In 1980, Sunil Kumar and his family opened a spice shop in Lisora, India, to provide spices and herbs to their local community. What began as a small family business rapidly grew in popularity and became a mainstay in their village in Uttar Pradesh. After their initial success, the Kumar family emigrated to Texas, where they began to establish their business in North America. Eventually, they adopted the name Spicy Organic. They are now the largest distributor of wholesale and bulk certified organic products in North America, where they provide the finest spices and herbs available on the market.
Although Indian food is renowned worldwide for its vibrant colors, bursting flavors, and distinctive aromas, many people are not aware of the powerful healing properties of Indian spices. In fact, some traditional Indian recipes can simply be referred to as Ayurvedic recipes because they are so closely aligned with the food and spice combinations outlined in Ayurveda. It is believed that following Ayurvedic principles helps to promote immune health, detoxify the body, prevent inflammation, and aid digestion.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old holistic healing system with roots in India. The term “Ayurveda” translates to “science of life” or “knowledge of life.” It is not limited to simply treating symptoms but considers mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of life as a whole. Ayurveda takes not only dietary habits into account, but an individual’s entire life, including physical activity, state of mind, spiritual life, and eating habits.
In the Ayurvedic view, foods are considered in terms of the effect they have on the body. Yogurt, for example, is believed to have a cooling effect, while tomatoes, corn, and papayas have a heating effect on the body. Ghee is considered to have a cooling effect, and butter a heating effect. The hot and cold properties of food are believed to affect digestion and metabolism.
Dhatus: The body consists of seven tissue systems (dhatus), which include the bones, nerves, blood, fat, muscles, marrow, plasma, and reproductive secretions. Ayurveda also teaches that channels, or energy meridians, run through the body, and when they become blocked or imbalanced, illnesses begin to develop.
5 Basic Elements: The universe consists of five elements that reside in each of us to form doshas, according to Ayurveda. These elements are ether, air, fire, water, and earth.
Doshas: There are three primary bodily constitutions in Ayurveda, which are pitta, kapha, and vata. Each individual is born with a dosha makeup that is reflected in their personality and physical characteristics.
Vatadosha: Represented by the elements of air and space. Vatas tend to have a thinner frame. Vata rules breathing, heart rhythm, muscles, joints, and the nervous system.
Pitta dosha: Fire and water. Pittas tend to be more muscular with a more sturdy build. The pitta dosha rules metabolism, digestion, mental abilities, and complexion.
Kapha:Water and earth. Kaphas tend to have a larger frame and are known for their steady nature. Kapha rules the immune system.
Each person has a predominant dosha. However, aspects of the three different doshas exist in everyone. It is important to keep all three doshas balanced.
Eating different foods can have soothing or aggravating effects based on a person’s dosha. For example, a person with pitta dosha, which is based on the element of fire, needs to eat cooling foods such as yogurt or cucumbers and avoid consuming too many foods that have heating effects.
However, the old adage that there can be too much of a good thing holds true in Ayurveda as well. Balance is key. When an imbalance occurs, disease sets in. For example, if a Kaphadosha person has too much pitta, then they will experience health issues. If there is too little or too much of one dosha, the energy will not move through the channels in the body properly. This is how illness begins to develop.
Spices and Their Healing Properties
Indian spices are packed with medicinal benefits, including anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Many of these spices help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, support immunity, and assist with weight loss, among a plethora of other benefits.
Turmeric: This earthy spice has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that encourage circulation. Turmeric is used to not only give a vibrant yellow color to food, but studies have shown that curcumin, a compound in turmeric, can treat arthritis. Turmeric balances the pitta dosha by cleaning the blood and liver. It can also help improve the complexion, increase stamina, purify the blood, and boost immunity.
Cardamom: Compounds present in cardamom are known to help fight cancer. This fragrant pod of goodness provides relief from nausea, indigestion, and asthma. It contains cooling properties that help lower blood pressure, fight off free radicals, and curb inflammation.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek seeds are great for the female reproductive system in general and can increase the production of breastmilk. They help alleviate sore throats and stomach discomfort. Fenugreek seeds are used as a remedy to improve vision. They are boiled into a tea, which is to be drunk on an empty stomach. They also help regulate kidney health, digestion, and blood sugar levels.
Cloves: The manganese present in cloves assists metabolism function and the nervous system. They have many anti-inflammatory properties and help manage cholesterol levels. Eugenol, a compound found in cloves, helps treat tooth pain and infections. Chewing on whole cloves can help fight bad breath and bacteria.
Ginger: Ginger is well-known worldwide for its immune-boosting properties. Many people take ginger when they feel a cold or flu coming on. It helps treat heartburn, fungal infections, and balance blood sugar. It is anti-inflammatory and promotes heart, stomach, and liver health while stimulating the circulation of blood.
Saffron: Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world due to the labor required to produce even a small amount of it. It is high in antioxidants and adds a lovely sunny color to food. It is packed with numerous health benefits, such as preventing heart disease, fighting cancer, and managing weight and cholesterol levels. It can even help treat depression and help you get a better night’s sleep!
Cumin: Cumin is an excellent spice to help regulate metabolism, digestion, blood sugar, and cholesterol. It’s high in iron, antioxidants and contains anti-inflammatory properties that protect cells from damage. It’s also used as a natural remedy for upset stomachs.
Ashwagandha: Although ashwagandha has been well-known in India for thousands of years, it has recently become popular in the western world for its anti-anxiety benefits. It not only helps to manage stress but promotes healthy brain function, and helps maintain blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
These ingredients are carefully and intricately interwoven into many traditional Indian dishes, which is why many of them can be referred to as Ayurvedic dishes. Hippocrates is known to have said, “Let thy food be thy medicine,” and this couldn’t be more true when it comes to Ayurveda and Indian cuisine.
There has also been a renewed interest in Ayurvedic spices in the beauty industry in the last decade, as research emerges about the harmful effects of chemicals and consumers search for more natural personal care products.
The Importance of Using Organic Spices
The food our ancestors ate is different than what we eat today, which is why they did not suffer from the same modern illnesses. The introduction of processed foods, preservatives, high-sugar diets, and high fructose corn syrup has done more harm than good. It’s only in the last century that humans have been exposed to toxins in their foods. Spicy Organic believes we should stick to the diet our grandparents ate, with seasonal and organically grown food.
When Sunil Kumar established Spicy Organic in the United States, he quickly understood how important it was to acquire USDA certification in order to present the purity of their products to customers. Organic spices and herbs are believed to have greater health benefits, and it would be doing their customers a disservice to sell GMO products or those treated with harmful pesticides. As a result, he went through the difficult process of acquiring USDA organic certification. Over a period of more than 40 years, Spicy Organic has created relationships with over 10,000 organic farmers and growers around the globe.
The Kumar family continues to uphold their standards for purity, integrity, and transparency, which has allowed them to develop a global company, relationships with thousands of farmers, and a legacy of more than 40 years. Their wide range of spices, herbs, and aromatherapy oils are ideal for bringing balance to life through a lifestyle that balances the mind, body, and spirit.