Whole Spices have been grown and consumed on the Indian Subcontinent since time immemorial. The Southern states of India still are the world leaders in the quantity and quality of certain spices grown in the world and have used it to be rich trading hubs since the ancient Greeks.
Even those olden times the benefits and advantages of whole spices was widely known and any stock was immediately picked up by consumption. While our history is replete with multiple texts and books written about the medicinal and culinary benefits of each spice grown in this bountiful land.
Why keep whole when can be crushed
Whole spices have multiple advantages over being kept in crushed form.
Each spice which is kept whole can be thought of as dried dormant seeds, leaves, bark and roots which keep their oils and aromatic flavours guarded in their depths. These oils and aromatic flavours are released once the structural integrity of the spices is destroyed and diminish in strength and flavour as time passes ever more rapidly. When kept whole the ability of the spice to retain its essential oils and flavours is increased manifold.
The whole spices benefits
Whole spices have a multitude of health benefits which I will provide in another post, but to name a few:
- Cinnamon: ability to lower blood sugar levels & reduce heart disease risk.
- Nutmeg: ability to relieve pain & soothe indigestion.
- Turmeric: Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound.
- Ginger: has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain & soreness.
How to unleash a whole spice's secret:
This is a process called ‘tempering’ or ‘tadka/tarka’ where oil is heated and whole spices along with aromatics like garlic, ginger, onion and curry leaves are added, to extract maximum taste from all these ingredients.
Please have everything on hand before heating the oil to avoid burning the spices and watch out for the splatter.
Whole spices like black pepper, coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are crushed with a mortar-pestle to help release their essential oils and aromatic flavours. You could also used a plastic bag or muslin cloth and crush it using a rolling pin.
4. TOAST AND GRIND:
This is one of the most popular methods in Indian homes. You toast the whole spices without any oil or liquid on a iron pan to develop their flavours. Then grind them in a grinder or mortar-pestle.
Always ensure to seal your spices in air-tight containers or use our own bag's zipper to ensure freshness.