Thursday, April 30, 2009


Garlic has a long history of usage around the world for its medicinal and culinary usage. Garlic is used not only as a spice when dehydrated but also a vegetable. A real garlic has a strong aroma that can last for hours. Generally people use a mouth freshener like fennel seeds or other products to reduce the smell.
Garlic is used in making Indian curries, pasta sauce, garlic bread etc. It is also used as a garnish in salads.

Medicinal properties of garlic have been known since ancient times.

Several studies have shown that garlic and onion consumption can reduce various type of Cancers. For detail information, please visit US National Cancer Institute. Garlic has been shown to interfere with several prescription drugs, especially the HIV medication saquinavir (brand names Invirase® and Fortovase®). Garlic can lower the serum levels of saquinavir by as much as 50 percent. Garlic also acts as a natural blood thinner and, thus, should be avoided by pregnant women, people about to undergo surgery, and people taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (brand name Coumadin®).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fenugreek seeds - For Diabetes & Nursing Mothers

Fenugreek seeds have been used extensively in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Bulgaria for culinary and medicinal purposes. Fenugreek has been used as a medicine for several centuries.
In India, fenugreek seeds are one of the ingredient of panch phoran, Idli & dosa, Khakhra and other culinary preparations. In Persia, it is one of the ingredient of Iranian recipe Gormeh Sabzi. In Egypt, it is used for making Tea. Jews customarily eat fenugreek during meal of first and/or second night of Rosh Hashana

Fenugreek seeds and powder has been used by nursing mothers to increase inadequate breast milk supply. Studies have shown that fenugreek is a potent stimulator of breast milk production and its use was associated with increases in milk production of as much as 900%. More information is available at the following link about the precautions and usage.

Several human intervention trials demonstrated that the anti diabetic effects of fenugreek seeds ameliorate most metabolic symptoms associated with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in both humans and relevant animal models by reducing serum glucose and improving glucose tolerance.
Studies on fenugreek has shown that it reduces the blood glucose and serum lipids in Type 1 Diabetes.

Fenugreek is currently available commercially in encapsulated forms and is being prescribed as dietary supplements for the control of hypercholesterolemia and diabetes by practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine. Please visit the site of National center of Complementary and Alternative medicine.

Please consult your natural medicine practitioner before making any decision about your medical condition. Fenugreek has not been approved as medicine by USFDA.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Hot Masala Chai is So COOL !

Masala Chai :
A beverage from the Indian subcontinent made by brewing with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. By itself,Chai is merely a generic word for Tea in much of the world, but for many English speakers outside those regions, "Chai" is always construed as "masala chai".Gourmet grade Masala Chai is easy to make at home without spending a fortune. One can add the ingredients as per the taste and can make a mixture for storage or when in hurry.
I am a Masala Chai drinker and drink every day without fail. It has become very trendy to drink a masala chai. However, masala chai has lot of health benefits due to its ingredients. Tea leaves, main ingredient, has lot of antioxidants. Spice mixture/blend has medicinal properties of digestion, reduced blood sugar level, vitality, stimulation and carmanative.

The traditional masala chai is a bracing, strongly spiced beverage brewed with so-called "warm" spices. Most masala chai incorporates one or more of the following: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds, nutmeg, peppercorn, and cloves. Traditionally, cardamom ( Queen of Spices) is a dominant and gives the flavor. Indian masala mixture and cuisine also commonly use other spices such as cloves, ginger, or black pepper; the latter two add a pleasantly piquant flavor. In India, for example, fresh ginger is usually used.  The Kashmir version of chai is brewed with green tea instead of black tea and has a more subtle blend of flavorings: almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and sometimes saffron.

Normal Method of Preparation:

The simplest traditional method of preparing masala chai is to actively simmer or boil a mixture of milk and water with loose leaf tea, sweeteners, and whole spices. Indian markets all over the world sell various brands of "chai masala," (Hindi चाय मसाला [chāy masālā], "tea spice" ) for this purpose, though many households blend their own. The solid tea and spice residues are strained off from masala chai before serving.

The method may vary according to taste or local custom: for example, some households may combine all of the ingredients together at the start, bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately strain and serve; others may leave the mixture simmering for a longer amount of time, or begin by bringing the tea leaves to a boil and only add the spices toward the end (or vice-versa).

There is no fixed recipe or preparation method for masala chai and many families have their own versions of the tea. The tea leaves (or tea dust) steep in the hot water long enough to extract intense flavor, ideally without releasing the bitter tannins. Because of the large range of possible variations, masala chai can be considered a class of tea rather than a specific kind. However, all masala chai has the following four basic components: Tea leaves, Sugar, Milk and Spices.

My Gourmet Method : For two cups or small tea pot
Boil the water in a tea pot and drop a tea spoon of Tea leaves (don't use tea bag cut or powdered tea) for smooth taste. Add the following spices:
1) Real Ceylon Cinnamon bristles from the stick or use 1/4 tbsn of powder. Ceylon cinnamon sticks are easy to break with hand. I use Ceylon cinnamon because it gives the sweet taste. Regular Cinnamon (called cassia ) sold in most grocery stores gives you spicy taste. Cassia Cinnamon is hard and no one can peel it (method of distinction between real Ceylon & Cassia)

2) If you have fresh ginger, put small quantity by grating it. One can use Ginger powder for everyday usage. 

3) Add 1/4 tbsn of fennel seeds. fennel seeds also add soft and sweet taste. 

4) Add 2 clove buds or a pinch of clove powder. 

5) Add two Green cardamom pod for the smooth taste. I use Indian green cardamom due to its flavor. Most of the cardamom sold in grocery store is from Guatemala. I prefer Indian cardamom for its taste. Indian cardamom is harvested once a year where as Guatemala cardamom is harvested atleast twice in a year.

Leave all the mixture in the tea pot. Keep the leaves & mixture in hot water for 2-3 minutes. You can see the opening of leaves in the. water. Tea is now ready for filtration. I add 1 tbsn of milk and sugar (as per the taste) in the cup along with tea mixture.It is essential to add only small amount of milk otherwise it looses the tea flavor.

Note: You can customize the Chai flavor by doing few trials of spice mixture. You can use powder spices if you don't have time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wonder Seeds - Black Seed (Nigella Sativa)

Black Seed, Kalonji (Botanical name - Nigella Sativa) are often confused with black cumin. Some people also call it Black Cumin Seed. Nigella is the dried seed like fruit of a small herb about 2 ft high. Plant has graceful flowers which ripen into seeds. It is grown in Middle East, Southern Europe, and most extensively in India. Seeds have faint nutty but bitter taste due to presence of Nigellin.

Natural practitioners use Nigella for its carminative, stimulative and diuretic properties. It is also used as a natural insect repellent !. Black seed has been used for building immune system, respiratory ailments, toxin cleansing and fighting the allergies. lists several other medical benefits :Cough & Asthma, Diabetes, Hypertension, Enhancing milk supply in nursing mothers, Eye infection, Nasal Congestion, Kidney Stones

Nigella is delightful with fish, in nan breads and salads. In West Bengal, India, it is used in spice blend 'panch phoran' and it gives a distinctive taste regional taste.

The first book to fully explore the extraordinary effectiveness of black cumin against immune-system disorders, allergies, asthma, and skin problems. * Written by the world's foremost experts on black cumin. * Includes precise directions for preparation and specific recipes for treating a variety of ailments.

Usage of Black seeds is not approved by US FDA for curing any disease or preventing any illness. Information is provided here for general education purpose. Consult your natural health professional for your specific condition.


These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are for educational purposes only. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness, disease, or condition.