5 Ways to Spice up your Cuisine the Indian Way

What makes Indian cooking so distinct from other parts of the globe? Apart from being highly delectable, Indian cooking is very healthy with the spices and ingredients infused.

Here are five simple garden fresh ingredients that are used to enhance the aroma and flavour of Indian dishes. If you want to add that extra zing and spice to your meal be it vegetarian or meats, then do give these five ingredients a try.

Curry Leaves
Predominantly used in Southern India, fresh curry leaves offer a distinct woody and a pungent aroma to your dish. Combined with ginger, garlic and mustard seeds, curry leaves can liven up an otherwise mundane dish. With its high nutritive value packed with Vitamin A and calcium, curry leaves are also used in herbal beauty products like soaps and medicines.

[scg_html_carrot] Tip: Tempering daal (lentil soup) or sambar with ghee (clarified butter), mustard seeds and curry leaves can make you hungrier than before.

The sharp tangy flavour of lemons stands out in a dish as it cuts out the rest of the flavours. After a dish is ready, squeezing fresh lemon over the dish for garnish enhances the flavour and of course, sending your hunger pangs on an overdrive when you can smell the zest from the lemon. Lemon is a rich source of vitamin C that increases the nutritive value of vegetarian dishes.

[scg_html_carrot] Tip: Squeeze the lemon after taking the dish off the flame or better still when you’re about to serve. Adding lemon while the food is being cooked will cause it to evaporate with the steam.

Garlic a hot favourite, is grown in almost all parts of the world. India is the second largest producer of garlic, after China. Garlic a wonder drug is easy to grow in almost any climate and of course easy to store as well. Garlic finds its place in meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. Add garlic the way you like -grated, finely chopped or in a blender before adding it to hot oil. Garlic is rich in medicinal properties; its keeps a check on high cholesterol, high blood pressure, it’s good for the heart and helps cure stomach infections, worms, fungal infections and digestive disorders.

[scg_html_carrot] Tip: Tempering daal or rasam is a popular favourite. Care should be taken to not burn the garlic as it tends to brown and offer a bitter taste.

Green Chillies
These crisp green chillies are a rich source of vitamins and also help in increasing your metabolism. Add a few green chillies while sautéing curry

Fresh garden picks

leaves, finely chopped shallots, ginger and garlic in hot oil before adding vegetables, fish or meat. If you like it less spicy, add less number of chillies and don’t slit them. But do remember, the smaller the green chillies, the more heat they have. The world’s hottest chilli Bhut Jolokia recently discovered in Assam has found its way in the Guinness World Records.

[scg_html_carrot] Tip: Green chillies tend to splatter when added to hot oil; hence slitting them slightly prevents that. To enhance the look of your dish, garnish it with a few slit green chillies. You can also add it to the popular chaat, potato tikkis, cutlets or omelet; where the little green slices will whet your appetite with their very appearance.

One of the oldest vegetables known to us, onions find a place in almost all the world’s cuisines, and predominantly used in Indian cooking. Onions offer a distinct bitter, sweet and pungent taste all at one time. Rich in antioxidants and its cancer fighting properties, makes the onion a popular choice for health conscious people who like to add taste to their meals in a healthy way. Add it to your salad, in a sandwich, as a marinade for fish or meat or in curries. Slice them, chop them, grate them or blend them into a paste, add them the way you like as each style will offer a different taste to your cuisine. Onions are highly effective for common cold, diabetes, are an excellent anti-cholesterol agent and rich in anti-oxidants. Did I mention, an onion and garlic soup is just the remedy for common cold, cough and fever on a wintry night?

[scg_html_carrot] Tip: In 2 – 3tbsp of hot oil of your choice, add 1 tsp of mustard seeds, 5-6 curry leaves, a couple of slit green chillies, 1 tsp finely chopped ginger and garlic, 1 medium sized onion finely chopped. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till the onions turn golden brown and then add the marinated fish/ chicken. All you now need to do is add salt, turmeric and chilli powder to taste and cook till done. Garnish the dish with freshly squeezed lemon and a couple of green chillies and serve hot.

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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