Ginger - Inji (Tamil), Adrak (Hindi) is another ingredient we use in our cuisine.It also acts as medicine in many ways. Fresh ginger is used for cooking along with lentils/dhalls and for creating spiciness in some side dishes. Vegetables like potato, Plantain etc usually creates gas when we consume it very often. In order to reduce it, ginger is used along with potato, plantain. Dry ginger which is called as Chukku (Tamil) is also used to make lots of dishes like desserts, cookies etc. Also ginger is used to make masala tea.
During our stay in India last year, I came to know that there are two types of ginger people use in India. One is Chai wali Adrak (Ginger used for making tea) and Sabji wali adrak (ginger used to make side dishes).
Coconut/Thengai (in Tamil)/ Nariyal (hindi) is a member of Palm family. It is another important ingredient we use in our daily cooking. In India, Kerala state is very famous for coconut trees and they use coconut in almost all of the recipes they cook. Coconut oil is also good for hair. It acts as a conditioner especially for dry thick & curly hair people. It reduces the formation of dandruff in our scalp. Also coconut water is known as Ilaneer (Tamil) / Nariyal ka pani (Hindi) act as a cooling agent to our body. During summer season, its always good to take tender coconut water everyday to avoid getting heat diseases. Shredded coconut is used in all sorts of recipes like dry curry, sambar, gravy and also for making desserts like payasam. People try to take milk from coconut and coconut milk is also commonly used for making desserts and for few gravies. Cocnut tree is also very useful in many ways. The dry husk of the coconut tree is used washing dishes Dry sticks from the coconut tree is used for making broom sticks. Coir is used for making bags, sacks etc
Cardamom is also called as Elaichi (in Hindi) Elakkai or Elam (in tamil) which is commonly used to add flavor to any kind of dish. It also helps giving relief whenever we have tooth ache or gums pain. I remember my grandma used to keep it along with cloves,near the teeth which hurts her. Most of the times she get relief from that. While making fried rice or some kind of variety rice, we use this cardamom to add more flavor to the rice. Also while making desserts or sweets or pudding, we use this cardamom which adds more flavor. Cardamom is also used to make masala tea. I use cardamom, dry ginger, tea powder, cloves etc for making masala tea. Also while making garam masala powder, I use cardamom.
Chukku is a very famous spice which is used most commonly in Kerala. Chukku vellam - Dry ginger water is a very famous in Kerala. While boiling water, we put chukku along with pepper and cumin seeds and drink this chukku vellam whenever we have sore throat. It gives relief immediately. Also chukku powder is available in stores now a days which we can use it in preparing coffee and tea. According to ayurveda, indigestion is the main cause for all the diseases. Chukku helps in digesting food easily. There is a custom in China, that people drink hot water or hot herbal tea after their meal which is basically for this reason and which also cuts extra fat from the food we took. I still remember, my grandma usually make a paste out of this dry ginger and apply it on her forehead whenever she get head ache. It really reduces the stress and tension which in turn reduces the head ache. This Chukku coffee or tea is also taken during nausea, which reduces the vomitting.
Nigella Sativa - scientific name for omam(in Tamil); Ajwain (in Hindi). In general Omam is good for digestion. In India, we usually keep store bought omam water handy, if small infants are around us. We give a teaspoon of this water everyday to infants and small kids which helps them in digestion. I make kozhambu with this kalonji everyother week. We can keep this kozhambu for a week to 10 days if it is properly refrigerated. It has lots and lots of medicinal value for bronchitis, asthma, cancer stomach worms, cold, eczema, boils etc.