Spices not only spice up your chicken curry but they also have antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and many more medicinal values.
Posted on July 26th, 2012

Dr Hector PereraƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  London

Indian traditions have long been utilizing various spices and there is a scientific basis to their use. Spices have tried, tested and trusted for their medicinal values and a profound effect on general health. They have a wide variety of biological functions and their cumulative or synergistic effects are likely to shield the body against a variety of ailments. Spices also improve digestive processes by intensifying salivary flow, by cleaning the oral cavity and checking infections. Traditionally, spices used as part of the diet, have holistic effects on human health.

It is an acceptable fact that spices have some medicinal, antibacterial, antiviral and many more values. Let me give a short list of some of the spices, I usually add to make chicken curry; mixed roasted chilli powder, punch or five mixed spices, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, tamarind, curry leaves, pandan leaves then salt and vinegar, any way that is my list of spices to chicken curry. I know some people add coconut milk as well; actually I like it that way as well.

Why do we use these spices in chicken curry?

Ginger gives a pleasant taste to any meat or fish curry, no words can describe it unless you taste something made out using this spice. It says, ginger is native to Asia where it has been used as a cooking spice for at least 4,400 years. Today, health care professionals may recommend ginger to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting from morning sickness, pregnancy and cancer chemotherapy. It is also used as a digestive aid for mild stomach upset, to reduce pain of osteoarthritis, and may even be used in heart disease or cancer. I can remember, back home some people crush some ginger to get the juice then drank it for mild stomach upsets.

Diabetes medicationsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ — Ginger may lower blood sugar, raising the risk of hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar.

High blood pressure medicationsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ — Ginger may lower blood pressure, raising the risk of low blood pressure or irregular heartbeat. If taken a small amount, might not do any harm but better to consult your physician before you take them.

One other spice that is always added to chicken or any meat curries is cloves and by experience I found that no more than two cloves should be added for about a kilo of chicken. If you add about a table spoonful of it, I am positive it would create a burning sensation in the mouth but thatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s not the end of the story. It might burn in the stomach and beyond so be careful about how much is added in the preparation of meat or fish curries. Most of the flavour might remain in the gravy so one has to be careful not to eat too much spicy gravy.

Clove contains significant amounts of an active component calledƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ eugenol which has made it the subject of numerous health studies, including studies on the prevention of toxicity from environmental pollutants like carbon tetrachloride, digestive tract cancers, and joint inflammation. Using our nutrient ranking system, we determined cloves to be an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, dietary fibre, and vitamin C and a good source of calcium and magnesium.


Cloves are often used in Asian, African, and Middle Eastern cooking in adding flavour to meat curries, and meat marinades. They are also used to create sweet dishes, such as with fruits like apples, pears, or rhubarb.

Cloves are used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines. In the West it is used in Western herbalism and in dentistry. In the digestion of food a very strong acid called Hydrochloric acid of pH 1 is naturally created in our stomachs. Cloves are used as acarminatice, to increase the stomach acidity and to improve the movement of food in the digestive track or called peristalsis. Cloves are also said to be a natural anthelmintic. AnƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ anthelminticƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ is a medicine that rids the body of parasites orƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ worms, and might also be called an anti-parasitic or a dewormer. Sometime back, the school children were given this nastily tasty dewormer to get rid of tape worms. These medicines are used in human and other animal populations to destroy parasites that live in the body. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy when stimulation and warming are needed, especially for digestive problems. Clove oil, applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, also relieves toothache.

Cloves are a great spice to heal ailments of the digestive system. They are well known for relieving flatulence and can actually help promote good digestion as well as metabolism. They may also help relieve vomiting and diarrhoea as well as a host of other digestive disorders.

Cloves have been well known as an all around healing herb and it is not just digestive problems that cloves are reputed to help with. In fact, they are used in tropical Asia to treat conditions such as scabies, cholera, malaria and tuberculosis.

Cloves promote enzymatic flow and boost digestive functioning. They are used in various forms of gastric irritability and dyspepsia. Licking the powder of fried cloves mixed with honey is effective in controlling vomiting. The anaesthetic action of clove numbs the gullet and stomach and stops vomiting.

One other spice that cannot be forgotten to add to chicken or meat curries is cinnamon. Not just in meat curries, cinnamon is added even in many vegetable curries as well and in coconut gravy or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-kiri hodiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. HowƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s this with coconut sambol and string hoppers?

Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory. Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

It is a great source of manganese, fibre, iron, and calcium. The health benefits of cinnamon can be attributed to antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, astringent and anticlotting properties. Cinnamon is rich in minerals such as manganese, iron and calcium, it is rich in fibre.

Cinnamon has been one of the worldƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s most popular spices since ancient times, and while there are many practical and medicinal uses for the spice, it is best known for its uses in the kitchen.

Chemical Trials

The volatile oils that give cinnamon its distinctive flavour are made up of several chemical compounds. The most dominant of the oils is cinnamaldehyde, which gives cinnamon its heat.

In addition to other spices, chicken or any other meat curries are usually prepared by adding chillies in different forms, raw chillies, ground chillies, roasted and in mixed curry powder. Back home our servants made a chilli paste by grinding spices that time never heard of curry paste bottles. Chillies are added in the preparation of many dishes including to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-katta sambol or lunu mirisƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that goes well with hoppers. In the West they eat chillies in many ways including chilli sauce but often loaded with sugar.

The substances that give chilli peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicinƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ has a chemical formula (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and several related chemicals, collectively called capsaicinoids. The chemical formula for water, H2O and salt, NaCl but not quite easy to draw the structural formula of 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It says capsicum can reduce the pain which serves as a local anaesthetic to ulcerated tissues in the stomach. I think most people are very careful about too much chilli in curries because of its burning sensation although it gives a special taste.

One other ingredient that is always added to meat and fish curries is garlic which contains hundreds of minerals and nutrients. Some people believe that garlic smell keep off even devils, try sitting next to someone after eating food with garlic but, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-mind the breathƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. It is very likely that no one ingredient is the “active ingredient.”ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Very likely that garlic’s effectiveness and safety comes from these ingredients working together in concert. According to chemistry, I call it is due to intermolecular and intra-molecular reactions.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Garlic has powerful antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal characteristics. Garlic is as effective as many modern antibiotics, without the dangerous side effects. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. In fact, in all of modern pharmacology, there are no effective antiviral drugs. This has important implications for AIDS patients, and in preventing colds and flu’s.

Garlic is a veritable pharmacopoeia. That’s why garlic has been found in every medical book of every culture ever. For thousands of years, garlic had been used for the treatment and prevention of disease. So there has to be something there.

The use of spices come through experience that means one has to understand which one and how much to be added to make something like chicken or meat curry tasty. I am sure our servants back home, learned these through sheer practice, one cannot achieve this overnight. You would witness some British TV chefs just cook fish or chicken just in minutes without any spices, may be they are totally unaware of the values of spices. ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Any comments please perera6@hotmail.co.uk

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