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Traditional Food Ingredients

Below we have presented with a variety of Traditional Food Ingredients that are commonly used in Indian Cooking. Check out the benefits and uses of such Ingredients.

Photo of Asafoetida on Plate

English : Asafoetida - Tamil : Perunkayam - Hindi : Hing

It is bitter, hot and pungent. In most cases of spastic abdominal pain it is customary to take small quantity of Asafoetida oleoresin with buttermilk. This relives pain because of its ability to relax the spasm of the soft muscles. For the same reason, asafetida is used for chronic bronchitis and asthma. This oleoresin has anti-viral and anti-microbial activity and therefore is helpful in H1N1 "swine" flu, hoarseness, flatulent colic, chronic gastritis, dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and irritable colon. It is also useful in treating absence of regular menstrual flow and painful menstruation. It also helps in destroying intestinal worms and easy bowel movement. Topically, it is used for corns and calluses.

English : Fenugreek - Tamil : Venthayam - Hindi : Methi

Fenugreek seed is rich in fiber which is used for lowering blood sugar and to prevent fat deposit in blood vessels and increase of serum cholesterol and triglycerides. It is useful both in diarrhea as well as constipation. It is bitter pungent and cooling in nature. The soluble fibre of fenugreek swells and absorbs the excess water and arrests diarrhea and in case of constipation forms bulk and helps smooth bowel movement. It is also useful for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation and gastritis. It acts as a coolant, 1 spoon of venthayam when taken with buttermilk helps in pacifying deranged pitta. Fenugreek is used for kidney ailments, gout and a vitamin deficiency disease called beriberi, mouth ulcers, boils and bronchitis. Fenugreek promotes milk flow in Breast feeding mothers. Fenugreek is used as a poultice (it is wrapped in cloth, warmed and applied directly to the skin) to treat local pain and swelling (inflammation), muscle ache (myalgia), wounds, leg ulcers, and eczema. Trigonellin is the bitter principle present in it.

English : Dry ginger - Tamil : Sukku - Hindi : Sunthi

Ginger when dried after soaking in slaked lime and removal of outer layer becomes dry ginger. Since the rhizome grows under the soil has a possibility of being infected by fungus and can cause health problems the out layer is removed and treated with slaked lime. It is one of the most frequently used ingredients in most Siddha and Ayurveda formulations. It is one among the three pungent (Sukku, milaku and tippili). It is dry, heavy pungent taste with sweet after taste. It is hot in potency which is used in treating asthma and chronic respiratory illness. Dry ginger powder (sukku sooranam) taken with honey helps in relieving migraine headache and painful menstruation. Decoction of sukku with galangal and coriander seeds pacifies vitiated pitta and cools the body. It also acts as an analgesic and anti inflammatory.
Decoction of sukku, millaku and thippili improves digestion and acts as an expectorant. External application of dry ginger paste on forehead helps in relieving head ache. Gingerol is the key phyto-chemical present in it

English : Cardamom - Tamil : Elam - Hindi : Choti elaichi

Cardamom seed is a hot, pungent, common aromatic spice used in most of the south Indian sweet recipes. It facilitates digestion and used in the treatment of gastritis, heart burn, belching and regurgitation. Cardamom is also used in the treatment of common cold, cough, bronchitis and pharynx and mouth inflammation. Cardamom oil is used in the treatment of inflamed nerves, back muscles and joints that are swollen. Cardamom has analgesic properties, it eases joint and muscle pain. It is used for intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, liver and gall bladder complaints and loss of appetite. Can also be used as a stimulant and for urinary problems. It is used in medicated oil for topical application when there is redness and pain.

English : Cloves - Tamil : Kirambu - Hindi : Lavanga

Clove is a commonly used aromatic flower bud. It is hot and pungent when taken in powder form or infusion, is an excellent treatment for nausea, flatulence, indigestion and dyspepsia. Clove is known to be a germicide, an antiseptic, and an expectorant used to treat bronchial ailments. As a powerful local antiseptic and mild anesthetic, it is used topically to help alleviate the pain of toothaches. It is anti spasmodic. Eugenol is the main plant chemical present in it

English : Black Pepper corns - Tamil : Milaku - Hindi - Kalimirch 

It is one among the Three pungent (sukku, milaku and tippili).It is light sharp, piercing pungent ,bitter and has hot potency. Pepper balances Kapa and vata tosham.Black pepper is a carminative which helps in improving metabolism and digestion. It stimulates the taste buds and facilitates the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thus reducing the occurrence of indigestion and heartburns. It has natural antioxidant and antibacterial benefits. It lower blood lipids, blood pressure and regulate cholesterol. Piperine, the pungent component of black pepper check accumulation and formation of fat cells and thus help reduce body fat. Black pepper helps in the treatment of Vitiligo, a skin condition where the skin loses its natural pigmentation. Black Pepper is also an anti-allergic, helps in detoxifying the body, used as an anti-dote and helps in expelling the phlegm.

