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Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds

Fennels or Fennel seeds are dried seeds that comes from the fennel herb. They are roughly 4-8 mm in length and look like a grooved or ridged grain of rice. They look like cumin seeds, only greener, and have an aniseed flavour and a warm, sweet aroma. Also referred as Saunf in Indian terms, it comes in colours ranging from bright green to pale green and tan tasting - sweeter and slightly less pungent and intense than licorice. It is native to the Mediterranean, But now available throughout the world. India ranks #1 in fennel production. Fennel, bearing the scientific name Foeniculum Vulgare Miller, or its essence, is widely used around the world in mouth fresheners, toothpastes, desserts, antacids and in culinary. Fennels have been favoured for it taste and aroma in all spicy Indian foods and also in Chinese foods.

Being rich in phytoestrogens, it hints various potential health benefits from children to elders.

  • AnaemiaIron, and Histidine, an amino acid found in fennel, are helpful in treatment of anemia stimulating production of haemoglobin and also helps forming other components of blood.
  • useful addition to any of the Breast Enlargement herbs
  • is an effective treatment for respiratory congestion and is a common ingredient in cough remedies. . It is gargled for hoarseness and sore throats.
  • For Women: used for the Breast Enlargement, for increasing the flow of breast milk, promoting menstruation, easing the birthing process, and increasing sex drive.
  • Fennel seed powder in tea is believed to be good for snake bites, insect bites or food poisoning.
  • is used to improve the function of kidneys, spleen, liver and increases the flow of urine.
  • ColicA research from NYU Langone Medical centre says that a trial enrolled 125 infants with colic , who received either placebo or fennel seed oil at a dose of 12 mg daily per kg of body weight. 3 The results were promising. About 40% of the infants receiving fennel showed relief of colic symptoms, as compared to only 14% in the placebo group, a significant difference. Another way to view at the results involves looking at hours of inconsolable crying. In the treated group, infants cried about 9 hours per week, compared to 12 hours in the placebo group. While these are promising results, confirmation by an independent research group is necessary before the treatment can be accepted as effective. Fennel is also a common ingredient in “gripe water,” a traditional (and highly alcoholic) preparation used for treating infant colic .
However despite its health benefits, it is so intense that it interacts with some functions of medicines taken like:
  • Ciprofloxacin : Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) is an antibiotic. Fennel might decrease how much ciprofloxacin (Cipro) the body absorbs. Taking fennel along with ciprofloxacin (Cipro) might decrease the effectiveness of ciprofloxacin (Cipro). For this reason, it may be advisable to avoid taking fennel during therapy with ciprofloxacin or other antibiotics in this family.
  • Fennels also interact with estrogens and birth control pills

Recommended Dosage:

A typical dose of fennel is 1–1 1/2 teaspoons of seeds per day

Interesting fact:

Fennel are enemies to fly. Their aroma is disliked by flies. Sprinkling some fennel powder in an area of flies cloud will be of great help to get rid of them.

Cardamom health benefits


Considered to be the queen of spices, Cardamom is one of the most valued spices in the world, native to the Middle East, North Africa, and Scandinavia. Being a herb they are dried fruits of the ginger family. Available in three forms as – green cardamom, brown cardamom and Madagascar cardamom. In India it is referred as "choti elaichi". Cardamom's scientific name is Elletaria cardamomum. 

Cardamom pods were mainly consumed as mouth refresher from ancient times. They have a pleasant aroma leaving a warm feeling in the mouth. It is the seeds, taken out from the fruit, are used to make medicine.

Health benefits

Despite it being added in dishes to provide a strong aroma and flavor in all South east Asian foods, Cardamom is used as natural remedy for many illness. 

