Thursday, February 14, 2008


Saffron/Kesari(Kannada)/Kumkuma poo(Tamil)/Kukumpoovu(Telugu)/Kesar(Hindi)

Saffron is the slender, dried, flattened Stigma of a small crocus of the iris family. Often called 'The Golden Spice', Saffron is a culinary and medicinal spice used since time immemorial.
This bright orange-red strands is an expensive spice appreciated for its delicate, distinctive flavour and striking colour. It has a peculiar, exotic, bitter taste. It is used in special dishes, especially in the preparation of different type of sweets. It is also used in perfumes and dyes.
Expectant mothers drink a solution of saffron and milk in the belief that the beauty and complexion of the baby would markedly improve.
Indian Saffron is cultivated on a large scale in Jammu and Kashmir.
Saffron holds the distinction of being the world's costliest spice. The yield of Saffron stigmas is quite small. It takes 30,000 to 35,000 hand-picked blooms to obtain just one pound of dried Saffron.
Several saffron cultivars are grown worldwide. Spain's varieties, including the tradenames 'Spanish Superior' and 'Creme', are generally mellower in colour, flavour, and aroma

Nutmeg and Mace

Nutmeg/Jajikayi(Kannada and Telugu)/Jathikai(Tamil)/Jaiphal and Javitri(Hindi)

Nutmeg is a spreading evergreen tree. This unisexual tree is quite unique in that is bears two separate and distinct products; nutmeg which is the kernel of the seed, and Mace which is the dried aril that surrounds the nutmeg within the fruit.
Both nutmeg and mace are used in vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. It is used in pulaous, biryanis especially Mughlai types. They are also used as an ingredient in biscuits, cookies, fruit salad, puddings, pastries and milk drinks.
The oil forms of nutmeg and mace are frequently used in meat seasoning, soft-drinks and pharmaceuticals, especially in cough mixtures.
The essential oil is obtained by the steam distillation of ground nutmeg and is used heavily in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The oil is colourless or light yellow and smells and tastes of nutmeg. It contains numerous components of interest to the oleochemical industry, and is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, sweets etc. It replaces ground nutmeg as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries for instance in tooth paste and as major ingredient in some cough syrups. In traditional medicine nutmeg and nutmeg oil were used for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems.

Curry Leaves

Curry leaves/Karibevina soppu(Kannada)/Karivepilai(Tamil)/Karivepaku(Telugu)/Kadi patta(Hindi)

When you find it in food...DO NOT THROW IT!!EAT IT!!
High in Iron content...its is nutritious apart from its aroma!!
Curry leaf is a small deciduous tree. The subtle flavouring of this highly aromatic spice fills Indian cuisines.
Curry leaf grows profusely throughout India. It is commonly found in forests as a gregarious undergrowth along the foot of the Himalayas, Sikkim and Assam, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Orissa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The trees are maintained as homestead gardens in Kerala, or as leaf farms in Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Orissa.
Curry leaves are added to food to enhance flavour. They are generally shallow-fried with mustard seeds and chopped onion, and poured over the dishes. Special chutneys are made with fried or roasted curry leaves to stimulate appetite.
The leaves, bark and the root of the plant are used in indigenous medicine as a tonic, stimulant and carminative. They are also used to cure eruptions and the bites of poisonous animals. Its leaves are highly aromatic and are used as an herb. Their form is small and narrow and they somewhat resemble the leaves of the Neem tree; therefore they are also referred to as Kari Baavu (translated to Black Neem) in the Kannada and Karivepaku in Telugu, again translating to the same meaning. In Tamil and Malayalam it is known as Karuveppilai, ilai meaning leaves and veppilai meaning Neem leaf. Other names include Kari Patta (Hindi), Kadhi Limb (Marathi), Limda(Gujarati) and Karapincha (Sinhalese).


