… is a wonderful spice that is got from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees. It is very versatile, used in both sweet and savory foods.
The inner bark of the tree is extracted, and when the wood is removed, curls into rolls. These are ground into powder that is used in food preparations.
The spice has a fragrant, sweet smell and warm taste. It is also known to have a warming property and is best used during the winter months.
It has for long been used as a medicine too. Many alternative therapies and medication use it in their preparation.
This simple looking spice adds that extra twist to dishes, elevating them from simple to the sublime. Whether it is the quintessential Cinnamon Rolls and Apple and Cinnamon Cake in sweet dishes or as an essential spice blend in dry dishes such as Dahi Wala Pulao, and gravies like Shahi Bharwan Tinde and Chettinad Pepper Chicken Masala, the spice adds a unique flavour.
The cinnamon spice is used in cooking by people from the Asian region, and particularly in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Both the North and Southern part of India uses the spice extensively in their preparation. It also has a host of health benefits, besides its obvious taste brought about by a specific chemical it contains, called cinnameldehyde.
- It is loaded with antioxidants, even outranking superfoods such as oregano and garlic.
- It is also anti-inflammatory, helps fight infections and repairs body tissues.
- The spice helps keep the heart healthy. It reduces risk of heart disease, maintains insulin levels and also reduces blood sugar.
- It keeps the gut healthy, with calcium and fibre improving colon health.
- A lesser known benefit of cinnamon is its potential to prevent cancer. Although not proved, the spice helps keep cells healthy and activates protective anti-oxidants.
True cinnamon differs from a similar looking cousin which is of inferior quality called as ‘cassia’. Cassia contains coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses. The bark available is smaller and coarser compared to cinnamon.