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Spice up your Meal!

Spicing up

Cooking is an Art. We are amazed how people cook differently and how the taste differs with the same ingredients, perhaps there might be an added ingredient, spices!

There are a lot of spices, and just a pinch or only a small amount can change the flavor of the dish. I have gathered few common spices and their uses.

1. Cinnamon

“A spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Sweet-spicy, woody
Popular uses in food: Mexican chocolate, American desserts, Middle Eastern savory dishes
Health benefits: Regulate blood sugar, anti-infection, hormone balancer for women
Recipe idea: Try mashing sweet potatoes and add pinches of cinnamon and a touch of honey for a quick, good and healthy snack.

2. Paprika

“A spice made from ground, dried fruits of  either bell pepper or chili pepper varieties or mixtures thereof” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Varieties of paprika in heat and taste — smoky, hot-spicy, sweet, bitter
Popular uses in food: Hungarian, Mediterranean, tomato-based sauces, egg recipes
Health benefits: Antioxidant-rich, a natural stimulant, and energizer, an antibacterial agent
Recipe ideaEasy Chicken Paprika (Food.com)
Add a spicy zip of paprika to this simple chicken recipe with a basic marinade.

3. Turmeric

“A deep orange-yellow powder (ground after turmeric plants’ rhizomes, or creeping root stalks, are collected, boiled, and dried)” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Earthy, slightly bitter, slightly peppery
Popular uses in food: Tamil cuisine, curries, give color to mustard condiments
Health benefits: Natural liver detoxifier, natural painkiller, natural arthritis treatment
Recipe ideaTandoori Tofu (EatingWell)
“Tandoori” in Indian cuisine typically relates to food baked in a tandoor oven, but in this recipe’s case, it is the use of popular Indian spices — such as turmeric — for tofu “steaks” that makes this “tandoori” and delicious.

4. Ginger

“A rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Sweet-spicy, tangy
Popular uses in food: Western sweet foods, many Asian and European cuisines
Health benefits: Motion sickness cure, heartburn relief, menstrual cramp relief, cold relief
Recipe ideaTriple ginger biscotti (The Guardian)
If you want fantastic biscotti that tastes like crispy ginger molasses cookies with crystallized ginger pieces and toasted almonds, then look no further than this recipe for a fair companion to your afternoon teas.

5. Nutmeg

“A spice harvested from plants of the Myristica genus … derived from the seed of the plant” (wiseGEEK)
Taste: Nutty, earthy, mildly like cinnamon
Popular uses in food: Eggnog, Indian and Indonesian cuisines, Caribbean drinks
Health benefits: Indigestion relief, bad breath treatment, liver and kidney detox
Recipe ideaButternut Squash Soup (Delish)
Nutmeg provides this amazing, thick soup with the earthy flavor that complements the mellow, sweet taste of butternut squash.

6. Tamarind

“A leguminous tree in the family Fabaceae indigenous to tropical Africa (that)produces edible, pod-like fruit” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Sweet, sour, fruity
Popular uses in food: Sweet foods in African, Asian and Latin American  cuisines
Health benefits: Mild laxative, febrifuge (fight fevers), gargled to ease sore throats
Recipe ideaTamarind Rice (ifood.tv)
This recipe is chock-full of spices, and tamarind is the main ingredient that gives this dish a signature sour kick.

7. Cumin

“A flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India (with) seeds (used) in both whole and ground form.” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Smoky, nutty, earthy
Popular uses in food: Stews, soups, chili, South Asian and Brazilian cuisine
Health benefits: Enhance immunity, increase metabolism
Recipe ideaSlow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup (allrecipes.com)
Only one teaspoon of cumin was used in this chicken tortilla soup recipe, but cumin ’s nutty richness finds the opportunity to shine as the slow cooking process releases all the ingredients’ flavors.

8. Cardamom

“Small seed pods, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin, papery, outer shell and small black seeds” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Herbal, citrusy, spicy
Popular uses in food: Indian cuisine, coffee and tea flavoring, Nordic baking
Health benefits: Anticarcinogenic properties, inhibit bad microbes, antiasthma properties
Recipe ideaCardamom Chai Tea (What is Chai?)
Chai tea is both a treat and a tradition of many Indian homes, and cardamom is one of the essential spices a good cup of chai should have.

9. Cloves

“The aromatic flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae, Syzygium aromaticum” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Sweet
Popular uses in food: Curries, marinades, meats
Health benefits: Bone density preservation, oral disease cures, headache cure
Recipe ideaApple Spice Muffins (Yummly)
For serious bakers out there, this recipe that includes a dash of cloves for spicy sweetness is a must-try.

10. Chili powder
“Dried, pulverized fruit of one or more varieties of chili pepper, sometimes with the addition of other spices (when it may be known as chili powder blend)” (Wikipedia)
Taste: Hot-spicy, smoky
Popular uses in food: Chili stews, American cuisine
Health benefits: Anti-inflammation benefits, improve digestion, control insulin levels
Recipe ideaIt’s Chili by George!! (allrecipes.com)
Easy recipes are sometimes the best recipes, and making chili with a healthy amount of chili powder doesn’t get simpler — or more delicious — than this.

Reference: http://www.dailycal.org/2014/04/07/spicing-things-10-common-kitchen-spices-use/

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