  • Cardamom contains chemicals that appear to treat digestion problems including heartburn, intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal gas, constipation, liver and gallbladder complaints, and loss of appetite. 
  • It is also used for common cold, cough, bronchitis, sore mouth and throat, and tendency toward infection. Some people use cardamom as a stimulant and for urinary problems.
  • Cardamom also helps in cleansing the body as it has detoxifying properties.  It improves blood circulation to the lungs and can be helpful in prevention of spasms or convulsions. Hence, Small quantities of cardamom is beneficial for those suffering from asthma or bronchitis and various kinds of respiratory allergies.
  • Gargling with an infusion of cardamom and cinnamon cures inflammation of the mucous membrane of the pharynx, and sore throat. 
  • Boiling a couple of pounded whole cardamoms along with five mint leaves in a cup of water is useful in relieving hiccups.
  • Cardamom steeped water eases colic pain in children.
  • Is anti-spasmodic as it suppresses pain due to involuntary muscle contractions.
  • It is very helpful in removing toxins from your body. Similar to cinnamon, regular use of cardamom gradually removes the accumulated toxins and improves the blood circulation.
Try these sweet recipes in which cardamom forms the main ingredient.........

Cinnamon - great food enhancer

"Cinnamon makes muscle and liver cells more sensitive to signals from insulin, an inportant blood-sugar controlling hormone", says study author Richard Anderson, Ph. D.

Have a little (about 1/6 tsp) at breakfast, lunch and dinner for a daily total of about 1/2 tsp, he recommends.

The name cinnamon comes through the Greek kinnámōmon from Phoenician. It is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savory foods. While Srilanka produces leads in 80-90% of Cinnamon production, Seychelles,  Madagascar, Indonesia, China and India also do significant production of cinnamon for commercial use.

While Ayurveda sees cinnamon as an appropriate remedy for thin, cold, prone to nervousness since cinnamon tends to have a heating and energizing effect, Herbalists and acupuncturists in the Chinese tradition value cinnamon for its warming qualities.

Health Benefits

  • Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol. Reducing it may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cinnamon has been shown in studies at the Department of Internal Medicine, Kangnam Korean Hospital, to reduce cytokines linked to arthritic pain.
  • Cinnamon contains a natural chemical called cinnamaldehyde, that increases the hormone progesterone and decreases testosterone production in women, helping to balance hormones.
  • According to the researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  • Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
  • Cinnamon reduces chronic inflammation linked with these neurological disorders including: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and meningitis, by a research at the Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas.
  • It is a good fighter for ArthritisIn a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  • It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.
  • It is a natural food preservativeWhen added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
  • It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
Adding cinnamon to Tea, coffee and bakery products gives a very rich taste apart from its health benefits. Cinnamon forms an unavoidable ingredient in Briyani and Kurma varieties.

Indian Bay leaf

Indian Bay leaf

Indian Bay leaf classically referred in medieval terms as referred as Malobathrum or Malabar leaf, is the leaf of the plant Cinnamomum tamala  also called as as Cinnamomum tejpat.  This leaf is often confused with the leaf of Bay Laurel, a tree of Mediterranean origin in a different genus which also finds use in western foods. However  the appearance and aroma of the two are quite different and Indian Bay leaf is twice as long and wider than laurel leaves. They are usually olive green in color, may have some brownish spots and have three veins down the length of the leaf. They have strong and distinctive fragrance.

Medicinal Use:

  1. Mostly called as Tej Patta or bay leaf, it is used in cardiac diseases, inflammations, helminthiasis, dyspepsia, strangury, colic, hypertension, diarrhea, ophthalmia, spleen and liver.
  2. Bay leaves are known to have antioxidant properties that can help in conditions like diabetes, by enabling the body to process insulin efficiently.
  3.  It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties
  4. They contain some very valuable compounds, such as phytonutrients, caffeic acid, rutin, and salicylates, which promote cardiovascular health  maintaining the sugar level of blood, pulse rate and blood pressure.
  5.  Bay leaves are a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, manganese, calcium, potassium and magnesium. As such, regular inclusion of bay leaves in meals promotes general heath and well-being improving the immune system of the body.
  6. Tej patta is used to treat infections of the respiratory and urinary tracts and bay leaf juice promote menstruation.
  7. The powder made from leaves is recommended for cough, flatulence, and dyspepsia.
  8. The leaf powder mixed with milk is used for fever, dyspepsia, and urinary diseases.
  9. The leaves and bark of bay leaf are used for treating rheumatism
  10. Bay leaf helps in the treatment of diabetes, migraine, gastric ulcers, abdominal pain, colic pain, bacterial and fungal infection as they contain enzymes that help to breakdown proteins and promote digestion of food.
  11. It is known to enhance fat metabolism and reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and is, therefore, used in treating obesity.
  12. Bay leaf is known to provide resistance against different types of cancer.  One of the phytonutrients contained in bay leaves, known as parthenolide, has shown to specifically restrain the proliferation of cervical cancer cells.
  13. Herbal practitioners use bay leaves to help in regular menstruation,  and as an anecdote to poison in treating snakebite and insect stings.
  14. Placing a small bundle of bay leaves below your pillow while sleep can help cure dandruff as it has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
  15. Some compounds present in bay leaves makes them an efficient herbal remedy for headaches and also proved to be useful in the treatment of migraines.

