Friday, 31 July 2009

Orange/Red Lentil (Skinned Split Lentils)

English Name: Orange/Red Lentil (Skinned and Split)

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Dhuli Masoor ki Dal

  • Orange Lentil (Skinned and Split) is called as Masoor dal is India.
  • It is mild in flavor, versatile and quick in cooking.
  • It is easy to digest and cooked without soaking.
  • Lentil is an excellent supplement to cereal grain diets because of its good protein/carbohydrate content. Protein content ranges from 22 to 35%, but the nutritional value is low because lentil is deficient in the amino acids methionine and cystine.
  • Lentil pairs well with tomatoes and kheema/ground red meats, sausages, and may be served on their own as a side dish, or incorporated into soups, stews and salads.

Arhar Dal - Pigeon Pea

English Name: Pigeon Pea

Common India Name (Hindi): Arhar dal

  • In India, split pigeon peas (toor dal) are one of the most popular pulses. It is also called 'tuvara parippu' in Kerala, ‘Kanddi pappu’ in Telugu, ‘arhar’ in Hindi and Bangla, ‘red gram’/ ‘toovar’/ ‘toor’ in Gujrati/Marathi/Punjabi, and ‘tuvaram paruppu’ in Tamil.
  • Pigeon pea is an important grain legume crop of rainfed agriculture in the semi-arid tropics. The Indian subcontinent, Eastern Africa and Central America, in that order, are the world's three main pigeon pea producing regions.
  • Pigeon peas are nutritionally important, as they contain high levels of proteins and the important amino acid methionine, lysine and tryptophan. In combination with cereals, pigeon peas make a well-balanced human food.
  • In south India a popular dish sambar is made with this. Plain Dal is also made with pigeon peas. In Ethiopia, not only the pods but the young shoots and leaves are cooked and eaten.
  • The woody stems of pigeon peas are used as firewood, fencing and thatch. In Thailand, pigeon peas are grown as a host for scale insects which produce lac.
  • Pigeon peas are in some areas an important crop for green manure. They can after incorporation provide up to 40 kg nitrogen per hectare.
  • This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of Folate and Manganese.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Kasuri Methi

English name: Dry Fenugreek Leaves

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Kasuri Methi

  • Kasoori methi are dried fenugreek leaves (Trigonella foenum graecum). They are used in Indian cooking and taste similar to a combination of celery and fennel with a slightly bitter bite.
  • Kasuri Methi imparts a rich aromatic odor and exotic flavor in distinct dishes. Typically the leaves are crumbled and sprinkled over meat and vegetable curries before serving.
  • Apart from imparting exotic aroma in the food items, Kasuri Methi has many beneficial properties of fenugreek.
  • Kasuri Methi is available in Indian grocery stores. It is packaged in moisture resistant poly-pouches of different sizes.
  • Kasur is a city in Pakistan which is famous for fenugreek.


English Name: Turmeric

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Haldi

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae which is native to tropical South Asia.
  • Its rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly widely used as a spice in Indian and other South Asian cooking.
  • Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has an earthy, bitter, peppery flavor and has a mustardy smell.
  • It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
  • It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works well for the treatment of arthritis (Joint inflammation) and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.
  • May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
  • It is a natural liver detoxifier.
  • May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloidal plaque buildup in the brain.
  • Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine say it has fluorides, which is thought to be essential for teeth.
  • It is used as an antibacterial agent. It speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
  • Presenting their findings at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco in June 2008, researchers discovered that turmeric-treated mice were less susceptible to developing Type 2 diabetes, based on their blood glucose levels, and glucose and insulin tolerance tests.
  • In some places of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, it is believed that turmeric gives glow to skin and keeps some harmful bacteria away from the body.