Tamarind/Huli(Kannada)/Puli(Tamil)/Chintapandu (Telugu)/Imli(Hindi)

The fruit pulp is edible and popular. It is used as a spice in both Asian and Latin American cuisines, and is also an important ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce and the Jamaican-produced Pickapeppa sauce. The hard green pulp of a young fruit is very tart and acidic and is most often used as a component of savory dishes. The ripened fruit is sweeter, yet still distinctively sour, and can be used in desserts and sweetened drinks, or as a snack. In Thailand, there is a carefully cultivated sweet variety with little to no tartness grown specifically to be eaten as a fresh fruit.In temples, especially in Asian countries, the pulp is used to clean brass shrine furniture, removing dulling and the greenish patina that forms.
Tamarind trees are very common in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu and AndhraPradesh. They are used as ornamental trees and to provide shade on the country roads and highways. Tamarind is extensively used in the cuisine of both these states.
Tamarind is a staple in the Tamil Nadu diet, where it is used to prepare Rasam, Sambhar, Puliyogar, and various types of chutneys.
The pulp, leaves, and bark also have medical applications. For example, in the Philippines, the leaves have been traditionally used in herbal tea for reducing malaria fever. Due to its medicinal value, tamarind is used as an Ayurvedic Medicine for gastric and/or digestion problems.
In Egypt, there is an acidic chilled drink made from tamarind which is popular in summertime. It is called "tamr hindi".
In Madagascar, the tree is known as the kily tree. Its fruits and leaves are a well-known favorite of ring-tailed lemurs, providing as much as 50% of their food resources during the year if available.



Garlic is a hardy bulbous perennial of the lily family, with narrow flat leaves. It has an attractive flavour and acknowledged medicinal value. It is one of the 'trinity' of flavours along with ginger and onion in Indian cuisines.
Garlic acts as a flavouring agent in variety of dishes. In Pickles it acts as a preservative-flavourant. Garlic pickles and freshly ground garlic chutneys are popular side dishes for rice, snacks and chappathis. Garlic oil are used in ready-made spice-mixes, pharmaceuticals and disinfectants.
Garlic help to purify the blood and lower blood pressure. It also aid digestion, lower cholesterol and prevent flatulence. It is considered as a cure for heart ailments. It improves hair growth.
Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating as far back as the time that the Egyptian pyramids were built. Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer.Animal studies, and some early investigational studies in humans, have suggested possible cardiovascular benefits of garlic.

Malabathrum/bay leaves

Malabathrum/Pulao yele(Kannada)/Tejpata(Hindi)

Malabathrum, also known as Malobathrum or Malabar leaf, is the name used in classical and medieval texts for the leaf of the plant Cinnamomum tamala (sometimes given as Cinnamomum tejpata). In ancient Greece and Rome, the leaves were used to prepare a fragrant oil, called Oleum Malabathri, and were therefore valuable. The leaves are mentioned in the 1st century Greek text Periplus Maris Erytraei as one of the major exports of the Tamil kingdoms of southern India. The name is also used in mediaeval texts to describe the dried leaves of a number of trees of the genus Cinnamomum, which were thought to have medicinal properties.
It has a fragrance that will drive one to food!!Add a whole big leaf to the food and let the aroma therapy work its way to your loved ones' palate!!


Cinnamon/Chakke(Kannada)/ Ilavangam, Lavanga pattai (Tamil)/Lavang patta(Telugu)/Dalchini, Nagkesar (buds) (Hindi)

Cinnamon is the dried bark of an evergreen busy tree. There is a particular season for pealing of the bark. It is considered superior compared to cassia though they belong to the same class.
Cinnamon is used in a wide variety of foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, liquors, cosmetics, perfumery and toiletries.
A major ingredient of garam masala, Cinnamon is used whole in Savoury rice dishes. Khadi, a popular yogurt drink in Gujarat and other northern states, has Cinnamon or cassia as one of its ingredients. Cinnamon oil is an international favourite in beverages and perfumery, while Cinnamon oleoresin is a popular flavour for processed foods.
Cinnamon is also added to make sweet dishes such as kheer[payasa].
Its essential to note that though it belongs to the Spice category, when added to food it gives a slight sweet taste besides adding enigmatic aroma and taste to the food,be it sweet or spicy!!


