Saturday, December 6, 2008
It is so nice to know that the flavours that come from traditional Indian cuisine, are not only delicious to that palate but they are completely nourishing to the body as well.
We had a chance to discover this on Wednesday's Indian Flavours Cooking Class.
We created and sampled a whole range of dishes from Chana Masala to Lentil Dal, to a Saffron Yellow Basmati Rice, to a Brown Rice Pudding and of course the class would not have been complete without a Coconut Vegetable Curry (recipe below).
The common thread in all the recipes was all the fresh and fragrant spices that were in each dish. We made continuous use of the flavours of cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, garlic, cumin and mustard seeds. Each on of these delicate spices offers a wonderful infusion of flavour that makes you want to use them all the time.
So here is a quick guide to some of the beneficial properties of these spices:
Sweet and pungent, pleasant and warming cinnamon supports the spleen and the pancreas, stomach, bladder, kidney and liver meridians (from a Chinese medicine perspective).
Cinnamon aid in digestion, aid in circulation and helps to treat diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and menstrual cramps. Cinnamon is also well known for it's blood stabilizing abilities.
Has a peppery and pungent taste. It is warming and stimulates digestion and boost circulation, respiration and nervous system function. Ginger is useful for colds and fevers and alleviates motion sickness and nausea. It is also an anti-inflammatory and destroys intestinal parasites.
Has the highest source of beta carotene. It tones the spleen and pancreas, liver and stomach. It strengthens the immune system and enhances digestion and helps to dissolve cysts and gallstones. Turmeric is antibacterial and may be used to regulate blood sugar for diabetics.
Is sweet and pungent and warming. It also acts upon the spleen and pancreas, stomach, lung and kidney meridians. It aids in digestion, relaxes spasms and cuts mucus, making it useful in lung tonics. It also eases coughs, breathlessness, burning urination, incontinence and hemorrhoids.
Are bitter, spicy and warming. They tonify the kidney, spleen, pancreas and stomach. Cloves also aid digestion, treat nausea, hiccups and vomiting.
Is pungent and bitter. It aids the digestive system, improves liver function, promotes assimilation of other foods and relieves abdominal distention, gas and colic, as well as migraines and headaches.
If you want more information on these spices or any other specific food have a look at Rebecca Woods book "The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia" which is available for purchase right here on my page (see my favourite book list).
So warm up this winter and make use of these nourishing and health supportive spices!
Coconut Vegetable Curry
1 Spanish onion
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¾ cubes
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾ “ cubes
1 medium cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
1 cup shelled peas, cooked
½ red cabbage
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
Vegetables can be roasted*
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds, no pods
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
1. In a large skillet, sauté onions, with one teaspoon salt in oil until they begin to soften and brown. Add squash and cook ten minutes more. Add potatoes and curry blend and continue sautéing another five minutes, stirring often.
2. Add cauliflower to the top of the squash and potatoes, being careful no to stir the mixture. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (15-20 minutes).
3. With a wooden spoon, smash some of the squash in the curry mixture against the sides of the skillet to thicken the sauce. Stir in the peas and season to taste with salt.