Indian Spice Guide: Know About 5 Health Benefits Of Tempering
Image Credit: Pexels

To release essential oils from cells and enhance the flavour of the spices, whole spices and occasionally additional ingredients like sugar, minced ginger root, or dried chillies are cooked briefly in oil or ghee before being poured into a dish along with the oil. This cooking technique is known as tempering and is used in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. 

Another tempering method is drying all spices in a pan before crushing them. In curries and similar dishes, tempering is usually done at the start of cooking before adding the other ingredients. Alternatively, it can be added to a dish before serving, like stews, dals, and sambars. 

Cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, kalonji, fresh green chillies, dried red chillies, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, cassia, cloves, urad dal, curry leaves, chopped onion, garlic, or bay leaves are among the ingredients that are commonly used in tempering. 

When tempering, it's common practice to add components one after the other, adding the ingredients that require longer cooking times first and the elements that require fewer cooking times later. A blend of entire spices known as panch phoron is used for this purpose in Bengali and Oriya cuisine.

But did you know it has not only taste benefits but also various health benefits? Keep reading to discover various facts. 

5 Health Benefits Of Tempering Spices

1. Turmeric Helps With Brain Health

Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian and Asian cuisines. It contains curcumin. Curcumin is a bioactive compound known for its potential neuroprotective effects. A study published in the "Annals of the Indian Academy of Neurology" by NIH researchers indicates that curcumin may be crucial in preserving brain health and cognitive function. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also help the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. 

2. Chilli Pepper Helps In Pain Relief 

Capsaicin is the aromatic compound found in chilli peppers. It is known for its analgesic properties and has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for pain relief. According to an NIH study, "Pain Medicine", capsaicin can alleviate pain by depleting substance P—a neurotransmitter that transmits pain signals to the brain. A little pepper can work wonders if someone is in pain for sure. 

3. Saffron Improves Mood

Saffron from the Crocus sativus flower has antidepressant effects. "Journal of Integrative Medicine" by NIH researchers suggest that saffron supplementation helps with the symptoms of depression by modulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Saffron's active compounds, crocin and safranal, are believed to enhance serotonin and dopamine activity. Saffron is pretty rare in tempering, but even if you add it to enrich your food, it has health benefits as a bonus. 

4. Curcumin Improves Bone Health

Turmeric also contains curcumin, as mentioned before. It has a polyphenol with potential benefits for bone health. A research study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" says curcumin may help maintain bone density. Inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha, contribute to bone resorption. The loss of bone mineral density can also lead to conditions like osteoporosis. By adding turmeric every day, consuming curcumin supplements offers a natural approach to supporting bone health.

5. Ginger Helps With Liver Protection

Ginger is known for its medicinal properties and hepatoprotective benefits. It safeguards the liver against damage by toxins and oxidative stress. Ginger contains bioactive constituents like gingerol and paradol, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that benefit liver health. It enhances the liver detoxification pathways and reduces oxidative damage. Ginger also has protective effects against alcohol-induced liver injury, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and drug-induced hepatotoxicity. These are confirmed by NIH, too. 

Now that you know about the various health benefits of tempering, why compromise on taste? Experiment with different savoury dishes and make your meals more hearty.