Bay leaf oil:

In India, the oil extracted from bay leaves is not only used in flavoring sweets and confectionery but also in the treatment of paralysis, muscle pain, arthritis and flu.In case of muscle soreness, apply the bay leaf oil on the affected area and massage for sometime to relive from soreness plus enhance the blood circulation too.

Interior deco use:

Place a jar filled with grains and bay leaf in the corner of room. It keep the bugs away the room and gives a pleasant odour to the room.

Culinary Use:
In Indian cooking, bay leaf is usually used as a whole dried leaf during the tampering of the famous Briyani with ghee for its distinctive flavor and aroma. Powder of roasted Bay leaves are added to the special Indian spice mix – Garam Masala which is a must in spicy gravies that go with poori, chapathi or parotta. The leaf is also used in tea preparation to have a strong spicy effect in tea to get rid of headache.

Urad Dhal

Urad Dhal

Urad dal, is referred as white lentil or black lentil. It is a kind of bean that is grown in the southern parts of Asia. It is native to India where its cultivation is highly valued due to is numerous benefits. It is black in color and the seed inside is white. It is available in both forms. If the black lentils are soaked then the black skin can be removed easily. 

The black lentil is boiled and consumed whole or ground into paste or flour. Black and White lentil is an easily found pulse in all Indian kitchen and has many hidden medicinal properties. 

Health Benefits:

  1. Urad dal is popular amongst vegetarians as it acts like a rich protein source in replacement of meat.
  2. Source of rich magnesium and folate levels that prevent damage to the arterial walls.
  3. It also boosts cardiovascular health through increasing blood circulation.
  4. Good for new mothers as it increases lactation.
  5. Decreases fat content in the body when eaten in large quantities.
  6. Regularly increases your energy significantly as it replenishes the body with iron.
  7. Essential for women undergoing menstruation who have a higher chance of iron deficiency.
  8. Good remedy for bid diseases like paralysis of the face, half body paralysis. 
  9. Overcomes men impotency.
  10. When taken twice a week can aid in weight gain.
  11. Increase the stamina for sportmen if taken routinely.

In Indian food:

It is extensively utilized in various culinary preparations such as dosa, papad and vada. Most of the tempering for sabji, chutney and sambar includes this lentil especially the white lentil. It delivers a good aroma when tempered.

Though the size if the pulse is small it has huge benefits and taste.

Star Anise

Star Anise

Star anise termed biologically as Illicium verum, is obtained from the star-shaped pericarp, a medium-sized native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China. Star anise is actually the usually with eight arms. Each arm is a seed pod. The fruit is picked before it is ripe and then dried to be used as a spice or medicinal herb. The herb has a licorice-like flavor.


Star anise is used to relieve colic, gas and in appetizing. Flatulence, nausea, vomiting and other gastric distress can also be treated with this herb. It has anti-spasmodic qualities that help relieve upset. Aids digestion if chewed after meals. It is widely used as a mouth refreshing agent also.

Cold & Flu

It is used in flu medications commercially like Tamiflu, the only drug at this time known to be effective against the Bird Flu.
The herb is known to be antifungal and antibacterial and it has been used to relieve coughs due to its expectorant qualities. It has been used for whooping cough.


