The spice is right


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The spice is right

  1. 1. The Spice is Rightby Caroline Robertson, Ayurveda Elements, Sydney AustraliaNeed to spice up your life? Bored with the same old tastes andaromas? Spices not only add a distinctive flavour to food they alsohave impressive health benefits. So instead of popping pills when youfeel unwell first consider how you can use food as you medicine. Ifyou’ve got the runs, try nutmeg. Nausea? Chew on ginger. Feelingbloated? Favour fennel tea. To savour the variety of medicinal spicesavailable create your own kitchen pharmacy with the followingessential spice elixirs.Asafoetida CardamomAsafoetida’s one of those rare foods that smell A sweet seed often added to dessertsweird but taste great. Sulphurous compounds in cardamom gives one a sweet breath and voice.this resin give it a distinctive garlicky aroma. Also Called the grain of paradise, cardamom wasknown as hing, this yellow resin is most once one of the most valued exports of Southcommonly sold as a India. It is not onlypowder generally delicious but bearsmixed with turmeric • medicinal properties thatand wheat. I think of • 61 2 9904 7754 make it indispensible toit as the “great bloat 17 Orchard Rd, Chatswood NSW 2067 any kitchen dispensary.banisher” due to its Added to sweet curries, • Copyright © Ayurveda Elements 2010unprecedented desserts, dals and curriespower to absorb gas from the body, flush out it will help to clear the passageways of mucusfluid and neutralise gaseous foods in cooking. and to reduce gassy indigestion. Given withFor millennia India mothers have massaged their ginger it is credited with stimulating the appetitebaby’s colicky tummys with 1/5 tsp roasted and reducing nausea.asafoetida and 2 Tbs warm sesame oil,delighted when the pain and crying rapidly Recent research also indicates that it may aiddissipates. Asafoetida’s also effective for painful the body to detoxify from caffeine and codeine.periods, asthma and arthritis. Used in cooking you can bruise a green pod, fry it and add to savouries or for sweets add theFor this its taken as a mixture of equal parts powder, seeds or raw crushed pods. To helpcumin seeds, ginger powder, black cumin strengthen the respiratory system and eliminateseeds, ajwan seeds and rock salt. Try 1 tsp coughs and colds try this traditional chai tea. Totwice daily before meals with warm water or 4 cups of boiling water add 5 bruised cardamommore frequently with persistent pain. The easiest pods, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 peppercorns, 6way to cook with asafoetida is to throw a pinch slices of ginger root and 2 basil leaves. Boilof powder in with your beans, nuts, veggies or down to 2 cups. Cool and serve with honey orgrains. This will not only add a rich oniony palm sugar. This is also a tasty and therapeuticflavour but quietens any uncomfortable after- alternative to caffeinated drinks.dinner rumblings. 1    
  2. 2. Cinnamon and drink the diuretic tea for the urinary tract.A spice used extensively in Ayurvedic and For the vast number of people suffering fromChinese medicine, cinnamon is the perfect allergies such as hayfever a daily intake ofingredient to add to your warming winter dishes. coriander leaves can often reduce symptoms.The Egyptians used cinnamon as a preservativefor embalming and the Portuguese valued its This is attributed to the leaves naturaltangy taste so much it inspired several antihistamine, vitamin C and bioflavonoidexpeditions. Cinnamon is a suitable companion content which fortifies hyper-reactive mucousto cardamom in sweet dishes or drinks. The membranes. The high bioflavonoid content cansourness of stewed fruit is disguised by the also aid haemorrhoids, varicose veins and spideraddition of cinnamon and cardamom. veins. For cooking, the best powder is made fresh by grinding whole seeds, lightly frying andBy itself however you can’t beat cinnamon sticks adding to dishes. Fresh leaves can be stored byor powder to charge the circulation and warm cutting off roots, draining moisture away andbackache related to chilled kidneys. You can keeping in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge.apply it by making a cup of boiled water with 1cinnamon quill or 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder Cuminsteeped in it for 5 minutes. A few drops of of Cum-an’ get it! Perhaps the most popular spiceclove and cinnamon essential oils are effective in Ayurvedic cooking, cumin has a rich flavourpainkillers when applied directly to toothache. along with a wealth of medicinal properties.Also used to settle hiccups try a pinch of Have you ever had a mix of spices offered tocinnamon and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to you after