Below follows some of our favourite ingredients. Some highlight vegan alternatives and their health benefits. Some are here to show off our local suppliers. Some are simply unusual, and we want to promote their worth to the world! All are wonderful.


Vegan concerns

Understandably, those strongly against the consumption of meat and animal products want to be 100% confident that anything they buy lives up to their principles. 
At Third Ghee, transparency and honesty are key elements of our mantra, and we can assure you that not a hair, scale or feather comes near our food unless you specifically state otherwise. ALL of our dishes are vegan by default, and meat is cooked separately after all vegan produce has been safely stowed. Visit Beardy Meaner YouTube to see exactly how our dishes are cooked. Whilst you're there, why not like and subscribe for further updates :)

As you may well know, many Hindi dishes are already vegan due to strict Hindu tenets, but here's how we can offer many other dishes that would sadly not normally be accessible to you...

 Coconut oil

Not only an excellent alternative to ghee (clarified butter), we also substitute this for vegetable oil in other recipes. The reported health benefits of the 'good saturates' in this wonderful cooking medium are a happy pairing with the fact that it is wonderful to cook with. I believe it's also very good for the hair and skin. 

 Coconut yoghurt

Not to be confused with coconut-flavoured dairy yoghurt, this is exactly what it sounds like: a substance similar to yoghurt, but made from coconut. And it certainly is GOOD, I actually prefer it to the 'real thing'. Vegan, and made with coconut, which is alleged to have massive health benefits. Active cultures in yoghurt are also said to aid with weight loss. Downsides? Weelll.. you can't get it fat-free, so I suppose there is that.

 Oat cream

An amazing vegan alternative to standard dairy fare. Imagine the mouthfeel of double cream, with a hint of oat flavour. And with around half the fat and a third of the saturates, it's great for slimmers as well.  

 

 TVP

Standing for Textured Vegetable Protein, this is a form of soy meat that is widely consumed throughout the world. It also knocks more traditional lamb mince into a cocked hat health-wise. Some stats: Fat - 0%, compared to 35%. Protein - 50%, compared to 14.5%. One for the herbivores, I believe.


Spices

A huge study published in the summer of 2015 by the British Medical Journal appears to indicate that a diet filled with spices is beneficial for health.

The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences tracked the health of nearly half a million participants in China for several years. They found that people who said they ate spicy food once or twice a week had a mortality rate 10% lower than those who ate spicy food less than once a week. Risk of death reduced still further for those who ate spicy food six or seven days a week.

 Garlic

According to information from the NHS: 'Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants (notably allicin).More recent evidence-based research suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds and some cancers.' Additional research has also found that enzymes in garlic increase production of serotonin (one of our feel-good hormones), as well as improving memory function. And believe me, there's plenty of it in Third Ghee's fare!

 Ginger

The many health benefits of ginger have been widely researched and its history is both long and respected. It aids digestion, calms nausea, and its anti-inflammatory effects are beneficial for those with arthritis, as well as those recovering from strenuous exercise. Gym member? That could be good news for you...

  Turmeric (haldi)

The powerfood of the moment. Long revered in traditional Indian medicine and ceremony, clinical trials have found it to be an effective anti-inflammatory, great for arthritis and gym-goers alike. Other potential (under-researched) benefits include: protection of brain function, powerful anti-oxidation, reduced risk of heart disease, cancer prevention, prevention of Alzheimer's, and anti-depressant qualities. 

 Green chilli

Capsaicin, the burn in chilies, activates the sympathetic nervous system, and has been found to give you a 23 spike in metabolism - thereby potentially aiding weight loss. Additional research also suggests that chillies can help manage satiety (feeling full), break down 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol whilst leaving the 'good' (HDL), prevent the narrowing of arteries, prevent prostate and lung cancer, and treat colonic cancer.  

 

 

 Black cardamom

Wow. I'd never discovered this in any of the dishes I had or cooked before. And what a dimension this smokey, rich spice adds. Fecund with volatile, aromatic oils, it is a powerful anti-oxidant, and throws a deep punch flavour-wise. Like green cardamom, only heartier and richer, without that 'soapy' flavour that can hit you when you bit into its green counterpart.

 Green cardamom

A well-known aromatic, these seed pods do great work in enriching the floral aroma of many dishes. Careful though; biting into one can be a soapy experience!

