Monthly Archives: October 2014

Health Benefits of Spices

McCurrie-Sri-Lankan-Herbal-spices

 

In the initial days of trading, Sri Lanka was known as a “Spice Island”

What prompted us to touch on the subject of health benefits of spices, was an article in the Sunday times of 18th November 2012, titled “The Dye is cast on the Fabric of Taste”, which is frightening to say the least.

Today most people have pushed the use of preparation of meals at home, thus pushing away the use of spices to take a back seat. This phenomenon is due to the birth of a vast number of fast-food outlets and wayside mobile outlets that sell all types of cooked food. If we stop to think, how these foods are prepared, under what conditions and the quality of spices used, our findings would surely be “distasteful”, with the use of sub-standard and non-edible food colouring used in the preparations.

At Lanka Spice, all our products are carefully chosen, with the support of a well equipped laboratory facility.

Spices have gone hand in hand with the long history of cultural heritage, its use in foods to enhance taste and its health benefits. Spices can be used to totally or to a degree replace less desirable ingredients such as salt, sugar and added saturated fat in, marinades and dressings, stir-fry dishes, casseroles, soups and curries.

Today one should change dietary habits, by pushing away curry sauces towards the old gentle mélange of spices.

Spices that reduce Bad Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a problem that is faced by many people today. One form of Cholesterol is derived from the food we eat, thus increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Spices such as Cinnamon, Turmeric and Ginger are those that help reduce levels of Bad Cholesterol.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been used in a vast number of cultures for different medical problems. Today Cinnamon still plays a vital role in many health claims from treating diabetes to cancer.

According to Reader’s Digest., a Pakistani study found that 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon daily can reduce bad cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes by nearly 30 percent and cut total cholesterol by 26 percent.

Powdered cinnamon could be used in baking or as a flavouring to cooking. A little cinnamon sprinkled on toasts, desserts, fruits, or drinks like coffee or hot cocoa makes your item of food or drink taste better.

Furthermore, cinnamon also helps treat diabetes. At times cinnamon is found in capsule form which works wonder with the lowering of diabetes and cholesterol.

A remedy which I personally use is 1 tsp of cinnamon powder mixed with 1 tsp of honey and stirred into one cup of herbal tea, does wonders with your cholesterol, you will feel the difference after two or three cups of this herbal tea.

Turmeric

When considering cholesterol lowering foods, don’t forget the health benefits of turmeric.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and the flesh is a bright orange color. Turmeric is used to flavor curries, especially vegetable curries (or white curries). Turmeric is not just a culinary spice, turmeric possesses many health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Early studies have revealed that turmeric can lower bad cholesterol and total cholesterol in the body. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, acts as a messaging molecule, directing genes in the liver to increase production of messenger proteins to rid the body of bad cholesterol. Although turmeric is currently most notable for its antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties, there has been recent talk about its ability to lower cholesterol.

It is better to obtain the pure form of turmeric to enjoy the highest levels of curcumin. Use curcumin to flavor curries, lentil soup, stir-fry, and as a seasoning for meat and fish.
Ginger

Ginger delivers more than flavor to food, desserts and drinks. Initial studies showed that ginger may lower cholesterol levels and prevent blood from clotting. Spice up your food with grated ginger or steep slices of ginger in boiling water for a refreshing ginger drink. Ginger adds fresh flavor to stir-fry, soups, marinades and sauces.

The list of spices that have medicinal values are extensive and this is just a glance at how you can stay healthy.

Stay tuned to our Blog for more Articles that would safeguard your health !!

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Drumstick Curry – Murunga Curry

Drumstick-Curry

Ingredients

500 g drumsticks, skinned and cut into 5 cm long pieces, 2 tbsp Mc Currie unroasted curry powder, 1 tsp Mc Currie turmeric powder, 1 tsp Mc Currie fenugreek seeds, 1 onion (chopped) 2 green chillies (sliced thinly) 2 cloves of garlic or ½ tsp Mc Currie garlic paste, 1 tbsp Mc Currie curry leaves, 1 ½ cups 1st extract of coconut milk, juice of 1 lime, salt to taste.

