THE ART OF INDIAN SPICES: UNDERSTANDING THE KEY INGREDIENTS OF INDIAN MASALA
Indian cooking is famous worldwide because of the use of Indian Masalas to it. These masalas are used in almost every recipe, adding flavor and taste. They have been used for taste and medicinal practices for centuries.
Herbs, spices, and essential oils form the basis of unusual tastes that mark diverse cuisines worldwide. Across the globe, spices have been necessary to enhance food flavor. Today, we have outstanding access to novel culinary experiences. While some Indian Masalas may require multiple tastings to appreciate, they have yet to become delicious additions to our dishes.
History of Indian Masalas
As early as the 15th century, Indian masalas came into existence. From then, spices were used widely. Many spices, such as pepper, cumin spice, cinnamon, and cardamom, had been considered valuable currencies and used for acquiring various goods and services.
Spices were also used for medicinal practices in the older days. The Ayurveda system, present now, was used to treat various ailments. People then used spices also to store and keep their dishes fresh due to the unavailability of refrigerators.
The Importance of Indian Spices in Cooking
India is famous as a land of spices due to its trade with other parts of the world. Pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom are among the spices that were valuable and used for trading. These spices were not only used for cooking but also for medicinal properties.
Various Types of Indian Masalas
Cumin spice is the main spice, has a warm flavor, is used in various dishes, such as stews and curries, and has medicinal properties. Ground cumin is used as a starter in multiple dishes. Coriander spice has a citrusy and sweet taste and is used in many Indian dishes and spice mixes like garam masala, etc. Indian Masalas are present in the ground, whole and spice blend. Turmeric spice has a yellow color that it gives to the dishes and uses as an antiseptic. Cardamom has an intense flavor, is used in making chai, and is an essential element in garam masala.
The various ground masalas used in Indian cooking-
1) Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds are most commonly used for tadka. They give an intense flavor to the dishes. It is used in making spice blends such as paneer masala, tandoori masala, etc. It has a bitter taste and is used in making pickles and chutney.
2) Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are used first when cooking. They form the basis of any dish. They are used in various Indian dishes, fried or curried. Cumin seeds have many health benefits also, along with their culinary use.
Cardamom is of two types- black or green. The green one has a slightly sweet flavor. Green cardamom is used in preparing curries and desserts, while black cardamom is a primary component of garam masala.
Cinnamon is a stick that is slightly sweet in flavor. It is widely used in making teas for medicinal purposes. It is most commonly used to create desserts and cream pies.
5) Dry Red Chilies
The dry red chilies are also used in the starting as a phoran. Three or four chilies are enough to give a spicy flavor to the preparation. These provide the dish with excellent taste.
Common Ground Spices Used in Cooking-
1) Turmeric Spice
Turmeric is the basic masala in any recipe. Apart from various uses in cooking, it has multiple health benefits and is used as an antiseptic. It has a vibrant yellow tint. A small quantity of this yellow powder gives the perfect color to the recipes.
2) Red Chili Powder
It is a ground form of dried red chilies used widely in Indian cooking. They are found in many versions with different levels of spiciness. It gives color and fieriness to the recipes.
3) Coriander Spice
Coriander powder is the ground form of coriander seeds. It is green in color and has a citrusy flavor. A tablespoon of this spice provides the perfect flavor. When added to the dishes, it gives a pungent taste.
4) Kashmiri Chili Powder
It is a variety of red chili powder. It has a mild flavor and is often used to add a vibrant red hue to recipes. It is less spicy than red hot chili powder.
The Important Spice Blends are
1) Garam Masala
Garam masala is the essential spice blend used in almost every Indian cooking. It is a ground version of spices such as cinnamon, cumin seeds, cardamom, mustard seeds, etc., by dry roasting first and then blended to make this most famous garam masala.
2) Chaat Masala
Chaat masala is also a spice blend that has a citrus flavor. It is used in making papdi chaat and pani puri. It is used as a topping in various salads, etc.
3) Paneer Masala
Paneer masala is a spice blend used especially for paneer dishes and in different recipes. It consists of cumin seeds, cardamom, red chili powder, etc.
4) Tandoori Masala
Tandoori masala is the spice blend used for making tandoori dishes. This masala also consists of essential spices used to flavor the recipes.
Summing Up On Art Of Indian Spices
Indian cuisine has gained worldwide praise due to its uses of various masalas. These unique seasonings lend a distinctive flavor to every recipe they are included in, a practice that has existed for centuries. Moreover, they have beneficial healing effects.
Spices have been a part of medicinal practices for centuries. Back then, spices were used to flavor and preserve dishes due to the lack of refrigerators. Even today, Ayurveda is still used to treat a variety of conditions.
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