19 Essential Spices For Indian Cooking
You must try including all these essential Indian spices as these are not only known for their peculiar tastes and aromas, but also their health benefits.
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India is the Spice House of the world. A lot of spices are grown in different parts of the country. Several spices need different climatic conditions to grow and hence, they are grown in diverse parts of the country. Indian food is known for its spicy and flavorful taste. Most of the dishes in India are made using more than one spice. Indian cuisine uses the spices in different measurements and in different combinations, which makes the food taste unique and delicious. Every family has its own recipes for making its authentic foods.
The following is an extract of some of the popular Indian spices that are used in everyday cooking in all the households throughout India. Some of them are used in cooking almost every Indian dish because of their peculiar tastes, flavors, and aromas.
Also Read: How To Check Common Spices For Adulterants
Essential Indian spices used in Indian cooking
1. Garam masala
Garam masala is a blend of different spices- black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, mace, black and green cardamom, curry leaves, cumin, and coriander. Garam masala is used for making biryani, vegetable curry, and non-vegetarian curries. They have a very rich aroma and also a great taste.
2. Tandoori masala
Tandoori masala is also a blend of many spices. They are specifically used while cooking food in clay or cylindrical metal ovens. The spices that make tandoori masala are garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, and cayenne pepper. This is usually used for cooking tandoori chicken. They also have a paste-like consistency and they are not dry masalas.
Asafoetida is a spice that is a powder obtained from the powdering roots of the ferula plant. This plant is a part of the celery family. This spice is added in savory dishes to give it more flavor than before. It is usually added to dal and lentil dishes along with turmeric powder.
Saffron is a spice that is obtained from a flower named Crocus Sativus, which is also famously known as the saffron crocus. The main use of saffron is that it is used as a coloring agent in foods. It is used in both sweets and savories. It is also used to season foods. The color and flavor of it give the food a rich taste. They are one of the most expensive spices in India.
5. Black salt
Black salt is mainly used in savory foods to add a little bit of flavor. They are also used as condiments in salads and on fruits. The black salt is also called Sulemani Namak, Himalayan black salt and Kala noon. Black salt is made by mining from places surrounding the Himalayas.
6. Fennel seeds (Saunf)
Fennel seeds are mainly added to fish soups or fish stock. They are used in salads, baking bread, cooking curries, and also added in bread spreads like cheese. Fennel seed has a sweet and subtle licorice taste to it.
7. Fenugreek seeds (Methi Dana)
Fenugreek seeds are obtained from the fenugreek plant. Fenugreek seeds have many health benefits and hence are used in making medicines. The powdered fenugreek seeds are used as dry rubs, and they are also added in curries and other spice powders.
is a red spice powder that is made from dried bell peppers. They are used in a
wide variety of foods not just in India but throughout the world. The paprika,
unlike other spices, has three varieties-sweet, smoked and hot.
9. Amchur or Amchoor
Amchur powder is a powder made from dry and unripe mango. It is added to food for its unique, tangy flavors. They are mostly used by people in the northern parts of India.
10. Mustard seeds
Mustard seeds are very commonly used spices in almost all kinds of curries in India. They are also used to make pickles. They are in two colors, yellowish-white and black. The mustard seeds are usually toasted in the oil first to get rid of the pungent smell that it naturally has.
Cloves are used to add flavor to pot roasts, hot beverages etc. They are also added in powdered form in cookies and cakes to give them the much-needed spicy warmth. They are used to season curries, fried rice and biryani as well.
Cardamom is used both in sweet and savory foods because of its complex and rich taste. The cardamom has citrus, spicy, minty and herbal tastes, which make it a versatile spice and can be used in a lot of food. They are also used to make chai (tea).
Cinnamon is a spice that is obtained from the barks of several trees of the genus Cinnamomum. They are used in making a variety of cuisines, sweets, and savories. This is also added to teas to make it more flavourful than before.
14. Black pepper
Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices for flavor and seasoning throughout the world. The peppercorns are obtained from the vines of a plant called Piperaceae. The black pepper powder is added to soups, curries, and stews to give you relief from sore throats, colds, and flu.
15. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper is a type of hot chili pepper used to make the food spicier than you ever imagined. They are used in curries, fried chicken, baking beans, etc.
Nutmeg is obtained from the seeds of plants of the genus myristica. They are used in making medicines as they have a lot of health benefits.
17. Turmeric powder
Turmeric powder is a common spice that is used in almost all the curries made in India. It is usually used in food as a coloring agent and not for flavor or taste. They have a very neutral taste but contains a lot of anti-inflammatory properties.
18. Cumin seeds
Cumin seeds are used in making medicines as well as cooking. They are added in savory foods, curries, stews, chicken, fish, and vegetables. They have a very strong smell and taste.
19. Coriander seeds
Powdered coriander seeds are used as dry rubs. They are also used in curries, vegetables, chicken, soups, and sauces. They have a wonderful flavor when combined with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes.
All the spices mentioned above are not only known for their peculiar tastes and aromas but also their health benefits. They can boost your immunity system to a considerable extent when included regularly in your meals. So, ensure that you include these in your meals at frequent intervals to stay healthy.