For many foods, fresh is best but often the fact that these ingredients when dried have a longer shelf life and a stronger flavour makes us stock up our kitchen shelves with these! Read on about some everyday ingredients that make a mark in your cooking in their fresh and dried forms!
Ginger – The beautiful, slightly earthy, pungent flavour that ginger has, lends so much to a recipe. Fresh ginger is great to add to stir fries, make a paste of it along with its best friend garlic, store and use in any recipe you want to add some spice to! You can also make some amazing fresh ginger and turmeric pickle if you can lay your hands on tender ginger roots. The powdered dry form of ginger is known as soonth in India, and is used in a number of recipes. Add a pinch of it to your morning cup of tea or mix a pinch of it along with a spoonful of honey for instant cough relief. Ginger – dry or fresh helps you recover from cold, cough and congestion. Also improves the functioning of the immune system and maintains overall health!
Turmeric – Fresh turmeric and dried turmeric both have a very strong flavour and aroma, which are very different from each other. While dried turmeric powder has a beautiful bright yellow colour and a pinch of it is enough to give your dish that quintessential turmeric flavour and colour. Fresh turmeric on the other hand looks much like ginger on the outside, but when you cut into it you witness the beautiful yellow colour that we all associate with this rhizome! Loaded with antiseptic properties, you can apply fresh or dried turmeric paste on wounds and it is also works as a great face pack when mixed with gram flour and some fresh cream! It is said to keep away Alzhemeir’s disease. As for culinary uses – dry turmeric is added to most savory Indian recipes and the fresh form can be used beautifully in a ginger and turmeric pickle!
Red Chillies –This tiny spice bomb whether fresh or dried is what puts the zing in your spicy Chinese sauces, Thai salads, Mexican salsa and fiery Indian curry! While fresh red chillies give you that instant ‘pop’ hit of spice, dried chillies have a more subtle earthy and rustic flavour. Fresh red chillies come in several shapes, sizes and colours, are sun dried and powdered to obtain red chilli powder and chilli flakes. Chillies contain a pigment called capsaicin, which is what makes them so spicy. Capsaicin doesn’t just add flavour to your food, but has health benefits too. It helps decrease inflammation, promotes weight loss, releases migraine, prevents cancer and also has cardiovascular benefits. Small fresh chillies you can use in most recipes to add spice and scoop out the seeds of larger less spicy ones and fill the cavity with cheese, potatoes or mince and bake or fry them. The dried ones are best used in tadka’s for dals and kadhis and added to Chinese stir fries.
Herbs – Herbs are something that though added in a tiny amount to your recipe, make a big difference in taste. When it comes to picking between fresh and dry depends entirely upon what you are cooking. Infuse a dish while cooking with dry herbs and sprinkle fresh ones at the end of the cooking process to bring out their best. Everyday herbs like coriander, mint, basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary do not need much space or extensive care to grow and can easily thrive in a sunny corner of your kitchen. Dried versions of these you can find in any supermarket, if you don’t need a specific herb go in for a can of mixed herbs! These little wonders are often underrated, but you will definitely miss the flavour of coriander in a simple chaat and basil in a Thai curry if you don’t add them. Use fresh herbs to make delicious chutneys like coriander mint chutney or even coriander and basil chutney. Many of these are used as home remedies for cold, congestion, stomach infections and are said to have detoxification properties as well.
Figs – Figs or anjeer whether fresh or dried are not a universal favourite. While some people are put off with the squishy texture of fresh figs, some really despise the grainy seeds in the dried ones. They taste divine when cooked right – like in a figalicious pudding or served simply with a sweetened yogurt filling or luscious mascarpone cheese! Thin slices of fresh figs also taste great as a pizza topping with crispy bacon – who would have thought?! Dried figs can be used in a number of Indian mithais like a mawa anjeer burfi or instead of dates to make an anjeer roll instead of a date roll! Along with the crunch from other dried fruits even the ones who are not a fan of this fruit will enjoy it! Figs both fresh and dry have a good amount of vitamins and minerals and are also low in sugar so make a good food option for diabetics.
Raisins and Grapes – You can’t stop at one! It’s hard to stop popping juicy plump grapes that are sweet with just the right hint of tang. Raisins are nothing but dried grapes, but contain anti-oxidants in much more concentration as compared to their fresh counterparts. Grapes have anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and anti-aging benefits and also are great to eat when you have mid meal hunger pangs! Make the most of the benefits that these have to offer. Dish up a fruit salad or a savoury teriyaki chicken with black grapes make tangy raisin chutney or just enjoy it in a glass of wine!
For recipes to use all of these fabulous ingredients and much more browse through SanjeevKapoor.com or check out some delicious food videos on sanjeevkapoorkhazana on youtube!
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.