From Eating Better for Less: A Guide to Managing Your Personal Food Supply
Edited by Ray Wolf
I borrowed this book from Fred today, and came across this paragraph in a section on Indian Cooking:
Spices are more than just a seasoning, and Sanskrit writings which are 3,000 years old stress the importance of spices for their preservative and medicinal value. Pepper and chilis were recommended for treating digestive ailments; ginger was thought to cure liver complaints and to counteract flatulence. Tumeric apparently was made into a paste and applied to skin to stop itching or to clear up skin diseases. Cardamom is served today in modern India at the end of a meal along with cloves and the betel nut and its leaf to freshen the breath and help with digestion. In the Sanskrit treatise, cardamom was described as a remedy for halitosis, nausea, headaches, fevers, colds, piles and eye diseases. Coriander was recommended for constipation, insomnia, and childbearing. Many of these ideas persist today, and ginger is still added to lentils or peas when they are cooked in order to counteract flatulence. Refrigerators even today are a rarity in India and the preservative function of spice is of obvious importance.
This is an excellent book--look for a review of it here shortly.
Now I gotta go finish up dinner: chicken and dumplings today, in a rich broth with lots of tasty vegetables. YUM.