an Indian meal? These spices,ease the discomfort. including cumin, are to help your digestion and freshen your breath. To make your own mix atCloves home combine the following- 1 tsp cuminThere’s a belief in India that “a clove a day keeps seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1/4 tsp grounda sore throat at bay.” In fact cloves’ antiseptic ginger, ½ tsp rock sugar and a pinch of rockproperties are what led to the old English salt. Munch on about 1/2 tsp after a meal totradition of hanging oranges studded with cloves ensure healthy digestion. Adding ground andin cupboards. The ideal clove is black with a roasted cumin or roasted cumin seeds to dishesthick stem and a closed bud which stimulates and drinks is the easy way to access its healingthe tastebuds with it’s spicy pungency. Clove powers. Both the black and brown cumin helpbuds are often cooked with rice to relieve gas,dishes whereas the powder is period pain www.ayurvedaelements.combetter in vegetable dishes. and diarrhoea. • Taken withFor sore throats and coughs one • 61 2 9904 7754 fennel its acan take a pinch of clove with 1 17 Orchard Rd, Chatswood NSW 2067 popular tea intsp of honey three times a day or • Copyright © Ayurveda Elements 2010 India toinhale the steam of 7 cloves in 5 increasecups of boiled water. Chinese courtiers chewed breast milk in nursing mothers.the cloves to freshen their breath and inayurveda its stimulating qualities are used for A tea made from the seeds is also a safe drinklow blood pressure and low libido. Also a to give to colicky children. For kids under six addpopular remedy for worms and amoebas used 1/2 tsp brown cumin seeds to 2 cups of boilingby naturopaths is a combination of cloves, black water. Simmer uncovered until reduced to 1 cupwalnut hulls and wormwood. of water. Strain and cool to lukewarm temperature. Give 20 mls of this warm to theCoriander child every hour until pain subsides. To disguiseNext time you feel hot and bothered sprinkle the taste it can be mixed with peppermint tea orsome cooling coriander leaves on your stirfry or diluted buttermilk.add to your juice. The seeds are also great forthe first stages of conjunctivitis and urinary tract Curry leavesinfections. Use as an eyewash for eye redness
  3. 3. To make a good Indian dish great- just add fresh Known in India as ‘Vishwabeshaj” or thecurry leaves. The leaves must be fresh though universal medicine, ginger is an irreplaceableas once dried they become relatively bland. The addition to your spice apothecary. Recentgood news is that curry trees are one of the medical trials has supported its traditionaleasiest and hardiest plants to grow. Curry leaves prescription for morning and motion sickness.are added either fresh or lightly fried in oil to Try chewing on a slice of fresh ginger or enjoy adishes generally towards the conclusion of cup of ginger tea to alleviate these They are then either taken out or left in, An addition to about 80% of Chinese anddepending on the diners preference. Ayurvedic medicines, ginger has a long historyCurry leaves are traditionally used to soothe as a remedy for poor circulation, coughs, colds,stomach upsets. They are most effective in flu, nausea and poor digestion. To improvecooling the burning pain of ulcers and skin circulation in winter try a morning cup of gingerconditions. Diarrhoea and dysentary is also root, cinnamon quill and pepper tea. Combine 5treated with curry leaves in Ayurvedic medicine. slices of fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick and 2They are often thrown into dals and chutneys to peppercorns in 1 cup of boiling water. Reducecombat gas and worms. To keep curry leaves to one cup, strain and add honey to taste beforefresh for months keep them on the stalk and drinking. It can keep you warm all day. Tostore in an air-filled soothe lower backache,plastic bag in the sciatica and kidney pain,freezer. • a poultice can be applied • 61 2 9904 7754 in the early phase of theFenugreek condition. 17 Orchard Rd, Chatswood NSW 2067People tend to avoidthis wonderful spice • Copyright © Ayurveda Elements 2010 When selecting gingerbecause of its bitter root choose the knobtaste. But the secret to reduce it’s bitterness is with smooth skin, hard, no green colour orto dry roast fenugreek seeds thereby rendering it mould in the crevices. The resin of the skin canmore palatable. Why bother using fenugreek at upset the stomach so peel this off before addingall? The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese and the grated, diced or thinly sliced root to dishes.Indians highly prized this spice for its ability to Dry ginger is stronger than fresh ginger so use itincrease breast milk, ease childbirth, reduce sparingly.period pain and stomach cramps. Modernscience