Fennel/Badesopu(Kannada)/Perunjiragam, Sohikirai, Sombu (Tamil)/Saunf, Bari-Saunf (Hindi )

Fennel is the dried ripe fruit of a perennial aromatic herbaceous plant, which grows in mild climate. In India it is grown in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It is used in a wide range of dishes. Fresh fennel leaves are used in fish and pork dishes, salad dressings and stuffing.
Fennel seeds are used in pickles and variety of meat preparations. Powdered fennel is a flavouring agent in biscuits, cakes and cooked apple dishes.
Well-known as 'Saunf' Indian fennel is used in food, medicines, liquors and perfumery. India exports substantial quantities of fennel to USA, Singapore, the UK, UAE, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Japan in variety of forms including seeds, powder and volatile oils.

Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seeds/Gasagase(Kannada)/Kasakasa(Tamil)/Gasagasalu (Telugu)/Khuskhus(Hindi).

The seeds of the poppy are widely used as the popular "poppy seed" found in and on many food items such as bagels, bialys, muffins and cakes. The seeds can be pressed to form poppyseed oil, which can be used in cooking, or as a carrier for oil-based paints.
Although the amount of opiates in poppy seeds is not enough to produce a narcotic effect in cooking or consumption,the television show MythBusters demonstrated that one could test positive for narcotics after consuming 4 poppy seed bagels. The show Brainiac: Science Abuse had subjects that tested positive with only 2 poppy seed bagels. This situation was parodied on the show Seinfeld.
Poppy is widely consumed in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe. The sugared, milled mature seeds are eaten with pasta, or they are boiled with milk and used as filling or topping on various kinds of sweet pastry.
Poppy seeds are widely used in Bengali cuisine and in Oriya cuisine.Poppy Seeds are used to flavor breads, cakes, rolls, and cookies in European and Middle Eastern cooking. In Turkey, they are often ground and used in desserts. In India, the seeds are ground and used to thicken sauces. The seeds are also used in noodle, fish, and vegetable dishes in Jewish, German, and Slavic cooking.
In Mexico, Grupo Modelo, the makers of Corona beer, until the 1960s used red poppy flowers in its advertising, where almost any image it used had poppy flowers somewhere in the image.Since antiquity, poppies have symbolized honor. Women in second century Crete cultivated poppy plants for opium and Hippocrates suggested opium in medicine. Islamic and Arabian countries used opium as a medicine and narcotic in the sixth century. By the 17th century, Asians used the poppy plant as an opiate. Europeans began trafficking the drug in the 19th century, culminating in the Opium Wars, in which China lost control of the industry. The Greeks used the seeds as flavoring for breads in the second century, and medieval Europeans used them as a condiment with breads.
Poppy seed tea contains different opiates in various concentrations. Typically morphine and codeine are the main ones. Morphine is recognized as one of the most addictive substances known to man and is, for this reason, also one of the most tightly controlled. Overdoses of morphine can be lethal. The main cause of death for morphine overdose is pulmonary edema, where the lungs fill with fluid passed from the blood stream through the alveoli in the lungs. Check the above site for more information.



Asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida, family Apiaceae), alternative spelling asafetida (also known as devil's dung, stinking gum, asant, food of the gods, hing, and giant fennel) is a species of Ferula native to Iran.A popular spice in foods and medicines, being unique in blend and made with finest ingredients, Indian Asafoetida enjoys an exalted positions in the International market.
The two types of Asafoetidas used commonly are white and the dark. Though the composition of both varieties is the same, white Asafoetida is water-soluble while the dark one is fried in the oil and powdered for use in cuisines. Asafoetida is claimed to be an aphrodisiac and a preventive medicine for infectious diseases. It helps digestion and prevents flatulence.
Asafetida has certain medicinal uses and most commonly is used as a digestive aid. It is reputed to lessen flatulence and is often added to lentil or eggplant dishes in small quantities. It is also said to be helpful in cases of asthma and bronchitis. A folk tradition remedy for children's colds: it is mixed into a foul-smelling paste and hung in a bag around the afflicted child's neck. In Thailand it is used to aid babies' digestion and is smeared on the child's stomach in an alcohol tincture known as "mahahing." John C Duval reported in 1936 that the odor of asafetida is attractive to the wolf, a matter of common knowledge, he says, along the Texas/Mexican border.



Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Chinese cuisine to flavor dishes such as seafood or mutton. Powdered dry ginger root (ginger powder) is typically used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. Ground and fresh ginger taste quite different and ground ginger is a poor substitute for fresh ginger. Fresh ginger can be successfully substituted for ground ginger and should be done at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground.

Ginger is used since time immemorial. It is a major crop cultivated in India and marketed as fresh and dried spice. It is a small grassy plant grown in all seasons throughout the year. Indian Ginger is famous for its flavour, texture and taste.
More than a spice ginger is considered as a taste maker, a drug, an appetizer and a flavourant. Superior quality of ginger is produced from Kerala though it is grown throughout the country. The congenial climate and the fertile soil helps to produce quality ginger.
Ginger has been found effective by multiple studies for treating nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy,though ginger was not found superior over a placebo for post-operative nausea.
Be Aware!
Allergic reactions to ginger generally result in a rash and though generally recognized as safe, ginger can cause heartburn, bloating, gas, belching and nausea, particularly if taken in powdered form. Unchewed fresh ginger may result in intestinal blockage, and individuals who have had ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or blocked intestines may react badly to large quantities of fresh ginger.Ginger can also adversely affect individuals with gallstones. There are also suggestions that ginger may affect blood pressure, clotting, and heart rhythms.

Star Anise

Star Anise-Szechuan pepper/Anasphal(Hindi)/Anashuppu(Tamil)/Anaspuvu(Telugu)

This is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China.The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay/Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also one of the ingredients used to make the broth for the Vietnamese noodle soup called phở. It is used as a spice in preparation of Biryani in Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian State.
A Word of Caution-
While Chinese Star Anise is not itself toxic its near-identical similarity to Japanese star anise can lead to contamination in storage, resulting in cases of neurological problems in infants.



In recipes, Turmeric is sometimes used as a coloring agent. It has found application in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, biscuits, popcorn-color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatins, etc. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curry powders.
Turmeric (coded as E100 when used as a food additive) is used to protect food products from sunlight. The oleoresin is used for oil-containing products. The curcumin/polysorbate solution or curcumin powder dissolved in alcohol is used for water containing products. Over-coloring, such as in pickles, relishes and mustard, is sometimes used to compensate for fading.

Turmeric adds as an instant medicine to cough and phlegm when consumed with mixing it with hot milk! Hot Milk also acts a sedate and a compound of the two will provide instant relief!
Turmeric also is an anti-septic to wounds. It is an easily available at home for small wounds esp while working in the kitchen or for small kids who fall often.
It also prevents ants from entering the vicinity once turmeric is put across the area!
Ayurvedic doctors say it has fluoride which is thought to be essential for teeth. It is also used as an antibacterial agent.
Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sunscreens. Turmeric paste is used by some Indian women to keep them free of superfluous hair.

Capsicum/ 'Bell Pepper'

Capsicum/ Shimla Mirch(Hindi) is also called as 'Bell Pepper' in Mexico!!

The name given to the Capsicum fruits varies between English-speaking countries.
In Australia, New Zealand and India, heatless species are called "capsicums" while hot ones are called "chilli/chillies" (double L). Pepperoncini are also known as "sweet capsicum". The term "bell peppers" is rarely used, and then usually in reference to C. annuum and other varieties which have a bell-shape and are fairly hot, they are more usually called "bell chillies".
It adds lots of colours to the food and it becomes nutritious too!!
The yellow ones have a slight sweet element. The Red ones have a slight sour element.