English Name: Onion

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Pyaaz

  • Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the lily family, the same family as garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. There are over 600 species of Allium, distributed all over Europe, North America, Northern Africa and Asia. The plants can be used as ornamentals, vegetables, spices, or as medicine.
  • The word onion comes from the Latin word unio for "single," or "one," because the onion plant produces a single bulb, unlike its ucousin, the garlic, that produces many small bulbs. The name also describes the onion bulb when cut down the middle; it is a union (also from unio) of many separate, concentrically arranged layers.
  • Onions are very rich in chromium, a trace mineral that helps cells respond to insulin, plus vitamin C, and numerous flavonoids, most notably, quercitin.
  • Onions are characterized by their rich content of thiosulfinates, sulfides, sulfoxides, and other odoriferous sulfur compounds. The Cysteine sulfoxides are primarily responsible for the onion flavor and produce the eye-irritating compounds that induce lacrimation. The thiosulfinates exhibit antimicrobial properties. Onion is not as potent as garlic since the sulfur compounds in onion are only about one-quarter the level found in garlic.
  • Onion is effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.
  • Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These oligomers stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.
  • Several anti-inflammatory agents in onions render them helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions such as the pain and swelling of osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, the allergic inflammatory response of asthma, and the respiratory congestion associated with the common cold.
  • Onion is called "Pyaaz" in Urdu and in Hindi, "Erulli/Ulla gaddi" in Kannada "ulli paya" or "Erra gadda" in Telugu "Sawala" or "Ulli" in Malyalam , "Kanda" in Marathi and "vengayam" in Tamil.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


English: Garlic

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Lahson

  • Garlic (Allium sativum) is the name given to the leek (herb) with spear shaped leaves. It belongs to Alliaceae family.
  • It is a bulbous plant consisting of single head containing smaller bulbs or cloves individually wrapped in papery skins, which are all wrapped tightly together with another layer of dry papery skin, forming the bulb head.
  • It is used as a spice for seasoning in different cuisines. It is virtually used in every types of vegetarian and non vegetarian cuisine. It is used to prepare Pizzas, Biryani, curries, Sauces, pickles, vegetables etc
  • The smell of garlic is caused by allicin (diallyldisulfide-S-oxide), which is derived from precursors such as alliin (S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) by the enzyme alliinase which is liberated when the clove is broken up. The active compound resembles the well known drug N-acetyl-L-cysteine (Mucomyst), which has mucolytic and antioxidant properties.
  • Garlic contains several potent antioxidants, and there is evidence that its addition to the diet may help reduce the incidence of gastric and colorectal cancers.
  • The chemicals in garlic can help reduce serum cholesterol, hypertension, blood clotting, blood sugar, bowel parasites, respiratory and other infections, and the aging process itself. However, additional clinical evidence is still needed to determine whether its widespread popularity as an herbal medicine can be justified by measurable benefits of significance.
  • Garlic may protect against colon cancer by protecting colon cells from toxins and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells if they do develop. The selenium and vitamin C found in garlic are also known to protect against colon cancer.
  • Research has shown that cooking garlic with meat reduces carcinogenic chemicals in cooked meat that are believed to be linked to breast cancer in meat-eating women.


English Name: Nutmeg

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Jaiphal

  • The Nutmeg is the spice produced by the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans) along with another spice known as mace.
  • The nutmeg seed is encased in an edible fruit, which resembles a small peach in size and shape. The fruit splits in half to reveal the dark shiny nut-like pit, and inside that is the oval shaped seed, which is the nutmeg.
  • Nutmeg is covered by lacy mace but is sold in the market without the mace or hard shell.
  • The nutmeg is about 5 g to 10 g (¼ ounce to ½ ounce) when dried; and sweet, aromatic and nutty in flavor.
  • Nutmeg is used in food processing industry and also used to flavor a number of products including sauces, cakes, cookies, confectionery, candies etc. In soups it works with tomatoes, chicken or black beans. It complements egg dishes and vegetables like cabbage, spinach, broccoli, beans onions and eggplant.
    Both nutmeg and mice are also used in various mughlai cuisines in India.
  • Nutmeg is also popularly used for manufacturing essential oil, used heavily in pharmaceutical and perfumery industry. It is used as a major ingredient in cough syrups and in toothpaste.
  • Nutmeg oil is also used for flavoring aerated drinks and syrups used to make other soft drinks.
  • Nutmegs are used in small doses to reduce reduces flatulence, aid digestion; improve appetite, treatment for insomnia, common cold and dehydration.

