An amazing world of spices
By Taruneet Walia, Executive Chef, Mango Chutney Inc.
Super women of today are trying to find a balance between work and home, family and career. And this can’t be achieved without a healthy body, mind and soul. Ever since my childhood, I have heard our elders say health is wealth. No matter how successful you become, if you don’t have a healthy body, there is nothing much left to enjoy.
I consider myself fortunate to be raised in a family of professionals (my father an engineer and my mother a college professor), where I learned how small things in your everyday routine can help you achieve the goal of being healthy while keeping up with the pace of a professional world as well as raising kids. And these small things are in abundance where I grew up and we call them “wonderful spices.” Indian spices are famous all over the world. They’re not only tasty and healthy but filled with medicinal value. Indian spices come in many colours; a pinch here and an extra there, not only makes a world of difference towards the taste of dishes, but they also have significant health benefits.
Since most spices are therapeutic and very flavourful in nature, including spices in your meal can transform it from ordinary to extraordinary, and your diet becomes healthy and healing.
I would like to share some of the small things I include in my daily routine to keep my family healthy and at the same time satisfy their taste buds.
Here are few of my everyday spices and their benefits:
Turmeric contains the flavanoid cur cumin which has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric helps detoxify the liver, balance cholesterol level, fight allergies, stimulate digestion and boost immunity. It is used in small quantities and is bright yellow in colour. It combines well with other spices such as cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.
Cumin is not only popular in Indian dishes but also in many other cultures. It gives an amazing earthy
flavour to your food and is an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It helps digestion.
Coriander is an amazing spice; its green leaves and seeds can be used fresh. The seeds can also be used whole or roasted and
grounded. This spice is known to help to lower cholesterol; it is used to treat Type-2 Diabetes. Coriander leaves are high in iron, magnesium, Vitamin C, folate and Vitamin B12.
Red Chili Powder — Red chilies are used all over the world. They are made after the green chilies are left to ripen on the plant and then sun dried and ground to chili powder. Chili powder is also a good source of Vitamin A and C, potassium and iron. It also fights against inflammation and boosts the body’s immune system to fight disease.
Now, let’s use these readily available super spices in an everyday dish.
This is one of the easiest recipes to create with all fresh produce and the goodness of spices.
200 g cauliflower, cut into small florets
200 g cut green beans
100 g mushrooms, cut in half
100 g green peas
50 g green pepper, chopped
100 g boiled potatoes, cut into cubes
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp cumin
1-1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
Lemon, sliced or in cut in wedges
Heat oil in a pan, add onions and sauté until brown. Lower heat, add all the spices and vegetables and mix together. Cover with lid and cook on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until they are cooked, stirring occasionally. Pour in a bowl, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and lemon. Enjoy with rice or naan bread.
The above dish can also be served with a side of spiced plain yogurt, called “Raita.”
1 cup plain yogurt
Salt to taste
1 small grated cucumber
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp fresh chopped coriander leaves.
(You can add a fresh chopped green chili to enhance the flavour and heat.)
Healthy eating is balancing the food you eat to keep the body strong, energized and well nourished. Spices are quite mysterious yet very simple; mix one with another and you’ll discover a new flavour. Cheers!