Spices and herbs are rich in aroma and therapeutic properties, which makes them a constant in our kitchen pantry. They act as natural healers and flavor-enriching ingredients. Here are our top 10 spices and herbs to keep in your pantry to make tasty and nutritious homemade recipes.
Cumin is a popular spice with a nutty taste. It adds a distinct flavor to many recipes.
Cumin seeds were first identified 4000 years ago in the Mediterranean Region. It was cultivated first in Iran, Egypt, and Syria. Cumin seeds were used as a spice and medicinal agent in ancient dynasties belonging to these regions. The spice is extensively used in India, Mexico, China, Morocco, Persia, Chile, and Africa.
Cumin seeds are rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium. One teaspoon of cumin meets 20% of daily iron requirements. It aids in digestion, promotes weight loss, and reduces cholesterol levels in the body.
Dry cumin seeds stay good in an air-tight container for 6 months. Dry roast these seeds in a wide pan for 5 minutes. Pulse in a mixer and store the powder in a glass bottle. The powder stays good for 1 month. It may lose its aroma after a prolonged period.
Drink cumin seed powder water on an empty stomach.
Use cumin seeds for tempering everyday meals.
Add cumin seeds in curries, stews, and gravies.
Sprinkle the powder on salads, buttermilk, and juices.
Peppercorns are one of the most popular and expensive spices in the world.
Peppercorn is native to the state of Kerala, India. We cultivate it in tropical regions such as India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Southeast Asia. Peppercorns were first used as a spice and traded in the 16th century. Popularly known as “Black Gold”, it was traded to all parts of the world.
Peppercorns have bioactive compound ‘piperine’ which irritates the nose and causes sneezing. But it is rich in many vital nutrients such as selenium, iron, and manganese. One tablespoon of pepper meets 13% of the daily vitamin K requirements. Black Pepper has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other beneficial properties.
Dry peppercorns will stay good for a year if stored properly in an air-tight container. Pepper powder will lose its aroma; it’s best to crush pepper at the time of use. Crushed pepper can stay good for 1 week in a glass bottle.
It is best to include pepper in moderate amounts in the everyday diet.
Add crushed pepper to salads, soups, and curries.
Sprinkle pepper powder in fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
Cinnamon is an aromatic spice suiting both sweet and savory dishes.
Cinnamon is the bark of the Cinnamomum cassia tree. It was first used by the Greeks in the 12th century. The aroma of this bark attracted the royals, where they sent it as gifts to several monarchs which led to its spread in many parts of the world. China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, and India are the largest producers of this spice.
Cinnamon has a bioactive compound, cinnamate, which helps in lowering cholesterol levels. Another compound cinnamaldehyde is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Cinnamon is a superfood with potential benefits in regulating blood sugar levels, blood circulation, and blood pressure. Cinnamon is rich in calcium, one teaspoon has 26g of this vital mineral.
Cinnamon bark can stay good for years if stored in proper conditions. The cinnamon powder stays good for 3 months in an air-tight jar.
Cinnamon powder is a wonderful spice to include in baking goods, oatmeal, smoothies, and juices.
Use cinnamon sparingly to reap its full benefits. Too much cinnamon can cause side-effects.
Moringa leaves are a magical herb with unimaginable amounts of nutrients.
Moringa is native to the Indian Subcontinent. It is being cultivated for plenty of years for its flowers, fruits, and leaves. We consume these as vegetables in everyday diet.
Moringa leaves are excellent sources of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B1, and Vitamin B9. It is rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It was one of the oldest superfoods on this planet used to combat malnutrition in African and Asian countries.
Fresh moringa leaves stay good in the fridge for 10 days. Place them wrapped in a kitchen towel. Dry moringa leaves in shade. Powder the dried moringa leaves and store in a glass bottle for 6-8 months.
Make stews, curries and lentil soups with fresh moringa leaves.
Add moringa leaves in roti, crepes, and dosa.
Add few dried moringa leaves in vegetable and meat curries.
Drink moringa powder water every day. Add 1 tsp of the powder in a glass of water.
Mix moringa powder in salt and use this regularly.
Add 1 tsp of moringa powder in the dough for baking goods. The taste will not change.
Moringa powder goes well in smoothies, juices, and buttermilk.
Coriander seeds are a flavorful spice with a warm texture.
Coriander is native to Southern Europe and Southwestern Asian countries. It was first cultivated by Greeks in the 2000 BC. Coriander seeds and leaves were both used by Greeks and Egyptians for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Whole coriander seeds are rich in selenium, calcium, and manganese. It is one of the powerful agents in the treatment of stomach-related ailments. The seeds are rich in immune-boosting, neuroprotective, and anticancer bioactive compounds.
Whole dried coriander seeds stay good for 9-12 months in an air-tight container. Powdered coriander loses its aroma easily. It’s best to ground in fewer quantities and store for 15-30 days.