Menasina Kaayi(Kannada)/ Molaga(Tamil)/ Mirchi(Hindi)

Chilli is grown throughout the country and is used in almost all dishes. Chillies are of numerous variety and th eir degree of pungency varies. Dry and fresh Chillies are used in various dishes. Dry chilly gives a red colour and makes the dish attractive.
This spice is grown throughout the year and so there is no scarcity and a good quantity is exported. Kashmir chillies are known for its colour and pungency. The highly pungent chilly is 'Sannam' and slightly pungent chilly is 'Mundu'. Sannam has international popularity.
Chillies are used with or without stalks. To make good quality of chilli powder the stalks should be removed. It is variously called capsicum, paprika, pimento, sweet pepper, red pepper, cayenne pepper and bird pepper, depending on the type of chilli and the manner in which it is prepared and used. Indian chillies are mainly exported to USA, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the middle and the far east.
Dry Chilllies are a variety used for making powders also used as a major ‘hot’ spice adding element in the dishes.
Chillies are important other than just adding spice to the food!!
Red chillies contain some amounts of vitamin C and provitamin A. Yellow and especially green chilis (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.
Anything in excess is always harmful and so is chilly! Eat all and eat small and be good!!


Fenugreek / menthya (Kannada)/Venthayam (Tamil)/ Methi (Hindi, Bangla,Marathi)/ menthulu (Telugu)

The dried leaves of the fenugreek is used as a quality flavour for meat, fish and vegetable dishes. It acts as a medicine as well as an embalming agent. Fenugreek seeds are rich in vitamin E and is one of the earliest spices known to man.Fenugreek has a strong, quite peculiar odour reminiscent of maple. It is used in almost all dishes and in pickles.
The major producers of Indian Fenugreek are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Commercially known as 'Methi', Indian Fenugreek comes in several well-known varieties such as 'Desi' and 'champa'. The spice is exported in its whole and powdered form. The extracted oil of fenugreek is extensively used in perfumery.
The major importers of Indian Fenugreek are Saudi Arabia, Japan, Malaysia, USA,UK, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Coriander seeds/ Dhania

Coriander Seeds/ Kothambari beeja-dhania( Kannada)/ Kothamalli verai(Tamil)/ Dhania(Hindi)/ Dhanialu(Telugu)

Coriander seed is a key spice in garam masala and Indian curries, which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin. It also acts as a thickener. Roasted coriander seeds, called dhana dal, are also eaten as a snack. It is also the main ingredient of the two south Indian gravies: sambhar and rasam.Outside of Asia, coriander seed is an important spice for sausages in Germany and South Africa (see boerewors). In Russia and Central Europe coriander seed is an occasional ingredient in rye bread as an alternative to caraway. Apart from the uses just noted, coriander seeds are rarely used in European cuisine today, though they were more important in former centuries.Coriander seeds are also used in brewing certain styles of beer, particularly some Belgian wheat beers. The coriander seeds are typically used in conjunction with orange peel to add a sultry citrus character to these styles of beer.
Medicinal use-Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iranian folk medicine. Experiments in mice support its use as an anxiolytic. Coriander seeds are also used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid. In holistic and some traditional medicine, it is used as a carminative and for general digestive aid.


Clove/ Lavanga(Kannada)/ Grambu/lavangam(Tamil)/ Lavang(Hindi)/ Lavangam(Telugu)

Cloves are used in Ayurveda called Lavang in India, Chinese medicine and western herbalism and dentistry where the essential oil is used as an anodyne (fancy word for painkiller) for dental emergencies. Cloves are used as a carminative, to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach and to improve peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural antihelmintic. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming is needed, especially for digestive problems. Topical application over the stomach or abdomen will warm the digestive tract. Also, keeping a clove over a painful tooth provides immediate relief.
Precaution-- Large amounts should be avoided in pregnancy. Cloves can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, and should be avoided by people with gastric ulcers, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. In overdoses, cloves can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Severe cases can lead to changes in liver function, dyspnea, loss of consciousness, hallucination, and even death. The internal use of the essential oil should be restricted to 3 drops per day for an adult as excessive use can cause severe kidney damage.

