Friday, January 13, 2006

Indian turmeric

The dried rhizome of a herbaceous plant, turmeric is closely related to ginger. The spice
is also sometimes called 'Indian saffron' thanks to its brilliant yellow colour. Indian turmeric has been known to the world since ancient times. Several unique properties of Indian turmeric make it the ideal choice as a food flavour, an effective ingredient in medicines and cosmetics, and as a natural colourant. With its rich curcumin content, which imparts the distinctive yellow colour, and other inherent qualities, Indian turmeric is considered the best in the world. India is today the largest exporter of turmeric to discerning countries like the
Middle East, the UK, USA and Japan. Some of the well-accepted varieties are: 'Alleppey Finger' and 'Erode turmeric' (from Tamil Nadu), 'Rajapore' and 'Sangli turmeric' (from Maharashtra) and 'Nizamabad Bulb' (from Andhra Pradesh). India also exports turmeric in powder form and as oleoresin.

GINGER - Spice from Kerala

GINGER (Zinngiber Officianale Rosc), is one of the earliest Oriental spices known in Europe, ginger has been cultivated in India both as a fresh vegetable and marketed as a dried spice since time immemorial. The fresh, dried or powdered rhizome of a slender, perennial herb, Indian ginger has been acclaimed worldwide for its characteristic taste, flavor & texture. Ginger has always meant many things to many people. A taste- maker. A flavorant. An appetizer. A drug.
Though grown all over India, the finest quality ginger comes from Kerala endowed as it is with a congenial climate and a rich earthy soil. Indian dry ginger is known in the world market as 'Cochin Ginger' (NUGC) & 'Calicut Ginger' (NUGK). India offers ginger in a variety of forms; oils, oleoresins, fresh ginger in brine, pickles, candies and syrups. It also comes in garbled/ungarbled, bleached/unbleached and powder forms. India has a predominant position in
ginger production and export.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Cauliflower (BRASSICA OLERACEA var. BOTRYTIS) belongs to the cabbage family (CRUCIFERAE), and is so closely related to broccoli that both are designated of the same variety. The genus OLERACEA includes all kinds of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, collards and kohlrabi. Cauliflower is a biennial plant producing an edible head of malformed and condensed flower whose stalks are short, fleshy and closely crowded.

Good quality in cauliflower is indicated by white or creamy-white, clean, firm, compact curd, with the jacket leaves (outer leaf portion remaining) fresh, turgid and . Large or small heads, equally mature, are equally desirable. A slightly "ricy" or granular appearance is not objectionable unless the flower clusters are spreading. Spreading occurs when the flower clusters have developed enough to cause a segragation of the clusters which makes the curd open or loose. Spotted, speckled, or bruised curds should be avoided unless they can be trimmed without excessive waste.


Garlic, (Allium sativum) contains allylic sulfides which protects against carcinogens by chelating production of the enzyme, glutathione-S-transferase. Other garlic chemicals are antihyperlipidemic and antihypertension.

The benefits that some hypothesize can be listed as follows: increase antimicrobial activity (anti-yeast/anti-viral) contribute aniti-diabetic and anti-arthritic effects. enhance the immune system through an increase in immune cell activity Protect the nervous system through memory enhnacement Prevent cancer (by inhibitng the formation of cancer-causing compounds and their binding to DNA) detoxify foreighn chemicals in the body



Peas lose their sweetness and delicate flavor as they mature. Those of the best quality are young, fresh, tender and sweet. Quality is indicated by the color and condition of the pod, which should be bright green, somewhat velvety to the touch and fresh in appearance. Some varieties have large puffy pods that stand out away from the peas so that they never appear to be well filled even though the peas are well developed. The pods should be well to fairly well filled and the peas well developed. Pods of immature peas are usually flat, dark green in color and may have a wilted appearance.

Pods that are swollen, of poor color, or more or less flecked with grayish specks may be in an advanced stage of maturity and the peas may be tough and of poor flavor. A yellowish appearance indicates age or damage. Peas with such appearance are poor in flavor or too tough for satisfactory table use. Watersoaked pods should be avoided as well as those that show evidence of mildew.