 

 Asafoetida

Although little modern, scientific research has been performed, it is widely believed that asafoetida reduces flatulence and aids digestion. It is also antimicrobial, as well as antifungal. In terms of its culinary benefit, it has an acrid, savoury, celery-like flavour that rounds out dishes such as dals.

 Amchur

Amchur is dried, powedered, green mango, and adds a sour tint to dishes - similar to lemon, but with a wonderful, exotic, fruity note. Rich in vitamins A, E, and Selenium, it is an excellent addition to any dish!

 Homeground masalas

'Masala' loosely translates as 'mixture' or 'seasoning'. You may well be familiar with 'garam masala' (translating as 'hot seasoning'), but you've neither tasted nor smelled anything until you've experienced the real thing - whole spices roasted, and then ground together. There are also many other masalas: sambar, chat, chana, oh my...

 Deggi Mirch

Rather than standard powdered red chili (lal mirch), I generally use deggi mirch as a substitute. They are milder, and while it provides the same colour and flavour it does not blow the back of your head off!

 

 Ajwain (Carom seeds)

The samosa flavour. You know that distinct, peppery flavour that samosa pastry has? There you go. Also said to help: indigestion, colds, bad breath, weight loss, liver and kidney issues (though I am yet to find blind clinical trials of all this!)

 Anardana

Adding a lovely, fruity note to dishes, as well as an acidic tang, once again many small-scale trials have proven pomegranate (anardana) to be beneficial to health. Amongst other (as yet unproven) effects pomegranate may: stengthen bones/help prevent osteoparosis, slow the advance of prostate cancer, prevent the thinning of arteries, thereby battling heart disease. What a pedigree.

 Saunf

Whole or powdered, saunf (fennel seed) adds a liqouice bouquet to dishes, greatly improving the aroma and flavour. Again, though clinical trials may be limited, fennel is said to aid (amongst other things): bones, blood pressure, heart, cancer prevention, the immune system, inflammation, the metabolism and indigestion.

 Curry Leaves

The truly unsung hero of many dishes, which we are largely unaware of in the UK. Curry leaf adds a dimension to dishes that is very hard to describe as we really have nothing like it in the UK to which I can compare. Imagine a more savoury bay leaf flavour, crossed with a classic 'curry' flavour, I suppose is the best I can do. As with several of these ingredients, the benefits are loudly sung but quietly proven, but the nutrients contained are certainly linked with: Iron uptake, blood sugar management, digestion, and cholesterol.

 Mace

 The strange, serpentine wrapping of nutmeg seeds, mace is a very similar spice, but with a more delicate and less overpowering aroma. As it is also put in whole, it's much easier to control and remove at the end of cooking. It also contains vastly higher concentrations of vitamins and aromtics than nutmeg seed (as the skin of vegetables regularly does), such as: vitamin A, vitamin C, carotene, iron and calcium.

 Magaz

Widely regarded as a health food, melon seeds add sweetness and a fruity (surprisingly, melony) flavour and aroma to dishes. Prior to research, I can't say I ever used them before in cooking, but they are a really delightful addition.

 

 Kasuri Methi

 A very ancient herb, fenugreek has been noted in writing from Egypt c. 1500BC. Adding a delicious, smoky flavour and aroma at the end of dishes, kasuri methi (dried, crushed fenugreek leaves) is a personal favourite. Methi (the fresh leaves) are also wonderful base for dishes such as paneer, pori, paratha and pakora. The seeds have a much more pungent flavour, and consequently I use them only sparingly.

Rose water

Of all the ingredients I use, it is rose water that really takes me back to India. Whenever I catch it, I am immediately transported. Health benefits are (as usual) claimed for this gloriously aromatic ingredient, such as its antioxidants, its rich vitamin content, and its aromatherapeutic qualities, but at the end of the day it is (for me) the beating heart at the core of the scent of India. 


Sources

In researching and crediting these ingredients, I have tried wherever possible to stick to reliable and provable sources. Below is a list of some of the sites and books I have referred to in order to investigate credible clinical trials and evidence for the above. Please do visit and decide for yourself, I am a big believer in transparency and reliability of information, and informed decision making:

nhs.uk

The British Medical Journal

BBC News

BBC Good Food

indiatoday.intoday.in

timeofindia.indiatimes.com

nutrition-and-you.com

wikipedia.org

webmd.boots.com

authoritynutrition.com 

organicauthority.com

'Eat This, Not That!' - Men's Health

 

 

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