Spices

By Foodism Team

17

Spices 

 

Can you visualize your meal without spices? Bland, eh? 

 

But what exactly is this often taken-for-granted item? Here’s presenting a brief of spices.

 

Basically, spices are aromatic food substances which enhance flavour. They are dried roots, barks or seeds used whole, crushed or powdered.  Not only do they titillate our taste-buds but also contribute to our wellness as they comprise of - phytonutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. 

 

We owe the widespread use and popularity of spices to Arab and European explorers. A quick look at the history of spices reveals that they were among the most valuable items of trade in the ancient and medieval times. Since 3500 BC, spices have been closely associated with - food, cosmetics, magic, culture, traditions, preservation, medicine and embalming. 

 

Spices can be botanically categorized according to their source as follows:

Leaves of aromatic plants:  Bay leaf, thyme, curry leaf etc.

Seeds: Fennel, coriander, fenugreek, mustard, cumin, nutmeg dill, aniseed, celery etc.

Fruits: Cardamom, cayenne pepper, black pepper, vanilla, all spice, tamarind etc.

Roots or bulbs: Garlic, ginger, turmeric, galangal etc.

Bark: Cinnamon, cassia etc.

Flower: Cloves, saffron, asafoetida etc.

 

Spices lend aroma, colour, flavour and sometimes, even texture to food. Even laypersons can identify - bitter, salty, sour and sweet – as the four popular flavours. But actually flavours go much beyond that to include – cooling, earthy, floral, nutty, pungent, woody etc. Interesting? Catch our next story on a flavour-wise bifurcation of spices

 

Spices carry out multiple functions besides adding flavour and colour to food. They - stimulate salvation, acid secretion, and digestive enzymes; possess anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties; aid in stabilizing impaired blood glucose levels; et al. 

 

This February, Foodism will take you through which spice offers what benefit... 

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