14 Essential Spices in Indian Cooking | The Complete Guide


Indian spices are intriguing seasonings. They contain a sea of aromas that transform almost any culinary preparation into extraordinary. Spices, herbs, and essential oils have formed the foundation for flavourings that distinguish the dishes of the world's many cultures and cuisines. Indian adores its food, and it has accepted and adored every new spice offered to it for generations. Combining traditional spices to create exquisite dishes is a spiritual endeavour. Exploring Indian cuisine would undoubtedly broaden your culinary range. The top 14 spices used in Indian cuisine are listed below. Getting acquainted with these spices is an excellent place to start.

  1. Turmeric (Haldi):

Turmeric is essential in Indian cuisine. Turmeric has a deep aromatic taste with bitter and earthy undertones. This spice boasts the most health advantages of any spice used in Indian cookery, as well as an amazing yellow colour. A teaspoon is often used to flavour and colour a dish for a family of four. If used for medicinal purposes, incorporate at least a dash of black pepper in your recipes. Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory; however, its effectiveness is lessened in the absence of black pepper.

  1. Cumin (Jeera):

In India, this spice is called Jeera; however, most people confuse it with fennel, black cumin, and caraway seed. Cumin varies in size, flavour, and scent depending on its place of origin. Jeera is used in both whole and powdered forms. It's also a key element of various spice mixes, including Garam Masala, Chaat Masala, Jal Jeera, and Panch Phoran. Jeera is a great digestive, and its dark ground roast is frequently taken with plain yoghurt after a meal. It is used to season the curries, vegetables and lentils cooked in oil.

  1. Coriander or Dhaniya:

Coriander seeds vary in size and colour. Indian coriander seeds are smaller, lighter in colour, have a greenish tint, and have a distinct lemony flavour. This seed has a citrus scent with some leafy, woody undertones and is used in various recipes, including Madras and Vindaloo. Coriander seeds are the best ground into powder immediately before adding a sauce.

  1. Chilli:

Chilli is a staple in every Indian cooking, and its spiciness ranges from moderate to extremely fiery. They are utilised in numerous forms, including fresh green chilli, dried red chilli, and dried and crushed red chilli. Chilli powder is the foundation for any flavourful, hot, and spicy meal. Chilli powder is often used in a variety of veg and non-veg marinades. It is widely used in salads, kachumber, and tomato-based sauces. The flavour and heat combination of the chilli powder is usually used in ethnic foods.

  1. Cinnamon or Dalchini:

Dalchini is a small evergreen tree that is originally produced in India and Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is a strong woody spice with sweet and savoury aromas. Because of its quick perfume and flavour, it may improve the taste and smell of any food and has been a favourite spice choice since ancient times. The spice has a spicy and sweet flavour and is noted for its dry, powerful, and sharp characteristics.

  1. Ajwain , Carom Seeds:

Ajwain is used in curries, as a tadka in pakoras and dals, and as a seasoning in bread in Indian cuisine. Carom is used in Middle Eastern cuisine to enhance the flavour of meat and rice meals and is a preservative in chutneys, pickles, and jams.

  1. Cardamom:

Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of different ginger trees. Cardamom comes in two varieties: black cardamom and green cardamom. Whole cardamom pods are utilised in the preparation of basmati rice and several curries in Indian cuisine. Cardamom has a strong, distinct flavour as well as a powerfully fragrant, resinous scent. Cardamom is a popular ingredient and the costliest of all the Indian food spices.

  1. Black Pepper:

Pepper is widely used all around the world. In India, it is most often used in the city of Kerala, where peppercorns are found in practically every cuisine. Prior to the introduction of chilli plants in India, pepper was used to add spiciness to meals. Pepper is prized not just as a spice, but also for its therapeutic benefits. Pepper is used in varying proportions in several famous spice mixes. In Indian cuisine, pepper is usually served dry, and white, red, or green pepper is uncommon, if not unknown.

  1. Asafoetida – Hing:

Asafoetida is a gum derived from a gigantic fennel species with a strong and pungent odour similar to rotting garlic. It's the best spice for people who can't or won't consume onion or garlic since it offers a comparable depth and savoury flavour to meals. It is used in spice mixes such as Sambar masala in powdered form, but its most popular use is in tempering lentil soups, where it creates a profoundly pleasant change in the flavour and aroma of Indian cuisine. Asafoetida gives an enticing savoury background flavour to many forms of cooking. Of course, it shines on classic Indian dishes, but don't be hesitant to experiment with a pinch in various dishes. It pairs well with lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, peas, and cauliflower.

  1. Mustard Seeds:

There isn't an Indian kitchen that doesn't include mustard seeds in its spice cabinet. On the other hand, Mustard seeds come in three colours: brown, black, and yellow. Yellow mustard is less spicy and sweeter than the other two. Black mustard seeds are the smallest and most intensely flavoured of all. To unleash the spice's nutty taste, sauté it in a heated medium such as oil. The main aim is to produce zest in a recipe; this spice should be pounded into a fine paste in a mortar and pestle with sharp smelling herbs like garlic, ginger, and green chilli. Brown mustard seeds are used to extract Mustard oil which is extremely popular cooking oil in Eastern India. This simple and affordable spice adds taste to dishes and has vital therapeutic effects.

  1. Fenugreek Seeds:

This affordable, healthful, and fragrant spice, known as Methi in India, is virtually always a part of every cooking in most regions of the country. Fenugreek seeds are commonly used in Panch Phoran, Sambar Masala, and Indian pickles. After soaking the seed in water, it is crushed with lentils and rice to make batters. You may also soak the seeds for a while and add them to salads. This spice's earthy flavour and scent are only revealed when bloomed in oil or boiling water.

  1. Tamarind:

Even before people in India recognised tomatoes, Tamarind was one of the most used souring spices available. It is extensively used in the southern parts of India in recipes like sambhar, chutney and many more that are soured with the intense flavours of Tamarind! It is widely said, the sweet and tangy flavour of Tamarind is unmatched and exclusive.

  1. Bayleaf:

Bay leaves are often used in cooking curries , pulao, biryani, pulao, soups, and other Indian foods. Because of its distinguished flavour and aroma, this culinary herb, also known as tej patta, is a key component of Indian cuisine.. Indian bay leaves have a distinct perfume and flavor that is evocative of cinnamon, cloves, and cassia. When blooming in oil, the leaf shall leave an exquisite aroma.

  1. Curry Leaves:

Curry leaf is written correctly as Kadi leaf or Kadi Patta. Patta means leaf, and kadi means bitter. To understand why someone would use a bitter-tasting spice in a dish, you must first sample it. After tasting it in cuisine, you may discover a new meaning for the expression "leaving a bitter taste in your mouth."


Please know that this entire procedure does not have to be daunting. Tikka n Curry's cooking kits and sauces provide everything you need to get started. Then you can order your favorite Indian curry or meal with the medley of the best Indian spices to prepare a restaurant-quality Indian dinner!

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