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Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate

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New Delhi: The Indian condiment or ‘masala’ as we call it, is gaining popularity in various world cuisines. The ingredients used in Indian cuisine are unique and their mixing is an art mastered in the subcontinent over centuries.

In the olden days when there were no refrigeration techniques, the use of spices in dishes also acted like preservatives. When the Europeans came to the Indian subcontinent, they soon discovered the local spices and were impressed with the aromas and tastes. They took them back home and soon the demand in Europe sky-rocketed.

At one time, the cost of spices was more than that of gold and precious stones and it was one of their most profitable trades. The use of Indian spices in the West gradually became popular but not in the mainstream dishes.

Recently, with increasing globalization of trade and communications, Indian cuisine has penetrated the masses across the world. With the result, the population across the globe is getting intrigued and willing to learn more about the “masala”, Indian cuisine has penetrated the masses across the world. With the result, the population across the globe is getting intrigued and willing to learn more about the “masala”.

The word spices have been used as a misnomer to describe hot food. In actual terms, spices provide different aromas and flavours. The hotness of the food comes from green, red, yellow chilies and black peppers.

The surge in Indian restaurants across Europe and the US has helped the spread of Indian aromas and tastes among the masses. The culinary world is rapidly advancing in both techniques and different flavours. Increasingly, the chefs are mixing flavours and ingredients from different regions of the world.

This phenomenon has created fusion cuisine. As the world discovers the flavours of spices the chefs are not inhibited in experimenting with the spices. Thus, fusion food has taken another dimension in the culinary world. Indo-French, Indo-American and Indo-Chinese restaurants are sprouting up all over the world.

The masala chai once exclusive to India is one such example which is a popular drink in Europe and the US. A high-end chain in the US named Teavana extensively sells spice chai, maharaja chai and Ayurvedic chai. The spices used include cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and other garam masala ingredients.

Cinnamon is commonly used in tea, coffee and confectionery across the world. Its use in meat dishes is popular now in the Western hemisphere. I have seen its use in African cuisine along with cumin seeds and bay leaves. Black pepper is ever so popular as a table top condiment but its popularity in the dishes for cooking and marinating meat has increased significantly. Clove oil and cloves are now used as flavouring agents in various South American cuisines as well.

Of late, there has been a surge in the use of turmeric across the western world. Once an exclusive Indian spice, turmeric is now available as capsules and consumed raw for medicinal purposes. Although this has been the practice in India for centuries and is a common ingredient in almost all dishes in India, turmeric and milk is now popularized in food shows across the US as an exotic drink renamed “golden milk”. Food shows on network channels are showing use of turmeric in various meat dishes in the West.

Marinating meat and poultry is commonly done with Indian spices. The traditional Indian garam masala is available extensively across the super markets in both Europe and USA. During my stays in the USA, I have seen the use of Indian condiments in Thai as well as Italian cuisines. Ethiopian cuisine is heavily influenced by these spices especially in kababs.

The kababs in Middle Eastern cuisine have the same reflections. Recently, an Anthony Bourdain show revealed that Iranian cuisine was immensely influenced by Indian spices too. Indian spices have always influenced Middle Eastern cuisine. The spice trade from 16-18th century left a trace of spices all throughout the route.

Bay leaves, once an exotic addition to Indian recipes, is now being grown in households in the world and used for aroma in African, English and French cuisines. Coriander leaves and seeds have their counterparts in other cuisines but now used for garnishing entrees and appetizers.

There has been an increasing evidence of health benefits of herbs and spices as well. Various spices have plant-derived chemical compounds that have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Certain spices could provide antioxidants that are important in combating disease and improving immunity.

The anti platelets and clot prevention properties of some of the spices may explain the lower incidence of venous clotting of the legs in the Indian subcontinent.

Spices have been used since ancient times for their anti-inflammatory and anti-flatulent properties. Turmeric has been used over wounds swollen and painful joints and is now proposed to reduce the post menopausal symptoms. Its cholesterol-lowering properties have been reported too. Clove oil and dentistry is another example.

