Indian dishes are delicious and vastly diverse because of the variety of flavours and regions. Indian cuisine is continually put on foodie lists all over the world.
Authentic Indian recipes are full of organic ingredients that are proven to be healthy. Examples include common Indian spices like turmeric that help with inflammation, prevent Alzheimer’s and improve heart health.
If you are new to Indian cuisine and want to learn more about the spices that make it delicious, we offer a handy guide to get you started.
It is important to note that you do not need all the spices listed to get started. The list is intended to help you familiarise yourself with the spices.
Indian cooking is varied, so, depending on what regional food you are cooking, the spices needed may change.
Saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world, is hand-picked strands from the core of the flower, “Crocus sativus”.
It imparts a deep floral and slightly earthy flavour. High-quality saffron should be bright red (with no hints of yellow). Its flavour and colour are brought out by soaking it in warm liquid before adding it to a recipe.
India’s most famous seasoning is garam masala. It is a combination of dried spices including pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, coriander, tej patta and pepper.
It is used in many dishes, including Chana Masala. Add one to two teaspoons while your onions are frying or your sauce is simmering. Sometimes, it is used as a garnish.
Cumin, also known as Jeera, is a popular spice used in Indian cooking. It has a warm, earthy flavour that pairs well with meat, vegetables and lentils.
Cumin is commonly used in Indian curries, soups and stews, and it can be used whole or ground. Cumin is also a digestive aid and is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to improve digestion.
The seeds are easily confused with cumin but are different. They are also known as black cumin, and have a distinctive smoky flavour. Add it to your rice dishes (biryani or pulao) and meat-based curries to give them a richer aroma.
When it comes to spices, sumac is probably one of the lesser known. Sumac is a berry that is dried and ground to form the powder we know. It has an interesting citrus flavour that in Middle Eastern cuisine, is used in everything from salads to meat.
It is believed to be a useful remedy for upset stomachs when made into tea. You can use Sumac in lots of different recipes.
Coriander is a herb that comes from the seeds of the coriander plant, from the parsley family. It has a strong, pungent aroma and flavour used to season many dishes.
The leaves and stems of the coriander plant are also edible and have a milder flavour than the seeds. Coriander is found in almost every Indian recipe.