All you need to know about your 5 most favourite spices and herbs

There are many health benefits of herbs and spices, not to mention they improve the taste of so many foods.

  • All spices originate from plants: flowers, fruits, seeds, barks, leaves, and roots and as a result comes with a host of health benefits.
  • Business Insider SSA spoke to a spice trader from the “Spice Island” of Zanzibar on why spices and herbs are so ‘popular, hot and addictive’.

Business Insider SSA spoke to Isaac Mohammed who hails from the “Spice Island” to learn more about what makes spices and herbs so popular during Tanzania's first trade exhibition held in Kenya.

Mr. Mohammed who works with Mahanjumati spices and herbs based in Zanzibar, has wealth of expertise about spices explained a few reasons why they are so ‘hot and addictive’.

“the first benefit of spices is it increases your appetite, any food with spice added is very attractive and appealing to the taste buds, for instance we recently bought meat while we were here in Kenya but the meat still had the ‘goat smell’ like most fresh meat and I couldn’t eat but once I added the spices I really enjoyed the meal.”

Herbs and spices not only improve the taste of foods, but also make them cook better.

“Spices also makes food cook well, because it contain herbs which breaks down food to cook well.”

All spices originate from plants: flowers, fruits, seeds, barks, leaves, and roots and as a result come with a host of health benefits.

“Spices is also very healthy, for example tea masala which has been mixed with gloves which opens up blood veins, it also aids digestion by washing and clearing too much fats among many other health benefits.”

Here is all you need to know about your favourite spices and herbs.

Tea Masala

Ingredients: Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamoms, Cloves, Black Pepper, Nutmeg

Cinnamon has the highest antioxidant value of any spice. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and lower blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels.

Cinnamon has also been used to alleviate nausea and to increase sensitivity to insulin and aid in fat burning. It provides manganese, iron and calcium.

Usage: Use Tea Masala, a mixture of spices to uplift your mood and to perfectly and healthily complement tea. Add a pinch of Tea Masala to a cup of tea.

Pilau Masala

The secret to making great pilau is the “masala” or concoction of spices used in its preparation.

Ingredients: Cumin Seeds, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamoms, Cloves

Usage: Used in preparing traditional pilau, chicken biriani, coconut rice and other rice dishes.

Chicken Tandoori

The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another but typically include: garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and sometimes other spices and/or additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.

Tandoori masala is used extensively with dishes such as tandoori chicken.

Tandoori chicken is marinated in a blend of spices (known as tandoori masala), along with yogurt, ginger, garlic and lemon before cooking it in the traditional “tandoor” oven.

Chicken Masala

It can be used in mildly flavoured non-veg cuisine, particularly those deriving its thickening foundation from tomato and onion.

Ingredients: Turmeric, Salt, Mustard, Ginger, Garlic Powder, Fenugreek, Fennel Seeds, Coriander, Cloves,Cinnamon, Chillies, Black Pepper.

Ginger can decrease motion sickness and nausea; may also relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis.

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a British invention, somewhat resembling garam masala, the spice mixture prevalent in North India.

Curry powder has a unique flavor due to the combination of both savory and sweet spices.

Savory spices like cumin, turmeric, and bay leaf give the curry a deep, earthy flavor while sweet spices, like cinnamon and clove, add brightness and pep.

Ingredients: Coriander, Cumin, Mustard, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Ginger, Chillies, Cinnamon, Bay Leaves, Jaggery, Garlic, Citric Acid, Salt, Peanuts

Usage:  It was created to evoke the essence of Indian food

Curry powder helps prevents Alzheimer's Disease, Relieves Pain & Inflammation, Protects Heart Health and Improves Bone Health among other health benefits.

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in cuisines from the Indian subcontinent.

Ingredients: Black and white peppercorns, Cloves, Cinnamon or cassia bark, Mace (part of nutmeg), Black and green cardamom pods, Bay leaf, Cumin and Coriander.

Cumin is rich in iron, which makes garam masala good for promoting blood oxygenation and to prevent conditions like anemia. It also helps improve digestion and reduces the risk of contracting cancer.

Usage: Garam masala is popularly used in vegetable sabzis,soups, lentils, curries, poultry, and meat recipes but it can be used in practically any dish to provide it with a warm, rich, and exotic taste. The spice is usually added at the end of cooking a dish or sprinkled on it while serving.

Notable mention...


This 100% natural Kenyan mix of spices is currently flying off the shelf.

It is a mixture of grounded natural spices that gives food that added extra yumminess.

Ingredients: coriander, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, onions, cumin seeds, cardamons, black pepper, cloves and Natural oils.

Chibundiro comes in three flavors; hot, mild and without chillies, catering for everyone.

Usage: Chibundiro’s nutritional value makes it fit for different cuisines – African, European, Chinese, American, literary everything.


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