In India, there are over 40 distinct spices. Many, such as stone flower and garcinia, are unknown and used only in limited circumstances. We’ve put up a list of 24 essential spices that can be found in practically all Indian cuisine, covering centuries of culinary traditions from all across the subcontinent.
Combining traditional spices to make delicious meals is almost supernatural. Exploring Indian food would surely extend your horizons in the kitchen.
24 Indian Spices
Below is a list of the top 24 spices used in Indian cooking. Learning about these spices is an excellent way to begin learning more about them.
Teaspoon cumin (Jira)
Cumin seed is a spice with a flavour similar to caraway or dill that is commonly used in Indian cooking and curries. Cumin seeds are best fried whole in oil at the beginning of a dish (the process is called taarka).
At a higher heat, cumin seeds will brown in about 15 seconds. Make sure they don’t burn, and when they start to pop, you’ll know they’re done. Another prominent spice in India is ground cumin powder, which is one of the key ingredients in the garam masala spice combination.
Turmeric is number two (Haldi)
Turmeric is a necessary ingredient in Indian cooking. Turmeric is a spice that is ground and has an earthy flavour. This spice has the greatest number of health benefits of all the spices used in Indian cooking, as well as a beautiful yellow colour. For a family of four, a teaspoon is generally all that is required to flavour and colour a dish. Make sure to include at least a dash of black pepper in your meals if you’re using it for health reasons. Turmeric is a good anti-inflammatory, but it doesn’t work as well without the piperine in black pepper.
Cardamom (green) (Cchoti Ilayachi)
The flavour of green cardamom is distinct. Because of a component called cineole, it has an eucalyptus flavour (as do many cough lozenges).It’s great cooked in hot oil at the beginning of an Indian dinner. Between two and six whole cardamom pods are commonly seen in Indian cuisine.
Cilantro, which is derived from the same plant’s leaves, is a savoury garnish that works well with practically any meal, but it’s particularly good with rich, deep-flavored dals and heartier meat dishes. Keep in mind that some people think cilantro tastes like soap while working with it.
One of the most significant spices on our list is coriander, which is a cilantro seed.
It’s used in a number of cuisines, including Madras and Vindaloo, and has a citrus scent with some green, woody overtones. Coriander seeds are best used after being ground into a powder and then added to a sauce.
Black Cardamom (Kali Ilayachi)
Black cardamom seeds have a comparable eucalyptus scent to green cardamom seeds, and it is one of the most significant spices on our list. The key difference is that they are dried over an open fire before being cooked, giving them a smoky and blackened flavour.
The strong scent of black cardamom is unmistakable. They may be found in a variety of meals. One or two entire black cardamom pods are often used in dishes for four people or less. In Indian cuisine, they are typically found in biriyani.
Garam Masala is number seven on the list
Garam masala is the most well-known condiment in India. Pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, coriander, tej patta, and other dry spices are used to make it. It’s in a lot of different cuisines, including Chana Masala. Add one to two tablespoons while your onions are frying or your sauce is boiling. It’s occasionally used as a garnish.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make garam masala and how to use it in Indian cooking. It’s worth mentioning that of all the spices, garam masala is the most adaptable. It’s unlike any other spice in that the ingredients used to make it vary widely from location to region, and as a result, so does the flavour. Some dishes have a lot of fennel, while others have very little, but this spice, or a combination of spices, will almost certainly be present in whatever meal you consume in India.
The most significant Indian spice is ginger, which makes up half of the recipe for ginger garlic paste, which is used in practically every Indian meal. This spice is dry and may be used in a variety of dishes. In certain recipes, it’s even required. Almost all Indian recipes call for ginger-garlic paste. If you don’t have any, grated or mince a 1-2 inch length of raw ginger and sauté it with your garlic once your onions have been clarified.
What is the relationship between garlic and Indian spices? It is an essential Indian flavour, despite the fact that it isn’t especially Indian (or formally a spice).
In a four-person dish, between 4 and 10 garlic cloves the size of commercial garlic will provide a good meaty garlic flavour. If you want a milder flavour, add it when you first begin frying the onions; if you want a stronger flavour, add it after the onions have softened, allowing the garlic to simmer for a shorter time.
Fenugreek is a kind of fenugreek that is used (Methi)
One of the most delicate Indian spices is fenugreek. Fenugreek seeds are bitter, yet they offer several health advantages. The leaves are a green, fragrant spice with a pleasant maple-like fragrance that is less bitter.
This spice is probably the most significant of all the spices used in India. Use up to a few tablespoons at the end of the cooking time for a family-size supper, but start with a teaspoon. Fenugreek seeds also provide a lot of health advantages.