Method

Cut the drumsticks and mentioned and remove the fibre from the skin. Set aside. In a saucepan combine the unroasted curry powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds, onions, green chillies, garlic paste, curry leaves. Place this on medium heat and keep stirring all the time, until it begins to boil. Gently add the drumsticks to this and stir. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes on a low flame. Add salt and lime to taste.

Meal Planning Made Simple

McCurrie-Meal-plan

A dilemma that a housewife faces today is the drawing up of menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a common fact in a family that if there are four persons in that family, their choice of food defer drastically. If one eats chicken two do not eat it and they prefer beef. Hence the housewife sits with her head in her hands finding ways and means of fighting this deli mina.

It is indeed mind boggling when you sit to plan your menus. Three meals a day,  21 meals a week and 1,092 meals a year sends your head spinning.  This is where menu planning comes in handy.  If you plan your menu ahead, you are more likely to stay within your budget and you may find ways and means to use what you have in hand, in your refrigerator and pantry cupboards.

With today’s rising cost of living, home budgets creak and groan when they are to be stretched.  Using up food that is available is the best way to stretch your funds.

In essence there are three menu planning methods that work pretty well when you are on a tight budget.  Meals are eaten whether you plan it or not, as it is an essential ingredient for sustenance. By taking the time off to think things through we could come up with low cot meals.

There are three Menu Planning Methods:-

1.    The previous night planning method –  this is the most easiest method. You will have leftovers that could be turned into a palatable dish. You could refrigerate it and then use in on the menu for breakfast the following day or even lunch.

2.    The weekly planning method – this method too gives you a breather and does not pull at the strings of your budget.  All you got to do is draw up your menu for the week and then look at what you would need. Before rushing off to the supermarket or grocery, check in the refrigerator and pantry cupboards whether you have any of the stuff you have written down that you require to purchase. If you do, strike it off the list. This way you save money and your budget relaxes with a  sigh.

3.    The rotating menu – Most households today adopt this style of a rotating menu, All you got to do is plan about 10 complete menus and then rotate them, serving a different one every day. This would help the choosy one in your family, Preparing them in batches and freezing them is a good idea, but remember that you need to have a well appointed freezer for this, as food may get contaminated if your freezer does not work properly.

Okay now we are ready to draw up our menus.  The first step is to list out what your family likes to eat.  You can categorize them as follows:-

•    Main dishes (curries etc)
•    Rices, Pasta, Sphagetti, Roti, String hoppers, Hoppers
•    Vegetables, Salads
•    Breads
•    Deserts

You can sub-divide the Main dishes into Chicken, Beef, Fish, Seafood etc. Do not at any time add two or three new dishes to your menus, as your family might not take nicely to one or may be all of them. Introduce one new dish per menu and see how it goes.

You will no doubt agree that visiting a supermarket or grocery without a proper list of what you require is a disaster waiting to happen.  Even with a list at times the housewife faces numerous problems. Whether you shop for a day’s groceries or a week’s groceries the process is the same.
Attached is a simple menu that you could follow and you would see how you could stay within your budget as well.

Meal-plan-time-table

Happy Menu Planning from Mc Currie

Home Remedies from Spices

Home-Remedies-from-Spices
Nutmeg and Mace

Nutmeg and Mace are plant products and of the same plant. Nutmeg is the seed and mace is the outer covering. This spice is expensive, but has many medicinal benefits. It is an amazing ayurvedic home remedy that can cure many physical and psychological ailments. Nutmeg is by appearance roughly egg shaped and has a rough shell, while Mace is the dried lacy reddish covering of the nutmeg.

Nutmeg assists in digestion and relieves nausea, vomiting, flatulence and diarrhea. Powdered nutmeg mixed with honey can be taken to cure diarrhea. Even children could be subject to this remedy. However, pregnant mothers should avoid this, as it may have harmful effects like miscarriage.

