Vegetable curries are popular and especially warming in winter months. Indian cuisine does not abstain from potatoes, which have recently been given bad rep in the functional medicine and nutritional circles. However, not only onion and curry but potatoes as well bring many health benefits. While we will have a recipe blog on potatoes as well, this time let’s discuss the health benefits of the specific spices used in this recipe. In the meantime, it is very important that you buy organic potatoes, scrub them well with a vegetable brush and cook them with the skins on – if you peel them, you are throwing most of their nutrients in the garbage!
Health benefits of curry
Curry is a great option for those who want to promote better control of their blood sugar levels. There are some initial studies that have confirmed that curry can reduce the risk for diabetes. Curry contains turmeric, which is a root and a cousin of ginger – it is bright yellow powder in the spice section of any grocery store and can be added to cooking on a regular basis. It will stain countertops, clothes and plastic containers, so keep that in mind! It has been used therapeutically for thousands of years in India, and research about its anti-inflammatory qualities is impressive, including protection from Alzheimer’s disease. Its major anti-inflammatory phytochemical is curcumin, and that is what has been studied extensively. Turmeric prevents fatty acids from becoming rancid in the body, which is a life threatening process. The anti-inflammatory properties can be applied topically and orally.
Turmeric has many benefits. It prevents tumor growth, stimulates cancer-protective, detoxifying enzyme Glutathione-S-Transferase, intensifies anti-cancer activity of other phytonutrients, inhibits leukemia at initiation, promotion, and progression, inhibits precancerous colon lesions, inhibits the growth of multiple breast cancer cell lines, suppresses colon cancer, inhibits oral tumors, strongly inhibits skin tumor promotion when used topically. It can help regulate blood glucose, enhance insulin sensitivity, reduce cholesterol, reduce risk of gallstones, and more. Add ¼-1/2 tsp to soups, cooking rice, sauces etc. It is more bio-available if cooked with some healthy fat and with black pepper.
Curry is rich in coriander, the seeds that are actually fruits from the cilantro plant, and it can help the body’s efforts to eliminate toxic heavy metals like mercury and lead (at least the cooked green part). Curry fights oxidative stress, which is associated with increased amounts of lead in the system. The coriander seeds have a delicate light flavor of citrus peel and sage that goes well with most savory dishes. Coriander has been considered an anti-diabetic plant and in India it has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Its essential oils have been used as carminatives and digestive aids. Both cilantro and coriander aid digestion, relieve intestinal gas, pain and distention, and support peristalsis, treat nausea, soothe inflammation, headaches, coughs, and mental stress. They help regulate energy, are diuretic and have been used for urinary tract infections, and support perspiration, so they can be used in fever. Research also suggests antimicrobial, antianxiety and cholesterol-lowering benefits of coriander. For example, coriander stimulates conversion of cholesterol to bile acids within the liver, which will improve fat absorption. People love cilantro unless they have a genetic impairment (gene SNP), which makes it taste like soap, literally, so when you cook for a party, keep it on a side!
What is garam masala?
Garam masala is a popular Indian spice. The term means hot mixture in Indian and represents a beautiful mixture of the most flavorful and healthiest spices found in India. Today, garam masala is used all over the world. The truth is that there are many different forms of garam masala, but the traditional garam masala contains ingredients like cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, cloves, and cardamom. There are varieties that include coriander, red chilies, ginger powder, fennel, bay leaves, black peppercorns, dried garlic and fenugreek seeds. You can buy pre-made garam masala in almost every grocery store, or you can prepare one yourself. This is a very healthy spice that creates a specific attractive flavor Indian dishes are known for.
How do you open cardamom?
Cardamom is an important part of this potato and onion curry recipe and one of my all time favorite spices, while I know most people are not that familiar with it. I purchase cardamom seeds in Indian or Asian supermarkets. Otherwise, you can get them more readily in pods (with seeds inside) or powder. If you get pods, whack them well with your knife, or use a rolling pin or a hammer after you wrap the pods in a paper towel. If you are planning on using a few pods, just use your thumb to push down the pod on the countertop. Once you get to the seeds, grind them in a coffee grinder designated for herbs and spices. That is when cardamom really stands out! That is exactly what I do. Cardamom has many health benefits: it aids digestion, relaxes spams, cuts mucus, eases coughs, breathlessness, burning urination, incontinence, and hemorrhoids, and acts as an antidote to coffee’s stress on adrenal glands. In Ayurvedic medicine, it reduces vata and kapha. Purchase cardamom seeds in green pods (air dried) rather than sandy white (sun dried) for best flavor. I actually do not recommend buying cardamom in powder because it does not hold the lovely flavor long.
Enjoy this flavorful potato and onion curry! Looking for more recipes with functional nutrition benefits? Follow me on Pinterest!
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