Sunday, 12 April 2009

Masala Dani (Spice Rack)

‘Masala Dani’ means Spice Rack. In every Indian kitchen, this particular shape of spice container shows its presence, accommodating commonly used spices and herbs.
When I was young, I never knew the importance of these spices and herbs. For me it was just a fascination to watch my mom adding these colored powders in the curries. White, yellow, red, brown, black…..all colors!

Yes, I am talking about herbs, spices, and many other seasonings available. It is hard to imagine what cooking would be like without the unique flavors provided by these.
Using herbs and spices is an art. One must know how much to add and how to combine flavors. Several guidelines suggest amounts to use in developing recipes. Strong, pungent spices such as red pepper should be used in small amounts and more delicate seasoning can be used in greater amounts without ruining the final product.
In addition to the choice of herbs and seasoning, the timing of when flavors are added will affect the food that is being cooked. In some cultures, meat may be seasoned by pouring sauce over the dish at the table. A variety of seasoning techniques exist in various cultures.
The herb or spice should enhance and not overpower the flavor.
Seasoning: Seasoning is the process of adding or improving flavor of food. Seasonings include Herbs, Spices and all other Condiments. A well designed dish may combine seasonings that complement each other.
Saline seasonings—Salt, Spiced salt etc. Salt may be used to draw out water, or to magnify a natural flavor of a food making it richer or more delicate, depending on the dish. For instance, kosher salt (a coarser-grained salt) is rubbed into chicken, lamb, pork to tenderize the meat and improve flavor.
Acid seasonings—Plain Vinegar, lemon and orange juices.
Hot seasonings—Peppercorn, ground or coarsely chopped pepper, Paprika, curry, Red chili, and mixed pepper spices. Seasonings like black pepper and basil transfer some of their flavor to the food.
Saccharine seasonings—Sugar and honey.
Herbs: Herbs are leafy, green plant parts used for flavoring purposes.Examples are parsley, chives, marjoram, thyme, basil, caraway, dill, oregano, rosemary, savory, sage and celery leaves. These can be used fresh or dried. Dried forms may be whole, crushed, or ground.
Spice: A spice is a dried seed ( yellow mustard, poppy, sesame), fruit (allspice, paprika), root (ginger, onion, garlic), bark (cinnamon) or buds (cloves, saffron), vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavoring, and sometimes as a preservative by killing or preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Spices are dried and often ground or grated into a powder. Small seeds, such as fennel and mustard seeds, are used bothBold whole and in powder form.
Condiment: A condiment is a prepared edible substance or mixture, often preserved or fermented, that is added in relatively small quantities, most often at the table, to make food more suitable to the diner's taste. Condiments may be dry, such as a mixture of herbs and seasonings or Parmesan cheese, or preserved sauces served from a bottle, jar, or other container. Condiments are sometimes added prior to serving, for example a sandwich made with ketchup or mustard. Some condiments are used during cooking to add flavor or texture to the food; for example, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, vinegars, all have flavors that can enhance the tastes of a variety of different meats and vegetables.
Seasoning blends or Spice Mixes: Seasoning blends or Spice mixes are mixtures of spices and herbs. These are traditionally sold pre-made by grocers, but can also be made easily at home for cooking and can be kept for later use. Some examples of seasoning blends are:
Chili powder (red pepper, cumin, oregano, salt, and garlic powder)
Curry powder (coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek seed, white pepper, allspice, yellow mustard, red pepper, and ginger)
Poultry seasoning (white pepper, sage, thyme, marjoram, savory, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg)
Pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves)
Infused Oils: Infused oils are another method of seasoning. There are two methods for doing an infusion — hot and cold. Olive oil makes a good infusion base for some herbs, but tends to undergo rancidification more quickly than other oils. Infused oils should be kept refrigerated.
An infusion is a method of preparing herbs by placing them in oil or water. Plants with desirable flavors may be steeped in edible oil or vinegar for an extended period; the infused oil or vinegar is often sold still containing the plant, and is then used as flavoring. Chilies, lemon, garlic, and many other plants may be used.
Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or improve its taste and appearance. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as in some wines.

Spices And Herbs In Our Daily Diet: Herbs and spices are classified as calorie free and salt free.
It turns out that a pinch of this and a dash of that not only boosts flavor in foods, it can add a heap of health benefits to recipes, too. Nutrition research supports new reasons to season dishes with commonly used culinary herbs and spices including cinnamon, ginger, oregano, red pepper and yellow curry powder. Blueberries, pomegranates and other deeply colored fruits may be famous for their high antioxidant content, but it turns out that some spices rank really well, too.
Ayurveda recommends spices/herbs to stimulate the digestion before a meal, during a meal and after a meal. Eating dishes cooked with a variety of spices and herbs helps the process of digestion – absorption – assimilation - elimination.
Some combinations of herbs help in balancing the production of stomach acids and nourishing the body tissues.
Eating a bit of fresh ginger and lemon, about 30 minutes before a main meal, helps kick-start the digestion. Chewing fennel seeds after a meal helps digestion and freshens the breath naturally as well.

1 comment:

SpiceRack said...

Spice Rack

Nice blog. Spices should be sorted out in their own particular storage for easy access.