When people think of Nepal, their minds often immediately jump to Mt. Everest, the Himalayas, and the highest peak in the world. What many do not know, however, is that Nepal produces some of the most unique and potent spices in the world – ones that are beginning to enter the mainstream market but have not yet been discovered by many chefs and home cooks alike.
With hundreds of different spices from around the world, it can be hard to know where to start when cooking at home. Luckily, if you’re looking to cook with new spices but want to avoid any confusion, you can make it easy on yourself by making sure that you include some of the most common spices from Nepal in your next meal.
Names Of The 10 Most Used Spices Of Nepal
Spices that come from Nepal are popular all around the world and are great for adding both flavor and health benefits to your favorite dishes. Let’s take a look at the 10 of the spices you should be cooking with from Nepal.
1. Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds—which you can find at pretty much any grocery store—contain isothiocyanates, which may actually be able to slow cell aging. They also contain phytonutrients that have been shown to benefit your cardiovascular system. It is one of the ingredients of Gunruk-A Traditional Dish Of Nepal. So next time you’re looking for a way to spice up your dishes, try mustard seeds!
Turmeric, a spice that is used in many Indian and almost every traditional foods of Nepal, is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re suffering from any inflammation, consider adding some turmeric to your meals. Turmeric can be used in both savory and sweet dishes alike. It’s most commonly associated with curry powder, but also makes an appearance in yogurt or tea (known as Golden Milk).
3. Cumin/Black Cumin
If you’re wondering how to spice up your life, there are few spices that do it better than cumin. Cumin is a savory spice with aromatic properties. It’s native to South Asia and can be used in everything from curries to tacos. In fact, Mexican cuisine wouldn’t be complete without its flavor. Not only does cumin provide added flavor to food, but it also provides health benefits too. Researchers have found that cumin may even help prevent certain types of cancer!
Native to India, fennel is widely grown for its seeds, which are an important spice in cuisines around the world. In Nepali cuisine, fennel seeds are used as a flavor enhancer in lentil dishes and curries. Fennel has also been used traditionally to treat indigestion and flatulence. Today, it is thought that fennel can help manage blood sugar levels and even aid in weight loss.
5. Coriander Seeds
Coriander is one of those spices that has been used since antiquity and can be found in cuisines all over Asia. It’s also sometimes called cilantro, Chinese parsley, or fresh coriander. Coriander seeds are often paired with cumin and fennel to balance out their warm flavour, but they can stand alone.
6. Fenugreek Leaves
Fenugreek leaves are incredibly versatile; you can either add them to curries or soups, or cook them on their own. They’re also a great source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber-two essential nutrients for a healthy body. What’s more, fenugreek leaves can help treat respiratory issues like asthma and bronchitis, as well as diabetes. Use fresh fenugreek leaves in smoothies, salads or other dishes that contain healthy fats.
Commonly used in Indian cooking, asafoetida is made from a resin that’s extracted from giant fennel bulbs. It’s primarily used to impart a strong onion flavor to savory dishes, but it also has antibacterial properties that help keep your gut healthy. Asafoetida can be difficult to find outside of South Asian markets, so if you don’t have any nearby I suggest trying some ginger powder or garlic instead.
8. Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are native to South Asia and belong to a class of spices called hot spices. Curry leaves are often used as a spice in Indian cooking. They have a strong, pungent aroma and should be used sparingly. The fresh leaves can be boiled, steamed or fried and eaten with rice or dal (lentils). Dried curry leaves are often ground into powder and used for making curry powders.
Cinnamon is not just a flavorful spice that improves any dessert you sprinkle it on. It’s actually one of nature’s best antioxidants. Antioxidants mop up excess free radicals in your body, preventing damage to healthy cells and tissues. Since cinnamon is one of nature’s most potent antioxidants, adding it to your diet may help promote overall health and wellness—and even prevent disease.
Cloves are probably one of most recognizable spices, due to their distinct pungent smell. Cloves have been used in cooking for centuries, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. They’re often used as a flavoring agent in cakes, cookies, and desserts because they help enhance sweetness. In addition to their use in sweet recipes, cloves are also found in some curries. It’s recommended that you only use about 1/4 teaspoon for any single recipe.
If you’re a fan of both the traditional and new wave cuisines of Nepal, then it’s likely that you already must have the mainstay spices of Nepal on hand, such as garlic, ginger, coriander and mustard seed. However, above-mentioned spices are also many lesser-known but still flavorful spices that are worth exploring and cooking.