Tag Archives: indian

The wondrous health benefits of Black Pepper

9 Feb

The wondrous health benefits of Black Pepper 

What’s recently caught my attention recently, is the sheer quantity of black pepper that just I, soley as an individual seem to consume.

Egg? I mount it on per forkful. Chicken? A sprinkling will never do. In fact, egg mayo is usually the secondary ingredient in an egg mayo sandwich at my place when black peppers around for garnish…

I mean, it’s arguably the most handy and convenient spice there is. If you completely cock up a dish but inevitably have a dinner party waiting, hastily add a sprinkle of black pepper to make it more pleasantly edible, and allow the spice to visually appeal as if you have spent hours, stirring in spice concoctions over the stove. Simples 😉

Black pepper is that magic ingredient which spice haters love. It’s spicy but it’s not, it passes by you’re lips without a second thought, as you’re just so adapted to experiencing it in the base of all foods.

Does anyone actually observe how reliant we are on black pepper? We use it in everything, and we are consuming it by the masses little by little. It’s so cheap yet useful, one of those things I think i’ going to add to my list of which ‘Humans take for granted’

So anyway, I was pretty intrigued to find out if this miraculous, powdery, blackish substance held any significant health benefits…?

Here’s a Viva Las Peanuts style briefing about qualities of black pepper you did not know before + a mini historical insight.

Enjoy. 

Black peppercorns health benefits

Black peppercorns & health benefits

Black pepper, as one of the most ancient commodities of the spice trade has the longest history of export from South Asia dating back at least 4000 years (As does ginger!)
Originating in Kerala, black pepper spread to the rest of South and Southeast Asia where it became an important spice plant; and Peppercorns have since been eagerly sought by Europeans and westerners. 

….And the health list?

  • Okay so firstly, you may notice that, black pepper stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. – *How cool is it that… in this way… black Pepper has been linked to improved progress among Anorexia sufferers via stimulation of tastebuds?! (Over a prolonged period, but nevertheless!)
This hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. When the body’s production of hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion, or it may pass into the intestines, where it can be used as a food source for unfriendly gut bacteria, whose activities produce gas, irritation, and/or diarrhea or constipation. 

This can be traced back to Peppers mineral composition…

The basic peppercorn is of health benefiting & essential oils such as piperine, (an amine alkaloid, which gives strong spicy pungent character to the pepper) as well as numerous monoterpenes hydrocarbons such as sabinene, pinene, terpenene, limonene, mercene which gives aromatic property to the pepper

  • It is these active principles in the pepper which can increase gut motility as well as the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. Piperine has also been shown to increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from food eaten alongside it.
  • Peppercorns also contain tonnes of plant derived chemical compounds that are crucially known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties (and  have actually been used since ancient times for anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent purposes) As well as minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. (Potassium is actually an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure) & Iron is essential for cellular respiration and blood cell production.
  • Plus, peppercorns are an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins; and of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A. Rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants like carotenes, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lycopene, black pepper helps the body remove harmful free radicals and help protect from cancers and diseases.

And some icing on the icing?

  •  Black Pepper just barricades Congestion. It literally just eats through it all and implodes through your sinuses. (Especially if you use ¼ of a pot for a couple of eggs) Trust me. But don’t do it without a wall of pre-built spice tolerance.
  • OH, and did you know…?  The next time you have a minor cut, sprinkle black pepper on it. It will help stop the bleeding. Even more? – It’s antibacterial properties will promote healing and kill germs.

Lets say no more.

Deliciously warming Red Lentil Curry – Recipe

5 Feb

This curry was absolutely amazing! The red lentils go quite soft when they’re cooking so its an almost ‘melt in your mouth’ but solid kinda textured. Tomatoey and soft, this is the ultimate warmer after a long day. And it takes less than 30 minutes! This recipe was originally adapted from HonestCooking.com http://honestcooking.com/2012/04/26/red-lentil-dahl-recipe-for-a-rainy-day/

I actually skipped out the honey and didn’t sweeten it at all but it was still divine. I don’t think I will ever get my head around grains – water cup ratios when cooking, and will always have google as my best friend at hand when necessary. But for red lentils, the approximation for a curry is 1 cup of lentils : 4 cups of water. Adding more later if necessary.

On this day I sat on the London bus going to my nanas house wondering if I should stick to something regular for dinner or re-attempt lentils. I was using my phone to google…”How to cook lentils” – for the 34393th time in a row. (The first attempt was chana dhal in a pan of salted water- NEVER try this, the shell hardens and the lentils will stubbornly refuse to cook for eternity. And you have no edible dinner) But this turned out fantastic. I even convincved my little brother that the lentils were a type of mashed baked bean. (He’s a veggiephobic) and he gobbled up the whole lot. One cup of dried lentils made 4 massive portions, 5 if you wanted or even 6 if you were sharing. I found myself eating out of the pan at the end of the meal. I hope you gain as much satisfaction out of this as I did!! Remember to only salt when the lentils are cooked. Enjoy!!

Red Lentil curry, chana masala, basmati rice & excess coriander.
Red Lentil curry, chana masala, basmati rice & excess coriander.
Ingredients
  • 1.25 cup red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 x 3cm piece ginger, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 can peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups hot water from the kettle
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Wash lentils in running water, discarding debris. Drain.
  2. Heat up large fry pan until smoking hot and then add oil.
  3. Add onions, garlic and ginger and turn down to medium heat.
  4. Cook, stirring often, for few minutes until onion softens and then add turmeric, mixing in thoroughly.
  5. Continue cooking for a minute or so and then add lentils.
  6. Stir to combine and continue cooking for a minute before adding tomatoes, garam masala and water.
  7. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes and then add salt and honey, mixing in thoroughly.
  8. Serve with basmati rice and coriander to garnish.