English : Ajwain - Tamil : Omam - Hindi : Ajwain

Ajwain seeds are used as carminative in treating flatulence and indigestion. They are hot and pungent which acts as an appetizer. Distillate obtained from ajwain helps in indigestion and diarrhea in infants and children. Ajwain seed oil has the highest percentage of thymol.
Thymol's germicide and antiseptic properties utilized in many cough remedies. The seeds are used to ease asthma. It is a tonic and also used as antispasmodic and therefore helps in bronchospasm that occurs in bronchial asthma. Ajwain and Dil seeds are the preferred ingredients in the creping abdominal pain in infants.

English : Cumin -Tamil : Seerakam - Hindi : Jira

Cumin seeds are sweet, pungent and cooling which can stabilize deranged pitta tōṣam by promoting digestion and body cleansing, Hot and sweet tasting Cumin seeds are good astringent as well and is known for wound healing properties. Carminative Cumin seeds are light, hot, have pungent after taste and balances triṭōṣam. It is a carminative and stomachic and is also a demulcent. Cumin stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. Cumin seeds are an excellent source of Iron.

English : Garlic flakes - Tamil : Vellai Poondu - Hindi : Lasuna

Garlic pods balance all three humors It is hot and pungent in taste. It is carminative and stomachic which induces appetite. Garlic helps to improve iron metabolism. It has cardio-protective benefits because of its ability to reduce platelet aggregation and prevent blood clot in circulation and also it prevents plague formation inside the blood vessels caused by high cholesterol content. The sulfur compounds - amino acids acts as anti-microbial Helps in reducing inflammation and Improves digestion. Garlic baked in milk is used to improve digestion as the preparatory part of the cleansing therapy. It is also used as an expectorant and into control upper respiratory infection and inflammation of tonsils It helps in killing intestinal worms and stimulates milk secretion in lactating mothers.

English : Turmeric powder - Tamil : Manjal thool - Hindi : Haldi

Turmeric rhizome powder is bitter and pungent and is hot in potency. It is used in most of the south Indian cuisine and is a must particularly in non-vegetarian dishes. It reduces blood glucose level as well cholesterol level. It is revered as a powerful anti-oxidant and used as a supplement in cancer, loss of memory in elders, degenerative arthritis. It prevents thickening of blood vessels and is a powerful wound healing ingredient because of its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Turmeric is applied topically for the treatment of acne, wounds, boils, bruises, blistering, ulcers, eczema, insect bites, parasitic infections, hemorrhages and skin diseases like herpes zoster and pemphigus. It is a good liver protective. A three time’s daily dosage of 400-600 mg of curcumin is recommended in degenerative arthritis 

English : Mustard seeds - Tamil : Kaduku - Hindi : Rajika 

The hot and pungent and bitter mustard seed is a common seasoning in south Indian cooking. and is a very good source of selenium, a nutrient which that has been shown to help reduce the severity of asthma, decrease some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and help prevent cancer. The isothiocyanates in mustard seeds (and other Brassicas) have anti-cancer effects. The oil obtained from mustard seeds when used externally helps in pacifying deranged kapa. Externally used as a counter irritant. If taken in excess or without seasoning can cause vomiting

English : Cinnamon - Tamil : Lavanga Pattai - Hindi : Dalchini

Cinnamon bark is a sweet, pungent, warming, aromatic, tonic that stimulates the digestive system and can help reduce cholesterol and high blood sugar levels. Used in the treatment of insulin resistant type 2 diabetes. It contains essential oil which is a digestive, appetite stimulant and anti-microbial. Because of its ability to regulate metabolism also helps in weight management.

English : Red Chilly - Tamil : Sivappu milakai -
Sanskrit : Mirchi

Red chilly is hot pungent but a common spice used in Indian cooking .Red chilly is rich in Vit.C.
Capsaicin present in red chilly is used in topical ointment or dermal patch to relieve the pain of peripheral neuropathy such as post-herpetic neuralgia. It is able to kill prostrate and lung cancer cells. It may be used as a cream for the temporary relief of Myalgia, arthralgia, back ache and sprains.