With friends belonging to different parts of India, my taste buds have been treated with all sorts of delicacies – dal pakwaan, handwa, thalipeeth, makkai roti with sarson ka saag, thepla, bisi bele bhaath, idiappam, gate ki sabji, dal bati, to name a few. And on the occasions, I have visited their homes; I have seen their kitchen shelves stacked with the same spices that my mother uses.

Spices are a regular feature in every Indian kitchen. These spices not only add dollops of taste and a pop of colour but also bring in a host of health benefits.

Besides food enhancers, spices have been long recognized for their medicinal properties. No wonder my grandma always insists on a cup of ginger tea when I am down with a cold. Or a teaspoon of methi daana when I am constipated.

Without further ado, let’s explore the staple ingredients which lend Indian food their magic:


Ginger treats nausea, digestive problems, circulation and arthritis. It also promotes proper blood circulation, relieves stress, reduces frequency and intensity of headaches and flushes out toxins. Cut fine slivers of ginger, add rock salt and squeeze some lemon juice and eat it with your meal, or have ginger tea.

Garlic: Garlic promotes a healthy heart – prevents heart disease and lowers blood pressure; boosts thyroid gland health and metabolism; and slows down the ageing process. Include garlic in your dal, chutneys, etc.

Cumin seeds:

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