Food

8 Top Essential Indian Spices

India is a land of Spices. Heart of Indian Kitchens and of course love for Indian Women. Before we move ahead with knowing the Most Important Spices in India, Let us get to know the history of where and how it all started. Indian Spices have a history which is more than 6000 years old. India was the largest exporter of Spices.Not just that, it has always been the largest producing and consuming countries of spices in the world. Many foreign country were lured by this spice trade and it was amongst one of the reasons why they wanted to have relations with India.

Not just this, Indian spices have been mentioned in the Hindu Scripts which dates backs to Third Century B.C. Now that’s a historical mention! It says spices had uses for Medicinal purposes. Ayurveda describes Spices and its importance with their medicinal purpose. In fact Even today, Ayurveda is the most sought out treatment for few diseases.

Now if you haven’t tasted Indian food , then you are missing something , a lot in your life.The Key to successful Indian Food is using the right spices. Indians like it spiced-up not bland.

“All the Spices serves a different purpose.”

“Indian food is unimaginable without Spices”

Let’s start with the list. With no ranking and random list. There comes the list of 8 Most used and Best Spices of India.

8 Essential Indian Spices

Turmeric (Haldi)

It is best known as The Golden Spice of India

This bright yellow spice gives many Indian food their characteristic color. It is consumed in Deserts as well as Spiced Dishes. But it should not be used in large quantity as it imparts medicinal properties. This spice is significant for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is the only spice that has compounds to fight cancer. Generally, Indians use it as a Night Drink which is Hot Milk with Turmeric. This spice is easily available in Indian Super market or Indian Grocery store.

Recently discovered and called  as Turmeric Latte in the U.S.

Turmeric spice
Turmeric- A yellow colored spice

Cinnamon (Dalchini)

Cinnamon is amongst that Indian Spices used even in Deserts

This tree bark looking thing is actually an important spice. Cinnamon is taken from inner bark of Cinnamomum tree. It is popularly used in Chutneys , Meats and Biryani. You can use Cinnamon or Dalchini as the whole stick broken into pieces and drop only few of it in the dish. But you are not suppose to eat this spice. Of course you can’t eat a tree bark. Since it leaves its rich flavors in the dish and With a strong aroma, it can be used in Deserts like Apple Pie or Cakes or Indian Rice Pudding.

It reduces cholesterol and balances blood sugar level

cinnamon spices balances blood sugar level
Cinnamon stick

Mustard Seeds (Raai)

These tiny seeds are usually black or brown in color. These seeds have spicy smell. You can sprinkle it on Chutneys , Vada , Dosa , Curries and Lentil soups called as Dal. The flavour of mustard seeds are released when it is first put in hot oil. They have Smoky and Nutty flavour. You can use it either as Base or Seasoning depending on what you are cooking.

Mustard seeds are a source of relief for people having rheumatic arthritis.

mustard seeds
Mustard Seeds

Cumin (Jeera)

Cumins have pungent flavour and rich in aroma. Cumin seeds are used as a seasoning ingredient and the ground cumin are used as a flavoring agent. It releases it aroma once its put in the hot oil during the beginning of cooking any dish. It is also used in Rice. Jeera Rice is infact rice cooked with Cumins.

Indians drink Cumins water after a heavy meal as it helps with digestion.

cumin are a seasoning ingredient
Cumin seeds

Ginger (Adrakh)

It resembles Root of a Tree. But it is a stem of a tree. You will find Ginger Paste ready in every Indian Kitchen. Almost all the Indian dishes uses this spice. Be it Meat ,Vegetables and Pulse. It is also used in marination of meats like chicken and meat. Easiest recipe to make Ginger paste is to Put Ginger, Salt and Little Oil in a Blender. Grind it well and your multipurpose Ginger Paste is ready.

Ginger is used for various types of “stomach ailments like including motion sickness, morning sickness, upset stomach and colic

Ginger
Ginger Spice

Coriander seeds(Dhanya)

These seeds serves a lot of purpose. Indian cuisines uses lots of Coriander seeds either as a spice or the leaves feature as a garnish.  It settles an upset stomach and it is good for digestion too. Grind Coriander seeds and store for a longer time and use it as a ground coriander. You can also chop the leaves into fine pieces and sprinkle as a garnish on Pav Bhaji ,Salads, Pasta, Curry, Biryani, etc . You will find this Spice in the Indian grocery store or any Indian Super Market.

Coriander seeds has anti-inflammatory property and can help to control diabetes. Indians usually use this spice by grinding it.

coriander seeds
Coriander Seeds

Cardamom (Elaichi)

The most vivid amongst the spice family is Cardamom. It tastes citrusy, minty, spicy , herbal , so many flavours found in this spice. It’s a digestive aid for most of the Indians. One can consume it in a raw state. It is used in Deserts, Beverages and of course in dishes like Biryani, Pulav, Kheer, etc

Cardamom is one of those Indian spices which speeds up digestion, reduces inflammation of the stomach lining and also fights heart burn and nausea

Cardamom is a tpe if indian spices that speeds up digestion, reduces inflammation of the stomach lining
Cardamom

Saffron (Kesar)

Saffron is the richest and most expensive spice in the world. Kashmir, A heaven on Earth. cultivates saffron. Crocus flowers helps in the derivation of saffron . It is more expensive than gold. The most noticing feature of this spice is ihas  pungent and somewhat honey-like aroma. Above all, To know whether it is in the purest form,  check the color of the saffron.The deeper and darker the color of saffron, the purer it is. People normally soak it in water or milk, which soothes its strong aroma and taste. Again Deserts like Pudding, Saffron Milk,Kheer as well as in Chicken Rice use saffron.

However, Check the quantity carefully as high amount can have toxic effects.A small amount of Saffron goes a long way, and you often won’t need more than a pinch in your recipe.

saffron spices
Saffron

A large use of a wide variety of spices symbolizes India’s food culture and cuisines. And once you’ve stocked up on the must-haves, you’re ready to jump right in and cook delicious, aromatic Indian dish with all the subtle, abiding , deep flavors of great Indian food. You will find these Spices in the Indian grocery store or any Super Market.

How to differentiate the Natural Indian Spices from the Fakes?

  • You can differentiate Ground cinnamon from cassia by adding  iodine drop into the powder. If the spice turns blue, it’s cassia.
  • Natural Turmeric does not forms white stains on the surface
  • Cardamoms are Olive in color and not dark green. A darker color suggests use of artificial color
  • For Saffron, Dissolve the saffron in water and the water changes color. It means it is original

You can use these spices not just for your Culinary, but also for medicinal purposes. A lot of Indian Moms use these spices as a Home remedy which is Quick and Effective.

If you are not using these in your kitchen, you can still keep it for emergency medical aids

2 thoughts on “8 Top Essential Indian Spices

  1. As someone who loves spending time in the kitchen, I am always open to trying new recipes especially if they’re healthy. I was interested in trying out cuisines from other countries so it caught my eye when your article mentioned that ginger is a common ingredient used in Indian cooking. My parents and other relatives love using ginger as an ingredient in everything, so I’m sure they’ll love these recipes as well. I’ll look to see if I can try out well-prepared Indian food from a restaurant first before having my own attempt at it. Thank you!

    1. Hi,
      First of all I hope you are doing amazing.Secondly, I would recommend if you have any Indian friends then try out dishes from their home. Because the restaurants might not have the same taste.But if you dont have any options then you can try food from indian restaurant and then attempt. I am sure it will turn out to be delicious.Please reach out for any advice:)
      Happy cooking:)

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