Benefits of Indian Spices in Cooking

I always think, and I have mentioned this before in my post (Food Rules our Lives), that food plays such an important role in not only an individual’s life but for the nation as a whole. If you look at history, India was ruled for 200 years by the British and Portuguese all in search of spices and condiments that were abundant in India. This raises the question -how important can a pinch of spice that we use in our daily cooking be? Turns our very important as spices and herbs have many healing and beneficial powers.  Why else would the strong European, Mughal and British empires, try to capture and establish their monopoly in the Indian Spice trade?

These small little spices, take hundreds of years to grow and cultivate and be used for cooking. For e.g. Cinnamon-Each stick has to be layered and rolled with hands after it has been scrapped off carefully from the bark of the cinnamon tree. I watch this documentary sometimes called the Spice Trial and it is fascinating to know, how these spices that we buy in little jars or packets at the super market, are actually processed by hands and sold for pennies to large organizations, who then beautifully put their label on them and sell it to us for 2or3 times the cost of the entire shipment. Most of the spices are cultivated in southern India, near Chennai, Kerala and the cultivation actually crosses over to the Sri Lankan border. These farmers are poor and hardworking, some of whom are doing the same business for generations.  

So today I thought I will put all my research and learning into identifying the benefits of some of the most commonly used spices and herbs in Indian cooking. In India, Spices are not only used for cooking, but various other forms, such as Ayurveda medicines, offerings to deity’s, festivals and traditionally were used during weddings as a cosmetic to enhance complexion.
I still remember applying gram flour and milk and honey to my face for rejuvenating the skin. If you look around there are hundreds and thousands of businesses selling herbal products, and the main ingredients in them are the things we actually consume in our daily diet. 
I welcome all thoughts and suggestions about different health benefits related to these spices. Please leave your comments below and view the next post for a list of spices.