Spice Up Your Kitchen: A Beginners Guide to Essential Indian Spices

circular tray of indian spices on top of yellow cloth

Indian cuisine is one of the best foods you’ll ever taste. From an artful aesthetic appeal to savory flavors to tantalizing aromas, this cuisine ticks all the right culinary boxes. No wonder it ranks in the top ten on the list of best global fares.

The secret to the delicious Indian dishes lies in the spices used. These components add revered flavors, colors, and aromatic notes to the dishes. Assuming you wish to know the specific spices in Indian fare, here are the top ten.

Bay leaf is one of the most common spices in Indian cuisines. The spice is harvested from the Bay Laurel tree, native to the Mediterranean region. Bay leaves stand out for the woodsy aroma, with hints of honey, clove, and pepper that add to dishes.

This spice has mild bitterness with eucalyptus and menthol notes. Indian chefs use it to prepare biryanis, soups, curries, stews, and lentil-based recipes. Chefs add the leaves to dishes early on to release full flavors and aroma.

Cloves are flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. These buds boast a strong, slightly peppery flavor with a warm profile. Beyond the taste, cloves infuse dishes with a rich aroma with subtle earthiness.

Cloves pair up with many sweet and savory dishes. These include meat curries and rice dishes. Moreover, cloves are a common ingredient in spice blends like garam masala. You add ground or whole cloves to your dishes in the initial stages of cooking.

Cinnamon is another cherished spice in Indian kitchens. Spice experts make cinnamon from the inner bark of Cinnamon trees. This spice helps add a sweet, citrusy flavor to everyday dishes, not just Indian cuisines.

Moreover, cinnamon has a slightly fruity aroma with woody undertones. You can use it to flavor Indian cuisines like kheer, halwa, and chai. It also pairs up nicely with biryanis and meat curries. You can use cinnamon as whole sticks or ground powder.

Cumin is prepared from the seeds of the Cuminum cyminum plant. The seeds are dried and then ground into a fine powder, which you use as a spice. Cumin boasts a distinctive spicy, woody aroma with amber notes.

Cumin’s flavor is a combination of nuttiness, warmth, and a hint of pepper. Chefs use this spice to enhance the taste of stews, lentil dishes, grilled tofu, bean stews, and kebabs. Some of the culinary masters also use cumin powder as a seasoning for bread and rice.

Ginger is another staple spice in Indian cuisine. This spice is from a perennial herbaceous plant known as Zingiber officinale. Usually, chefs use fresh, finely chopped, or grated rhizomes to spice up dishes.

However, powdered ginger can get you similar culinary results. Ginger has a spicy aroma with citrusy and fruity undertones. Although its flavor is hard to describe, spice experts describe it as spicy, peppery, and hot.

Ginger is a cornerstone in many spice blends, including curry powders and masalas. You can use ginger to spice up various meals, including tofu, green beans, salmon, and pork. Moreover, you can add ginger to all sorts of meat dishes.

Fenugreek spice is prepared from the seeds of the Fenugreek plant. This Indian spice stands out due to its sweet aroma and slightly nutty fragrance. It adds a warm, earthy fragrance, making your regular dishes more tasty.

Like many Indian spices, Fenugreek’s flavor is complex. It combines bitterness, warmth, and a faint maple syrup-like sweetness. You can use Fenugreek to add depth to lentil dishes, vegetable curries, Kerala prawns, and pickles.

Cardamom is another spice used in Indian cuisine. Spice experts prepare Cardamom from the seeds of the Elettaria cardamom plant. It is revered for its enticing citrusy, minty, and herbal aroma.

 In terms of flavor, Cardamom adds a spicy warmth, floral hints, and subtle eucalyptus freshness to your meals. With this herb, you can spice up various dishes, including biryanis, chai, and desserts. Chefs recommend adding Cardamom at the beginning of cooking so it infuses its full aromatic essence into your dishes.

Saffron, also known as red gold, is the world’s most expensive spice. Spice experts prepare it from the stigma of the Crocus sativus flower. Culinary masters revere the herb for its sweet floral aroma with honeyed notes.

Beyond the sweet aroma, Saffron boasts a subtly sweet flavor that adds an unparalleled depth to dishes. Moreover, this priced Indian spice adds a signature golden yellow hue to various foods, enhancing visual appeal.

The red gold spice is a crucial ingredient in Indian biryanis, kormas, and desserts like phirni. You can also spice up potato, rice, beans, chicken, and fish delicacies.

Turmeric spice is prepared from the rhizomes of the Curcuma longa plant. Manufacturers dry the rhizomes and then grind them into a fine powder. The Turmeric spice is famous for the vibrant yellow hue it adds to dishes like rice.

Besides color, Turmeric adds a mild aroma to food with subtle hints of citrus and ginger. Moreover, Turmeric adds a mild, slightly peppery flavor to beans, rice, soup, and whole grain dishes.

Chefs recommend adding Turmeric early in the cooking process so it infuses its color and flavor into the base of the dish.

Nutmeg is prepared from the seeds of the Myristica fragrans tree. The seeds are dried and then ground into a fragrant powder. Nutmeg adds warm, woody, and sweet tones to dishes. Moreover, nutmeg adds sweetness, nuttiness, and subtle spiciness to various dishes.

You can spice up meat-based dishes, biryanis, kormas, and potatoes. Moreover, this spice can lift the aroma and flavor of bechamel sauce, sausages, vegetables, confections, and puddings.

Most of the spices in Indian food are cultivated and produced in various regions. In addition, the availability of these spices is highly dependent on the season. For this reason, securing the mentioned spices in your locality is always a toll order.

This is where our store, the International Fresh Market comes in handy. We provide an extensive selection of Indian spices all round the year. Our spices are fresh and high-quality, so they add a genuine taste and aroma to your dishes.

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