Dried Ground Ginger

English Name: Dried Ground Ginger

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Sond

  • Sond (Dried Ground Ginger) is basically powdered dry ginger that is used in various recipes.
  • Dried ginger is extensively used for as a condiment and for food flavoring including pies, puddings, cookies, biscuits. It is also used for beverage flavoring including tea, ginger ale and ginger beer.
  • Dried ginger is available in both whole fingers and slices. Before use it is soaked in recipe liquid.
  • Ginger aids in digestion and cures digestion related problems. It is helpful in diarrhea and stomach cramping.
  • Ginger is effective against nausea related to both motion sickness and morning sickness.
  • It helps in relieving pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Reduces arthritis, rheumatism and muscle spasms.
  • Ginger also circulates the blood, removes toxins, cleanse the bowels and kidneys.
  • It also aids in all the skin related problems.
  • It is said that it also aid in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems

Cracked wheat

English: Cracked wheat

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Dalia

  • Cracked wheat is a wheat product made from whole raw wheat kernels which are crushed or cut into smaller pieces.
  • Cracked wheat carries a great deal of nutrition and fiber since it is made from whole wheat berries. It includes the fiber and nutrient rich outer bran and germ of the wheat.
  • There are a wide range of uses for cracked wheat. It can also be used in grain pilafs, multi-grain bread, pancakes and other grain dishes. The crushed wheat berries may be soaked or partially cooked when they are included in recipes such as bread, to ensure that they are fully cooked when the food is served.


English Name: Tamarind

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Imli

  • Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) grows extensively throughout the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the West Indies.
  • The pods are 3 - 8 inch long, brown, irregularly curved. When fully ripe, the shells of pods are brittle and easily broken. They contain a sticky pulp enclosing one to ten shiny black seeds. The pulp has a pleasing sweet/sour flavor and is high in both acid and sugar. It is also rich in vitamin B and high in calcium.
  • It is available as a pressed fibrous slab, or as a jam like bottled concentrate, and some Indian shops carry the dried pods.
  • Tamarind juice or paste is used as a souring agent, particularly in south Indian and Gujarati lentil dishes, curries and chutneys.
  • Tamarind contains pectin which is used in the manufacturing process of commercially produced jams, jellies, fruit drinks, and is vital to Worcestershire sauce.
  • Tamarind is considered a mild laxative and digestive.
  • It is used to treat bronchial disorders and gargling with tamarind water is recommended for a sore throat.

Monday, 27 July 2009


  • The word mushroom is often applied to the white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporust. These are round, smooth and ivory colored.
  • Mushroom is the fleshy, spore bearing fruiting body of a fungus (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycetes).
  • Button mushroom has a stem (stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae) on the underside of the cap.
  • White button mushrooms contain virtually no fat, few kilojoules, are cholesterol-free and packed with a range of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
  • Mushrooms are a prime natural source of the antioxidant ergothioneine. In fact, researchers have found that white button mushrooms have about 12 times more of the antioxidant than wheat germ and four times more than chicken liver. These foods were previously considered to be the primary source of the antioxidant.
  • Results of a study by researchers at Tufts University in the States also suggest that white button mushrooms may promote innate immunity against tumors and viruses by enhancing natural killer cell activity.
  • Mushrooms are a useful source of vitamins B1, B2 and B6, folic acid, niacin, iron, and potassium.


  • The chickpea (Cicer arietinum), also known as Garbanzo Bean, Bengal Gram, Kabuli Chana, is an edible legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Chickpea is a highly nutritious pulse and places third in the importance list of the food legumes that are cultivated throughout the world.
  • It contains 25% proteins, which is the maximum provided by any pulse and 60% carbohydrates.
  • There are two main kinds of chickpea:

(1) Desi (meaning local in Hindi)is also known as Bengal Gram or Kala Chana. It has small, darker seeds and a rough coat, cultivated mostly in the Indian subcontinent, Ethiopia, Mexico and Iran. It is believed to have originated in Turkey.

(2) Kabuli (meaning from Kabul in Hindi) since they are thought to have come from Afghanistan when first seen in India, also known as Garbanzo Bean. It has lighter colored, larger seeds and a smoother coat, mainly grown in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Afghanistan and Chile. It is also introduced during the 18th century to the Indian subcontinent

  • Bengal Grams have markedly higher fiber content than Kabulis and hence a very low glycemic index which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems. It is used to make Chana Dal, which is a split chickpea with the skin removed.
  • Chickpea is a helpful source of zinc, folate, and protein. They are also very high in dietary fiber and low in fat, most of which is polyunsaturated.
  • Gram flour is flour made from ground Chana Dal. It is also known as chana flour (Indian), besan (Hindi), chickpea flour and garbanzo flour (Spanish).

