With the advent of modern technology, social media, globalization and migration, food, rather ‘fooding or binging’ has become a global phenomenon. We tend to indulge into a pizza or a bowl of pasta or French fries more than we do in traditional Indian food preparations like Indian thali, dal-rice dishes, dosa or other popular Indian delicacies. Even if we do indulge into our traditional cuisine, we try quirky recipes to modify our traditional food into scrumptious and innovation-doped fusion recipes like frankie, cheese-chilli dosa and other foods we so love to dive into! In the process of modernizing our recipes to enhance the taste and presentation of the dish, the goodness of authentic Indian dishes has somehow blurred into the background.
A traditional Indian meal, be it from any part of the country, is a perfect example of the amalgamation of various elements of primary and important food ingredients, very accurately put together in one plate. While keeping in mind the taste and variety of individual dishes, it balances all the necessary nutrients we need in our daily diet to keep ourselves fit and healthy. The traditional Indian meal is neither too calorie-dense nor nutrient-deficient, and a model for a wholesome and sumptuous lunch. It contains carbohydrates in the form of Chapati (and its regional variants, as also a plethora of cereal food items) and rice, proteins in the form of dal, vegetable dishes of various beans, legumes, meat and its food items, fats in the form of ghee, oil, nuts, dry fruits added to the food preparations, fibre in the form of many regional vegetables, salads, dairy items like curd, buttermilk, butter, milk products like porridge, tangy accompaniments such as pickles and chutneys with their power-packed formulas, etc. These components together make up a balanced meal in proportionate quantities and add a good combination of different ingredients of a regular dish from the ‘Great Indian Kitchen’.
Traditional Indian food is considered to be therapeutic, too. It is known to boost immunity, prevent inflammation and heat in the body, improve brain function in addition to other positive effects. An Indian diet is incomplete without the power of its spices. Not only do they add taste to the dish to give it a whole new identity, but they are heavily responsible for supplying antioxidants and are famous worldwide due to their range of good physiological and pharmacological properties. Indian food has been believed to have curative and spices are specifically considered to contain functional properties. A dietary ingredient that affects its host in a targeted manner so as to exert positive effects on health can be classified as a “functional” ingredient. Here, we discuss a few traditional and authentic Indian spices, without which most of Indian food is bland and incomplete.
- Turmeric: This bright yellow spice is a hero when it comes to healthiness. Pumped with antioxidants, this is a go-to ingredient to ward off and cure inflammatory diseases. One of the components of turmeric is a substance called curcumin. Research suggests it may reduce inflammation in the brain, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Because of its anti-inflammatory qualities, curcumin is also effective at reducing pain and swelling in people with arthritis.
- Ginger: Almost every Indian’s day is incomplete without a refreshing cup of the quintessential ‘Adrak wali chai’. An important ingredient of the Indian kitchen, ginger helps in treating stomach upset, diarrhoea and nausea.
- Asafoetida: Authentic Indian food is never complete without a ‘tadka’. This strong flavoured component of Indian cuisine is something without which every dal, vegetable, curry and gravy tastes mild and bland. Asafoetida is rich in antioxidants and may provide multiple health benefits, particularly for digestive health.
- Garlic: This strongly flavoured spice is known to protect our heart from heart-related diseases. Eating garlic may also protect us from high cholesterol and is suggested to keep blood vessels flexible.
These and a plethora of other spices in our masala box like cumin, mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cardamom, cloves, fenugreek, pepper, curry leaves, etc. are effective in providing numerous health benefits and give traditional Indian food its unique identity and magical effect. Authentic Indian food is a powerful diet plan, but has lost its aficionados drastically in recent times. It is now the young generation’s responsibility to bring back its popularity and revive its forgotten importance and make it a globally loved cuisine.