The brinjal belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family, which also includes the potato, tomato and sweet pepper. The brinjal is a tender, bushy, erect plant that may live for more than a year but is cultivated as an annual. The plant thrives under relatively high temperatures with a long growing season and attains a height of 2 to 4 feet. A good quality brinjal is firm, heavy in relation to size, with a uniform dark rich purple color, and free from scars or cuts.

A wilted, shriveled, soft, or flabby eggplant will usually have a bitter or otherwise poor flavor. Worm injury can be seen on the surface and, if severe, will probably indicate excessive waste. Decay appears as dark brown spots on the surface and may progress rapidly.

You can make mouth watering Spicy Brinjal Curry.

Potato - Indian Aloo

Check for following while buying:

The portion of the potato plant that is eaten is a part of the underground stem system used for food storage by the plant. "The potato tuber is an enlarged portion of the underground stem, rhizome or stolon. It represents mostly stored or surplus carbohydrate material not used by the plant for vegetative growth, fruiting and other essential life processes.

Potatoes of any kind or size should be firm, relatively smooth, clean, reasonably well shaped, not badly cut, bruised or skinned, nor should they show any green from light-burn. They should not be wilted or show sprouts. Cooking quality varies by variety and production areas.

You can make a delicious Potato fry.



Cabbage is cultivated for its large leafy head. Flowers are formed on a terminal raceme (growth axis) and have four sepals (outer leaves) in the form of a cross. Cabbage roots are mostly in the upper 12 inches of the soil.

Most cabbage is green, but there are also varieties withredor purple foliage. The heads are more or less compact, depending on the variety, and range in shape from roundish to oval to flattened spheres. The heads consist of numerous thick, overlapping smooth leaves.

Check for following while buying:

Cabbage heads should be firm or hard and heavey for their size Outer leaves should be a good green or red color (depending on type), reasonably fresh, and free from serious blemishes. The outer leaves (called"wrapper" leaves) fit loosely on the head and are usually discarded, but too many loose wrapper leaves on a head cause extra waste.

"Some early-crop cabbage may be soft or only fairly firm--but is suitable for immediate use if the leaves are fresh and crisp. Cabbage out of storage is usually trimmed of all outer leaves and lacks green color, but is satisfactory if not wilted or discolored.


It is a low-growing fleshy-leafed annual that forms a heavy rosette of broad, crinkly tender leaves. The glabrous (non-hairy) leaves, which are the edible vegetable portion, are ovate (oval, but broader toward the base) to orbicular (round) in shape with the lower leaves being wider and the higher leaves being narrower. The leaves may be savoyed (puckered) or smooth.

Leaf stems are also edible, but less preferred because of toughness. The leaves are lobed at the base and sometimes lobed on their sides.

Check for following while buying:

Spinach plants should be well-developed and stocky. They should have fresh, crisp, clean leaves of good green color. Straggly, long-stemmed, overgrown plants or plants with seedstalks are undesirable. Plants with coarse leaf stems may be tough. Wilted spinach, or decaying spinach (with soft, slimy rot) is undesirable. Small, yellowish-green heart leaves are not objectionable. Most fresh market spinach is savoy type, but leaf type (whether savoy or smooth) is not an indicator of quality.


Cinnamon stands out of all spices in its “warmth” and ranks as the second often-sued flavouring after pepper in North American kitchens.
Bakers use it liberally in cookies, party hosts in hot drinks, and in some bars now certain cocktails are served with a cinnamon stick to stir! Some bartenders employ cassia, a close relative to cinnamon, but less expensive.
Both cinnamon and cassia are the dries bark of Asian evergreens that belong to the laurel family. Sri Lanka is the major source of cinnamon and Portuguese who settled there did so to exploit the rich resource of cinnamon. The British followed the Portuguese to continue the exploitation started by the Portuguese. The tree is indigenous to the island and its bark is harvested twice a year during the rainy season. The inner bark is bruised, slit and then carefully peeled off to dry; it then curls forming the sticks as we know it.
Cinnamon’s aromatic qualities stand out and compel cooks not only in pastries but also in meat dishes as many Indian, Sri Lankan and Middle Eastern cooks do.
Cinnamon and cassia bark in stick form can be distinguished by the naked eye of an experienced cook, when ground it becomes difficult to differentiate one from another.
In the Bible, cinnamon is mentioned several times and referred to as a n ancient spice. Cinnamon was among the Queen of Sheba’s gifts to King Solomon, and Emperor Nero was chastised for burning a year’s supply in his wife’s funeral pyre. While European cooks relegate cinnamon to the pastry shop, in North America and Middle East it is used as a spice for meats, game and pastries.
This aromatic spice mixes well with sugar, and butter toast sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon is for some very comforting on a wintry morning in a chalet overlooking snowy mountains.

