Indian cuisine is defined by its diverse spices, which are utilized extensively in a variety of ways in traditional dishes. A slight change in cooking method, as well as the sequence in which they are used, may completely alter the flavor of the same flavoring. We’ve highlighted some of India’s most widely used spices.
(Hindi: Haldi | Tamil: Manjal | Marathi: Halada | Kannada: Arishina)
This golden spice is a must-have component in every Indian cooking. It’s difficult to find an Indian home that doesn’t have it, just like red chili powder. Turmeric’s vivid yellow hue is due to the curcumin contained in it.
Ground turmeric is used in stews, curries, gravies, lentils, and, well, pretty much everything, not just for color but also for medicinal purposes. When we combine turmeric with spicy and savory foods, the body absorbs curcumin more quickly.
2. Bay Leaves
(Hindi: Tej Patta | Tamil: Birinji Ilai | Marathi: Tamalpatra | Kannada: Pallav Elle)
The taste and aroma of Indian bay leaves are well recognized. Not to be mistaken with the bay laurel leaf, Indian bay leaves, also called Tej patta, are frequently used in curries, biryanis, and kormas in dried form. This fragrant leaf is also included in garam masala. Use these spices in these delectable Indian main meals.
3. Star Anise
(Hindi: Chakra Phul | Tamil: Anashuppu | Marathi: Badian | Kannada: Chakramaggi)
Anise has a flavor similar to fennel, although it is harsher and less flowery. In certain Garam Masala recipes, star anise is added. It’s a wonderful frying spice, and it’s the main ingredient in the amazing tamarind chutney that you can have in many restaurants or as a dipping sauce with chapatis, samosas, and other Indian street foods.
(Hindi: Kesar | Tamil: Kumkuma Poo | Marathi: Keshar | Kannada: Kesari)
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It is available in tiny threads known as saffron strands. To unleash the full taste and color of saffron, it is gently crushed and steeped in lukewarm water or milk. Saffron, like cardamom and cloves, is used in both sweet and savory recipes. Saffron provides rich taste and color to Indian kulfi (ice cream), kheer, and dum biryani.
(Hindi: Jaiphal | Tamil: Jathikkai | Marathi: Jaiphal | Kannada: Jaji Kai)
Nutmeg, whole and grated, is a widely used spice in India, especially in south Indian cuisine. When used whole, shave it using a sharp knife. Shave the nutmeg with a sharp knife to use this spice. Additionally, you may use the whole nutmeg or crush it into bigger pieces and utilize it in a Taarka stage.
To create masalas (spice mixes) for Keralan chicken curries and thattukada (street vendor) meals, nutmeg is roasted and mixed with coconut, sesame, poppy, and mustard seeds, as well as other spices, in south Indian cuisine and many Indian cuisines.
6. Mustard Seeds
(Hindi: Sarason Ke Beej | Tamil: Kadugu | Marathi: Mohori | Kannada: Sasuve)
Brown mustard seeds are more frequently used in Indian cuisine than black mustard seeds. These seeds may be cooked whole in oil to flavor it, which can then be used to prepare raw food or as a garnish. While these seeds are native to Rome, the oldest references to their usage may be found in Buddha tales, when he uses them to save a boy’s life.
(Javitri) (Hindi: Javitri | Tamil: Jathipattiri | Telugu Japatri| Marathi: Jaypatri | Kannada: Japatre)
Mace is a spice that surrounds the nutmeg seed in a webbing or leaf-like pattern. Mace has a more savory, musky flavor than nutmeg, yet their flavors are close enough that they may be readily mistaken.
Mace is often cooked whole, and one blade or leaf of mace is typically enough to give a powerful flavor.
(Hindi: Lehsan | Tamil: Ullipoondu | Marathi: Lasoon| Kannada: Bellulli)
It’s not particularly Indian (or even a spice), yet it’s a necessary Indian flavor. Using garlic cloves the size of commercial garlic, 4 to 10 cloves in a 4 person dish will give you a nice robust garlic taste. If you want a softer taste, add it when you start frying your onions, or if you want a stronger flavor, add it after the onions are cooked, giving the garlic less cooking time.
(Hindi: Methi| Tamil: Vendhayam| Marathi: Methi | Kannada: Menthe)
Fenugreek is an Indian spice with a mild flavor. Fenugreek seeds are bitter, yet they offer many health advantages. The leaves are a fragrant green spice that is less bitter than other spices and has a lovely maple-like aroma. According to some, this Indian spice “smells like curry.”
This spice is very perhaps the most vital of all Indian spices. Use up to a few teaspoons near the end of the cooking time for a family-size dinner, but start with a teaspoon. Fenugreek seeds provide a plethora of health benefits.
(Hindi: Saunf | Tamil: Perumjeeragam | Marathi: Badishep | Kannada: Badisoppu)
Fennel and anise are both closely related to black licorice. Fennel works well as a whole spice in Taarka and is also used to flavor madras and other curries. Candied fennel seed is a popular after-dinner mint in Indian eateries.
