Healing with foods, herbs, and spices is nature’s gift to people. Growing up in India, my mother always impressed upon us, “Remember that spices and herbs have medicinal properties and are the heating and cooling energy specialists of the body. They aid the digestive process and provide heat to the body and cool it.”
Onion helps to destroy bacteria and infection-causing microorganisms, and is considered a diuretic. In India, garlic is used for many purposes, including aiding digestion and absorption of food and is considered a mild and gentle laxative. Its rejuvenating and aphrodisiac properties help prevent decay, postpone aging, and revitalize tissues. As a natural antibiotic, it destroys and inhibits the growth of bacteria, and other microorganisms, heals wounds, and protects against infection. Ginger tea with honey and fresh lemon juice helps to relieve colds, cough, sore throat, and chest congestion. Chili is excellent for the skin because it opens up clogged pores and expels toxins. Cumin seeds have been used as a flavoring agent and medicine for thousands of years.
Turmeric is a unique, colorful, and versatile spice, and an essential flavoring agent for curries, lentils, and vegetables. As a natural astringent substance, turmeric helps to tighten and firm tissues, organs, and skin and rejuvenate the body. In India turmeric paste is applied to external wounds, cuts, or bruises to protect against infection and stimulate cell growth. It heals skin conditions such as acne.
The ancients considered fenugreek a rejuvenating and aphrodisiac spice that helps to prevent decay, postpones aging, and revitalizes the organs. Fenugreek contains substances that soften the skin on application. Poultices of fenugreek, prepared from pulverized seeds are applied to relieve pains associated with neuralgia, sciatica, and gout.
Taste and savor my authentic and unforgettable curries in my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2016) and Editor’s Choice India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine (2016). Learn how to make different curry powder blends, sauces, and pastes with simple and easy-to-understand instructions. Turmeric and a combination of twelve or more different healing spices give curry its distinctive, delicious and unique flavor. The magic of curry is in the blending and sautéing of spices.
Sautéed Potatoes in Turmeric, Cumin and Fenugreek (Aloo Methi Sabzi)
This is a very popular vegetarian dish in India that is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a variety of Indian bread (chapatti, paratha, poori, naan) and Basmati rice and lentils (dal).
6 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut in ¼” pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
½” piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 fresh green chili, chopped fine
¼ cup corn oil
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder
Salt to taste
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup dried fenugreek leaves
In a medium saucepan or wok heat the oil over high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and stir until they change color and the mustard seeds start popping. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic and ginger and stir for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Add turmeric, chili powder and salt and stir thoroughly for a minute. Add the potatoes and cilantro leaves and mix thoroughly, cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add fenugreek leaves and mix thoroughly. Cover and turn off the heat. Serve hot with Indian bread, lentils, raita (yogurt and cucumber) and rice.