Spices And Their Uses
Spices As Plant Products for Class 4 EVS
This concept describes various spices as plant products. Through this concept, the students will be introduced to the medicinal uses of spices.
After reading the concept, students will be able to:
- Recall the names of different types of spices in India.
- Understand the importance of spices like turmeric, black pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, saunf seeds, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom pods, vanilla, etc.
- Recall the garam masala ingredients and can prepare garam masala at home.
- Answer what is marinade.
Each concept is explained to class 4 students using descriptions, illustrations, and concept maps. After you go through a concept, assess your learning by solving the two printable worksheets given at the end of the page.
Download the worksheets and check your answers with the worksheet solutions for the concept of Spices As Plant Products provided in PDF format.
What is Spice?
A spice is a bark, root, fruit, seed, or other plant product used while cooking or preparing food to make the food more colourful and flavourful.
Characteristics of Spices:
- Spices have various medicinal benefits.
- They are also used to make perfumes due to their distinct fragrances.
- Spices are sometimes used to make cosmetics as well.
- Spices are sold in the market in fresh, whole dried, or ground form.
- Some spices are sold in the market in fresh and dried forms like ginger, turmeric, cumin, etc.
- Different spices are sometimes mixed in variable quantities to prepare a special spice blend, like garam masala, curry powder, etc.
- Spices are mostly cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, along with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and North Africa.
Different Spices of India:
1. Dry Red Chilli:
- Dry red chillies have a sharp, pungent taste and are used to add heat to various dishes.
- These chillies also have medicinal properties like boosting immunity and controlling cardiac problems.
- These chillies are made from raw peppers by drying them in the sunlight.
- Dry red chillies are used as a whole spice and in powdered forms.
- These chillies also give the dishes a characteristic red colour.
- Turmeric is mainly used to impart a yellowish tint to the food.
- Turmeric has various health benefits.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for the heart.
- It is also suitable for Alzheimer’s disease, joint pain and arthritis.
- Turmeric is native to the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia.
- This spice is mostly used in Asian cuisines, especially in making curries.
- It has a slightly warm and bitter flavour.
3. Black Pepper:
- Black peppers are obtained by drying peppercorns.
- It is very spicy and is used to add heat to the food.
- It is used as a whole spice as well in powdered form.
- Black pepper is added to various spice blends to make them more flavourful.
- This spice is cultivated in North African countries, India, Sri Lanka, etc.
- Black peppers are rich in vitamins and minerals and can fight cancer.
- It is used to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
4. Cumin Seeds:
- Cumin seeds are used both as a whole spice and in powdered form.
- These seeds are native to South East Asia and Mediterranean countries.
- Cumin has therapeutic properties, which is why it is used in traditional medicines.
- These seeds are yellowish-brown in colour and have longitudinal ridges.
- These seeds have a warm aroma and are used in varieties of curry preparations.
5. Coriander Seeds:
- Dried coriander seeds and fruits are a common spice used in preparing curries and dals.
- These seeds have a warm, lemony and floral taste.
- Roasted coriander seeds are more flavourful.
- These seeds are used both as a whole spice and in ground form.
- These seeds have anti-bacterial properties, promote digestion, boost immunity, and protect the heart, brain and skin.
- Fennel seeds are very aromatic and almost look like cumin seeds but are a little elongated and greenish in colour.
- It is good for heart health and suppresses appetite.
- These seeds are used as whole spices.
- Fennel seeds are used in both sweet and savoury preparations.
- Raw fennel seeds are also used as a mouth freshener.
7. Star Anise:
- It is native to central Asia.
- The star anise oil is highly flavourful and used in cooking, toothpaste, cosmetics and medicines.
- The star anise fruit resembles a star, which is how it got its name. It is dark brown in colour.
- This spice is mostly used to enhance the flavour of meat-based food items and alcohols.
- It has a distinct warm smell and also has medicinal properties.
- The brownish bark of the cinnamon tree is used as the spice.
- Cinnamon can be used in the whole dried form (curled sticks) or the ground form.
- The whole form is usually used in savoury dishes whereas, in the powdered form, it is used to make cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, etc.
- It has a distinctive sweet, warm aroma, enhancing food's flavour.
- Cinnamon is mostly cultivated in China, South India, Sri Lanka and southwest Asia.
- It can control blood pressure and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties but could be toxic if consumed in high amounts.
9. Mace and Nutmeg:
- Nutmeg is a fruit that is used as a spice, and mace is the seed covering of the nutmeg, which is also used as a different spice.
- Both of these can be used as a whole spice or ground spice.
- These spices are mostly cultivated in Indonesia.
- The essential oil extracted from nutmeg has medicinal properties.
- It forms an essential component of many spice blends.
- Nutmeg has therapeutic properties and is used to treat skin problems.
- The reddish seed covering of nutmeg is mace.
- Mace is used in both sweet and savoury dishes due to its sweet and warm aroma.
- Cloves are fragrant flower buds of the clove tree and are used as a whole spice.
- It has a warm and spicy aroma.
- Cloves are mostly used in Asian, African and Middle-eastern cuisines.
- This spice is used to make marinades and as a flavouring agent in various meat-based food items and curries.
- The essential oil extracted from clove has medicinal properties.
- Clove oil is a good pain killer and is very effective against toothaches.
- Clove oil is also used in cosmetics, toothpaste, ointments and other Ayurvedic medicines.
11. Bay Leaf:
- It is an aromatic leaf used in dried, crushed or fresh forms.
- But, the dried bay leaves are most commonly used to flavour stews and meat dishes.
- It is better not to eat these leaves as they add flavour to the dish but are inedible.
- The dried bay leaf has a floral aroma, but the fresh bay leaf is pungent and bitter.
- Bay leaf is an important ingredient of garam masala.
- The smoke of bay leaves is used to kill insects.
- Cardamom is used as a whole spice or in ground form.
- It is native to India and Southeast Asia.
- It is thin and elongated and has black seeds inside.
- Cardamom is widely used in various food and beverages.
- Cardamom is also used in various spice blends.
- It is used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
- It is used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
- Cardamom has many medicinal benefits as it helps with digestive problems, prevents bad breath, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- It is an aromatic spice derived from a particular type of orchid found especially in Mexico.
- It is the second most expensive spice after saffron.
- Vanilla is widely used to flavour desserts like ice creams, cookies, cakes, pastries, puddings, custards etc.
- It is also used in perfumes.
- The extract of vanilla has a sweet smell and a dark, distinctive colour.
- The orchid from which vanilla is extracted grows best in a hot and humid climate.
Anti-Inflammatory: A substance that reduces inflammation, including redness, swelling, and pain in the body.
Pungent: A taste or smell which is very strong and sharp is called pungent.
Ayurvedic: A natural system of medicine that has its roots in India.
Did You Know?
- Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
- Asafoetida is a gum resin and is used as a spice in India and Iran, where it is used to flavour curries, meatballs, and pickles. It has a strong odour and is commonly sold in powdered form.
- Sumac is a flavourful spice blend that is used in Mediterranean dishes.