Cumin seeds/Jeera

Cumin seeds/ Jeerige(Kannada)/ Seerakam(Tamil)/ Jeera(Hindi)/ Jilakara(Telugu)

Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in North African, Middle Eastern, Western Chinese, Indian, Cuban and Mexican cuisine.
The flavour of cumin plays a major role in Cuban, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese,Turkish and Indian cuisines. Cumin is a critical ingredient of chili powder, and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, and bahaarat.
Cumin has digestive properties and when boiled in water acts as an excellent refreshener. It is also used in medicines, toiletries and perfumery.
It is also an essential element that acts against producing gas in the stomach due to food likes potato, rajma, cauliflower/gobhi, some grams/dals etc.

Mustard seeds

Mustard seeds/ Sasve(kannada)/ Kadugu(Tamil)/ Aval(Telugu)/ Rai(Hindi)

Yellow Mustard seeds

This is a must in all our south Indian dishes.Used for seasoning-(Oggarane/ tadka).
In India, mustard is used largely for tempering food. In South India, it is fried in hot oil with curry leaves, chopped onion and then poured over curries. Mustard may very well be the starting point of some dishes. Mustard, ground with coconut, is used for different kinds of pachadis. Special preparations like pork vindaloo contain mustard as one of their major constituents.
Phosphorus 841mg 120% per 100gm, shows that it is a high source of phosphorous.
Phosphorus is a key element in all known forms of life. Inorganic phosphorus in the form of the phosphate PO43- plays a major role in biological molecules such as DNA and RNA where it forms part of the structural framework of these molecules. Living cells also use phosphate to transport cellular energy via adenosine triphosphate(ATP). Nearly every cellular process that uses energy obtains it in the form of ATP. ATP is also important for phosphorylation, a key regulatory event in cells. Phospholipids are the main structural components of all cellular membranes. Calcium phosphate salts assist in stiffening bones.

Cardamom- Black

Cardamom- Black /Badi Elaichi(Hindi)

In India, black cardamom seeds are often an important component of the Indian spice mixture garam masala. Black cardamom is also commonly used in savory dal and rice dishes.In China, the pods are used for long-braised meat dishes, particularly in the cuisine of the central-western province of Sichuan.The pods are also often used in Vietnam, where they are called thảo quả and used as an ingredient in the broth for the noodle soup .Black cardamom pods can be used in soups, chowders, casseroles, and marinades for smoky flavor, much in the way bacon is used.

Queen of spices- Cardamom

Cardamom / Yelakki(Kannada)/ Yelakkai(Tamil)/ Elaichi(Hindi)/ Elakayi(Telugu)

Cardamom the Queen of all spices has a history as old as human race. It is one of the high priced spice in the world.

It has well established culinary values, and it is used in a wide range of sweets and confectionery. It is an important ingredient of garam masala, a combination spice for many vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Cardamom acts as a mouth-freshener after meals. Tea and coffee made with cardamom are pleasantly aromatic and refreshing.
In South Asia green cardamom, is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It is also reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.

King Of Spices-Pepper!!

Peppercorn/Pepper/Menasu(Kannada)/Molag(Tamil)/Kalimirchi(Hindi) - Head of all Spices!!

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The same fruit is also used to produce white pepper, red/pink pepper, and green pepper. Black pepper is native to South India and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is a small drupe five millimeters in diameter, dark red when fully mature, containing a single seed.
Pepper corns are very strong in odour and taste, used in canned foods as a flavouring agent. It is commonly used in all dishes as a very popular spice.
Medicinal value of Pepper is to cure irritation in the throat, cold and cough.It has to be prepared and used in the right proportion for appropriate effect!!

Spicing Life!

An Introductory information about the spices that we as Indians, use in our foods!
It is quite fascinating to see the array of spices!
For beginners, it is certainly hard to ascertain the differences. I am of course, not going to compile all the spices that exist, but only the essential elements that you might want to know as they are mentioned in most recipes!
All the spices have their own medicinal essence other than just adding flavor and aesthetics to the food!
Every spice has been written as a separate post for convenient access for your reading! Hope it helps!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Its Valentine's!!

