|(Photo by interviewee)|
Chi: Welcome to VOV24/7’s Food Delight. Mrs. Manu, you’ve been in Vietnam for some time now. What do you think of Vietnamese cuisine, particularly Vietnamese spices?
Manu: Some Vietnamese spices are quite different from Indian spices. Some of them are similar. We use lots of coriander leaves, a lot of mint leaves in our food. So does Vietnam. But we never use the fish sauce or vinegar that you use in Vietnam.
Chi: Indian food is very spicy. You use different kinds of spices in food. Why are spices so abundant in India? Is it because of your country’s favorable geographical conditions?
Manu: I think that’s the reason. It’s a tropical country. It’s warm and spices are grown in different parts of India. We hardly import any spices. They are mostly grown in India, other than saffron, which is imported from abroad. Most spices are grown in India and every household uses them.
Chi: Can you name some of the spices that are grown in different parts of India?
Manu: Turmeric is available all over India. We also have cumin seeds and cumin powder. We use coriander as one of our spices. We use both coriander leaves and powder. The spices we use in Indian cooking are usually a blend of spices. To get the right flavor, we use different spices in different quantities. For example, garam masala is used in most of the dishes. It’s a mixture of green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper. Each blend usually has 8 spices. Every household uses a different blend. I prefer to use green cardamom, and a little black cardamom.
|(Photo: by interviewee)|
Chi: Does the use of spices differ between regions?
Manu: Yes, different regions have different flavors. Turmeric, which gives the yellow color to Indian food is used across India. It’s good for the stomach and has an antiseptic quality. Turmeric is used for health reasons. In the northern part of India, we use a lot of cumin seeds and cumin seed powder, whereas in the southern part of India, lots of black mustard is used. But nowadays, everything is mix and match. In the eastern part of India, people use mustard oil with yellow mustard seeds. In the southern part of India, because it is a coastal place, people tend to use coconut oil. In the northern part of India, they use sun flower oil. In different parts of India, the oil used is different, the seasoning is different, and the taste also differs. Eastern India uses more sugar, northern India is more spicy, southern India is very hot - lots of chili. Further south there is lots of coconut and tamarind.
Chi: Indian curry is famous. How many spices do you use to make curry?
Manu: In my everyday life, in my household, when the oil heats up, we add a little bit of cumin seeds, then we fry onions, then we add garlic, ginger, tomatoes. Supposing I add potatoes and cauliflowers, I would put in coriander seeds, coriander seed powder, turmeric powder, a little bit of cumin seeds, and garam masala which is a blend of 8 spices. That makes 9, 10, 11, 12 spices. And coriander leaves also. If you include garlic and ginger, I think there are 10 to 15 spices in one kind of curry.
Chi: Can you tell us the main spices in your kitchen? How do you use them in cooking and home remedies?
Manu: Every household should have turmeric, cumin seed, cumin seed powder, coriander seeds, and coriander seed powder. We definitely have red chili and red chilli powder, and garam masala, which is black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon, and black mustard. We have all these kinds of spices in the kitchen to cook with.
We make a lot of home remedies with spices like turmeric, which is very good for your skin. It has an antiseptic property which removes acne and keeps the skin very clean and smooth. Another spice that we use a lot is Ajowan caraway. It enhances the flavor of a few dishes, but it also relieves cough and pain in infants instantly. It’s also good for digestion.
Chi: Thank you, Manu, for your interesting insights into Indian spices. We hope to have you back again on VOV24/7’s Food Delight. Good bye, everyone.