Saturday, 25 July 2009


English Name: Fat-hen / White Goosefoot / Goosefoot

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Bathua

  • Bathua, the Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium. Fat Hen, White Goosefoot, Lamb's-quarters, Pigweed or dungweed are the common names of Bathua.
  • The leaves and young shoots are eaten as leaf vegetables. These are cooked with potato, chicken, or meat to make a saag dish. When mixed with yogurt, sauce (raita) is made which is a favorite dish in North India.
  • Bathua is available only in winter season. However, it should be eaten in moderation due to high levels of oxalic acid.
  • Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. As the English common name suggests, it is also a very good feed (both the leaves and the seeds) for chickens (hens) and other poultry.
  • Bathua has medicinal uses in some skin conditions. Its oil is used to treat hookworms.
  • It is said to be high in vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, trace minerals, iron and fiber.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Colocasia (Arbi)

English Name: Colocasia

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Arbi or Ghuiya / Patra

  • Colocasia esculenta is a tropical herbaceous perennial plant, primarily grown for its edible corm and secondarily as a leaf vegetable. In Indian subcontinent its leaves are cherished.
  • A corm is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ used by some plants to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat.
  • In North India, it is called Arvi or Arbi. In Assamese it is called Kosu. In Bengali the root is called gath and the plant is called Kochu.
  • The leaves are large to very large, 20-150 cm long, with a sagittate shape. The elephant's-ear plant gets its name from the leaves, which are shaped like a large ear or shield. In the Indian state of Gujarat it is used to make patra, a dish with the leaves of the plant prepared with tamarind and other spices.
  • In its raw form the plant is toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate, and the presence of needle-shaped raphides in the plant cells. However, the toxin can be destroyed and the tuber rendered palatable by cooking, or by steeping in cold water overnight.
  • Typical of leaf vegetables, arbi/arvee leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of thiamine, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and zinc. Corms are very high in starch, and are a good source of dietary fibers.
  • Oxalic acid may be present in the corm and especially in the leaf. Calcium reacts with the oxalate to form calcium oxalate, which is highly insoluble and is suspected to cause kidney stones by obstructing kidney tubules. Healthy individuals can safely consume such foods in moderation, but those with kidney disorders, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or certain forms of chronic vulvar pain are typically advised to avoid foods high in oxalic acid or oxalates.
  • Care must be taken to oil one's hands before handling the leaves, as some leaves are acidic and cause scratching. The leaves are completely safe and delicious after cooking.


English Name: Banana

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Kela

  • Banana is the common name for a type of fruit and the herbaceous plants of the genus Musa.
  • Bananas are very rich in carbohydrates, vitamin C and several important minerals, including potassium, copper, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
  • Banana strengthens the stomach lining against ulcers and acid and it is also a fruit which is easily digested.
  • The low glycemic index in unripe bananas is of particular benefit to people with diabetes.
  • Bananas are said to encourage the production of serotonin in the brain, which happens to be a feel-good chemical. Eating bananas reportedly helps improve mood levels as they contain the chemical compound named bufotenine, which acts on the brain by increasing self-confidence and positivity.
  • Pectin content, a hydrocolloid, can ease constipation by normalizing movement through the intestine. High fiber content may also contribute to this effect.
  • By a high potassium to sodium content, bananas may prevent high blood pressure and its complications. High potassium may also prevent renal calcium loss, in effect preventing bone breakdown.
  • In diarrhea, it contributes with electrolyte replacement, as well as increased absorption of nutrients.
  • They feature Vitamin B6, reported to make it a perfect food for women with pre-menstrual symptoms.
  • Fruit consumption in general decreases the risk of age related macular degeneration.
  • Bananas are a tropical fruit; they may contain properties that are reported to help decrease stress levels and reduce blood cholesterol. Consuming bananas is considered to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


English Name: Vermicelli

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Seviyan

  • Vermicelli is a type of pasta, round in section and somewhat thinner than spaghetti.
  • In South Asia, the vermicelli used is made from semolina, while in Italy it is made from durum wheat.
  • In Asia it is known variously as shemai in Bengali, sev in Gujarati, sevalu or semiya in Telugu, all probably modified form of 'mian xian' in Mandarin.
  • The seviyan are used in a number of dishes including a variation of kheer ( sweet rice pudding).
  • Vermicelli is used in many parts of India to make a popular dish called upma. To prepare it, one boils the dry oil-roasted vermicelli with a choice of vegetables.
  • Nowadays it is available in roasted form also which is more convenient.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


English Name : Breadcrumbs

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Breadcrumb (Dabal roti Ka Choora)

  • Breadcrumbs are small particles of dry bread, which are used for breading or crumbing foods, topping casseroles, stuffing poultry, thickening stews, and adding inexpensive bulk to meatloaves and similar foods.
  • Dry breadcrumbs are made from very dry bread which has been baked or toasted to remove all remaining moisture, and may have a sandy or even powdery texture.