It can increase the production of milk in new mothers. Some folk remedies recommend the use to facilitate birth and to increase the libido. It also helps relieve discomforts associated with menopause, but, only when taken in the right quantities after consultation with a physician.

Other properties

  • Star anise has been used in a tea as a remedy for rheumatism. Also available in the oil form, as an effective relief for pain associated with rheumatism.
  • The oil is effective against lice.
  • It is often used in baked goods, confections and liqueurs. 
  • It has insecticidal properties and is effective against Japanese termites and adult German cockroaches.
  •  It is also a popular fragrance in some parts of the world. 
  • Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia.


Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae


Cloves are native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisines all over the world. Cloves are harvested primarily in IndonesiaIndiaMadagascarZanzibarPakistan, and Sri LankaThe clove tree is an evergreen that grows to a height ranging from 8–12 m, having large leaves and sanguine flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. 

Health Benefits

Western studies have supported the use of cloves and clove oil for dental pain. However, studies to determine its effectiveness for fever reduction, as a mosquito repellent and to prevent premature ejaculation have been inconclusive. Clove may reduce blood sugar levels.Clove oil can be used to anesthetize fish, and prolonged exposure to higher doses (the recommended dose is 400mg/l) is considered a humane means of euthanasia.
In addition, Clove oil is used in preparation of some toothpastes, laxative pills and Clovacaine solution which is a local anesthetic and used in oral ulceration and anti-inflammations. Eugenol (or clove oil generally) is mixed with Zinc oxide to be a temporary filling.

In Indian Kitchen

Cloves are used in 
  • Tea preparation
  • In all non vegetarian gravy
  • Kurma

Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds


The earliest reference to mustard is in India from a story of Gautama Siddhārtha (सिद्धार्थ गौतम) in the 5th century BCE.  Mustard seeds generally take three to ten days to germinate if placed under the proper conditions, which include a cold atmosphere and relatively moist soil. Mature mustard plants grow into shrubs.


Mustard grows well in temperate regions. Major producers of mustard seeds include Canada, Hungary, Great Britain, India, Pakistan and the United States. Brown and black mustard seeds return higher yields than their yellow counterparts.

Health Benefits

Mustard seed is a rich source of oil and protein. The seed has oil as high as 46-48 percent, whole seed meal has 43.6 percent protein. The seeds are usually roasted until they pop. They are also planted to grow saag (greens) which are stir-fried and eaten as a vegetable.

In Indian Kitchen

All most all recipes use mustard seeds to tamper at the end of cooking in sesame oil to add the aroma of the prepared recipe.

Information Courtesy,

Essential Kitchen Powders

Kitchen Powders in Indian cooking

Indian cooking is partially dependend upon various sorts of spices mixed together to add up flavour and aroma to the dish prepared. These mix are either prepared homely or purchased from grocery shops. They may be finely or coarsely powdered. They are used in preparation of Sambar, Rasam, Curry, Kurma, Gravy and so on. Here I do present the essential powders and their preparation that are found in each and every Indian Kitchen.

Idli Cooker

Idli cooker
This vessel is used to cook the South Indian famous food named 'Idli'. It comprises of 2 or 3 plates with cup like wholes numbering 4, 5, 7 or more and a vessel to hold these plates and then a lid to cover the vessel. The bottom vessel will be half filled with water and over it the plates filled with idli batter will be laid and covered. It undergoes steaming when placed on stove. Just requires not more than 10 minutes to get cooked. It is mostly manufactured in Aluminium and now stainless steel made are available in wide range.

Murukku achchu

Murukku achchu
This is a device used to prepare murukku, the kurkure snack. It has 2 or three parts. Dispalyed here is an achu of 2 parts. The bottom vessel and the topper. The dough prepared for the snack has to be kept inside the bottom vessel which has tiny wholes that determine the width of the snack. Then using the topper and pressure has to be applied by holding the handles of the twoo so that the dough is delivered in the form of thread which when deep fried becomes the snack. This device is very traditional one and comes in bronze, stainless steel and thick plastic.

