Fennel, Fenugreek and Coriander are very common in the Indian kitchen. The vast variety of culinary in the Indian Kitchen boasts of the ingredients used. The spices used are having medicinal effects. Many of the combinations of curries, help to have a balanced diet. But, how many know that Fennel, Fenugreek and Coriander are foreigners. You may be wondering to know this. Alexander’s invasion of India in 327 BC has been brief, but it has left behind a rich legacy in terms of mixed genes, a new school of art and sculpture and food.
Coriander is one of the most common spices in the Indian kitchen. The fresh green leaves garnishing every curry is imaginable and the dry seeds powdered the tasty dry masalas. Coriander is an ingredient that came to India after the Alexander’s onslaught. Coriander is known to have anti-oxidant properties, to cure stomach aches, lower LDL and provide both dietary fibre and a host of minerals. Use it with onions, another summer ingredient that is used traditionally to keep heat strokes at bay. Use it sparingly, as it assumes a much more potent significance in your cooking, instantly elevating any dish. Rajasthan uses freshly pounded, dried coriander seeds in the spice mix to give a distinctive summer taste.
Fenugreek came to India from Greece. Historical records suggest that it was the Macedonian army that brought this spice to Punjab and northern India. Fenugreek or Methi leaves are a winter staple in the subcontinent. Methi-Dana, the seeds, have cooling properties according to Ayurveda. They help to cure fever, headaches, indigestion and aid in lose weight. Soak Methi-Dana in water overnight and strain the liquid and drink it the first thing in the morning to counter obesity and diabetes. The slight bitterness adds to the complexity of any preparation to which it is added, be it sauteed whole onions or a basic potato curry. Fenugreek seeds can go into the potato curry to give it a twinge of bitterness and astringency that come by using soaked methi-dana. you can add another layer of flavour to fresh chutneys, that can balance the sweet, sour and bitter, with the addition of fenugreek.
Fennel is quite obviously has a Mediterranean / Middle-Eastern connections too, and is similar to anise in its flavour and use. The leaves of the plant are equally and significantly used in cooking. It is a common ingredient in Ayurveda-based Indian kitchen because of its therapeutic properties and is commonly used for indigestion, cure for coughs, respiratory infections and as a lactation-enhancer. Fennel is an intrinsic part of both Kashmiri and Bengali cooking. Raw mango pickles of the Indo-Gangetic plain to red chilli pickles from Benares and Punjab, fennel is an inevitable spice, offsetting the piquancy or the hotness of the other ingredients. You can simply just chew on a spoonful with a few bits of sugar which gives an instant mouth-freshness.