Monday, 20 July 2009


English Name: Coconut

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Naariyal

  • The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the Family Arecaceae (palm family). The term coconut refers to the seed of the coconut palm and is simple dry nut botanically.
  • The white and fleshy edible part of the coconut (‘coconut meat’) is outer part of the seed, known as albuminous cellular endosperm and is rich in fat. About 90% of the fat found in coconut meat is saturated, a proportion exceeding that of foods such as lard, butter and tallow. Coconut meat also contains less sugar and more protein than popular fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges, and is relatively high in minerals such as iron, phosphorus and zinc.
  • The water which is filled in the central cavity of the tender coconuts (‘coconut water’) is inner part of the seed, known as liquid endosperm and is mild sweet in taste.
  • Coconut is rich in fibre and is said to be a very good source of the vital minerals; iron, copper and magnesium.
  • The oil in coconuts is enriched in medium chain fatty acids, including lauric acid. Medium chain fatty acids are believed to help the absorption of calcium, magnesium and amino acids, they may also fasten metabolism and support the thyroid function.
  • Eating coconuts is considered excellent for the immune system and is reported to help fight against infections.

Friday, 10 July 2009


English Name: Yogurt / Curd

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Dahi

  • Yogurt/Curd is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk.
  • Dahi, is yoghurt of the Indian subcontinent, known for its characteristic taste and consistency. The word, Dahi, seems to be derived from Sanskrit word Dadhi. Dahi is also known as Thayiru (Malyalam), doi (Assamese, Bengali), dohi (Oriya), perugu (Telugu).
  • It is nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
  • People who are moderately lactose-intolerant can enjoy yoghurt without ill effects, because the lactose in the milk precursor is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial culture. The reduction of lactose bypasses the affected individuals' need to process the milk sugar themselves.
  • Yoghurt also has medical uses, in particular for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, and in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Amchur (Raw Mango Powder)

English Name:Raw Mango Powder (Raw)

Common Indian Name (Hindi): Amchur

  • Mango Powder is a dried spice, obtained from unripe or green mango fruits which have been sliced and sun dried. Amchur powder is obtained by grinding them finely into a powder.
  • The use of amchur is confined chiefly to Indian cookery, where it is used as an acid flavoring in curries, soups, chutneys, marinades and as a condiment.
  • It is used for its tangy flavor somewhat similar to tamarind. Citric acid, terpenes, aldehyde and esters are responsible for the sour taste.
  • It is also used for tenderizing poultry and meat.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


English Name : Mace
Common Indian Name (Hindi): Javitri
  • Mace is the aril of the nutmeg seed shell, produced along with the nutmeg, by the fruit of nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans).
  • In its natural state, mace is a bright crimson lace up to 35 mm (1-1/2 in) long, encasing the brown nutmeg in irregular, fleshy lobes. These fleshy lobes removed from the seed shell are known as blades.
  • Mace develops its characteristic aroma but loses its bright red color when it is dried.
    The flavor of mace is warm, sharp and aromatic, more intense and slightly sweeter than nutmeg.
  • Dried mace pieces are not easy to crush. Ready-ground mace is easier to use, but will deteriorate much more quickly. Whole mace pieces can be steeped in liquid and then the liquid can be used, or the mace pieces can be removed after cooking. One ‘blade’ is strong enough to flavor a meal of four to six portions.
  • Mace and nutmeg are very similar, though mace is somewhat more powerful. Mace is a lighter color and can be used in light-colored dishes where the darker flecks of nutmeg would be undesirable. A small amount will enhance many recipes, adding fragrance without imposing too much flavor.
  • Mace works especially well with milk dishes like custards and cream sauces. It contributes to flavoring light-colored cakes and pastries, especially donuts. It can enhance clear and creamed soups and casseroles, chicken pies and sauces. Adding some to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes creates a more interesting side dish. Some beverages improve with a little mace, especially chocolate drinks and tropical punches.
  • Mace is used in small doses to reduce reduces flatulence, aid digestion; improve appetite, treatment for insomnia, common cold and dehydration.