A gift of nature are spices. Why Asian curries are cooked with spices?
Posted on March 21st, 2016

Dr Hector Perera     London

Some people do not like spices such as chills, cumin, turmeric and many more spices. In fried fish and chips there is nothing but oil, salt, vinegar and tomato sauce and sometimes get a pinch of mustard as well. One of the favourite takeaway food is chicken and chips. If you look at the chicken, you will notice the skin is wrapped in some bread crumps with some flavour. Once the skin is eaten then you are left with plain chicken, no flavour in them. The skin is not quite healthy to eat because it has lots of cholesterol. Even in cooking, it is better to remove the skin before cooking but in frying they do with the skin.

Spices to save your life.

Modern science is beginning to uncover the ultimate power of spices and herbs, as weapons against illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. We’re now starting to see a scientific basis for why people have been using spices medicinally for thousands of years,” says Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston and author of the upcoming Healing Spices (Sterling, January 2011).

Aggarwal notes that in his native India, where spices tend to be used by the handful, incidence of diet-related diseases like heart disease and cancer have long been low. But when Indians move away and adopt more Westernized eating patterns, their rates of those diseases rise. While researchers usually blame the meatier, fattier nature of Western diets, Aggarwal and other experts believe that herbs and spices—or more precisely, the lack of them—are also an important piece of the dietary puzzle. When Indians eat more Westernized foods, they’re getting much fewer spices than their traditional diet contains,” he explains. They lose the protection those spices are conveying.”

Spices heal diseases

Spices have antiseptic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory and many more properties. While science has yet to show that any spice cures disease, there’s compelling evidence that several may help manage some chronic conditions (though it’s always smart to talk with your doctor). And of course, seasoning your dishes with spices allows you to use less of other ingredients linked with health problems, such as salt, added sugars and sources of saturated fat.  Healthy diets don’t equal flavourless food. You don’t have to give up flavour when you start eating more healthy foods. In fact, when you start using these spices and other new spices you discover, you won’t miss the high salt content of food that you are accustomed to eating.

Adding Spice to Meat, Poultry, and Fish, Beef-Spice up your beef with, Bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, or thyme. Lamb-Add delicious flavour to your lamb with, Curry powder, garlic, rosemary, or mint. Pork-Pork is easy to spice up with, Garlic, onion, sage, pepper, oregano, or thyme. Veal-Veal is a delicious and tender meat you can add distinctive flavour to with, Bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, or oregano. Chicken or Turkey-Poultry such as chicken and turkey is easily spiced up with,
Ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, or thyme. Fish-Add great taste to your fish with, Curry powder, dill, dry mustard, lemon juice, marjoram, paprika, or pepper.

Oregano is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family. It is native to temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region. Oregano is a perennial herb, growing from 20–80 cm tall, with opposite leaves 1–4 cm long.

Tasty Ways to Spice up your Vegetables

Carrots-Carrots taste great with, Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, or sage. Corn-Corn is easy to add taste to with, Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, or parsley. Green Beans-Add a special touch to green beans with, Dill, curry powder, lemon juice, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, or thyme. Greens-Greens and spice go hand-in-hand with these terrific spices.

Oregano: This is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect your immune system and any oxidative damage to your cells. You can sprinkle this seasoning on foods such as chicken, rice, vegetables etc.

Onion Powder: This seasoning can help prevent any cardiovascular related health issues such as heart diseases and strokes. In addition, onion powder has a good anti-inflammatory effect on the body. You can use onion powder on foods such as chicken, steak, fish, vegetables etc. In Sri Lanka they frequently eat fresh onion added salads such as cucumber and tomatoes. I prefer fresh onions instead of onion powder.

Cinnamon: Studies have shown that cinnamon can help your cells respond better to insulin. This is important as it will allow your glucose to function more efficiently and nutrients such as proteins, carbs and fats can be transported throughout the body easier. I like to sprinkle cinnamon on my oatmeal or sweet potatoes but it really depends on your taste buds as to how you choose to use this seasoning.

The Science behind Capsaicin and Weight Loss

Capsaicin is an active component of chili peppers, which plants are belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact. Formula: C18H27NO3

Capsaicin is taken from chilli peppers. It works mainly by reducing Substance P, a pain transmitter in your nerves. Results from RCTs assessing its role in treating osteoarthritis suggest that it can be effective in reducing pain and tenderness in affected joints, and it has no major safety problems. Evidence for its effectiveness for fibromyalgia is related to a single trial.

