Indian Spices: An Ayurvedic Approach Meal
The meal is to the human body is what fuel is to any mechanical machine. As an engineer would choose the best quality fuel for their machinery, we humans also need to find ways to make our meals more tasteful as well as healthier in nature in order to provide quality fuel to our machine, our body. Ancient Indians were very particular about making their food aromatic and tasteful as well as making it healthier. For this specific reason, a lot of Ayurvedic herbs were included in daily meals as spices. These spices not only enhance the taste and aroma of the food but also balance Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas in our body as suggested by Ayurveda. These spices are Ayurvedic medicines which should be included in our day to day lives in order to live longer and healthier. Here are some of the daily used Ayurvedic spices:
Known by the scientific name Curcuma longa, Turmeric is always used in the golden form so it is also known as a golden spice as well. It is a fine and bright yellow powder that is also used to heal wounds or to protect against infection. Sometimes, turmeric mixed with milk or water is taken to treat intestinal disorders as well as cold and sore throats. In south Asian countries, it is also used as an antiseptic for cuts, burns, and bruises. The active ingredient curcumin improves brain health and functions and also reduces cholesterol and improves blood pressure. Turmeric is also beneficial against chronic diseases as well as premature aging.
Cumin Powder (Jeera Powder)
The botanical name for cumin is the Cuminum cyminum. Cumin is light and dry in nature and has Katu rasa or pungent taste. It is hot in potency and helpful for all kinds of digestive issues like bloating, indigestion, IBS, piles, and more. It is also helpful for blood-related disorders. It is a natural diuretic and helpful for urinary tract related problems. Cumin also benefits in treating eye problems. The benefits of cumin water make it one of the healthiest drinks ever known. Boiled cumin water should be taken daily early in the morning on an empty stomach to avoid indigestion and bloating.
Red Chilli Powder (Lal Mirch Powder)
The botanical name for cumin is capsicum annuum. It is a light, dry powder and is piercing in nature. It has Katu rasa or pungent taste. Due to its hot potency nature, it pacifies Kapha and Vata and increases Pitta dosha in the body. It acts also as a mild laxative which helps in constipation problems as well. As red chili powder contains a high content of potassium, it also helps in soothing blood vessels and regulating blood pressure. It also contains capsaicin compounds which increase the metabolism rate and reduce excess fat accumulation. It is useful in relieving headaches as well by reducing Kapha dosha disorders.
Coriander Powder (Dhania Powder)
Known as dhania in the local language, coriander is also known as Coriandrum sativum. It is light and oily in nature and has kashaya rasa or astringent taste, tikta rasa or bitter taste, katu rasa or pungent taste, and Madhur rasa or sweet taste. Due to it’s multi rasa nature, coriander seeds are used as tridosha hara in Ayurveda (they bring all three doshas into equilibrium). Coriander powder also helps in lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the levels of good cholesterol (HDL). Coriander is helpful in diarrhea, worm infections, loss of taste, abdominal cramps, and piles. It also has diuretic properties and is helpful for urinary problems.
The botanical name for cumin is trigonella foenum-graecum. Fenugreek is consumed in multiple forms such as fresh and dried seeds, leaves, twigs, and roots as a spice, flavouring agent, and supplement. Methi helps to maintain cholesterol levels and prevents the risk of heart diseases. It is rich in minerals and vitamins which helps with many skin problems as well. It also prevents acid reflux and works as an antacid. Fenugreek also aids metabolic conditions, such as diabetes.It seems to affect both types 1 and 2 diabetes, along with increasing general carb tolerance in people without these conditions.
Ayurvedic herbs and spices have been an integral part of traditional Indian medicine for centuries. An increasing amount of scientific evidence supports their many proposed health benefits, including protection against type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Thus, adding small amounts of these herbs and spices may help both flavors your meals and boost your health. Spices such as cumin, fennel, and peppermint are used as antacids, neutralizing the acid produced by the stomach, to retain healthy gastric acid needed for proper digestion. Antibiotic herbs like turmeric are useful in inhibiting the growth of germs, harmful microbes, and bacteria.
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Dr Anjali Pareek is an Ayurvedic doctor currently living in Bengaluru, Karnataka. She has completed her bachelor’s degree in Ayurveda medicine and surgery from SBLD Ayurvedic college. Currently she has been working as a Panchkarma treatment consultant and Ayurvedic medicine department. She has keen interest in Pathya/Apathya, Anupaan and how Ayurveda impacts day to day culinary and likes to write about the same through blogs and social media posts.