The mystic blend of myriad spices makes Indian food as extraordinary as it is. What makes it more fun is the distinct flavor, function and fragrance of each spice added to the dish, be it ginger powder, turmeric powder, cinnamon powder or onion powder. So, here's an Indian spice list for you.
When visiting India or your local Indian grocery store, here are the seven spices you must know about before adding them to your cart!
Know Your Spices: A Beginner's Guide
In India, like other ingredients, spices are considered delicacies. From a warm and welcoming tea to the most complex and specially cooked Biryani, the taste secret lies in the type and kind of spices used to cook.
Spices: Food, Flavor & Fragrance
Contrary to common belief, spices flavor food rather than necessarily makes it hot and spicy. Every Indian spice has a beautiful, distinct flavor, and you may use a combination of different spices to create a unique, delicious variety of flavors. Each herb has a specific health or wellness benefit that makes it a memorable part of the dish structure. Want to know what that is? Read on!
7 Spices You Can't Cook Indian Food Without
Indian cooking is no less than science when making a concoction of spices to get the best aroma and flavor. Each Indian spice has a deliciously unique taste, and by combining several complimenting spices, a cook can create a dish full of tempting morsels. The most commonly used household Indian spices are:
1) Turmeric Powder
Appearance: Vibrant, orangish-yellow
Aroma: Earthy, spicy
Taste Notes: Warm, peppery, ginger-like
Celebrated as the 'golden spice of India', turmeric powder is a vibrant orangish-yellow spice made from pure turmeric roots. It has a distinctive earthy and spicy aroma with a warm, peppery, and ginger-like flavor. Organic turmeric powder, the backbone of several Indian dishes and teas, contains curcumin, an active ingredient that makes turmeric earthy and rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric powder uses range from reducing bodily inflammation, boosting immunity, and aiding digestion to much more.
Directions: Use turmeric powder as a cooking and seasoning ingredient in grilled dishes, smoothies, lattes, etc.
2) Cinnamon Powder
Aroma: Sweet, earthy
Taste Notes: Sweet, minty, woody
Known as the 'herbal brown zest', Cinnamon powder is a warm, cozy, soothing spice with a sweet and woody flavor. It works magic on metabolism and overall health. Rich in antioxidant, antidiabetic, and anti-microbial properties, the cinnamon powder also has ayurvedic anti-inflammatory powers that can fight bodily infections, aches, hormonal imbalance and even chronic diseases.
Directions: Use cinnamon powder as a cooking, baking and seasoning ingredient in curries, cake, smoothies, etc.
3) Clove Powder
Appearance: Coppery, dark tan
Aroma: Spicy, fragrant
Taste Notes: Sweet, warm, minty
Proclaimed as the sweetest spice, a flavor enhancer, and a pain reliever, clove is a highly versatile savory spice. Its usage and benefits range from treating the gut, bone health and inflammation to protecting against cancer, liver and sexual problems. Loved for its warm and intense aroma and tangy to spicy taste, clove is also big on nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and manganese.
Directions: Use clove powder as a cooking and seasoning ingredient in biryani, lentils, masala tea, etc.
4) Cumin Powder
Appearance: Brownish mustard
Aroma: Toasty, nutty
Taste Notes: Warm, spicy
A remarkable ayurvedic superfood, cumin powder, is one of the most used Indian spices. Cumin powder is rich in antioxidants (flavonoids), vitamins and minerals, which neutralize all toxins in the body. Its warm, spicy, natural, ayurvedic properties make it a healing miracle to ease digestion, obesity, gut, heart and other ailments.
Directions: Use cumin powder as a cooking and seasoning ingredient in meats, lentil curry, burrito, etc.
5) Onion Powder
Appearance: Creamy white
Aroma: Sharp, slightly sweet
Taste Notes: Sweet, creamy onion
Onion powder is the evergreen spice that completes all Indian dishes. It is a superfood spice with low calories and has nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. From a strong and sharp flavor to sweet, creamy and spicy, onion has quite a broad taste portfolio. In addition, it acts as an armor against gut, heart, bone, sugar, cholesterol and other ailments.
Directions: Use onion powder as cooking, seasoning and pickling ingredients in soups, stews, meats, etc.
6) Ginger Powder
Appearance: Brownish beige
Aroma: Sharp, pungent
Taste Notes: Spicy, warm, zingy
Praised as the holy superfood spice of the Indian and ayurvedic kingdom, organic ginger powder is loved for its spicy and zingy flavor. It is used widely in Indian cuisines for its incredible health benefits such as better digestion, respiration and immunity, etc., due to the presence of a bioactive component called gingerol.
Directions: Use ginger powder as a cooking and seasoning ingredient in sauces, curries, chutneys, etc.
7) Ashwagandha Powder
Appearance: Creamy white
Aroma: Fresh-cut hay
Taste Notes: Slightly bitter and earthy
Known as ‘Indian ginseng’, ‘winter cherry’ and even the ‘prince of Indian spices’, Ashwagandha comes from the Sanskrit term 'Ashwagandha' which means ‘smell of the horse’. Ashwagandha root powder benefits include increasing athletic performance, easing mental health conditions and improving sleep, fertility, etc. In addition, ashwagandha powder is rich in energy, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C.
Directions: Use ashwagandha powder as a cooking and seasoning ingredient in porridge, latte, desserts, etc.
To sum up, there is a lot more to Indian spices than just the flavors they provide. Explore the herbs described above and add a variety of tastes to your Indian and fusion cuisines. Spice your food with flavor with your favorite ones because unique Indian spices can give your meals an unmatched taste!
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