Indian food is well known for its spices, but don't be fooled into thinking it's all about heat. In fact, what makes the various cuisines of India so delicious is that they're packed full of complex flavours. And this is achieved by chefs using a carefully balanced blend of spices to really please your taste buds.
But it isn't just flavours that all these spices provide, even if that is the primary reason they're in there. Spices also come with various health benefits, so eating them regularly is a good way to give your body a boost while you enjoy amazing dishes. Here are just some of the common Indian spices, and the benefits they bring.
These little pods come in two varieties, green and the larger black cardamom. Both types are normally used whole and are found widely in Indian cooking, often as a seasoning for rice.
Cardamom is great at helping digestion and is also packed with antioxidants to keep you healthy and fight off illness. In traditional medicine, cardamom is used to boost the mood and beat depression.
A spice that's widely used in several different world cuisines, cumin is nevertheless an integral part of Indian food's characteristic flavour. The small seeds are sometimes used whole or sometimes ground into a powder.
Like cardamom, cumin helps you digest easily, so it's useful when it's in a big meal. It's also been shown to lower cholesterol levels, and can even help diabetes to be more manageable.
Many people associate cinnamon with sweet treats, but it's also quite often used in Indian savoury dishes.
There's some evidence that cinnamon keeps blood sugar levels more stable, so it's another ingredient that's good for diabetics. It can also lower blood pressure and – you guessed it – aid digestion.
Small round seeds that look a bit like pale straw-coloured peppercorns, coriander is more commonly used ground. Whichever form it's in, it's found in a large range of Indian spice mixes.
Coriander helps keep the urinary tract healthy and supports normal liver function. There's also some evidence that it has an anti-inflammatory effect, so it can be beneficial to people with arthritis.
Turmeric is a root that's normally used as a beautiful golden powder, which lends colour and flavour to curries and rice.
The thing that gives turmeric its colour is a pigment called curcumin. This substance is an excellent anti-inflammatory, and can also drop your risk of heart disease.
Found to some degree in spicy dishes, red or green chilli peppers might be used whole if they're small, chopped if they're bigger, or dried and ground into a powder.
They're full of useful vitamins to keep you in top shape, and they can also boost cardiovascular health. Chillies are also good at clearing a blocked nose, and can even make your cold go away faster by helping you sweat it out.Share