Pressure Cooker - Indian vessels

Pressure Cooker
This is Pressure Cooker. It plays a vital role in every Indians Kitchen. It is used to pressure cook rice, potato, dal, and steam vegetables and idli. Its parts comprises of a whistle, gasket, the bottom pan and lid. It is mainly made of thick Aluminium or Stainless steel. It may be copper plated also. It comes in varied sizes based on the quantity it can hold from 3 litres to 10 litresNowadays non-stick pressure cookers fill up the market. The leading pressure cooker manufacturing companies are Prestige, Hawkins, Preeti.


vazhathandu raita
Vazhathandu raita
Any of grated vegetables like onion, cabbage, mango, cucumber, carrot, vazhathandu(stem of banana) - 1 cup
curd - 1 cup
finely chopped chilli - 1
corriander leaves, tomato, sprouted green grams finely chopped to garnish
salt to taste

Mix any of the given vegetable to curd or a mixture of the given vegetables to curd with chilli, salt and corriander leaves. Make it and serve fresh.


Vazakkai poriyal
any vegetable well chopped - 1 cup
onion chopped - 1
curry leaves - little
chilli - 1
mustard seeds, urad dal - 1 tea spoon
asafoetida - 1 pinch
turmeric powder - 1 tea spoon
oil - 1 tea spoon

Heat oil in tava. Spurt mustard seeds. Add urad dal. Stir till it turns golden brown. Add curry leaves, chilli, onion, salt and stir well and then add vegetables with turmeric powder. Mix well. Close the lid and cook in low flame. Then and then open the lid. Allow the water in inner lid to drain on vegetables and stir well.
  • Chilli can be replaced by chilli powder 
  • When you cook lady's finger, add 2 more spoons of oil to season and add a spoon of curd or tamarind pulp if you feel it to be sticky. 
  • When you cook bittergourd add 2-3 spoons of tamarind pulp or water from rinsing rice to lessen its bitterness.


Sweet Lime Rasam

tomato - 1
tamarind pulp - 1 cup
dal water - 1 cup
rasam powder - 2 tea spoons
salt to taste
turmeric powder - 1 tea spoon

To season
Gingelly oil - 1 tea spoon
dry red chilli - 1
curry leaves - little
smashed garlic -2
mustard seeds - 1 tea spoon
asafoetida - a pinch

Add dal water, smashed tomato, tamarind pulp, turmeric powder, salt together with rasam powder and bring to boil till foam appears. Now seaon it with its ingredients. The dal water can be taken out when dal is cooked for sambar. Otherwise instead of dal water one more smashed tomato can be taken to make out Tomato rasam.


Onion Sambar


1 cup toor dal
1/2 cup channa dal(kadali paruppu) or moong dal
1 cup of any vegetables chopped
1 tomato
shallots - 5-6 or 1 onion chopped
green chilli - 1
tamarind pulp - 3 tea spoons
turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
sambar powder - 3 tea spoon
corriander powder - 1 tea spoon
salt to taste
corriander leaves to garnish
To season
asafoetida - 1 pinch
mustard seeds - 1 tea spoon
curry leaves - little
gingelly oil - 1 tea spoon
vadagam - little

Pressure cook dal as follows. Rinse both the dal 2 times with water, drain the water and add the proportional water to it ( for cup of dal, 1 1/2 water is enough). Place the gasket properly and close the cooker lid. Place it on the stove. When steam comes put whistle. Can allow 3 whistles and switch it off. When steam lowers remove whistle and open the lid to see your cooked dal. In another pan, boil the vegetables with little water.

Now heat oil in tava and saute shallots or onions, add tomatoand green chilli. Stir well till tomato smashes. Add Sambar, corriander, turmeric powders with salt and mix well with little water. When a thick paste is formed add the boiled vegetables and dal with water left over. Mix well and allow to cook for five minutes. Add tamarind pulp and allow to cook till form appears. Now season it with mustard seeds, asafoetida, vadagam, curry leaves. The sambar is ready.