Spices plays an important role in the approach we prepare and eat foods. Each spice has its own flavors and taste, and its inclusion or absence can absolutely make or break a meal. There are several spices that we use in our daily cooking.
Let’s discuss about herbs and spices, seasonings that don’t only add flavor, taste and attractiveness to our meals, but also offer so many nutritional health benefits. There are massive amounts of herbs and spices freely accessible, such as thyme, rosemary, fresh basil, garlic, red pepper, curry powder, bay leaf, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger, garlic chips and much more. Mostly, the herbs are the ones with leaves and the spices are those from other areas of the tree, such as roots, stems, and seeds.
Throughout world history, the use of herbs and spices has been extremely significant. Many have been praised for their therapeutic qualities long before their edible use. Recent research has now proven that many of them do also have significant medical effects.
Below are Most Commonly Used Herbs And Spices In Nigeria And Their Benefit To Health.
Ginger: Ginger is particularly needed when it applies to the use of spices in cooking. From your deep frying to your sandwiches and to your mixed drinks, ginger can be everything you taste and scent. In Nigeria, the peppery, aromatic, and delicious fragrance of this spicy rhizome can be tasted and detected in our very own ‘zobo’ drink, ‘kunu’ drink, hot chocolate, food flavors and much more. When it comes to its medicinal value, ginger has often been used to cure heartburn, abdominal pains, blood sugar, etc.
Garlic: Thinking about the noxious scent, people prefer to stay far away from garlic. But despite its spicy taste, one prefers not to go on cooking without it. Garlic is regarded as vegetable for a long time, but it is often used to spice up meals. In Nigeria, one cannot explicitly use garlic because it is just everywhere, talk of food, baked goods, medicinal products, drugs and beverages. There are more than 900 species on the planet and this allium genus also has some wealthy medical benefits, such as improving metabolism, reducing cholesterol levels and decreasing hypertension.
Pepper: Pepper is mostly referred to as the ’emperor of spices,’ and it is a major condiment in everyone’s daily diet. As a Nigerian, there can hardly be a day without eating something that contains pepper (mostly for the Yoruba people of the south western part of Nigeria). The name ‘pepper’ derived from the Sankrit word ‘Pippal’ meaning berry. There’s about a thousand spices of pepper, though the most widely used flavors in Nigeria are scotch cap, chilli, bell and ghost pepper.
Bay Leaf: At childhood, when I was served with jollof rice, seeing this leaf inside my food made me want to query the safety of the chefs for having allowed some leaves to drop inside my yummy plate of Jollof rice. Soon, I realized that this leaf is one of the key additive features of a tasty Jollof bowl. Often known as laurel leaf or bay laurel, this spicy herb comes from the evergreen laurel bar tree, especially in the Mediterranean Sea. Bay leaves are used to spice sauces, stir fries, meat and vegetables. Normally, they are withdrawn before serving. The excessive use of this herbs could make the dish sour. New bay leaves are rarely found in the market. Dry bay leaves, which have a percentage of the fresh taste, can be found in supermarkets. Keep the dried bay leaves in a dry, dark environment for about 6 months.
Turmeric: Turmeric is highly regarded for its use in Indian curry powders and has become a popular healthy food because of its ability to minimize inflammation—a common cause of pain and disease. A substance called curcumin is one of the constituents of turmeric. Studies indicate that it can reduce the inflammation of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease and anxiety. In a small sample of adults over 50 years of age, those who used curcumin products over the period of 18 months had increased recall academic performance. They also reported that they were in good shape. Quite interesting, huh? The brain scans showed substantially less markers aligned with memory impairment.
Cinnamon: This famous spice arises from the bark of cinnamon tree and is used in everything including pumpkin spice lattes to Cincinnati chili. Cinnamon is particularly great for individuals who have high blood sugar levels. It lends a sweetness to food without the addition of sugar, and research have shown that it can reduce blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon can also have heart-healthy benefits, such as decreasing high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.This is particularly important for patients who are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Nutmeg: This aromatic spices are delicately warm and sweet. Nutmeg can be added to the sauce, stew, rice etc and has been used as a near replacement for cinnamon in Nigeria, and the sweet nutty taste in the baked foods cannot be overemphasized.
Curry powder: This spice is not unknown to Nigerian cuisine as it has been a significant contributing factor to the taste, flavor and color of common Nigerian dishes such as Fried Rice, Jollof Rice, Spaghetti and Vegetables, etc. Curry powder is commonly and frequently used in India, and it also includes authentic curry powder. Curry powder is actually a pulverized mixture of up to 20 spices, herbs and seeds.