Variety of Indian Masala
Turmeric is the most frequently used Indian masala. It is the boiled, dried, cleaned, and polished rhizomes of Curcuma longa. The plant is a herbaceous perennial, 60-90 cm high, with a short stem and tufted leaf. There are 7 to 12 leaves, the leaf sheaths from the pseudostem. The lamina is green above and pale green below and has a length of 30-40 cm and width 8-12 cm.
The inflorescence is a central spike of 10-15 cm length. 1-4 flowers are born in the axil of the bract opening one at a time. About 30 flowers are produced at a peak. Turmeric is used as a masala to flavor and color foodstuffs. It is a principal ingredient in curry powder.
Turmeric oleoresin is used in brine pickles and, to some extent, in mayonnaise and relish formulations, non-alcoholic beverages, gelatins, butter, and cheese, etc. The color curcumin extracted from turmeric is used as a colorant.
Cardamom of commerce is another mostly used Indian masala. It is the dried ripe fruit (capsules of cardamom plant) often referred to as the “Queen of Spices” because of its delightful aroma and taste.
Cardamom is a perennial, herbaceous, rhizomatous plant. Based on the nature of panicles, three varieties are recognized viz—Malabar with prostrate panicle, Mysore with erect panicle, and Vazhukka with semi-erect panicle.
In the case of Malabar, plants are of medium size (2 to 3 mtr height) with pubescent leaves (on the dorsal side) and fruits globose, whereas plant robust (3 to 4 mtr height) with leaves glabrous on both sides with ovoid capsules in the case of Mysore. Vazhukka variety is a mix of both the above in physical characteristics.
This Indian masala usually adds a lingering sparkle to every kind of dish, both traditional and modern. It is also used in baked goods and confectionaries.
Large Cardamom is a perennial herb with subterranean rhizomes and 50-140 leafy aerial shoots. Each shoot has a height of 1.7 to 2.6 mtr and possesses 9 to 13 leaves in each tiller. Leaves are glabrous on both sides with a prominent mid-rib. The inflorescence is a condensed spike with the yellowish perianth.
Each peak has 10-15 fruits. The fruit is round or oval, with the capsule having a reddish-brown color. Each tablet is trilocular with many seeds. It is used as a flavoring in dishes like meat preparations.
It is an ingredient in curry powder and Indian masala mixtures and is also used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicines. It has applications in flavoring cola, biscuits, and liquors.
Chilli is the dried ripe fruit of the genus Capsicum. Capsicum annuum is an annual subshrub, the flowers of which are borne singly and fruits usually pendent, which provide red peppers, cayenne, paprika and chilies and sweet pepper (bell pepper) a mild form with large inflated fruits.
Capsicum is a perennial chilly with small sized pods which are highly pungent. It is commonly known as ‘bird chilly’ and ‘Tabasco.’
Dry chilly is extensively used as a spice in curried dishes. It is also used as an ingredient in curry powder and seasonings. Bird crisp is used in making hot sauces as pepper sauce and Tabasco sauce.
Paprika, Bydagi chilly, Warangal chapatti, and similar high colorless pungent varieties of Indian masala are widely used for color extraction. This color is highly popular among food and beverage processors for its use as a colorant, as it is a ‘natural plant color.’
Black Pepper is the dried mature berry of Piper nigrum, a climbing, perennial shrub mostly found in the hot, moist region of Southern India. Under cultivation, pepper vines are trailed over support as columns, 5-6 meter tall, 1-2 meter diameter.
The climbing woody stems have swollen nods with clinging roots at each node, which helps in anchoring the vine to the support trees (standards).
It has a straight upward growing main stem and has lateral shoots from the axils of the leaves having shorter inter nodes without adventitious roots. In such branches, the terminal buds get modified into an inflorescence (spike), and the auxiliary buds continue further growth.
Pepper is mostly used as an Indian masala by meatpackers and in canning, pickling, baking, due to its preservative value. It can correct the seasoning of dishes. Therefore it is used as a final dash at the end of cooking to adjust the flavor effectively.
It is an essential component of the culinary seasoning of universal use and is a necessary ingredient of numerous commercial foodstuffs. It is also used as an ingredient in spice mixes.
Cumin is the dried, white fruit with the greyish brown color of a small, slender annual herb. The surface of the fruit has five primary ridges, alternatively has four less distinct secondary peaks bearing numerous short hairs. The plant is 15 to 50 cm high. The aromatic seed like fruit is elongated, ovoid, 3 to 6 mm long, slightly bitter and has a warm flavor.
The flowers are white or rose-colored in small umbels. This Indian masala has an aromatic odor and a bitter taste. It is used as a condiment and is an ingredient in curry powders, seasonings of bread, cakes, and cheese.
Japanese Mint (Mentha Arvensis) is a perennial herb with creeping rootstalk and an erect stem, 1-2 quadrangulate branched with short, dense hair. Leaves are 2.5 – 5cm long, oblong-ovate. Flowers are in auxiliary whorls, none at the top. Plant rises to a height of 0.4-0.8 meters.
This Indian masala is used for flavoring meat, fish, sauces, soups, stews, vinegar, tea, tobacco, and cordials. The mint oil is used for the production of natural menthol; decentralized oil is used for flavoring mouthwashes and toothpaste.