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Health Benefits of Spicy Food (Mala Spice Specifically!)
One of the best additions to any recipe is a good mix of spices. Spices adds incredible depth to your dishes and you ...
One of the best additions to any recipe is a good mix of spices. Spices adds incredible depth to your dishes and you can easily find the right ones to pair with your dish. But what are the health benefits of adding spices to your recipe? Do you know which spices produce the "mala" (麻辣) flavour - one of the most loved flavours in the world? And what types of dishes can you add it to?
Today we have created the perfect guide to all things spice and why you should consider adding it to every dish. With so many different recipes that include chili pepper and other spices, there is truly no reason to not add spice to your food.
Read on to see exactly what mala spice is and what types of health benefits you can expect from adding spices to your recipes today!
What is mala?
An incredibly popular spice that is used predominantly in Asian cuisine, it is a blend of spices made from a mixture of chili and Sichuan peppercorns. With an instantly recognisable signature flavour and a spicy and numbing sensation, it is easily one of the best spices any heat lover can add to their dishes.
It is used in all sorts of Sichuan recipes - from hotpots to stir fried meat, so you will be able to easily add it to your cooking.
What are the ingredients in mala spice?
Although different types of mala spice blend may have a range of ingredients within them, there are some key ingredients that should always be used. Below are what we would consider vital ingredients when making a mala with its powerful signature flavour:
One of the main ingredients in mala spice is dried chili pepper. Some types of mala spice will also use crushed chili pepper as it adds a little bit more spice than dried chili does. As they add a little kick, chili peppers are perfect for spice lovers - which is why so many people love mala spice blend.
Another key ingredient to the perfect mala spice is Sichuan peppercorn. An incredible Asian spice, Sichuan peppercorn is used in lots of different types of cuisine. It adds a slightly spicy and numbing sensation to your dish and creates a distinctive but delicious taste.
Almost all mala blends will have a little bit of salt added to them to bring out the full flavour of the chili and Sichuan peppercorn. Spice is usually used to enhance other flavours, but too much and it will become a salty mess. Try to be conservative when using salt - less is more in this case.
If you plan on adding soy sauce to your recipe too, be extremely careful with salt as soy sauce naturally has high levels of sodium.
To create a mala spice blend sauce that you can use with other food, you will need to use a liquid base. One of the most common liquids used is vegetable oil or other types of oil. As vegetable oil is usually tasteless, it is a perfect base for any mala spice sauce. Other oils can be used, but try to go for flavourless oils so it doesn't drown out the signature flavour that the Sichuan peppercorn adds.
What dishes is mala spice used in?
Most times a mala chili and Sichuan blend is used in a dish, it will be made into a sauce. By mixing the spice blend into a base, such as a type of oil, you can create an excellent spicy and numbing dish. But what sort of dishes and cuisine will get the most out of a well-made mala spice blend?
Sichuan Cuisine Hot Pot
Sichuan cuisine is where you are most commonly going to find the use of a mala spice blend to add depth and signature flavour to a dish, such as Sichuan hot pot.
Create a hot pot base using a mala spice blend and mix it with a range of different flavours to create an enticing but filling dish. Add a dash of mushroom powder, seaweed powder, and noodles to highlight the saltiness or mix in some potatoes and other root vegetables to warm you up in winter. A Sichuan dish like this is not only filling but is also healthy for you.
You can also add meat to it such as chicken or fish to provide even more depth to this delicious Sichuan recipe.
A type of chicken stew that is extremely popular in Xinjiang, China. By combining chicken, potatoes, onions, and spices, you can create an incredibly tasty and healthy Sichuan dish. This dish is perfect for winters as the stew will warm up your entire body.
This dish was most commonly served to truck drivers along highways due to its filling nature and ease to make. You can easily adapt the dish to suit your tastes, add a few extra ingredients to pad it out - It is an extremely versatile Sichuan dish.
If you are curious how good Mala can taste, considering making Dapanji some time soon. We are certain you will love it!
The health benefits of mala and spicy foods
Boost your metabolism
Almost all types of spice blends can boost your metabolism and help you digest your food.1 The main reason for this is that Capsaicin, a popular ingredient in lots of herbs and spices kickstarts your metabolism. After eating spicy food, your metabolism may be boosted by up to 5 percent!
This is perfect for anyone looking for a healthy addition to their Chinese cuisine. A boosted metabolism can also lead to weight loss, which may be what you are looking for. However, try not to overdo it as Capsaicin is not 100% guaranteed to boost your metabolism.
Reduces inflammation and relieves pain
Some spices are known for having anti-inflammatory properties, which can help dull aches and pains.2 Another common ingredient used in Sichuan cuisine is Curcumin (commonly found in turmeric root) - it can block inflammatory enzymes and cytokines. This will help you reduce pain and swelling in joints, which is a great benefit to lumbago and arthritis sufferers.3
If you are looking for a natural remedy that is safe to use and can be added to a lot of different dishes, then be sure to check this pepper mix out.
Improves cardiovascular health
From Sichuan peppercorn to cinnamon, there is a range of spices that can help improve your cardiovascular health.4 By regularly consuming certain spices you can reduce blood sugar levels and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Cinnamon especially can also reduce triglycerides which will largely boost your cardiovascular health.
You can also pair spices and herbs together as they are extremely rich in antioxidants offering incredible health benefits. Regular consumption of herbs and spices is incredibly recommended and with so many delicious recipes out there, there is no reason not to try it.
Increases life expectancy
Although it may not be directly related, a Harvard study has shown that those who consume herbs and spices regularly tend to live longer lives.5 People who eat spice every day may be looking at a 14% lower risk of death than people who only eat spice once a week.
One of the biggest spices tested was chili pepper, which is an important ingredient in a lot of spice mixes. It is also a key component to mala, so be sure to add this to your food if you can handle the heat.
(Photo by Pratiksha Mohanty on Unsplash)
What does mala taste like?
The most notable flavour for mala is the delicious mixture of chili and Sichuan peppercorn. As these flavours taste incredible together and leave a spicy and numbing sensation in your mouth, it is a perfect addition to a lot of recipes.
It also pairs well with a lot of other ingredients such as meat, vegetables and noodles. It isn't too overbearing so it is quite a safe spice to add to your next recipe. You can even blend it into a sauce to add depth to any of your favorite curry-style dishes.
Why is mala so addictive?
Spices can be extremely addictive, and mala is no different. Due to its famous spicy and numbing sensation, it is hard not to fall in love with the spice. Its numbing sensation is unique to Sichuan peppercorn, so people can quickly become addicted to this sensation.
What does mala mean in Chinese?
The words má and là have a very significant meaning in Chinese and is why the spice itself is named the way it is. In Chinese, má means 'to numb' and là means 'spicy', so you can see why its signature flavour is an intriguing mixture of spicy and numbing sensations.
What other spices are recommended?
There is a range of different incredible spices available on the market today. With some catering towards sweet dishes and others adding spice to savory cuisine. One of the best spices for its versatility is cinnamon. It can be used in both sweet and savory orders and offers a range of different health benefits.
Peppercorns are also incredibly easy to add to any dish and pair well with almost every type of ingredient you can think of. From stews to stir fry or salads, peppercorns can help enhance the flavours.
Try mala spice if you haven't already
Whether you are new to the world of herbs and spices, or you are a veteran looking to try something new, mala spice might be what you are looking for. It pairs exceptionally well with lots of dishes thanks to its use of Sichuan peppercorn.
But not only that, it offers you a myriad of health benefits from reducing inflammation to improving your cardiovascular health. Be sure to give it a go today as we are certain you won't find another spice mix quite like it!