While I have authored a fair number of articles on Food & Drink on Ezine, spices, the ingredients that breathe life into food, remain untouched. Today, we are going to get acquainted with three of the most popular spices in the world.

Black Pepper – Let us start with a spice that needs no introduction. Black pepper is used as a seasoning and table condiment, which means that it goes in all kinds of dishes – beverages, soups, salads, curries, meats, sauces, and desserts! (Ever heard of Black Pepper Ice Cream?)

Not only is this spice used as a fine powder, whole peppercorns are often crackled in hot oil (so that they release their flavour), which is then used as a base for several Mughlai preparations. Freshly, roughly-cracked pepper, called ‘mignonette pepper’, is also used. Traditionally, it is used in a condiment of the same name.

Cumin Seeds – Believe it or not, cumin is ‘apparently’ the most popular spice in the world. Not only is it used in all kinds of savouries (Though sweets, such as cookies with cumin exist too.), it is also a component of several spice mixes, such as the Indian garam masala and the Jamaican Jerk spice.

Cumin has an earthy flavour. Roasted, the flavour becomes even more pleasant and likeable. It makes for a great addition in potato-based fillings, such as that of samosa. It is both used whole, as seeds, and as a powder.
Talking of its health benefits, research shows that cumin helps reduce bad cholesterol. It also improves digestion and boosts immunity. Not just that, cumin benefits asthma and bronchitis patients as well.

Cinnamon – Obtained from the inner bark of several trees, cinnamon is used in savouries and desserts alike. We have all heard about famous dessert preparations such as cinnamon rolls and cinnamon raisin bread, but the sticks are also used in countless savouries too – particularly curries. Indians, Pakistanis and Aghans also use them in Kahwa, a green tea-based hot beverage that is enriched with almonds, honey and often luxurious flavouring ingredients such as saffron and dried roses.

The spice is used both as sticks and fine powder.

Like most spices, cinnamon too has medicinal properties. Chief of these is blood sugar control. It also heals Candida yeast infections and dramatically reduces the discomfort caused by IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome.

I assume that we all use these spices in our kitchen. Now, we even know how are they helping us with their medical benefits.

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