Cardamom An Exotic Spice

Cardamom An Exotic Spice

Cardamom is a distinctively pungent aromatic spice that is part of many different world cuisines. It is the second most expensive spice only saffron costs more. It is used in curry powder, rice, meat, and dessert dishes. The tasted is described as similar to ginger but with a pinch of pine or having an anise flavor.

Botanical Description
Cardamom (Elletaria Cardamomum) is a member of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family. It is a perennial with tall simple canes or stems that grow out of rhizomes. It is native to the shady forests of India, Ceylon and Malaysia. Today it is cultivated mainly in Guatemala and India

The flower spikes produce white or pale green flowers that produce green pod capsules that contain 10 to 20 seeds. These seeds are small black and sticky. The best quality cardamom seeds are ripe, hard and dark brown in color. It is difficult to grow and must be hand picked which is why it is one of the most expensive spices.

A Brief History
Cardamom was used for medicinal purposes. Cleopatra is said to have found the scent so enticing that she had the palace scented with cardamom smoke when Marc Anthony came to visit. Ancient Greeks and Romans used cardamom in foods as well as for Medicines and perfumes. In the New Testament which was largely written in Greek “amooman” appears in reference to the aromatic plant cardamom. The word means blameless without reproach.

Propagating and Growing Cardamom
Because cardamom is a spice of the tropics it requires abundant rainfall and a mean Temperature of 72º F (22ºC). A cardamom plantation is begun be clearing a site leaving a few trees for shade. The rhizomes are planted among the trees sending up 6 to 8 foot leafy shoots which give the plant a bushy appearance. When mature the plants send up flower spikes that produce the green cardamom capsules. It takes up to four years to obtain a full cardamom crop from such a planting.

Harvesting and Storing
Harvesting time is important to quality and yield. The pods are handpicked when still green but just as the seeds are turning green. Once harvested the pods are dried in the sun or a kiln.
Cardamom is available in three forms. The most useful is pods of which green and white can be found. Inside of each pod are about 20 small black sticky seeds. You can either bruise them and toss them into your pot or peel the skin off and use the seeds whole or ground. If you cannot find whole pods use the ground cardamom available in grocery stores. As with all herbs store in a cool dry place to prevent the oils in the seeds from evaporating. Pods will retain their aroma for one year.
White cardamom is green cardamom that has been chemically bleached. Avoid using white pods as bleaching can remove flavor and aroma.

Using Cardamom in Foods
East Indian, Scandinavian, Arabic and Central African cuisines use cardamom frequently.
It is an essential ingredient in Arabic coffee. The freshly ground seeds are added to the coffee or a few pods are put in the coffeepot. Arabic nomads sometimes own coffeepots that can keep several cardamom capsules in their spouts. It was often traditional to show guests cardamom pods before serving coffee as a sign of respect and esteem. Arabs also use cardamom in meat and rice dishes with other spices.
It is a popular spice in Northern and Eastern Africa. It is used in the Moroccan spice mixture ras el hanout. Scandinavian countries use cardamom for cookies and sweetbreads. Curry contains small amounts of cardamom. It is often used to flavor tea.

Cardamom seeds lose their flavor quickly when ground so buy whole whenever possible.
Green pods are superior to white pods for flavor. Green cardamom has a subtle to sweet fragrance.
You may also see black or brown cardamom in Asian food store. This is either Nepal cardamom or Chinese cardamom. Neither of these is true cardamom nor both are considered inferior to flavor of green cardamom. The black is used more for spicy or rustic or spicy dishes. Black cardamom takes time to develop aroma.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


A small but long grained aromatic rice with a nutlike flavor and aroma (‘basmati’ means fragrant). Basmati rice is of Southeast Asian origin, and has been cultivated in India and Pakistan for over 8,000 years.