Lets focus on the common spices, herbs and condiments we use daily in all kinds of cuisines and note some of their benefits.
Turmeric:Prevents cancer due to its carcinogenic properties. It is used as a cosmetic agent as it remodels damaged skin, used as an antiseptic on cuts and burns, works wonders due to the healing properties of turmeric.
Recipe: Add about a tsp or more or turmeric powder to hot milk. Dissolve and drink before bed for cough and sour throats.
Asafoetida: This is a pungent spice added to almost all Indian dishes. Also known as devils dung or Hing. A very small quantity is used as it has a very strong sulphur like taste. It is a very good digestive and anti fungal. Used in ayurvedic medicine.
Cumin: This earthy dark spice has anti-congestive properties that helps relieve Asthma and Bronchitis. It is also good for releasing flatulence and gas due to its digestive properties. Cumin has also been known to avoid mutations hence helps prevent cancer. It is a spice that was introduced to Greek cuisine by Alexandar the great when he returned from India.
Coriander:This is my favourite spice,I use it in almost all my preparations and its property to relieve nausea, dysentery, diarrhoea and arthritis is just incredible. Seeds of coriander are used to regulate menses. It is rich in vitamins and minerals helps prevent cancer and is very rich in iron thus provides increased immunity.
Fennel:This is not very well known spice but make sure you include this in your spice tray.It is very rich in magnesium,goes well
Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory makes it a great antacid helping digestion.
Recipe: Roast fennel seeds till they are slightly brown and crisp. Store them in a jar and have them after meals or just when you are feeling nauseated or with tea. They work wonders in regulating your bowel movements and taste like licorice so you cant stop eating them once you start.
Pepper: Regulates blood circulation and acts as digestive along with other benefits: prevents cancer, used in toothpastes to protect gums. It is produced primarily in Kerala in south India and works as an antioxidant. It plays a very important role in the south Indian religious celebrations.
Recipe: After all Indian meals we serve buttermilk.But during festivals or after a feast we add a pinch of black pepper and salt to the butter milk, as it helps ease digestion and is also known to control weight gain.
Mustard: This is a warm condiment grown in the state of Punjab in north India.Mustard seeds are rich in oil. The oil is sometimes used as hair oil, it also has medicinal uses. Kashmiri's cook all their meals in mustard oil. Mustard seeds are rich in vitamins & minerals and reduces arthritis, asthma and headaches.
In conclusion, I now understand why Indian's don't need to take multivitamins or pills as we get all our nutrition from the food we eat daily.I have often been asked, if you are a vegetarian how do you get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, well the answer is in front of you....these tiny colorful products extracted from exotic plants do more than just add flavour and coloring to our food...they nourish us and provide immunity against various diseases.