What is it?

Family: Herbal medicine extracted from chilli peppers (Capsicum family) scientific name: Capsaicin
Other names: Axsain, Zacin, chilli, pepper gel, cayenne

Capsaicin is the main medicinally active component of chilli peppers which is taken from the plant’s tissues. It’s licensed in the UK for osteoarthritis and you can get it on prescription in the form of gels, creams and plasters.

Here’s a look at several findings from studies on capsaicin and weight loss.


Upping your capsaicin intake may ease your appetite, according to a 2009 study from the journal Clinical Nutrition. In an experiment involving 27 healthy volunteers, researchers found that consuming a combination of capsaicin and green tea led subjects to feel less hungry and take in fewer calories.

Another 2009 study (published in the European Journal of Nutrition) found that capsaicin may help decrease ghrelin (a hormone involved in promoting hunger). Metabolism

A number of laboratory and animal studies show that capsaicin may help rev up thermogenesis (a biological process involved in burning calories). However, there is currently a lack of studies testing capsaicin’s ability to boost metabolism in humans.

Body Fat

Preliminary research indicates that capsaicin may help fight the build-up of body fat. In tests on rats fed a high-fat diet, the authors of a 2010 study from the Journal of Proteome Research found that capsaicin stimulated certain proteins known to break down fat and inhibited the actions of proteins involved in producing fat.

Although capsaicin is generally considered safe when consumed in foods, capsaicin supplements may cause some side effects (such as stomach irritation and aggravation of ulcers and heartburn). In addition, capsaicin supplements may interact with certain medications (including aspirin and blood-thinning drugs).

Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Using Capsaicin for Weight Loss

Due to the lack of supporting research, it’s too soon to recommend capsaicin supplements for weight loss. However, increasing your capsaicin intake by eating chili peppers or chili-pepper-based sauces may be beneficial to your overall health (partly due to the compound’s antioxidant effects). If you’re considering the use of capsaicin supplements for weight loss, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.

I am sure you have tried these

Have you tried Kochchi sambol” with wade and string hoppers? They taste different with that kinds of food. Again nice Polsambol”, fried or plain taste nice with so many breakfast food such as Pittu, Appa and Roti”. Again real hot Katta sambol and seeni sambol” give a special taste to those breakfast foods but not to bacon, sausages and hamburgers. Nowadays these things are found in bottles in most of Asian shops and even in some supermarkets in their world food section. If one does not know how to prepare them then they are found in those shops.

Why some Sri Lankan ladies shower with spices?

Having found all these spices and the good effects and health benefits to the body, still I am not sure why some of these Sri Lanka beautiful ladies shower with spices while cooking. This is how they do it. When some curries such as chicken, beef and fish are piping hot they constantly open the lid and stir the contents and turn around several times so more and more healthy chemicals in spices come out and deposit on their hands, face and on any open parts of the upper body then on their clothes. When they walk about actually that spicy smell on them can be noticed. My scientific method of saving energy and smell of curry depositing on the people can be avoided, if followed my method. I have explained and demonstrated how to cook scientifically to save about 60% energy, not just once but several times in Sri Lanka TVs including the one in Sirasa TV. It is still found in you tube and in Google search. May be those ladies still want to keep up with their secret aroma beauty therapy while cooking.

Humans have been using spices on their foods as far back as 50,000 B.C. But, beyond adding flavour, these dried seeds, fruits, root or bark can also add years to your life. Spices are rich in phytonutrients and other active ingredients that protect against disease and promote healing. In worldwide studies, spices have been linked to the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, Type II diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, spices can be used long- term without concern for side effects. In short, spices are among the great gifts nature has bestowed upon us. Your comments are welcomed perera6@hotmail.co.uk

One Response to “A gift of nature are spices. Why Asian curries are cooked with spices?”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    According to Dr Oz , the # 1 spice is Turmeric. It has antibacterial and destroys fungus. It also said to retard Alzheimers like coconut oil. Mostly the Tamil business men in Sri Lanka washes their shop floors with Turmeric water morning.
    Katta sambol is very good but the problem with Seeni Sambol is the added sugar.

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