(Hindi: Jira | Tamil: Jeerakam| Marathi: Jira | Kannada: Jeerage)
Cumin seeds sizzling in ghee have an unmatched fragrance! Cumin seeds and mustard seeds are used in the majority of Indian tempering, or heating spices in ghee. Cumin seeds and ground cumin are widely utilized across the Indian subcontinent. Cumin seeds, freshly roasted and crushed, give an incredible zing to deep-fried appetizers like chaat, and cumin seeds are a vital component in many South Indian curry pastes.
(Hindi: Dhaniya| Tamil: Kothamalli | Marathi: Dhane | Kannada: Kothambari)
Fresh herbs constantly improve the taste of any meal, and coriander leaves are no exception. Adding fresh coriander leaves as a garnish towards the end considerably improves the taste. Coriander leaves are used in a variety of chutneys, the most well-known of which being green chutney for chaat.
Coriander Powder is the powdered form of dried coriander seeds. Coriander seeds and coriander powder are both used in Indian cuisine. Coriander seeds are used to make fresh Sambar masala or Garam masala, and coriander powder is useful in all Indian curries and gravies.
(Hindi: Lavang | Tamil: Krambu | Marathi: Lavang | Kannada: Lavanga)
Cloves, along with cardamom and cinnamon bark, are a necessary component in Indian curry pastes, spice powders, biryanis, kormas, and sweets. Cloves provide kheer/sweet pudding a unique taste, and masala chai is incomplete without them. Cloves are an important component in a variety of medical formulations due to their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities and are the finest home treatment for toothaches.
14. Cinnamon/Cassia Bark
(Hindi: Dalchini | Tamil: Karuvapattai | Marathi: Dalchini | Kannada: Lavangapattai)
Cinnamon is a sweet spice with a warm woody aroma that is mainly grown in the Western Ghats of Kerala and Tamil Nadu (basmati rice with lamb). This makes it a great ingredient for cakes and desserts. Cinnamon has several health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
(Hing) (Hindi: Hing | Tamil: Perungayam | Marathi: Hing | Kannada: Hingu)
Asafoetida is a dried gum or latex produced from the ferula plant’s sap. It has a pungent odor, earning it the nickname “stinking gum.” In Indian cuisine, asafoetida is used to aid digestion of difficult-to-digest meals. Asafoetida may also help with gaseous problems.
16. Black Cardamom
(Hindi: Kali/Badi Elaichi | Tamil: Katu/Periya Elam | Marathi: Masalyachi Velchi | Kannada: Dodda Yelakki)
Black cardamom seeds have a similar eucalyptus aroma to green cardamom seeds and are one of the most important spices on our list. The critical distinction is that they are dried over a fire before being used in cuisine, imparting a charred and smokey flavor.
There is no alternative for black cardamom’s unique aroma. Numerous meals include them. Typically, recipes for approximately four people call for just one or two entire black cardamom pods. In Indian cuisine, they are often seen in Biriyani.
17. Green Chilli
(Hindi: Mirch | Tamil: Milagai | Marathi: Mirchi| Kannada: Menasina Kayi)
Chilies are produced across India, and several kinds of green chilies are utilized in Indian cuisine. Fresh, thin Indian green chilies are used as a seasoning in curries, stews, pickles, and eaten raw. Each chili has a distinct flavor and degree of heat.
18. Dried Ginger
(Hindi: Saunth | Tamil: Sukku | Marathi: Sunth | Kannada: Shunti)
Dried ginger has a plethora of health advantages. It is an excellent medication for treating the common cold and flu, aiding in weight reduction, lowering blood sugar levels, alleviating menstrual pain, combating inflammation in the body, and treating upset stomach. Dry ginger powder is a seasoning that is often used in curries, gravies, and marinades.
Dry ginger powder, often known as the “baker’s choice,” is frequently used to flavor gingerbread. Ginger tea may be made by combining it with turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves.
19. Himalayan Salt (Black Salt)
(Hindi: Kala Namak| Tamil: Karu Uppu | Marathi: Saindhav Meeth| Kannada: Saindhav Meeth)
Himalayan black salt is rich in antioxidants and has a surprisingly low amount of sodium. It increases the formation of bile in the liver, which aids in the management of heartburn and bloating. It decreases the formation of acid, gas, and flatulence, soothes reflux, and improves vitamin absorption in the small intestine. It is a sulfur-rich salt that imparts a pungent, rich, egg-like flavor to various South Asian and Indian dishes, savory snacks, salads, fruits, and soups.
(Hindi: Imli | Tamil: Puli | Marathi: Chinch | Kannada: Hunisi Hannu)
Tamarind is a tart and sweet tropical fruit that is utilized in a variety of health and culinary applications. It has a high concentration of antioxidants and also has anticancer effects. Additionally, it benefits heart health and cholesterol levels.
