Condiments & Spices ( Introduction, Role of Spices, Uses)

Condiments & Spices

Introduction to Indian food

Think of India and one of the first things that come to mind is its diversity. A large country, its population is second only to China, its languages are numerous and every state (of which there are 28 and seven Union territories) is unique in its traditions and very importantly, its food. In fact, food from one region may actually be totally alien to a person from another region! The common thread that runs through most Indian food though, is the use of numerous spices to create flavor and aroma.Indians take their food very seriously. Cooking is considered an art and mothers usually begin to teach their daughters and pass down family recipes by show-and-tell, fairly young in life. Mealtimes are important occasions for a family to get together. Most meals comprise of several dishes ranging from staples like rice and bread to meat and vegetables and rounded off with a dessert. In a lot of Indian homes, foods are made from scratch with fresh ingredients. For example, some families buy their favorite type of wheat, wash it, dry it in the sun and then take it into a flour mill to have it ground into flour exactly the way they like, as opposed to buying flour from a store! This is changing in bigger cities where people have increasingly hectic lives and are happy to use ready-to-eat, pre-made ingredients.

Role of spices in Indian cookery

It’s hard to imagine cooking without spices. Spices are natural flavoring elements most often in dried form but sometimes fresh. A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavoring. So accustomed are we to the richness of flavor, the vibrancy of color and the delicacy of aroma that the food we eat would be sadly lacking without these vital ingredients. Cooking with spices goes a long way to achieving a cook’s desire to serve delicious food. Today’s enthusiasm for trying different foods and flavors lies behind much of the growth in the availability of spices.The role of spices in cooking has never been in question. Spices have been traded for over 7,000 years and played a major role in the development of Civilization. Wars were fought and lands explored and colonized in an attempt to find new ways of obtaining spices from the Orient and gaining control of established routes. The great thing is the availability of good spices now. Spices tend to be associated with cooking to enrich and give a distinctive depth of color and flavor to food. Different spices like basic spices including powder spices and whole spices are often used together to wonderful flavours to certain styles of cooking. Spices add a whole new dimension to cooking. Each of these spices has its own distinctive color and flavor. Indian spices have been used for hundreds of years to flavor food. We must salute to the role that these foodstuffs play in our cooking. Let us give them the respect they deserve and allow them to provide the maximum flavor and pleasure they can to our cooking.Fresh ground spices are the order of the day in any home and will be chosen according to the nature of the dish, season, and family. The role of spices goes beyond cooking.  Ayurveda prescribes spices for curative and therapeutic functions. Most spices used in cooking are very healthy and make the digestion process much easier. Spices have been used to make the food last longer in the days when refrigerators were not available. Integral to cooking all year round, spices are supremely important to have in your kitchen. Spices are high in flavor yet low in fat, calories and sodium. Spices offer the opportunity to explore new tastes.Indian food is characterized by its sophisticated and subtle use of many spices. Every single spice used in Indian cuisines carries some or the other dietary as well as medicinal properties. Spices are frequently used to heighten the culinary appeal. Spices are also used in large amount in the kitchens for flavoring and preserving food. Spices not only flavor and improve the taste of the food, but supply us with many nutritional prophylactic substances. Recent scientific studies have revealed the important role these spices play in maintaining good health. Apart from adding color, flavor and taste, consumption of spices provide infinite health benefits. Spices are used for many home remedies.  You can be more creative in use of spices if you know its uses better.Having the right spices and ingredients in your kitchen will help you start your journey into the wonderful world of cuisine. Spices play an integral role in cooking. Many spices also have medicinal properties and are used for many home remedies. In use, ground spices do have certain well-established advantage over other forms of seasoning. We primarily depend on spices for flavor and fragrance as well as color, preservation and inherent medicinal qualities. Spices have played a vital role in world trade,   due to their varied properties and applications.Spices are consistent in flavor and have a much longer shelf- life. They are easier to store and are not affected by bacterial contamination. They can be blended and used as per individual choices. They release their flavor fully on cooking or adding to the food and retain their flavour for a long time. It is said that some spices have antioxidant potential equal to fresh produce and can further reduce the risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers. Even leading dieticians agree that spices must be included in one’s diet to enhance the flavor of food and make it more interesting and may provide long-term health benefits. They can be conveniently added to day to day cooking, are inexpensive, are readily available and always in season, and by their essence, highly palatable and easily consumed”.

The Right Ways to Use Spices in Cookery

Same recipe cooked by different people tastes different. Cooking is a skill, an art which one can learn by experimenting and using different spices and herbs. There is a whole range of spices to choose from but one has to know these spices and their correct usage.Spices add flavor, color and taste to a dish. One has to understand the right ways to use these spices. Always use herbs and spices discretely, more does not mean more taste, it can spoil the taste of the food.Ways to add spices to Food for maximum flavor:

  • Use spices and herbs to improve the natural aroma of the food, do not mask the flavor.
  • Crush dry herbs just before adding these to the food. This gives a better flavor. Fresh herbs must be added at the end of the cooking for maximum aroma.
  • Do not use two strong-flavored herbs together. Always use one strong-flavored and one herb or spice with a mild flavor.
  • While removing spices or herbs from the container using a dry spoon.
  • To get a blended flavor add herbs at the beginning of the cooking. But if you want a distinctive flavor then add herbs at the end of cooking.
  • Whole spices are best to use in dishes that take long to cook as these discharge the flavor slowly.
  • Ground herbs and spices give out flavor very easily and fast. In dishes that take longer to cook like curries and stew, add ground spices towards the end of the cooking.
  • Foods that are not cooked or cold dishes like salads, fruits, and juices, add spices and herbs many hours before the food is served to allow the flavous to blend well with the food.
  • While following a recipe, if you increase the quantity two times do not use double the amount of spices, add only 50% more.
Amit Kumar
Amit Kumar
Hii! Welcome to My digital home, I am Amit – an almost no-code generalist, helping businesses with their online presence using WordPress and other tools and simplifying some of their operations with ideas and automation. A psychology and philosophy geek by interest and a graduate in Hospitality Management. I founded hmhelp during college, which got me into WordPress. I am a highly motivated and results-oriented professional with a proven track record of success in the hospitality industry. I’m also a Digital Marketing Enthusiast with significant academic and practical experience managing digital content across multiple platforms. Skilled at SEO optimization, developing digital content for social media platforms, I offer extensive knowledge of multiple software programs, strong attention to detail, and extraordinary communication skills. If you are interested in talking about any of the topics I have mentioned on my website, you are in the right place. You can contact me or learn more about what I do. You can also connect with me on social networks.

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