Hello all!!
Today on Valentine's day...where love is what should spread...lets forget about hate and truely love the ones we love!!
Its this time of the year where flower and card prices shoot sky high!!
To save myself from the cliched cards...i decided to hand make the card I wanted to give my husband!! And yes he loved it!!
It is a hand made card on a hand made paper!It is a lay mans job and its even cost effective!!
First make a plan and make a list of all you want.
Remember- glue, water colours and paint brush, scissors, ruler, eraser are a must to start making anything.
For this, I required,
Take a Hand made[vegetable paper] sheet of paper from any novelties store or a gift gallery.
Depending upon the colour of the sheet take a contrasting thinner sheet of could be hand-made or Japanese paper.
Then according to your plan, either you could use loads of this and that at home or you could buy simple little trinkets. Chose your trinkets depending upon the colour, shape and size of the paper and the card that you are going to make.
For the inside where words are to be written you might want to colour white sheets or buy those love expressing notepads with colourful sheets on them.
Keeping all this ready, you can start making the card.
Firstly, if you want to spray paint, cut the desired design from that sheet of paper which should be visible to you when kept on hand-made paper.keep it an appropriate angle.
Now chose ur colour, dip an old unused toothbrush in it and using index finger gently rub it against the bristles on the paper. Focus should be on the edges of the cut-out design, so the imprint is prominently shown.
That done...using a tissue paper,slowly and carefully remove the cut-out. remember, it will still be wet and if you drop it on the hand-made paper the colours cant be erased.
Keep this aside for drying after finishing all the spray painting you want to do.
While it dries, you can finish writing and decorating your plain paper that is reserved for words!!
Now the Glue activity!! On the inner side of the hand-made paper stick the other Japanese paper[remember-it has to be contrasting,else there is no point in using it].Stick the paper on which you have written!Decorate the rest of the inner side suiting your likes and materials available.The design depends on how you want to keep it.
For the outside, I have painted and stuck shells[ಕಪ್ಪೆ ಚಿಪ್ಪು] and conches[ಶಂಖ] on the end of the card making it looks elegant and capturing!
Then, i have made two hearts, one big and one small inside it! Cut them out and paint them.
Now,take a hard piece of paper, roll it and fold it in such a pattern that it looks like stairs[tip-make one stair so its easier for it to bounce]and also has the spring{bouncing} effect to it.
Now stick the smaller heart in the bigger one using the spring as a connector or a bridge.
Once it gives the boucing effect, your job is done.
Now, stick the bigger heart where ever you find it good on the front!!
And the card is ready to be given!!

PS- When you spray paint the hand-made paper, the imprint falls on the other side of the paper too, be careful.
All the best for all those who are going to try this, trust me the appreciation is worth every drop of sweat shed!! Will post more of this in future!!
Get creative and bring joy to the world!! Hope this did some good,if it did do write back to me!


hey all!!
Some more feed for the blog space!
Art at its captured form...Photography!!
Below is the link to my photoblog on!!
Do check it out!!

Mr.Ogre and family!

It is quite usual to notice that the word ogre is used extensively for rice preparations!
Like with my previous post 'Puliyogre'. The word 'Ogre'[pronounced as o-grey] means 'bath' in Bengali and the North Eastern India and generally 'Chawal' in the Northern India.
In Karnataka also it is 'bath' for rice preparations. Besides, its is also called as 'Chitra anna'[ I am sorry not enough data to substantiate its origin!:)))]
'Ogre'-various preparations using rice as it major component!
I have written to you the head of the family- Mr. Ogre[Puliyogre].
I will during the course of time introduce you to the other members of the family!
Take care

Kovil Puliyogre!!

Well, that's not the original name!! That's the name given by my cousin Ashvini, to what Amma makes!
'Kovil' in Tamil means temple!
Puliyogre is our speciality and my friends go gaga over it!!
This recipe is on demand from my 'puliyogre craving' intimate friend Navya!
Puliyogre is also called Tamarind rice and is made across India.One of my Oriyan friends said, her mom used to make it while they were to travel!! 'Puli' in Tamil meaning tamarind/imli and 'ogre' meaning rice!
Directly, from Amma's kitchen's treasure chest !!
To make the gojju or the concentrate paste...
  1. A palm full tamarind,soak for 1day,donot add too much water and extract as much as possible.
  2. Red chillies-3 or 4.
  3. Asafoetida-1 pinch
  4. Mustard seeds- 1tsp
  5. Jaggery/gud/bella- 1 small ball or as desired.
  6. Rasam powder- 5 tsp or as desired.
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Oil- 6 tblsps


Heat oil in a thick bottom pan, add mustard seeds,asafoetida and red chillies.

