Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Red Chili / Lal Mirch

  • Chili is the universal spice of India. It is cultivated in all the States and Union Territories of the country. The important States growing chili are Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh alone commands 46% of the chili production in India.
  • Chilies have two important characteristic. One their color, because the pigment called Carpathian in it and two the biting pungency, because of Capsaicin. India is the only country rich in many varieties with different quality factors.
  • Red chilies contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene ("provitamin A"). Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a considerably lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B Vitamins, and Vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in Potassium and high in Magnesium and iron. Their high vitamin C content can also substantially increase the uptake of non-heme iron from other ingredients in a meal, such as beans and grains.
  • Indian Chilies are one of the famous in world and have huge demand in the overseas market. India continues to be the main producer and exporter of most verities of chilies like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Middle East and other countries.
  • Red Chili Powder or Lal Mirch (Hindi) Indian chili powder is made from ground chilies. This vibrant and tasty red chili powder imparts a rich flavor and color to the dishes it is used in. Used in Tandoori and other barbecue marinades. Mainly used in Indian and Pakistani curries to create the attractive red color
  • Indian Chili Powder is much hotter than the chili powder commonly found in most stores in the US which is mostly a blend of red peppers and cumin, coriander etc. The ground product ranges from orange-red, to deep, dark red.
  • Red pepper is a pungent, hot powder with a strong bite. Paprika is a mild form of the red chili powder.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Ivy gourd / Dondakaya

  • Ivy gourd or Coccinia grandis belongs to family Cucurbitaceae.
  • These are mainly grown in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Central Africa.
  • The fruit is commonly eaten in Indian cuisine as vegetable. These are elongated oval measuring only about two inches in length. Ripe ivy gourds are red, but only the unripe green fruit is eaten, despite the fact that they are somewhat bitter. They are eaten fresh or pickled, and the leaves and shoots can also be used as a vegetable.
  • In Karnataka, ivy gourd is referred to it as Tondekayi’. In West Bengal, they are referred as Toruli/Kudri’. In Maharashtra, they are referred as Tondli’. In Andhra Pradesh, Telugu speakers refer to this vegetable as ‘Dondakaya. Tamil speakers refer to it as ‘Kovakkai. In Kerala it is known as ‘Kovakka’. In Assam it is known as ‘Kunduli’.
  • In India, ivy gourd is often recommended to diabetics due to its low glycemic index and its possible ability to help regulate blood glucose.
  • In Hawai and the southern United States, among other regions, ivy gourd is considered an invasive plant.
  • Ivy gourd is rich in beta-carotene.

Green Chili Peppers

  • There are more than 200 varieties of chilies with 100 of them from Mexico.
  • Each of the three spellings- Chile pepper, chili pepper, chilli pepper, is recognized by different dictionaries as being correct. The Oxford English Dictionary shows "Chilli" as the primary spelling while citing both Chile and Chili as variant spellings.
  • Chile peppers are grown in different shapes, sizes, and flavors. From round to long and narrow, the pepper can range in size from less than an inch to over 12 inches in length. They can be round and globe-shaped or long and narrow with a pointed end. Some of the smallest varieties of peppers are round peppers that are often referred to as "ornamental" or "wild" peppers.
  • There are a variety of colors such as red, green, black, and purple readily available and can be used to add color or flavor to various dishes.
  • The intensity of their flavor ranges from mild to extremely hot. The heat in all chilies, whether hot or mild, is due to the flavorless, odorless, colorless chemical known as Capsaicin.
  • Some of the most common chili peppers are: Anaheim, Cayenne, Cherry pepper, Chilaca, Chipolte, Jalapeno, Jamaican hot, Italian frying etc.
  • The flavor and heat of a fresh chili is quite different to dried chili. Upon drying, usually in the sun, caramelization of sugars and other chemical changes create more complex flavors.
  • Dried chilies can be used whole in curries and almost any other kind of slow-cooked liquid, as the flavor seeps out and flavors the food. A variety of chilies are available to be used in a wide range of curries, sauces, pickles, chutneys and pastes.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Anardana / Pomegranate Seeds

  • Anardana is the dried seeds of varieties of pomegranate (Punica granatum). These are tangy and sour in taste.
  • Wild pomegranates are usually used as they are too sour to eat fresh out of hand, and the tree can be grown with almost no cultivation maintenance.
  • Most seeds are dark red but some can be pinkish white.
  • The seeds and the pulp adhering to them are used to make the spice.
    The seeds and the pulp dry together in reddish brown, sticky, clumps. Because of the stickiness and brown color it is sometimes called "pomegranate molasses."
    Though used mostly for vegetables and legumes, anardana also flavors Moghul-style meat dishes.
  • Grenadine, reduced pomegranate juice, is used in India to marinate meat, acting as a tenderizer because of the enzymes it contains.
  • Its tangy, sour taste is added to curries, chutneys and dals. This powder can also be used in tangy lamb and chicken dishes. Pomegranate eases flatulence and heartburn.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


  • Burghul is a cereal food made from several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat.
  • For human consumption it is usually sold parboiled, dried and partially de-branned. It has a light, nutty flavor.
  • Sometimes it is confused with cracked wheat. The difference between the two is that Burghul is parboiled while cracked wheat is crushed not parboiled.
  • Burghul is a common ingredient in Kudish, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Indian and Mediterranean dishes. In Indian cuisine, Burghul or daliya is also used as a cereal with milk and sugar. In the United States is often used as a side dish, much like pasta or rice.
  • Burghul is more nutritious than white rice, because it contains more fiber and more vitamins and minerals and has a lower glycemic index than white rice.
  • It can be found in natural food stores, Middle Eastern specialty grocers, and some traditional grocery stores.