Indian Spices 101 – A Simple Guide of Essential Spices
Samee Frozen Food prides itself on the vast range of spices and herbs we stock for our customers, the most popular being for Indian cuisine. While the chefs who purchase spices from us are extremely familiar with the flavours, those new to cooking Indian and Asian cuisine may find the vast range of spices intimidating. We have created a guide about the essential spices you will be reaching for when cooking Indian food, once these become familiar you will find Indian food is not as complicated as you think.
Both green and black cardamoms, or elachi, are used in Indian cooking. Green cardamoms are used more often than black, being used in everything from spice mixes in curries to Indian drinks and desserts. Green cardamom is described to have a light, floral, aromatic and slightly sweet flavour, and is often blended whole when making spice mixes such as Garam Masala.
Black cardamom is described to have quite a strong, smoky flavour, and is to be used sparingly. Usually only the seeds would be used in a dish, or if a whole black cardamom is used it will be removed before serving as it can be spicy to bite into.
Cloves, or Long, are flowers which have their oils extracted and dried before they are used for cooking and medicinal purposes. Cloves are known for their strong and warm anise flavour and can be used whole or blended into spice mixes such as Garam Masala.
Cassia Bark or Cinnamon Sticks/Dalchini
Cassia Bark is also known as Chinese cinnamon, or Dalchini. It is a cheaper relative of true cinnamon. Indian cuisines are known to use more cassia bark than cinnamon, as it is a milder flavour and can be used in larger quantities. Cassia bark can be used whole or ground into spice mixes.
Most Indian curries require this spice, due to its strong, aromatic flavour. Cumin, or jeera, is often used dry roasted whole, and in spice mixes to add a smoky flavour to many dishes.
Cumin can often be confused with caraway seeds, also known as black cumin or kala/shahi jeera. Black cumin has a much sweeter taste compared to normal cumin.
Coriander is one of the most well-known and most used Indian spices. The whole coriander seed is dry roasted and used in many spice mixes, such as Garam Masala, while coriander powder is used commonly in curries and Indian dishes.
Coriander is one of the oldest Indian spices, and it known for its aromatic flavour. The seeds and leaves can be used as a cooking spice and garnish.
Turmeric, also known as Haldi, is another common spice used in Indian cooking, and its vivid yellow colour gives Indian cuisine its distinguishing colour. Turmeric has many health benefits and is used in a range of spice mixes and curries.
Turmeric has a strong earthy flavour and is used in small quantities to give curries its distinguishable yellow colour.