Insomnia

Nutmeg fruit paste made out of nutmeg powder processed with ghee and applied on the forehead induces restful sleep.

Menstrual Cramping

Nutmeg powder consumed with a little bee’s honey recued menstrual cramping.

Asthma

Mace is an excellent medicine to alleviate attacks of Asthma. Mace powder is administered in a dosage of 1 gm with honey 4-5 times a day.

Acne

Acne is something that most people face, especially females. Symptoms of acne are clogged pores, pimples and blackheads, which occur when your skin produced too much oil. When this oil comes in contact with dead skin cells, your skin becomes inflamed and blemishes are more likely to erupt. The University of Maryland, Medical Centre notes that acne is the most common skin problem, affecting 17 to 45 million in the USA alone. If you are one of them in the rest of the world, a home remedy may be effective at helping you clear your skin.

Nutmeg, Milk and Honey

Nutmeg’s mace has antifungal and antibacterial capabilities. According to Reader’s Digest Notes, honey helps kiss bacteria and may also promote wound healing. Honey may not only encourage your acne sore to heal fast, but also helps prevent future outbreaks. Compounds in milk are likely to have similar healing effects.

Preparation method of Nutmeg, Milk and Honey Paste

Mix honey, nutmeg powder and milk in a bowl. Use less milk and more honey and nutmeg, until it forms a thick consistency. Mix well. Apply a thick layer of the paste over the area affected by acne. Sandi Burner, Author of “Beauty and the Budget” suggests leaving nutmeg, milk and honey paste on your skin overnight before carefully rinsing it off. Powdered milk may also be used and would be easier to make a paste out of.

Note: If your skin becomes red or uncomfortable from any version of the above paste, discontinue use.

Note: Nutmeg can be very toxic. Use only the recommended medical amount and always consult a licensed medical practitioner before using nutmeg.

Mc Currie Crab Normal Curry

McCurrie-Crab-Normal-Curry

Ingredients

500 g crabs, 3 tsp Mc Currie chillie powder, 30 g onions, 60 g coconut, 1 tbsp Mc Currie curry leaves, 1 tsp Mc Currie garlic paste, 2 Mc Currie cloves, 3 tsp Mc Currie coriander, 1 ½ Mc Currie tsp salt, ½ pint 2nd and 3rd extracts of coconut milk, drum stick leaves (optional), ½ tsp Mc Currie fenugreek, 1/2 “ sera (optional), 2 Mc Currie cardamoms, dash of grated Mc Currie nutmeg, pinch of Mc Currie turmeric, 1 tsp lime juice, 120 ml 1st extract of coconut milk.

Method

Wash and clean crabs well. Slice the onions and garlic. Roast the coconut and grind fine. Mix all the ingredients except the lime juice and 1st extract of coconut milk with the crabs. Add the 2nd extract and 3rd extract of coconut milk and bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes. Add the 1st extract of coconut milk and lime, bring to boil, simmer and take off fire.

Food Policy of “Mc Currie”

McCurrie-Food-Policy

A food policy is drawn up to inform the public on how food is prepared, processed and distributed. When drawing up a food policy, a variety of standards are considered. However, in a nutshell, a food policy is on ensuring a safe and adequate food supply to the public, which is unadulterated and free of addictives and preservatives, which ensure that a hygienic product is supplied to the public.

Today, the busy housewife has so much on her shoulders to bear, that ready-to-eat products are fast approaching the checkered flag, passing the fast food industry. How many could vouch for a clean and unadulterated fast food industry? I guess, no one would even attempt.

We give you today, Mc Currie’s Food Policy,

  • To offer our customers safe and nutritious food products honestly presented.
  • To establish an effective food control philosophy and inspection system within our Company that involves, monitoring, surveillance, verification, certificate/approval to minimize hygienic risks and ensure food safety.
  • To adhere to a zero tolerance policy towards food products, which are injurious to health, unfit for human consumption , adulterated or presented in a deceptive manner.
  • To address customer complaints in all earnestness and to have such complaints inquired into thoroughly and promptly and to offer redress to the satisfaction of the customer.

