Spices and chilli have an important role in the Indian diet. Some spice combinations are known to warm the body and are popular in the north of India where the winters can be bitterly cold. A commonly used warming spice mixture is garam masala, which can contain black pepper, black cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. In hotter climes, cooling spices such as cumin, green cardamom and black mustard seeds are used for the opposite effect.
Many spices help digestion and it is common to find ginger and garlic together, ginger because of its good digestive properties and garlic because there is some evidence to suggest it helps lower blood pressure which ginger raises as it warms the body.
Mustard seeds are useful as a preservative and turmeric is important as a blood purifier, for its antiseptic properties and for reducing inflammation.
Keep them in the dark
Spice are light sensitive so are best stored in a pantry, not on display in a spice rack. Don’t store them in plastic as the plastic will absorb the spice flavour, and worse still, the spices may absorb the smell of plastic and become tainted. Glass jars with tight fitting lids or small tins are best for storage.