Now add the tamarind extract to it.

  • Stir occassionally until it thickens and boils.
  • Add salt, Rasam powder,Jaggery and curry leaves.
  • Allow it to finely boil.Keep tasting it while making.It has to be sour,but should also have the right amount of sweetness and spice in it. Stir occassionally until it becomes like a thick paste['lehya' consistency].
  • Switch off the stove. You can store this gojju once it cools down,while keeping it refrigerated for over a year!

To make our final product :)

  1. Mustard seeds-2 tsps
  2. Asafoetida- 1 pinch
  3. Bengal gram/kadale bele- 2 tsps
  4. Groundnuts/mumphali- 1 fist full [this is the essence of the taste:)]
  5. Curry leaves- a big bunch
  6. White Til/bili yellu- 3 tblsps
  7. Jaggery/gud/bella- 1 small ball
  8. Rasam powder to taste
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Oil -4 tsps
  11. Oil- 2 tblsps[for mixing later]
  12. Grated coconut and coriander leaves for garnishing!
  • Make rice, spread it and allow it to cool.
  • While it cools, you can get the rest ready!!
  • Fry the til without oil till light brown and the fragrance is gained.
  • Along with the til add the jaggery and dry grind it and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, wait till it splutters.
  • Then add 2-3 dry red chillies[optional].Add the bengal gram and groundnuts.
  • Once they are light brown, add curry leaves.
  • Fry while stirring.
  • Pour this and the til powder over the cooled rice.
  • Add salt, rasam powder, oil.
  • Add the gojju or the tamarind paste.
  • Mix them all well and garnish with grated coconut and coriander leaves!!

    Best dish for could add grated dry coconut[copra/kobbari/coppara tenga] instead of coconut as it will keep the rice edible for a longer time!
    The quantities of ingredients mentioned above vary according to the quantity of rice to be made.Check taste before serving.

This is a fantastic dish that can also be made with the mixes that are readily available in the market, the above mentioned method is the traditional method. The method on the pack of the powder may vary since it is quick-make!

If you have liked this, do let me know!!

Have a great time!!



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A prelude to my blog!


A hearty welcome to "Amma's Food Paradise"!
{Surprised by the difference in the blog name & this lead?This is the magical potion,providing an outlet to my other creative endeavors.It is Food for the physical palate people!!
Amma[my Mother-in-law], is just the best cook in the whole world!All the cooking that i have done are her contributions!She is the guide for all my traditional cooking!
Getting basics from the palate that Mommy dear has always delightedly seemed cinched! My dear Dad, who from Day-1,has been my greatest fan and support!
My Dear husband who is always, mostly the only guinea pig available,has been tremendously supportive in everything!! I should mention Shaumik[my dada-meaning bro in Bong], my guinea pig-2. I eagerly await his,"very nice" comment whilst I try out something on them!
DIL- as in my Dad-in-law...i keep waiting for his hand signal for a Thumbs-up or the superb sign to assure quality!!Trust me its very hard to get his approval...and once its attained,Nigella of Nigella feasts or Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana ,would drool over it :))!! I mean the best of the best Chefs would love it for its taste!!
Inspired by Veda[my sis-in-law],who is also a blogger, I decided to pen down to the world the wonders of Amma's kitchen and other innumerable sources!This space is however, a lot more than just that {please,do re-read the headline&sub-headline}!
This is about art[all forms],creativity,zeal,fallacies of a newly wed in her kitchen, experiments and so much more!! I will give as much information as possible about all the recipes,as it should serve the interests of people unfamiliar with kitchen besides making reading this space a learning experience for all!
This is a forum for sharing all that is meant to be!! Please feel free to pour in more information if you know about any posts! You are most welcome to post queries too!!
Thanks for visiting!!