Sri Lanka’s food is unique, distinct, exciting and able to evoke the full range of emotions through the culinary symphony that it is; a melding of different notes, aromas and flavours that together create a taste unlike any other. To us Sri Lankans however, it remains a way of life. Understandable, given its evolution in the cradle of the ancient spice trade.

At Mc Currie we share a passion for aroma, flavor and the authenticity of each and every Mc Currie spice and paste, used by hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan households each. Joining these spices and pastes, is the new product of Mc Currie, the Masala range, which consists of ready to each curries, that only need the required quantity of Prawns, Squid, Fish, Mutton, Beef or Chicken and you have a curry in minutes.

Our pledge, since we began our spice trade, has been to chronicle and maintain Sri Lankan’s long heritage of producing spices which are world renowned.

For the cleanest, purest, unadulterated spices, spice blends and ready-to-eat ethnic products, free of additives, colourings or preservatives, look no further than the Mc Currie range of products from Sri Lankan’s culinary specialists.

“Purveyors of Fine Sri Lankan Spices”

How to Choose Spices for Meat and Vegetables

Choose-Spices-for-Meat-and-Vegetables

Spices and Herbs used in the preparation of meats and vegetables really give a kick in with their natural flavours. Throughout the world meats and vegetables are prepared in different ways. The Asians are known for preparing spicy and hot dishes, while the Western world indulges in mildly prepared good. When we use the word “Mild” it means less spice and chillie and more herbs. The latter uses a lot of herbs in their meal preparations. Herbs come from the leafy portion of a plant and are often used in dried form. However, the herb Basil can be used in fresh form and dried as well. On the other hand spices are found in seeds, bark, roots and in some fruits as well, including vegetation. I guess why herbs are more popular in the West is that they are freely available around the world, while spices are normally found in the Far East and tropical zones.

Spices in Meats

White meat, Red Meat and Seafood all call for a fine mix of spices to really do justice in preparation. Chillie Powder, is the main ingredient in preparations of meats and seafood. The whole chillies are ground into a fine powder and may be used raw or roasted in meats of all kind, including seafood. The dark roasted curry powder gives a unique aroma and is prepared by dry roasting a mixture of coriander seeds, a handful of white or red rice, cinnamon quills, dried curry leaves, peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms, 10-12 whole dried chillies, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and Pandan leaves. Once this mixture is well roasted it is ground into a fine powder and stored in an airtight contained. The aroma alone tantalizes your taste buds.

Unlike the ground chillie powder, the roasted curry powder is a dark one. This dark roasted curry powder even thickens the meat and seafood curries, due to its rice content.

Garlic Powder is another ingredient used in preparation of meat and seafood and also in soups and stews. Garlic Powder is also used in barbecuing and grilling. Cumin seeds and fennel seeds are used in the preparation of fish dishes. In short, it is imperative that herbs and spices are used equally to turn out the best in meat and seafood dishes.

Spices and Herbs in Vegetable Curries

Unlike in preparation of meats, vegetable curries call for more turmeric powder. Turmeric is an age old Indian spice an used in Indian preparation of deserts.

In Sri Lanka, turmeric is ground into a powder and used in preparation of vegetable curries. Along with this is used the unroasted or raw curry powder, which is a mix of coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek, sweet cumin, ginger, curry leaf, mustard, cloves, pepper, lemongrass and cardamom, all ground to form a fine powder.

The reason that Sri Lankan preparation of meats and vegetables gives out a tantalizing aroma is due to the fact that all necessary herbs and spices are blended together to create a strong base to bring out the best in culinary delights.

At Mc Currie we go a step further and assist the busy housewife with our Chillie Powders (both roasted and unroasted), Dark Roasted Curry Powder and Unroasted Curry Powder, which is in par with “Grandma’s” method of turning out these powders, which are used in the preparation of meats, seafood and vegetable curries.

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