(Health Secrets) Cuisine from Thailand is normally based on the delicious flavors of curry. While there does exist a Curry tree, Thai curry does not grow on trees. The term curry refers to a blend of many different spices, but it is uncommon to find Thai curry prepared from scratch, as most people use prefabricated pastes or powders. Freshly made curry not only tastes much better than canned paste, but also provides remarkable medicinal benefits. This article will detail the health benefits of five spices commonly used in Thai curry dishes.
The Top 5 Thai Spices
Available in many varieties including red, green, yellow and panang, Thai curry was traditionally used as a preservative in the days before refrigeration. Most of the ingredients in Thai cuisine are uncommon but can be found in Thai markets.
Galangal (root) – Alpina galangal (Zingiberaceae)
Galangal contains alpha-pinene, a volatile oil, along with cineole and linalool. Galangal root (or Siamese Ginger) can be purchased dried or fresh and reduces the “fishy” taste of seafood. Galangal stimulates digestion, alleviates nausea, reduces inflammation, and treats motion sickness along with stomach ulcers. As it boosts the immune system, galangal root helps prevent colds and flu. Galangal also reduces fever, treats rheumatism, and freshens breath. Galangal has antibacterial properties and reduces muscle spasms.
Kaffir Lime (leaf and fruit) – Citrus hystrix (Rutaceae)
Kaffir leaves contain antioxidants along with volatile oils. A digestive aid, Kaffir lime leaves help purify the blood while cleansing the teeth and gums. Kaffir is often mashed and applied directly to the hair and scalp to prevent hair loss. Kaffir is also used as a deodorant. Fresh Kaffir lime fruits are also quite nutritious.
Lemongrass (inner bulb) – Cymbopogon citratus (Gramineae)
Lemongrass (also called lemon grass) contains citral, a volatile oil, and citronellal (both are sedatives). Lemongrass helps detoxify the liver, kidneys, gall bladder, pancreas, and digestive tract. Lemongrass reduces uric acid and lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and excess fat. Lemongrass stimulates digestion, lactation and blood circulation. Lemongrass oil is a pesticide, mosquito repellant and preservative. Lemongrass has antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Mustard (seed and leaf) – Sinapis alba (Brassicaceae)
Mustard seeds contain phytonutrients called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. Regarded throughout history as a cure-all, mustard seeds (available in yellow or brown) are an all-purpose spice. Mustard is used to treat arthritis, joint pain, headache, backache, muscle pain, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, impotence and insomnia. Mustard seeds can neutralize radiation from electronic devices. While the seeds are most commonly used, mustard greens are also nutritious, and they are easy to grow. Mustard has strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Thai Basil (leaf) – Ocimum basilicum (Lamiaceae)
Thai Basil contains several important volatile oils, including cineole, estragole,eugenol, linalool, limonene, myrcene, and sabinene. Thai basil also provides large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K and magnesium, along with two strong antioxidants: orientin and vicenin. These water-soluble flavonoids stimulate the immune system and help prevent DNA damage to white blood cells. Basil has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Preparation of Thai Curry
To prepare your own Thai curry, a mortar and pestle is essential. Made of granite and about the size of a hollowed-out half bowling ball, a mortar and pestle is a great tool to have in the kitchen. It is especially required to mash together Thai ingredients (which are not unlike the leaves, branches and bark from a large tree). To make a Thai curry, the ingredients are mixed from driest to wettest. Normally kaffir leaves, galangal and lemongrass (with hard outer layers removed) are mashed together and then mixed with dried red peppers and garlic. The resulting paste will keep indefinitely. Thai curry paste is then sauteed in oil with whole seeds and blended with coconut milk. Thai basil is then added along with vegetables and with the optional meat. Thai dishes are normally served with Jasmine rice, sprigs of fresh cilantro and (ideally) kaffir lime wedges.
For more information:
Published with permission from AlignLife. Original article link is here.