriptures called the Vedas, the ancient Egyptian papyruses and the Old Testament. At that time, they were not on the cooking spices list, however they were used to treat diseases, cast spells, embalm corpses, add aroma to perfumes and as aphrodisiacs. The scientific explanation of why they are so pleasant to taste is that the burning sensation is the pain of the nerve endings on the tongue which releases endorphins considered as the one's natural painkiller and the main causer of pleasurable sensations.
If we look thousands of years back, the Indian spice list has been used as a weapon for all kinds of illnesses. Popular not only in India but all around the world, they help prevent illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer's disease.
Cardamom- Elettaria Cardamomum
It is the world's second most expensive spice. It is a seed from the ginger family. Available as powder, loose seeds or dry pods, it has a sweet, eucalyptus, lemony flavour. Apart from being one of the indian food spices, it can also be used to flavour tea and black coffee. Cardamom has a healing effect in treating asthma, indigestion, anorexia, debility and burning sensation.
Recipe to try on: Indian Vegetable Stew
Sweet-tasting spice derived from a dried bark from the cinnamomun family. It can be found as powder or sticks. Apart from it's pleasant smell which helps calming the nerves, the oil found in it's bark has a healing effect in cases like cancer, asthma, heart problems, diarrhea, menstrual problems, insomnia, arthritis. It can be used for spicing hot drinks, sweet dishes but also combines perfectly with chicken.
Recipe to try on: Cinnamon Tea Cake
Coriander Seeds- Dhaniya
A member of the parsley family, found in powdered form or whole seeds. The taste is tangy and sweet, yet with a slight citrus flavour. The coriander is usually found on the list of spices when cooking pastries and bread. Moreover, it is a substitute for salt in fish and savoury dishes. It helps with digestion.
Recipe to try on: Corriander Chicken and Rice Casserole
A member of the parsley family. It's oval seeds have a nutty aroma and a bitter but not hot taste. Usually dry-fried before use, it combines well with beef dishes and it also flavours rice and vegetable dishes. It benefits the digestive system and also has anti-cancer effects.
Recipe to try on: Carrot and Cumin Soup with Fresh Coriander
In case Indian food spices are not on your shopping list, now is the perfect time to add them. Just a drop of a spice can add a twist to a simple recipe. Take care for your health and at the same time embrace all the tastes and aromas spices have to offer.