It has also been proposed that spices may reduce the incidence of certain cancers. With the renewed interest in spices around the world and changing palates I’m not surprised that Indian spices are increasingly used all over the world in various cuisines. (Sunil Soni, IANS)

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Benefits of Taking Vitamin E

Vitamin E due to its antioxidant nature helps in keeping the skin healthy and young

Eating healthy is very important, especially Vitamin E is very essential for our health. Pixabay
Eating healthy is very important, especially Vitamin E is very essential for our health. Pixabay
  • Vitamin E is a very important vitamin for our body
  • Humans don’t generally experience a deficiency of Vitamin E
  • There are many sources of Vitamin E and also, it has many health benefits

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble, essential vitamin, and an antioxidant, our body needs. It prevents the process of lipid peroxidation, whereby the free radicals that are generated destroy the cellular structures of the body. This oxidative damage of the cells has been found in several pathological disorders like Liver cirrhosis and Diabetes, by several studies.

There are many food sources through which one can obtain Vitamin E. Same Condition
There are many food sources through which one can obtain Vitamin E. Credit:

Overt deficiency of this vitamin is very rarely seen. It occurs in those who are unable to absorb the vitamin into their systems and those with inherited disorders that prevent the maintenance of normal blood concentrations of vitamin E.

Vitamin E-Discovery

Vitamin E was first discovered in the year 1922, at the University of California in Berkeley by Dr. Herbert M. Evans, a research physician, and his assistant Katherine S. Bishop. Immediately after the discovery, the researchers set out to find the benefits as well the impact of its deficiency

Alpha-Tocopherol Vitamin-E

There are about eight naturally occurring forms of Vitamin E.  Alpha-tocopherol is the form which is essentially absorbed and stored in the human body. The synthetic forms of alpha-tocopherol are found in the fortified foods and vitamin supplements.

Also Read: Vitamin D can helpful in Recovery from Burn Injuries

Recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E

The Recommended daily allowance for both men and women is 15 mg (35 µ mol)/day (of α -tocopherol). Due to the harmful effects of overdose, like increased risk of bleeding,  the upper limit of consumption for adults is 1,500 IU/day for supplements made from the natural form of the Vitamin and 1,100 IU/day for supplements made from synthetic vitamin-E. The upper limit is lower in children when compared to the adults.

Vitamin E is a great source of energy for the body. Pixabay
Vitamin E is a great source of energy for the body. Pixabay
Vitamin E Function

Unlike most nutrients, a specific role for the vitamin has not been found in any of the bodily metabolic functions. The major function so far identified is nonspecific chain-breaking antioxidant in the circumstances mentioned earlier.

Vitamin E rich foods.

Vitamin E is abundantly found in a normal and balanced diet.

The food sources include

Vegetable oils

  • wheat germ oils
  • sunflower oils
  • safflower oils
  • Corn oils
  • soybean oils


  • peanuts
  • hazelnuts
  • almonds

Seeds like sunflower seeds.

Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.

Cereals, Egg Yolk, and


Also Read: Vitamin C helps in treating Tuberculosis

Vitamin E Deficiency

Clinically, its deficiency presents as peripheral neuropathy characterized by the degeneration of the large-calibre axons in the sensory neurons. In this condition, the damaged nerves cause weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in the hands and feet. In some cases, the condition can also affect other parts of the body.

In patients who are left untreated, chronic cholestatic hepatobiliary disease, spinocerebellar ataxia, neuropathy, and ophthalmoplegia may occur These terminologies might sound too complex, complicated, and confusing to the reader, but this is the true picture which results from negligence.

Sunflower oil is a great source of Vitamin E. VOA
Sunflower oil is a great source of Vitamin E. VOA
Vitamin E Benefits

Some studies have tried to show the benefits of the Vitamin in preventing the incidence of Heart disease but the actual correlation between the two is not completely understood yet.

The common eye disorders in the older people like cataracts and loss of central vision have shown inconsistent results in terms of lesser incidence, due to the consumption of this Vitamin. Researchers are still working on to prove the connection between these. It has been shown to improve the mental functions, especially in the senior citizens affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Vitamin E in combination with Selenium has also been used as a treatment for infertility.

This Vitamin due to its antioxidant nature helps in keeping the skin healthy and young. It is also a treatment modality to treat scars and stretch marks. It acts as one of the potent moisturizers for the skin.

The article originally appeared at Same Condition- a patient to patient network. The link can be accessed here: