Some years ago, we tried a nearby Indian restaurant, and I had my first dish.
I was so very impressed by the depth and complexity of the flavors that I had to find out the answer to the question: What exactly is this spice?
Actually, this super spice is not an individual spice, or even a specific single mixture of spices.
It's a never ending myriad of ways to combine blends of herbs, seasonings, and even cultures.
Native to India, the recipes for these mixtures are often passed down within families and can vary widely from region to region.
The spice mixture itself, is put together from a blend of various other spices, so there is no actual, cultivating, growing and harvesting of this super spice.
Rather it's up to the spice maker to acquire each of the different spices.
This super spice contains many powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Turmeric is the most common ingredient and is actually what gives it a golden yellow color.
Curcumin is one of the main substances in turmeric that gives the curry mix its yellow color
In Western cuisine, this spice usually includes turmeric, chili, mustard, salt, pepper, fenugreek, cumin and coriander.
In India, however, mixtures can include up to 20 or more different spices and can be red, yellow, or brown.
Scientists say this exotic compound kills cancer cells
A molecule found in a curry ingredient can kill esophageal cancer cells in the laboratory, suggesting it might be developed as an anti-cancer treatment, scientists said recently.
Researchers at the Cork Cancer Research Center in Ireland treated esophageal cancer cells with curcumin, a chemical found in the spice turmeric, which gives curries a distinctive yellow color, and found it started to kill cancer cells within 24 hours.
The cells also began to digest themselves, they said in a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Previous scientific studies have suggested curcumin can suppress tumors and that people who eat lots of this spice, may be less prone to the disease, although curcumin loses its anti-cancer attributes quickly when ingested.
But Sharon McKenna, lead author of the Irish study, said her study suggested a potential for scientists to develop curcumin as an anti-cancer drug to treat esophageal cancer.
Cancers of the esophagus kill more than 500,000 people across the world each year.
The tumors are especially deadly, with five-year survival rates of just 12 to 31 percent.
McKenna said the study showed curcumin caused the cancer cells to die "using an unexpected system of cell messages."
Normally, faulty cells die by committing programed suicide, or apoptosis, which occurs when proteins called caspases are 'switched on' in cells, the researchers said.
But these cells showed no evidence of suicide, and the addition of a molecule that inhibits caspases and stops this "switch being flicked' made no difference to the number of cells that died, suggesting curcumin attacked the cancer cells using an alternative cell signaling system.
U.S. researchers said in 2007 they had found curcumin may help stimulate immune system cells in the Alzheimer's disease.
Restaurants in Great Britain, North America, and elsewhere have adopted a number of Indian terms to identify popular dishes.
Although the names may be derived from traditional dishes, often the recipes are not.
The following are representative examples:
Bhuna - is a medium to thick sauce, usually containing some vegetables.
Biryani - A spiced rice and meat cooked together and usually served with vegetable sauce.
Curry - The most common name for a meat dish (most often chicken or lamb) with a medium-spicy, brown, gravy-like sauce.
Dhansak - In a curry house or restaurant, it may be made with either lamb or chicken and frequently contains pineapple, though this is not original.
The name is derived from a Parsi dish of mutton cooked with lentils (dal) and vegetables.
Dupiaza/Dopiaza - medium heat, the word means "double onion" referring to the boiled and fried onions used as its primary ingredient.
Jalfrezi - Is an onion, green chili and is a somewhat thick sauce.
Kofta - refers to dishes containing meatballs (most frequently lamb), or vegetable substitutes (most often ground nuts).
Korma/Kurma - is mild, yellow in color, with almond and coconut powder.
Madras - the "standard hot", slightly sour sauce at many Indian restaurants.
Pasanda - In the UK, it refers to a mild sauce made with cream, coconut milk, and almonds or cashews, served with lamb, chicken, or king prawns (N.A.: jumbo shrimp or prawns).
The name is derived from a Mughlai dish of lamb strips beaten to make them tender.
Naga - Is a relatively new, extremely hot dish, with a unique savoury taste made with the highly aromatic Naga Morich or Bhut Jolokia chili pepper.
Pathia - a hot curry, generally similar to a "Madras" with the addition of lemon juice and tomato purée.
Phaal - this is the hottest the restaurants can make.
There is nothing like it in India.
Roghan Josh - a medium-spicy curry, usually of lamb, with a deep red sauce containing tomatoes and paprika.
It's derived from a Kashmiri dish of the same name.
Sambar - A medium heat, sour curry, made with lentils and tamarind.
Vindaloo - this is generally regarded as the classic "hot" restaurant curry.
Progressively hotter versions are sometimes called "tindaloo" and "bindaloo".
The tandoor (a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking) was introduced into Britain in the 1960s and tandoori (a dish cooked in a tandoor), as well as tikka chicken became popular dishes.
Other dishes may be featured with varying strengths, with those of north Indian origin, such as butter chicken, tending to be mild, and recipes from the south of India tending to be hotter.
Now here's a super spice recipe that we very much enjoy and hope you'll give it a try.
We have this recipe at least once a month.
Sometimes we just have to get our curry "fix"!
2 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into approx. 1 inch pieces
1 Tbs. vegetable oil or ghee
1 inch piece cassia bark (optional)
2 cardamon pods
two thirds of a batch of basic curry sauce
1/4 tsp. hot chilli powder
1/2 tsp. concentrated tomato purée
4 Tbs. double cream
1 Tbs. finely chopped creamed coconut
1 handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
salt to taste
1. Heat a little of the oil in a large heavy frying pan then fry the chicken pieces over moderate heat until they are sealed and have turned white.
Remove them from the pan and set aside.
2. Heat the rest of the oil in a heavy pan over a moderate heat then put in the cassia and cardamon and stir for a few minutes.
3. Turn the heat to low then add the basic curry sauce, chili powder, tomato purée and salt.
You can add a little more tomato purée if the color isn’t rich enough, but no more than another half tsp.
4. Add the chicken pieces and simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Add a little hot water if the sauce gets too dry (Not too much, as you don't want to dilute the flavor).
5. Finally, add the cream, chopped coriander and creamed coconut and heat through until the creamed coconut has melted.
By the end of the cooking the sauce should be silky and not too thick.
We originally sourced this recipe from the;
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