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The 5 Miraculous Spices Of Bengali Cuisine

Bengali cuisine is exciting because of its excellent usage of panch phoron - a mainstay of the spice cabinets in the eastern states of West Bengal (panch phoron), Odisha (pancha phutana), Assam (pas phoron), Bihar, and Nepal (padkaune masala) and Bangladesh. Here, "panch" means five, and "phoron" refers to tempering whole spices in fat.

The fragrant mixture is made up of five whole seeds: jeera (cumin), methi (fenugreek), kalonji (nigella sativa), saunf (fennel), and radhuni (loosely translated as wild celery). They are typically used together in lentils, vegetables, pickles, and fish curries.

The 5 Miraculous Spices Of Bengali Cuisine

The idea behind the blend:

The rationale for using the five spices in India goes beyond gastronomy. There are religious, spiritual, and health-related dimensions as well. Five is an auspicious number because it corresponds to the five elements of earth, air, sky, water, and fire. Panch phoron is a fusion of the five flavours-salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and pungent.

The health benefits of each ingredient are:

1. Antibacterial effects:

Numerous bacterial species, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Staphylococcus aureus, are inhibited by cumin and fennel seeds. Cuminaldehyde and thymoquinone are potent compounds responsible for their antibacterial activity [1].

2. Keeps the gut healthy:

Fenugreek seeds stimulate the digestive system; they are gastroprotective as they decrease gastric ulcers, acidity, gastric nitric oxide, and aldehyde levels and are used to treat inflammatory bowel disease [2].

3. Antioxidant nature:

In addition to increasing antioxidant enzymes like catalase, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione (GSH), cumin, fenugreek, and nigella seeds inhibit free radical production [3].

4. Anti-inflammatory activity:

Cumin, fenugreek, and black cumin have both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It functions by raising anti-inflammatory mediator levels while lowering pro-inflammatory mediator levels.

5. Maintains kidney health:

Black cumin oil reduces serum uric acid levels, creatinine levels, and blood urea nitrogen. In combination with vitamin C, it protects kidney health. Thymoquinone, an active compound, protects the kidney from damage caused by reduced blood flow and toxins [4].

6. Effect on the central nervous system:

Daily administration of cumin increased cognition and inhibited stress. The essential oil in cumin can inhibit several neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson's disease [5].

7. Controls blood sugar:

Each of the five seeds has the ability to lower blood sugar levels and raise serum insulin levels. Fenugreek seeds improved glucose tolerance while lowering glucagon, somatostatin, and blood sugar levels [6].

8. Protects heart health:

Cumin and fennel stopped platelet aggregation. Fennel seeds improve antioxidant capacity, raise HDL levels, and reduce LDL levels, thus preventing hyperlipidemia and chronic heart diseases [7][8].

9. Liver protection:

Black cumin essential oil has antioxidant properties, inhibits liver marker enzymes, and shields hepatocytes' DNA from oxidative stress.

The 5 Miraculous Spices Of Bengali Cuisine

10. Maintains lung health:

Cumin seeds have antitussive effects, thereby curing common cough. Fenugreek suppresses pulmonary fibrosis and has antiasthmatic properties.

On A Final Note...

All five spices should be combined in equal amounts to achieve the desired flavour. However, the ratios can be changed to suit the preferences of each individual.

Story first published: Tuesday, November 1, 2022, 11:40 [IST]
Read more about: bengali food spices cuisine
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