I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who travels to India a lot. He said he was boggled about the fact that they rarely ate fresh vegetables in the district he visits (Chennai), but that people’s health seems to be less impacted than one might think. While we ruminated on the reasons why (as we chomped down local and delicious salad greens) he postulated that they eat a LOT of curries (i.e. spices) and fermented foods, and that might be a major source of their vitamins and minerals instead of plant sources. This week, I’ll focus on spices, specifically those found in curry powders. Firstly lets, define spice: “A spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark, berry, bud or other vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are parts of leafy green plants used for flavoring or as a garnish” – Wikipedia.
I spoke a while ago about turmeric and black pepper, but there are many other spices in curry powders that are in the antioxidant spectrum. One researcher (originally from India) is quoted as saying “…when Indians move away and adopt more Westernized eating patterns, their rates of those diseases rise. While researchers usually blame the meatier, fattier nature of Western diets, other experts believe that herbs and spices—or more precisely, the lack of them—are also an important piece of the dietary puzzle. When Indians eat more Westernized foods, they’re getting much fewer spices than their traditional diet contains,” he explains. “They lose the protection those spices are conveying.” Turmeric, chili pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper, among other spices found in curry powders all have antioxidant properties, and a little goes a long way. Another idea put forward in this article is that :” adding spices and herbs seems to reduce the harmful by-products formed in cooked meat that may lead to cancer.”
The best idea for curry powder is to make your own, with ingredients bought separately from a bulk spice section. That is a labor of love, but little jars of homemade curry powder do make great gifts at holiday-time. You can also adjust the ingredients to personalize it. It doesn’t have to be hot at all, just simply very flavorful. Another option is to buy curry powders and pastes that are fresh and vibrant and are not near their expiration date. One of my favorite recipes isKitcheree – the Indian vegetarian version of nurturing chicken-soup-like food .