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Cayenne-Get Your Blood Flowing

Cayenne-Get Your Blood Flowing

Just when I thought turmeric was THE spice to bank on, I read that a fellow by the name of Dr. John Heneirman would put cayenne at the top of his list. His rational is that cayenne makes other herbs and spices work better by increasing blood flow. This increased blood flow, in theory, allows other nutrients to circulate throughout the body more easily. It also apparently helps with digestion, food preservation, healing wounds, and oddly, with ulcers. While I wish I had the time to thoroughly cite and research all the sources behind the claims laid to the wonders of herbs and spices, I think other blogs are better devoted to this. While scientific studies are being conducted on the benefit of herbs and spices, however, I’m all for drawing on the wisdom of thousands of years of experience. I’ll focus on cayenne’s place in Indian cooking and its perceived benefits.

Cayenne is used in Indian cooking to varying degrees. It is a key spice in making a dish hot (as in, must drink a gallon of water). If you want your dish to have flavor, but not burn your mouth, leave out the cayenne and green chillies. The beauty is that it is up to you to vary it to suit your tastes. Based on the potential health benefits, it might be worth it to put in a pinch if you can tolerate it. Just remember, if you ever decide to roast it with other spices, add it last and only roast for a few seconds to avoid being forced to flee out of your home coughing and rubbing your eyes.

Cayenne peppers are part of the Capsicum family, just like bell peppers (which are known as capsicums in India) and look like the stereotypical long red chilli (think Chili’s restaurant logo). Dried long red chilies are used whole in certain dishes, but the crushed chili powder is what you’ll see more often. As a variation, chili flakes (like the ones you get at pizza restaurants), can be used to add texture to a dish.

While I was reading about cayenne, I also discovered that it can be used to help a sore throat. My husband developed a head cold so I’m going to make him gargle with the follow recipe:

-4oz water

-1tsp salt

-1/2 tsp turmeric

-1/2 tsp cayenne

I once had a coworker of Chinese descent swear by his grandma’s anti-cold remedy consisting of warm water and cayenne pepper so let’s hope this works. I’ll be so disappointed if it doesn’t! Regardless, I’m no longer going to ignore the importance of cayenne in Indian food!

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