The spices of life!
In every household, especially the African/Asian ones, spices are a must have in the kitchen. Spices elevate flavors and give food that extra zing it deserves. One spice can take your meal to a whole other level. Many common ones used like cinnamon and turmeric are known to be available in any household and the goodness about these spices is that they are available in your local duka, market and supermarket.
Whether it’s for seasoning, marinating or just tea, your taste buds deserve that hint of flavor. Here’s a list of spices and their uses not only when cooking but for your health.
Paprika is a spicy, slightly bitter and sweet spice all in one. It’s made from a mixture of ground bell peppers and chili and is most commonly used with dishes including a tomato sauce. It also goes very well in meals with chicken and if you’re feeling adventurous, it can be added in your eggs when whipping up a breakfast meal.
Besides that, paprika is an anti-bacterial agent and stimulant that promotes well-being by improving circulation, normalizing blood pressure and helps digestion. Who would’ve thought you’d get all of this with just paprika right?
Sometimes confused with cinnamon, nutmeg has its own earthy and nutty flavor which is perfect for Indian and Indonesian recipes. Nutmeg is also a key ingredient in garam masala, pumpkin spice or apple pie and is in some occasions sprinkled over hot drinks like cappuccino and eggnog for its aroma.
When we think about curry, we think about Turmeric. This is an extremely popular Indian spice and is the one that gives curry its yellow color. Besides being a spice, it’s also known as a medicinal herb. It’s difficult to pinpoint what turmeric tastes like but it has an earthy flavor that adds that oomph in your curry or stew.
Did you know that you can also use turmeric as a face mask? Yes! To a small container, add half a teaspoon of turmeric, a few drops of lemon juice and a teaspoon of gram flour, mix it up and you have yourself a homemade face mask.
Ginger is a very essential element in cooking as it makes a HUGE difference in the flavor of your meal. It’s tangy flavor, if added in bulk can leave a hint of heat when consumed. Ginger is used for both cooking and for tea when mixed with other ingredients. Other than that, chewing a bit of ginger is known to relieve colds, sore throats and even menstrual cramps.
You can never go wrong with this spice. Cinnamon is one of the life-changing spices you will come across. It comes in powder form or choose the sticks. Either way, its woody, sweet and spicy flavor makes for a great addition to a meal, baked good and even drink. We all can’t resist a delicious cinnamon roll, am I right?
Cinnamon not only tastes great; it regulates blood sugar and fights off infections.
Cardamom is one of the few spices mixed in when making a glorious tea masala. It’s unique flavor differentiates itself from all the other spices and is perfect for your Friday pilau. When you directly bite into it though, it can be quite bitter and so we always recommend you use only a few pieces when cooking. The uniqueness in this spice is that different parts of it can be used for different meals and beverages. The seed inside can be used when making mandazi and the leaf on the outside can be added in rice and tea for a lovely aroma. Either way, this spice is a must have in your cabinet!
This is a spice that is most of the time, ignored as it is not frequently used. It’s sweet flavor with a touch of heat is many times, sucked raw in places like Zanzibar. It makes a great addition to desserts and works just as well in stews and curries.
Besides the way you can consume it, cloves are known to provide relief in headaches and oral pain.
This warm with a touch of sweetness and bitterness flavored spice can be used differently when cooking. One of the most common ways is when the whole seeds are added into a pan of hot oil and are fried to infuse the flavor in the oil. This ensures that when adding the rest of the ingredients, the flavor is incorporated from the oil already. To release it’s essence, cumin should be introduced early in the cooking process as stated before.
In the Indian cuisine, they are often chewed as a digestive aid and are also known to improve cholesterol levels.
All these spices are sure to take your meal/drinks from a 6 to a solid 10. Don’t be afraid to try out the different recipes that include these spices and try out what seems appealing for you and your family.