10 Essential Indian Spices You Need to Know
Indian food is renowned for its vast array of spices. The beauty of this cuisine is about the delicate balance of many spices. Whether you oil-fry your spices or dry-roast them, they’re full of aromatics and flavour. Read below to find out 10 essential Indian spices that no kitchen should be without!
There are two different varieties of cardamom that are commonly used in cooking: green cardamom and black cardamom. Green tends to be used more often with a light and sweet flavour and can be found in nearly everything from garam masala to lassi. Black cardamom has a smokey flavour and an extremely powerful flavour. When using cardamom, be careful with being too heavy-handed! You don’t want it to overpower the rest of the flavours of the dish.
In Western cuisine, we tend to associate cloves with Christmas time, however, in Indian cuisine, its used commonly all year round. The gentle anises notes of this spices is often recognisable in spice blends. You can use them whole or ground up.
Chilli is possibly the first spice many think of when picturing Indian spices! As expected, chilli powder is all about bringing that warming heat to a dish. There are many different varieties of chilli powder, varying in colour and spiciness level.
Cumin is an extremely aromatic spice with warm and earthy tones. You’ll find it either as seeds or as a ground powder – quite often toasted. Freshly ground cumin is the best way to release the intense flavour of this spices, however, careful when toasting as it can burn very easily.
This seed is often regarded as one of the oldest known spices in the world. The coriander seeds are particularly aromatic with citrus tones. Ground coriander is one of the most commonly used Indian spices, especially as it is a key element in garam masala.
Fresh ginger can give your Indian dish a real earthy and peppery kick. If you’re using ginger, add it in at the same time as the garlic to allow the natural oils of the root release whilst cooking.
There are 3 different colours of mustards seeds: yellow, black, and brown. All three can be used interchangeably in Indian cooking. To maximise the smokey and nutty flavour of mustard seeds they should be crushed or kept whole and cooked in oil. Mustard seeds are particularly prominent in the cuisine of North India.
Fenugreek may not be the most well known by name, however, its flavour is certainly identifiable. Fenugreek gives madras curries the ‘curry’ flavour and fragrance that many associate generally with Indian cooking. Fenugreek leaves are often used in Indian cooking. They tend to be dried and either infuse sauces or crushed, particularly in butter chicken recipes.
Turmeric is often recognised for its bright and colourful hue. This particular spice is known to have some incredible health benefits, and is featuring in many surprising forms, including lattes. This pungent spice gives Indian dishes a beautifully rich colour.
Previously worth more than gold, saffron is one of the most revered Indian spices around the world. Saffron is the stigma of crocus flowers and is picked by hand. Saffron has a beautiful honey and sweet flavour, which is perfect for balancing the strong spicy flavours of Indian cooking.