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8 Essential Indian Spices You Need In Your Kitchen

8 Essential Indian Spices You Need In Your Kitchen

Authored By Emilie Wolfman

The myriad spices of India have been globally cherished and sought after for thousands of years...

Once a carefully guarded secret, with elaborate rumours of their connection to magic, preservation and medicine spreading across continents by savvy traders, Indian spices today are accountable for the evolution of culinary palettes around the world. These wondrous ingredients inject life into every dish, exciting all of the important senses. 


We’ve selected 8 warming spices for autumn and winter that no Indian dish would be complete without. You need these aromatic treasures to create the exceptional pazzazz typical of Indian cuisine.

1. Black Pepper: Sharp and Fresh 

Indian black pepper is recognised as one of the finest in the world and an essential part of Indian cooking. The black peppercorn is the flowering fruit of the pepper plant, or piper nigrum, which can grow up to 33 feet in hot tropical climates. The sun-drying process transforms their unripened bright green exterior to tiny black, wrinkly spheres.

 The little peppercorns need to be ground to release their piquant flavour and pungent aroma - but be warned! Once ground, the peppercorns can cause intense sneezing fits if inhaled! (Bless you)

2. Chilli Powder: Mild or Hot and Fiery

Introduced in the 1890’s, Chilli powder or lal mirch is a relatively modern contender on the spice scene. Sometimes mild and sometimes fiery; if you’re looking for a handy way to add pungency, colour and heat to a dish, this is what you need. If you're opting for chilli powder, make sure you add it gradually to measure your preferred spice level - unless you're feeling particularly bold and can handle the heat. Chilli powder is perfect for subtly firing up curries and vegetable dishes. You could also add a pinch or two to meats for seasoning or salads for a pop of flavour


3. Kashimiri Chilli Powder : Subtle Heat and Vibrant Colour

Most Indian dishes would be incomplete without a dash of Kashimiri chilli powder. This spice is an unrivalled ingredient, offering a rich red colouring to any dish. Also essential if you’re looking for a subtle hint of heat with a deep, earthy savour

4. Coriander Powder: Mild and Earthy

 An essential aromatic element in a wide variety of Indian dishes, imparting a mild, earthy flavour to both sweet and savoury food. To create this fragrant staple, dried ripened seeds of the coriander plant are dry roasted and finely ground. Coriander powder plays very well with other earthy spices such as cumin, ground turmeric and black pepper, making it the perfect component for curries,  marinades, dressings and sauces


5. Coriander Seeds: Zingy 

These little seeds are packed full of a warming and pleasant zing. An absolute staple in your spice drawer if you’re looking to really make your dishes pop. Coriander seeds add depth to any dish, tasting ever so slightly citrussy but completely different from the fresh leaves of the coriander plant. We advise that you dry fry coriander seeds to release their distinct aromatic flavour. Add these pungent little seeds to other spice blends to create intricate seasoning blends, or really show off your baked goods by weaving coriander seeds into doughs

6. Jeera Powder/Cumin Powder: Smokey and Nutty 

Jeera or cumin powder makes an appearance in almost every Indian dish. Reserved primarily for savoury dishes, only a small pinch is necessary to release its distinctly warming and nutty savour. Cumin is the building block of every curry dish, ideal for marinating meat, fish and vegetables. We recommend pairing with coriander and turmeric for the quintessential Indian flavouring



7. Jeera Seeds/ Cumin Seeds: Delicate and Warming 

Small but mighty, Jeera or cumin seeds also have a distinct nutty flavour. A key element of both Indian and North African cuisine. Best for tempering, roasting or toasting to release their magical aroma. Dollop onto raitas and sprinkle over salads for a mouthwatering finish. For an even deeper smokey quality, dry fry your jeera seeds



8. Garam Masala: Sweet, Earthy and Floral

The ‘garam’ of garam masala translates as ‘warm’ and oh how beautifully warm and fragrant this spice blend is. Originating in Northern India, garam masala is present in most Indian and Pakistani dishes, however the composition of the blend varies as you travel from region to region, as does its preferred method of use. We recommend adding towards the end of cooking, to intensify the aroma of the dish. Garam masala is also great for seasoning meat and fish dishes as well as vegetable based soups and stews. If we were to crown one spice mix our favourite, it would be this. Majestically flavourful.



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