Indian Bread
 Indian Rice
 Indian Tea
 Quick & Easy
 Regional Dishes
 Calorie Counter
 Food Facts


Site Index
Contact Us

Indian Spices

   Ethnic Indian Cuisine is well known for its sophisticated use of spices and  herbs.

   Here is a list of the most common Indian Spices in alphabetical order.

 A - G
 A - G   H - L   M - Z
Aadrak (Ginger)
Ginger is commonly used in Indian Cuisine. It is used fresh as a spice for boiled tea especially in winter. Fresh ginger is one of the main spices used for making pulse and lentil curries and meat preparations. In south India, ginger is used in a variety of Pickles.
Aamchur powder (Mango powder)
Dried unripe mango used as a spice in India is known as amchur (sometimes spelled amchoor). Am is a Hindi word for Mango and amchoor is nothing but powder or extract of Mango.
Ajwain (Carom seed)

It is the small seed-like fruit of the Bishop's Weed plant. It is egg-shaped and grayish in color. Raw ajwain smells almost exactly like thyme because it also contains thymol, but is more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as slightly bitter and pungent. It tastes like thyme or caraway, only stronger. Even a small amount of raw ajwain will completely dominate the flavor of a dish. It is called Omam in Tamil. In Indian cuisine, ajwain is almost never used raw, but either dry-roasted or fried in ghee. This develops a much more subtle and complex aroma, somewhat similar to caraway but "brighter". It is used for making a type of paratha, called 'ajwain ka paratha'.

Elaichi (Cardamom)
Commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom. It is often used in traditional Indian sweets and in tea, or chai. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking. One of the most expensive spices by weight, little is needed to impart the flavour. Cardamom is best stored in pod form, because once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavor. However, high-quality ground cardamom is often more readily (and cheaply) available, and is an acceptable substitute. For recipes requiring whole cardamom pods, a generally accepted equivalent is 10 pods equals 1 teaspoons of ground cardamom. Black cardamom or "Badi Elaichi" is sometimes used in garam masala for curries.
Chakra Phool (Star anise)
These are star shaped fruits. It is a major component of garam masala.  It is used as a spice in preparation of Biriyani - a delicious rice preparation.
Dalchini (Cinnamon)
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavouring material. In Indian Cuisine, it is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb.
Dhania (Coriander)

also commonly called cilantro in North America. The fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the most commonly used in cooking. Fresh Chopped coriander leaves are also used as a garnish on cooked dishes such as dal and many curries. As heat diminishes their flavour quickly, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish right before serving. Dried coriander seeds are warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavored.

It is bought as whole dried seeds, but can also be purchased in ground form. When grinding at home, it can be roasted or heated on a dry pan briefly to enhance the aroma before grinding it in an electric grinder or with a mortar and pestle; ground coriander seeds lose their flavour quickly in storage and are best only ground as needed. For optimum flavour, whole coriander seed should be used within six months, or stored for no more than a year in a tightly sealed container away from sunlight and heat.

Coriander seed is a key spice in garam masala and Indian curries, which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin. It also acts as a thickener. Roasted coriander seeds, called dhana dal, are also eaten as a snack. It is also the main ingredient of the two south Indian gravies: sambar and rasam.

Garam Masala (Spice mixture)

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in the Indian cuisine, whose literal meaning is 'hot (or warm) spice'. There are many variants: most traditional mixes use just cinnamon, roasted cumin, cloves, nutmeg (and/or mace) and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. Many commercial mixtures may include more of other less expensive spices and may contain dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, ginger powder, sesame, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, cumin, and fennel. While commercial garam masala preparations can be bought ready ground, it does not keep well, and soon loses its aroma. Whole spices, which keep fresh much longer, can be ground when needed using a mortar and pestle or electric coffee grinder.

Garam masala can be used during cooking, but unlike many spices, it is often added at the end of cooking, so that the full aroma is not lost. Garam masala is not "hot" in the sense that chilis are, but is fairly pungent.

 A - G   H - L   M - Z  





Copyright  2007-2008  Ethnic Indian Cuisine. All Rights Reserved.