For the culinary aficionado, Indian food is a slice – or should we say spice? – of heaven.
The huge variety of flavors and plates in this country’s culinary platter is enough to keep one’s taste buds busy for years, and the reason for this is its huge variety of spices. The country is home to an estimated 350 spices, and they can be considered among India’s most appreciated contributions to human civilization. Contrary to popular belief, not all are actually spicy. Rather, spices such as turmeric, cumin and cinnamon simply add a dash of flavor to the dish. Spices also come in a dazzling array of colors, giving it a kaleidoscopic appearance.
There’s a science to Indian cooking which is why no two dishes ever seem to be the same. The limitless number of combinations of spices – as well as measurement differences – mean that one can spend a lifetime consuming Indian food and never experience the same flavor twice. Like Chinese medicine and French wine, the blending of Indian spices is a science and an art that has been honed and perfected over thousands of years.
Moreover, Indian spices have many nutritional benefits to them. Many spices are a good sources of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron and others, and also have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, antiviral and even anti-carcinogenic properties. They are also a great source of dietary fiber.
There is even a government regulatory body for Indian spices called Spices Board India, tasked with the worldwide development and promotion of the country’s spices. Through their state-of-the-art laboratories, they regularly test spices for quality before exporting them to other countries.
When you’re traveling through India, you’ll quickly learn that a visit to a spice market is one of the more interesting cultural experiences you can have in the country.
We’ve put together a Quick Guide for Indian Spices which you can use to help you navigate your way around the marketplaces and come home with a selection of spices that will make your friends green – and yellow, and orange, and red – with envy. More so, your food will become irresistible.