5 Must-Have Indian Spices

When cooking authentic Indian foods, it’s only appropriate to have the correct spices.Here you can find commercial ovens in Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, you’re forced to use substitutes, or leave out the spice altogether. When this happens your authentic Indian dish is now lacking essential ingredients that give the Indian cuisine its trademark aroma and tastes.

Since the spices used are the distinguishing factors between Indian cuisine and other Asian cuisines, it’s important to get it right, and make sure your pantry is stocked with these five must-have Indian spices. Once these are in your pantry, you’ll be equipped to prepare a wide vary of Indian foods.

Novices are often wary of attempting to cook Indian foods due to the spice mixes and array of spices used in single dishes. Spices in Indian cuisines give off the perception of being complex, resulting in them seeming intimidating to those who enjoy Indian foods, but are too wary to attempt to cook them themselves. To add to the complexity, not only are there many spices that could possibly be used, but different spices can be used in a variety of ways. For example, spices that are found as seeds can be used fresh, as dried seeds, or ground into a fine powder.

The five must-have Indian spices that you would need before they begin to cook are coriander, cardamom, turmeric, clove, and cumin seeds. Since these are most commonly used in a variety of dishes, it’s useful to have these basic spices on hand.


Of all the spices present in Indian foods, coriander is the most pervasive. Historically speaking, coriander is not only widely found in nearly all Indian dishes, but it is rumored to be one of the oldest-known spices throughout the world. Coriander’s appearance is a mix of colors between yellow and gold. It’s texture is slightly rough, by being somewhat ridged. This spice can be distinguished by its citrus aromas. While whole coriander can be used to cook with, ground coriander is the more common form used of the spice.



Cardamom comes in two varieties: black and green cardamom. Green cardamom is the more common of the two, and can be found in everything from Indian main dishes to Indian desserts. This spice gives off a scent that smells slightly of eucalyptus, and tastes sweet, which makes it suitable for desserts. Due to its subtleness, green cardamom can be used within various spice blends. On the other hand, black cardamom had a very strong and smoky fragrance. Black cardamom should be used sparingly since it is so powerful. Since black cardamom’s pod is very spicy in its own right, it is advised to pull of the pod, while leaving the seed in the dish, before serving the meal.



Like coriander, turmeric is another widely used spice found in many Indian dishes. Turmeric is a versatile spice, since it can be used both fresh, or after it has been dried. Something to be aware of when cooking with turmeric is that dried turmeric offers a more intense flavor, as opposed to fresh turmeric. This spice is known to give curry its signature golden color. Turmeric’s fragrance can be described as both earthy and sharp. When cooking with turmeric, wear an apron to protect your clothes as this spice is known to stain easily. Additionally, turmeric offers many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, fighting diabetes, natural pain killer, to prevent un-wanted blood clotting, and lessening inflammation as an anti-inflammatory.



Another common spice used in Indian cuisine is clove. Clove also possesses notes very similar to anise. Due to the essential oils found in clove, it carries a medicinal-like flavor. However, the essential oils that give off the medicinal flavors are often pressed out of the clove before it is dried and can be used in cooking. Clove is another versatile spice as it can be used in spice mixes or on its own as a whole. Since clove can easily over-power more subtle spices, it is important to use it sparingly.



Cumin gives Indian foods a smoky quality. This spice in its seed form can be identified by its brown seeds with ridged textures, and of course, its fierce scents. Don’t mistake cumin for anise or caraway though. Upon looking closer, cumin can be distinguished either by its brown color, and the difference in tastes. For maximum flavor, it is suggested to ground the cumin seeds right before they are needed for cooking.You can also roast it if required.

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