5 unique spices used in North East cooking – Part II

Ever wonder why cuisines in the North East of India taste so unique and different? Why there is a craze for north eastern foods in the major cities? Well for one we all know that most cuisines that come out of the North East are almost continental in structure, process of making and flavours. This is because most of the cooking techniques and fooding habits of this region of the nation resemble the fooding habits of the South East Asian cuisines.

One of the other reasons why the food here is so tempting is the many ways in which we use our exotic spices. So in this piece let us look at 5 of the most uncommon spices that are used in North East Indian cooking:

  1. Large Cardamom:

The scientific name to black cardamom or large cardamom is called Amomum Subulatum. The large cardamom grows in large quantities and most abundantly in the Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim regions. It also grows in the other states of North East in smaller quantities. The super flavourful spice is a large part of dishes in the North East specifically Nepali Cuisines and dishes. The cardamom pod grows on the herbaceous plant that belongs to the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family. The large cardamom pods have a thick large outer covering which is pretty tough and almost dried with wrinkly skin and measure up to 1-1.5 inches long. Upon opening these pods one should find sticky, grey colored seeds stuck to one another. The aroma is really strong and about two of these pods are enough to flavour a single curry dish. If you crush the pods, you will get a much more pungent aroma and a citrusy flavour oozing out of these seeds that give out a flavour that is similar to the flavour of a Eucalyptus leaf.

Health benefits:

There are many health benefits to including this spice in your diet in the form of tea or as simply as a spice. One of the most important medical applications of the spice is that it is a diuretic. Traditionally it is used in medicine to people with urinary tract infections or as a general diuretic agent. The spice is also helpful to people who have a low blood pressure. In a research participants were given about three grams of large cardamom powder a day for about 12 weeks. These participants were people who were newly diagnosed with a condition of high blood pressure. After a study done for 12 weeks, it was observed that the blood pressure levels for the participants had decreased to a normal range. This study went on to prove that large cardamom has a high level of antioxidants that helps the body by increasing the antioxidant level in the body to a whopping 90 percent.  In another study the spice is known to have Cancer-fighting compounds. The study was performed on mice and cardamom powder was administered to the mice where it was seen that the enzymes that have the ability to fight cancer showed increased activity. The cardamom has ability to fight smaller tumours or cyst growths happening in one’s body.

  1. Lakadong turmeric:

Lakadong turmeric is one of the most prized spices coming out of the north east of India. To be exact, the spice grows largely in the Jaintia hills of Meghalaya. Now the lakadong turmeric is gaining a lot of demand in the world both nationally and internationally because of a certain quality that is reserved within the spice, its curcumin content. Where other turmeric strains have 3-4 percent curcumin content in them, the Lakadong turmeric has around 8-9 percent curcumin content. This is the reason why the turmeric is highly coveted and valuable in the markets. To use only a small teaspoonful of this turmeric is enough because of the pungent aroma and flavour that characterize this turmeric. It is almost obvious that what medicinal properties general turmeric holds, Lakadong turmeric holds 10 folds.

Health benefits:

Let us go through and discuss some of the medicinal uses of the spice. The Lakadong turmeric first and foremost has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties and is a great source of anti-oxidants that helps protect body cells from damaging easily. The use of this spice also helps regulate blood pressure and bodily fluid circulation. At the same time it helps with reducing cholesterol and boosting the immune system with so many potent elements that make this spice a good medicinal alternative to so many kinds of harmful medicines with side effects. The spice is also used to treat bacterial infections and fungal infestations as well.

  1. Sumac Powder:

The spice is characterized by its deep pigmented red hue and a tarty citrusy flavour which makes it a perfect treat for people who like tangy sour flavours. Not just the north east India, but in the Middle East, sumac is a popularly used spice. The bold flavours and the medicinal properties of the spice are slowly winning the world and soon it should reach all the kitchens in the planet. The sumac powder is made from the dried berries of the wild sumac flower. The berries after plucking are dried in the sun and later ground into a mean powder. The powder is then used in cooking, culinary works, medicinal preparations and sometimes even as tea.

Health benefits:

Sumac and its health benefitting properties are many. Sumac has anti-inflammatory effects on the Human Body and is very potent in that way. Sumac makes one of the most effective anti-inflammatory medicines amongst the spice world. The rank of the sumac berry on the ORAC chart (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is very high, this means that the spice is extremely packed with anti-oxidants that is known to neutralize free radicals (free radical content in the body, if very high, will result in ailments like cancer, ageing and heart diseases) and flushes them out of the system

  1. Outenga powder:

Outenga is a fruit that grows abundantly in the state of Assam and also in other north eastern states but not as lushly as in Assam. The fruit is also called elephant apple or wood apple colloquially. In Assam Outenga is sourced from farmers living in Majuli which is the largest River Island in river Brahmaputra, Assam. The reason why outenga is called elephant apple is because it is the most favourite food for the elephants there. Ethnic tribes grow a lot of the trees to feed the giant animal and furthermore avoid damage caused by them. When you consume elephant apple, instantly a lot of metabolic activities start to happen and you feel a surge of energy.

Health benefits:

Outenga powder is a very useful spice for people with a low blood pressure and helps you regulate blood pressure to a normal range. It benefits eye sight and encourages eye health. It is also a great anti-fungal agent along with being an anti-inflammatory. Outenga helps up your collagen levels and delays ageing in that process. It also improves red blood cell count and protects the health of the Kidney.

  1. Flax Seeds:

Flax seed in its powdered form is a spice that has a very nutty flavour and helps lending baked goods and salad dressings a much needed nutty flavour to balance other much extreme ingredients. In the 21st century, flax seeds quickly became an important super food that has affected its demands around the world. A single tablespoon of flax seeds has a lot of fibre, omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, minerals and vitamins

Health benefits:

The health benefits of the spice are three fold. It is a very rich source of a compound called Lignans which is responsible to reduce the risk of cancer. Flax seeds have up to 800 times the lignans than one can find in other food sources. It is also proved in some studies that flax seeds can greatly affect the risk of breast cancer by lowering it. The seeds also reduce cholesterol levels.

These were just a few of the most flavourful and unique North East Indian spices that you can use in cooking meals in your own kitchen. Purchase these spices from a range of top brands of the North East Region only on www.neorigins.com website.

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