Breaking Down Kitchen Herbs

IMG_3047.jpg

Without the use of spices and herbs in the kitchen, food would be pretty bland wouldn’t you say?

Taste is one thing, but according to Ayurveda, the use of herbs and spices have more impact on our bodies than we think.

Herbs have qualities. For example, they can be cooling or heating, light or heavy, calming or stimulating. Once you have an idea on what dosha (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) you need to balance in your body, you can then create a beautiful spice blend to bring it back into balance.

Not only that, spice blends have many benefits such as improving digestion by helping to break down the heaviness of food. One thing I’ve learnt in my Ayurvedic studies is that you are not what you eat – you are what you digest and absorb as nutrients.

Spices can be taken in almost any food, either before, during or after. They can be added to warm water or milk, especially in the cooler months to warm you up or they can be included in dressings for cooked foods or occasional salad.

To preserve the energetic nature of the spices, it’s best to grind them by hand using a pestle and mortar.

Below you will find a breakdown of the common herbs used in the kitchen and what dosha they help balance:

VATA (heating or calming)

  • Dry ginger powder or freshly grated for instant use
  • Garlic
  • Ajwain
  • Cardamon seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Fennel seeds
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder or freshly grated for instant use
  • Asfoetida powder (hing)
  • Black pepper
  • Cloves

PITTA (cooling)

  • Fennel seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cardamon seeds
  • Turmeric powder or freshly grated for instant use

KAPHA (stimulating)

  • Garlic
  • Ajwain
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Cardamon seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Black pepper
  • Turmeric powder or freshly grated for instant use
  • Cloves
  • Dry ginger powder or freshly grated for instant use

My absolute favourite spice is turmeric. Turmeric has been used in ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine for over 5,000 years as a powerful healing spice. It is known to treat gastrointestinal problems and inflammatory conditions, and can even help with colds and other health conditions. 

I like to add 1/2 tsp each of turmeric and grated fresh ginger to boiled water. You can sweeten with a squeeze of lemon or honey.  Remember to only add honey once the water has cooled down as it should never be heated. 

Stay tuned for my special spiced milk recipe coming soon!