Any basic foundation of Nepali cuisine is reflected in the organic spices used to enrich the flavor and aroma. Apart from the taste and smell, these basic spices are used for their medicinal values, nutrition, and freshness. Not to mention, they also provide texture and additional aesthetic to the dish.
With multiple varieties of spices, some of them are used on a daily basis on almost every dish, while some of them are used on special dishes, salads, and pickles. All these spices are readily available across the local market and hold several health benefits.
Today, we have hundreds of spices that studies have proven to be a concentrated source of antioxidants. Here, we will dive into some of the common spices found in Nepali dishes and talk about their properties and potential health benefits.
Six Simple Organic Spices And Their Benefits
Ajwain seeds (Jwaano)
Varying from slightly olive green to brown in color, Ajwain seeds have a strong, fragrant flavor. It is a bit bitter with high aromatic essence and is often added to curries, rice, and even bread.
Ajwain seeds are the nutrient boosters that are best for your hair, skin, and overall health.
1. Treatment for the common cold, acidity, and indigestion
Ajwain seeds avoid nasal blockage and also cure heat burns while also helping to deal with your respiratory ailments. Their enzymes assist you in boosting your digestive system by releasing your gastric juices.
Take 1 tablespoon full of Ajwain seeds with a pint of salt on a glass of water. Heat it, and drink this mixture daily. Not to mention, it also helps you with your toothache.
2. Cleansed skin and wounds
Ajwain seeds are filled with thymol which acts as a strong fungicide and germicide. Hence, if you make a paste of the ajwain seeds and apply it to your wounds or acne, then it will treat wounds and prevent infections. You should use the paste for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it clean.
Bay leaves (Tejpatta)
They are aromatic leaves often used in dried forms with solid scents. Additionally, they are thick and leathery with pointed edges and are added to a slow-cooked recipe such as meat, soups, broths, stews, and so on.
Known to support the immune system, bay leaves are rich in vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
1. Reduces blood sugar and growth of cancer
Regular intake of 1-3 grams of bay leaves reduces to lower and manage cholesterol and glucose level in people. Furthermore, they also slow down the growth of breast cancer cells and colorectal cancer cells.
2. Antibacterial properties
Bay leaves possess an anti-bacterial property in them and often fight bacteria that cause ulcers and even cancer. Additionally, it also helps relieve sinus pressure or stuffy nose with their aroma.
It is a seedlike spice that has an enclosed dark red stone seed inside. They are dried and grounded, mainly for serving the purpose of seasoning. It is one of the most commonly used spices that has a sharp, mildly flavor.
Peppers are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Altogether, they possess multiple health-boosting qualities.
1. Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Peppers have components called piperine that is a potent anti-oxidant property and hence, prevent the damage of free radicals. It also actively fights inflammation.
2. Promotes gut health and relieves pain
Peppers work to increase good bacteria in your gut and prove to be a natural pain reliever.
They are dried flowers which is a sweet and aromatic spice. Furthermore, cloves are versatile as they add flavors and also spicy warmth to your food and beverages. These are small, reddish-brown colored spikes.
Cloves are known as traditional medicines that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
1. Anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties
The compounds extracted from the cloves prevents the growth of bacterias and microorganisms. They work as herbal mouthwashes and promote oral health. Additionally, cloves consist of a component named eugenol, which is a natural antioxidant.
2. Improves liver and bone health
The compound eugenol in cloves is beneficial to our liver to reduce inflammation and oxidant stress. Likewise, some of its other components preserve bone mass.
Cumin seeds (Jeera)
They often resemble caraway seeds and are boat-shaped with brownish-yellow color. You can also find them in green, black, or white in color. Their taste is earthly with spicy and warm flavor.
Cumin seeds have an abundant presence of iron and anti-oxidant properties.
1. Promotes digestion and diabetes
One of the traditional benefits of cumin seeds is to improve indigestion by increasing the activity of digestive enzymes. It also increases the release of bile from the liver to help digest fats and certain nutrients in your gut. Moving on, its components treat diabetes by reducing AGEs and disrupting their functions.
2. Prevents food-borne illness
Cumin seeds consist of a component called megalomicin with antibiotic properties that reduce the growth of foodborne bacteria and certain kinds of infectious fungi.
Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
Fenugreek seeds are aromatic spices that are brownish yellow in color. They are small yet hard in structure with long or angular shapes. When it comes to their taste, Fenugreek seeds are pretty complex as they are a mixture of nutty, sweet, and slightly bitter flavors.
They have high nutritional value and medicinal properties such as hypocholesterolemic, lactation aid, antibacterial, and many more.
1. Breastmilk production in females and testosterone level in male
Fenugreek seeds are the natural way to increase breastmilk production in females if they are taken in as tea. Moving on, they increase libido in men and boost testosterone with improved sexual functions.
2. Appetite control, heartburn, and cholesterol levels
These fenugreek seeds are known to aid in reducing fat intake and appetite. Apparently, their effects match those of antacid medications and help to reduce heartburns. Similarly, they have anti-inflammatory values.