We mainly use coriander seeds in spice powders such as sambar, Rasam, and garam masala.
We use it in vegetable and meat pickles.
Add a tbsp of coriander powder in curries for added flavor and thickness.
Drink coriander seeds tea to eliminate digestive issues.
Do not consume higher amounts of coriander as it has a pungent taste and aroma.
Fennel is a powerful aromatic spice used for cooking a variety of dishes around the world.
Fennel is native to the Mediterranean region. However, the Romans and Greeks used fennel as a medicine and spice in the 15th century. It was cultivated extensively for its flavor, taste, and powerful aroma. Fennel was one of the prime ingredients of European medicinal elixir, absinthe.
Fennel is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and water. The seeds are excellent sources of Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C. It has higher amounts of manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
Dried fennel seeds stay good for a month in an air-tight container. These seeds lose their aroma easily, which makes them ideal for limited storage. Powder fennel when you need it.
Fennel seeds make up a major part of several popular spice powders such as garam masala, and Chinese 5 spice.
The sweet flavor of fennel seeds makes them a great add-on for salads, stir-fries, meat rubs, and pickles.
We use it as a spice in rice-based dishes such as pilaf, biryani, and pulao.
Fennel is a great after-meal mouth freshener.
Peppermint or mint leaves are zingy and tasty herbs with a wonderful coolant property.
Mint is native to Greece and was predominantly cultivated first in Europe. They commonly used mint leaves for culinary purposes. Because of its powerful scent, Greeks used them as room fresheners. The essential oil, peppermint has gained immense popularity in recent years because of aromatherapy.
Mint leaves are great for improving digestion. It has good anti-inflammatory and relaxant properties. Mint oil helps in alleviating headaches and toothaches. The smell of mint leaves can treat nausea and morning sickness.
Store fresh, unwashed mint leaves in a box lined with tissue papers for a week. Dry mint leaves in shade and store these in a glass jar for 3-6 months. Powder the dried mint leaves and store in a bottle for 3 months.
Blend a handful of fresh mint leaves in your morning smoothies and green juice.
Use fresh mint in raita, curries, pastes, and pulao.
Dried mint leaves are best for tea.
Powdered mint goes well in curries, parathas, and baked goods.
Fenugreek seeds are bitter and nutty yellow-colored spices used sparingly in the Indian cuisine.
Fenugreek seeds were first identified in Turkey, Egypt, and other Near East regions. Indian subcontinent cultivates fenugreek seeds extensively in the world. Even though it has many medicinal benefits, we do not recommend it as a treatment because of its tendency to cause severe side effects. Most cuisines use fenugreek in lesser quantities.
Fenugreek seeds are rich in protein and B vitamins. One teaspoon of fenugreek meets daily iron and manganese requirements. It is a wonderful spice for controlling blood sugar levels, acidity, and cholesterol. It helps reduce body warmth.
Storage: Dry fenugreek seeds stay good for 12-18 months in proper conditions. Fenugreek powder can last for 3 months in an air-tight container.
The best way to consume fenugreek is by soaking 1 teaspoon in a cup of water. Swallow these on an empty stomach for the best benefits.
You can drink fenugreek buttermilk or fenugreek water by adding a tablespoon of this powder.
Use the seeds and powder in curries, stir-fries, pickles, and tamarind-based dishes.
- Dry Ginger
Fresh ginger is dried and powdered to improve shelf-life and its therapeutic properties.
Dry ginger is native to Southeast Asia. Hawaii and Indonesia exported this spice to the world. Greeks, Romans, and Austronesian natives used it in the historian periods. Chinese dynasties and Arabs introduced this spice to Europe and America.
Dry ginger powder is an excellent remedy for menstrual pain and indigestion. It can bring remarkable effects on cholesterol and blood sugar levels if consumed regularly in the diet.
Storage: Dried ginger powder stays good for 6-8 months in a dry air-tight container.
Use the dried ginger powder to make tea and herbal water.
Drink dry ginger water with raw honey to curb hunger.
You can take dry ginger on an empty stomach for added benefits. Consume in lesser amounts.
- Carom Seeds
Carom seeds have a distinct bitter aroma and taste with plenty of therapeutic properties.
Carom seed is native to Asia, especially the Indian subcontinent. India and Iran produce this spice extensively in the current period.
Carom seeds are best for reducing flatulence, indigestion, and constipation. It eases acidity, cough, and cold symptoms.
Carom seeds stay good for 6-9 months. Powder the seeds in smaller quantities and use them when required. Carom seeds powder can stay good for 15 days.
Add carom seeds in buttermilk, tea, and herbal water.
Mix a tsp of carom seeds in the dough for roti, cookies, and biscuits.
Add a tsp of carom seeds in curries.