“I love Indian food – it’s my favorite cuisine. I love the mixture of spices and the subtle flavors. It’s really erotic; the spices are so sensuous.” These are the words of the Aerosmith Guitarist, Joe Perry.
The love in this quote echoes the experience of savoring the delicious and healthy cuisine of South India. The delicacies from the Southern part have certainly branched its way all around the world, and our lip-smacking flavors served with the variety of spices such as turmeric, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon and cloves remain an integral part of our dishes. With such great power, we do come with great responsibility. The spices in our dishes not only serve the purpose of tantalizing your taste buds but also as a healthy diet. These spices stored in a single box with many partitions called Anjarai Petti, come with many health benefits.
This orange-yellow spice, turmeric, is often used in our curries to give the golden color. It may either be used fresh, dried or as a paste in the dishes. Turmeric is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, particularly useful for arthritis.
Tamarinds are sour fruits that may be sweet, depending on how ripe they are. They are used in the form of a paste and are an important ingredient in South Indian cuisines. In Andhra Pradesh, tamarinds are mixed with chilli powder for flavor, and in Tamilnadu, they are the most commonly used souring agent.
Black Pepper originated in the Western Ghats and the Malabar Coast is a popular spice around the world. These are usually grounded and added in the dishes. They not only serve as a spice for the food but also provide one with health benefits. Black pepper helps in weight loss and helps in relieving sinus, asthma, and nasal congestion.
An aromatic spice that is indigenous to the Eastern part of Asia, it is an essential spice used in South India. The dried flower buds provide an aroma and a warm aftertaste to our delicacies, but too much of these could overpower other flavors in the dish. Cloves are used as an ayurvedic medicine to improve digestion, protect the liver, regulate blood sugar, support oral health as well as to treat skin ailments.
Nutmeg is the seed of the tree Myristica fragrans. The spice is from the islands of Indonesia and is widely used in the states of South India. Predominantly used in biryani for enhancing the flavour, nutmegs are grounded and then dried to add its character to the dish. Unlike in the West, South Indians desserts rarely contain nutmegs. This healthy spice promotes digestion, detoxes the body, relieves pain, and improves kidney health among many other benefits.
It is a spice that characteristically resembles ginger and turmeric with a taste you cannot forget. Though there are many varieties to this spice, we, South Indians, use either Cassia (Chinese Cinnamon), which is sweeter, or Ceylon Cinnamon, which is rarer. The spice serves as a popular dessert topping and comes with many health benefits that include treatment for cold, nausea, painful menstrual periods, diarrhea, etc.
At Amma South Indian Cuisine, we use these varieties of homegrown spices in different combinations to vitalize your health and tantalize your tongue. We believe Healthy Eating translates into Healthy Living.