Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Health Benefits of Spices

Decoding Benefits of Packaged Spices

The issues with storing Indian spices are equally applicable to contemporary Indian kitchens and households around the world that handle spices/herbs, irrespective of the frequency with which these ingredients are used. Just like many other lifestyle conveniences, solutions have been offered to address this issue too.

As a result, the market for packaged spices and under-cooked spicy pastes has witnessed an overwhelming surge in the last, few years. Often branded as 'Indian Masalas', most pre-packaged spices are sold in the powdered form wherein the emphasis is upon packaging the spice in such a manner that none of its flavoring oils are lost in the transit period that exists between the spice's packaging and the moment when it is finally opened by a consumer. It should be understood that though many brands sell similar-looking, spice-based products, each of these hasn't been able to sustain the quality benchmarks and extreme care that is required to preserve a spice's exquisite flavoring properties.

A rather unacknowledged breakthrough has come about to tackle this issue—the use of Wet Masalas or spices suspended in a slightly moist, paste-like form. This is perhaps one of the most functional, packaged forms of Indian spices. Here, instead of packaging spice in its purest but largely susceptible, ground/crushed form, the spices are suspended in thick paste. This thick, barely-wet product can be understood as a marinating mixture wherein various spices are mixed together and often minimally sautéed. The presence of water, other complementing spices and ingredients like cooking oil, vinegar of yoghurt ensure that the leached oils from the spices are locked within the spicy suspension (curry pastes), ensuring that when used, the 'wet masala' retains every bit of the curried or zesty flavoring that was intended.

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