Asafoetida is a plant that is used to make asafoetida (Hing)
Asafoetida is one of our favourite Indian spices (hing). Cooking with hing is like cooking with one of the most strong and fragrant spices on the planet.
Before adding hing to your frying pan, make sure your oil or butter is hot. Allow it to sear for a few seconds before adding onions, garlic, or ginger (5–20). For a four-person meal, you’ll need between 14 and 12 teaspoons of hing. Make sure it’s stored in an airtight container. You may learn more about asafoetida on our asafoetida blog.
Powdered mango (Amchoor)
Amchoor is the popular name for this powder. It’s one of our favourite spices, and it gives any meal a great sourness. It’s a commonly used sour Indian seasoning.
Because it is made primarily of dried mango, this powder is high in acids, and a little goes a long way. You may find out more about amchoor in this blog post on how to use it.
If you wish to buy amchoor powder, click here to get badshah amchoor.
Cassia bark or cinnamon (Dalachini)
Cassia bark is widely available in Indian stores. It’s a close cousin to cinnamon and can be utilised in similar ways. As a result, both cinnamon and cassia are included in this recommendation. Cinnamon and cassia bark are often cooked whole and added to an Indian meal at the beginning of the cooking process.
In Indian cooking, Tej Patta is used in the same way as European bay is. It’s usually added whole, cooked for the entirety of the meal, and then removed just before serving. It has a fragrant flavour that is reminiscent of cinnamon and clove.
Tej Patta leaves are often fried with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, and other spices at the start of a meal.
Black licorice is closely linked to fennel and anise. Fennel is a key ingredient in the flavouring of madras and other curries, and it’s also delicious in taarka as a complete spice. Candied fennel seed is a popular after-dinner mint at Indian restaurants.
Carom is number sixteen (Ajwain)
Carom is a potent spice that may be found in a wide range of Indian dishes. Each carom fruit has a significant quantity of thymol, which gives it a flavour that is comparable to thyme but considerably stronger. Carom is often used in Indian breads.
It goes nicely with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and other strong flavours like mustard, cardamom, or cumin, and is used sparingly in Indian cuisine, fried first to give a smoky flavour.
Anise (Star) (Chakra Phul)
Fennel and anise have a similar flavour, although anise is spicier and less aromatic. It’s a great frying spice, and it’s the major flavour in tamarind chutney, which you can get in many restaurants or use as a dipping sauce for chapatis, samosas, and other Indian street foods.
In India, nutmeg, both whole and shredded, is a common ingredient in Indian cookery, particularly in South Indian dishes. You may use it whole or shave it with a sharp knife as a seasoning. To make this spice, shave the nutmeg using a sharp knife. If you leave the nutmeg whole or split it into bigger bits, you may use it in a taarka step.
In south Indian cuisine and many Indian cuisines, nutmeg is roasted and crushed with coconut, sesame, poppy, and mustard seeds, as well as other spices, to make masalas (spice mixes) for Keralan chicken curries and thattukada (street vendor) meals.
Cloves are known to anybody who has ever cooked an Easter ham. They’re quite effective. If you use too much, other, more delicate flavours will be overpowered. For a family-sized meal, we use anything from four to ten whole cloves, depending on the cuisine. They’re another important ingredient in biryani. Patiala chicken, all biryanis, and a range of tasty Indian curries include them.
Mace is number (Javitri)
Mace, a webbing or leaf-like spice, is wrapped around the nutmeg seed. Even though mace has a more savory, musky taste than nutmeg, the two spices taste so much alike that they are often mixed up
Mace is commonly fried whole, and a single blade or leaf of mace is generally enough to impart a strong flavour.
Mustard Seeds (Rai)
Mustard seeds, whether brown, yellow, or black, are an important ingredient in Indian cuisine, providing a nutty, pungent flavour to many curries, and, like many of the other spices we’ve discussed, they’re typically favoured for frying in oil at the start of a recipe.
Red Chili from India(Lal Mirch)
The intensity of Indian red chilli is comparable to that of cayenne pepper, but it varies depending on where the chilies are grown and how they’re cooked. It has a brighter red colour than cayenne and a more floral flavour. When it comes to controlling the heat in your dish, this is a great ingredient to add gently towards the end.
Black pepper is number 23. (Kali Mirch)
We are all familiar with black pepper’s distinctive flavour. It’s worth mentioning that its sharpness is unique in the world of peppers. Black pepper’s heat is more likely to be detected before that of any other spicy ingredient, and it has a bold, high-flavor note that no other spice can equal.
Curry leaves (Kadhipatta)
Despite not being the least significant, curry leaves are one of the most interesting Indian spices. Murraya koenigii leaves are available dry, but fresh Murraya koenigii leaves are best used in the first or second stage of cooking, fried with onions and tadka spices to add a pungent, citrus-like scent.