has also confirmed its efficacy as a Nutmeghypoglycaemic agent for late onset diabetes. For Nutmeg’s very unique flavour indicates its verystubborn pimples, boils or cellulitis make a distinctive medicinal qualities. This aromatic nutpoultice of the powdered seeds and apply the is famous in Indian households for curingwarm paste to the affected area for 20 diarrhoea and malabsorption. Nutmegsminutes.The Chinese recommended 1/2 tsp effectiveness for this has also been appliedseeds daily to maintain a healthy female successfully in modern clinical trials withreproductive system. Its mucilagenous and sufferers of Crohns disease. This is one of thelymphatic properties are also good for lymphatic best remedies for morning diarrhoea, anconditions and lung problems such as smokers indication that the digestive energy is very weak.cough. This can be taken as a tea by adding 1 For this take 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg with 1 tsptsp of seeds to 2 cups of boiling water. Boil cumin seeds and 3 curry leaves cooked withdown to one cup, strain and drink up to three boiled soupy rice for breakfast- yum! Or just mixcups a day. Fenugreek is a spice that should be a pinch with your breakfast cereal. Nutmeg’savoided during pregnancy as it can promote dubious reputation in the past was due to itsuterine contractions.. hallucenogenic action when taken in large quantities- people taking it reported a feeling ofGinger being “deliriously inebriated.” 3    
  4. 4. antiseptic wash it is said to give one a goldenIn fact nutmeg does have mind-altering aura hence its use for bridal baths as well as toproperties and therefore should only be taken in counter skin infections or blemishes. Itssmall quantities. For insomnia or restless sleep antiseptic properties also help to combat throattry taking 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg and infections. A good home remedy for sore throatsadding it to 1/2 cup of warm milk . This can is a mixture of 1/2 tsp turmeric and 2 cloves in 1really help to calm the mind and induce a sound cup of boiled water. Sit for 5 minutes. Strain andsleep. Nutmeg essential oil has also been used add 1 drop of tea tree oil plus 1 tsps of rock oras a clove substitute for toothache when applied sea salt. Gargle this warm mix three times a day.directly to the painful region. Mixed with a base The ground turmeric root is the most potentof sesame or almond oil it can be used as a form of this spice but a fresh deep orangemassage oil for arthritis and combined with clary powder is also effective.sage for delayed labour. Turmeric’s antibiotic, blood purifying and bileSaffron stimulating action make it useful in liver, bloodTo woo your woman feed her a sweet dessert or and pancreatic disorders. One teaspoon of thedrink laced with the aphrodisiac threads of fresh powder or ground root can be taken withsaffron. Saffron is a fabulous 1/4 cup of warmfemale reproductive tonic water everythat not only boosts libido • morning for this.but increases milk flow, • 61 2 9904 7754 Recent clinical trialsreduces period pain and have suggested 17 Orchard Rd, Chatswood NSW 2067boosts fertility. As such it turmeric may alsoshouldn’t be taken during • Copyright © Ayurveda Elements 2010 be useful inpregnancy but is great alzheimers. Thispostnatally. Since pure saffron is very expensive may be related to its antioxidant properties,it is generally adulterated with Calendula or supporting its classical Ayurvedic application forCrysanthemum petals. The pure stuff is a dark “untimely aging syndrome.” To preserve turmericred, very soft and wispy. To maximise its colour, keep it in a dark container in a cool cupboard.aroma and flavour sit the threads in a smallquantity of water of milk for 20minutes then addto the dish when it has only 5 minutes remaining • www.ayurvedaelements.comto cook. • • Phone/fax: 0011 61 2 9904 7754You can also use it as a garnish to rice, dairy • 17 Orchard Rd, Chatswood NSW 2067and potato dishes to add a dash of colour.Saffron is also used for male seminal Articles • Disclaimer • Linksincontinence and sexual exhaustion, which Copyright © Ayurveda Elements 2010explains why a drink of milk, saffron and honeyis given to honeymoon couples. Ayurveda alsotraditionally used saffron for liver and spleenenlargement as well as for migraines, chronicfevers and epilepsy. Legend says that one whoeats saffron will get a golden complexion free ofdark pigmentation.TurmericCrowned “the queen of the kitchen” thisoutstanding spice is the reigning healer amongstkitchen spices. Adored in India for its purifyingproperties, turmeric is known as kringhna inSanskrit which means germ killer. Turmeric playsan important role in all Hindu rituals, wherecleanliness is of prime importance. As an