22. Mango Powder
(Hindi: Amchoor | Tamil: Maangaa Podi | Marathi: Aamchur | Kannada: Mavinakai Pudi)
This powder is often referred to as amchoor. It’s one of our favorite spices, and it adds a wonderful sourness to any meal. It’s a popular Indian flavor that’s quite sour.
Because it is made from dried mango, it is high in acids, and a little goes a long way.
23. Dry Fenugreek Leaves
(Hindi: Methi Sag/Kasoori Methi | Tamil: Venthiya Keerai | Marathi: Methi | Kannada: Menthina Soppu)
Kasuri Methi, or dried fenugreek leaves, is an important component in Indian cuisine. You may use this simple herb to flavor curries, dals, and pulavs, and you’ll love the flavor it brings to your everyday meals. These dried leaves have a taste similar to celery and fennel, but with a somewhat bitter edge. The leaves are often crushed and sprinkled over meat and vegetable curries before serving.
24. Nigella Seeds
(Hindi: Kalonji| Tamil: Karunjeerakam| Marathi: Aamchur | Kannada: Krishna Jeerige)
Nigella seeds, also known as kalonji in Hindi, are often mistaken with black sesame seeds. Even though they seem to be the same, the taste profiles are vastly different. The nigella seeds have a little onion flavor, and the roasted seeds enhance the flavors of the curry and sauce. These nigella seeds are an essential component in the Indian pickle masala known as achari masala.
(Hindi: Chhoti Elaichi | Tamil: Yelakkai | Marathi: Velchil | Kannada: Yelakki)
Cardamom is native to India’s Malabar Coast and is a member of the ginger family of spices. It is the world’s third most costly spice, owing to the fact that it is hand-harvested and takes a lot of physical labor. While green cardamom has a moderate and subtle eucalyptus flavor, black cardamom is hot and smokey and is usually used solely for its seeds. Cardamom is most frequently used to flavor tea and puddings.
26. Black Pepper
(Hindi: Kali Mirch | Tamil: Milagu | Marathi: Mira | Kannada: Kari Menasu)
Everybody will be familiar with the flavor of black pepper. It’s worth mentioning that its sharpness is one of a kind in the pepper world. Black pepper’s heat is likely to be detected before that of any other spicy ingredient, and it provides a strong high flavor note that no other spice can hope to match.
(Hindi: Adrak | Tamil: Inji | Marathi: Aale | Kannada: Shunti)
Ginger is the most important Indian spice, and it is one-half of the recipe for ginger garlic paste, which is used in most Indian dishes. This spice may be used dry. Some recipes specifically specify it. Ginger/garlic paste is used in almost all Indian cuisines. If you don’t have any, chop a 1-2 inch piece of raw ginger, grated or minced, and sauté it with your garlic once the onions have been clarified. Make certain that the ginger has been peeled beforehand.
28. Chilli Powder
(Hindi: Lal Mirch| Tamil: Mulakupodi| Marathi: Lal Mirchi| Kannada: Kempu Menasinakai)
Red chili powder is produced from the hottest component of red chilies, the seeds. As a result, the powder is very potent and is only used in tiny amounts. While it originated in the Americas, it was brought to India by the Portuguese and has since become an essential component of Indian cuisine. The entire chile is often used in many South Indian recipes.
29. Curry Leaves
(Hindi: Kadhi Patta | Tamil: Kariveppilai | Marathi: Karhinimb | Kannada: Karibevu)
Curry leaves are one of the most intriguing Indian spices, while not being the least significant. They are the leaves of Murraya koenigii, and although they are available dried, they are best used fresh, in the first or second step of cooking, fried up with onions and your tadka spices, to give a pungent, citrus-like fragrance.
(Hindi: Ajwain| Tamil: Omam| Marathi: Ova| Kannada: Om Kalugalu)
Carom is an extremely powerful spice that is used in many Indian cuisines. Each small carom fruit has a large quantity of thymol, giving it a flavor similar to thyme but many times stronger. Carom is widely used in bread across India.
It is used sparingly in Indian recipes, fried first to give a smokey flavor, and pairs well with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and other strong flavors such as mustard, cardamom, or cumin.
31. Garam Masala
This spice blend is the most well-known in India. This seasoning is a blend of dried spices, comprising pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, coriander, tej patta, pepper, and a few more ingredients. Many recipes, like Chana Masala, make use of this spice. While your onions are frying or while your sauce is boiling, add one to two tablespoons of the seasoning. A garnish is sometimes applied to it.
Notably, garam masala has the greatest variety of flavors of all the spices. In that the list of components used to create it varies greatly from area to region, it is unlike any other spice in that the flavor likewise varies greatly from one region to the next. This spice, or rather this blend of spices, will very certainly be an ingredient in any dish you consume in India. Some include mustard, others have a lot of fennel, some contain just a little.