Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some Common Indian Spices

There are lots of spices are used in Indian cooking. It varies from state to state, region to region, as India is such a versatile country.

(Click on the picture to take closer look on the spices)

1. Bay leaves.........Indian name : Tej patta
2. Black cumin seeds.....Indian name : Kalonji/nigella
3. Mustard seeds / Indian Name : Sarson or Rai
4. Cumin seeds or white cumin seeds / Indian name : Jeera
5. Five spice Mix / Indian name : Panch Phoron
6. Cardamom Pods, green(Indian name: Ilaichi), Cloves (Indian name: lavang), Cinnamon stick / (Indian name: Dal chini)together with bay leaves these spices are called Garam Masala.

Some facts and uses of these spices :

1. Bay leaves : Indian bay leaves come from the cassia tree. It is slight sweet in flavor. Dried bay leaves are used in certain spice mixes, in some meat and rice dishes.
2. Black cumin seeds : These tiny black seeds are also known as onion seeds, although they are not related to onions. These seeds have a flovour similar tocumin but with a bitter edge. They are used in breads(puri, paratha etc.), lentil dishes and in some vegetables.
3. Mustard seeds : Mustard seeds are found in brown, black and even in white color. They are always crackled in hot oil to release their flavor. Musrard oil is common cooking oil used in many parts of India.
4. White Cumin Seeds : These are the seeds from a plant in the parsley family. It is a very common spice in Indian cuisine. It is used as whole or ground, in all sorts of savory dishes.
5. Panch phoron : It is a mixture of five whole spices i.e. white cumin seeds, black cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds. These spicemixture is used in Eastarn part of India, mainly in Bengali cuisine. They are also crackled in hot oil to release their aroma.
6. Cardamom pods(green) : Whole green cardamom pods are filled with fragnant, tiny black seeds. It is one of the key ingredients in Garam Masala. It is used as whole as well as ground. For best flavor, grind just before using. It is used in many savory dishes and sweet dishes. Another type of cardamom is, brown cardamom. It is bigger than green cardamom and used in many meat dishes.
Cloves : These are the dried buds of a tree. It is the another ingredients of Garam Masala and are also added to meat and sweet dishes to have their sweet taste.
Cinnamon stick : These hard sticks consist of rolled and layered pieces of bark from cinnamon tree. These are another key ingredients of Garam Masala and used in many meat dishes and baking goods.

Here are some more:

7. Fenugreek seeds / Indian name : Methi
It is used as whole or ground as well as dried leaves of fenugreek. The seeds crackled in hot oil bring out their bitter and sharp flavor. These are used in many vegetable dishes and lentil dishes and are common spice of North Indian cuisine.
Dried Fenugreek/Indian name : Kasuri Methi
A strong and aromatic herb, are used in vegetables and lentils. It gives a distinct flavour to any dish.

8. Fennel seeds / Indian name : Saunf
These seeds are from fennel plants. These are used as
whole or ground, gives an aniseed-like flavor to meat, vegetable dishes, in desserts, pickles and chutneys. Whole fennel seeds, plain or sugar coated, are served at the end of the meal as a digestive aid. Soak this whole spice in water for few hours and drink that water after taking off the seeds, is said it cools your stomach.

9. Dry red chillies /Indian name : Sukhi Lal Mirch
Dried red chillies are used in many curries as a whole or ground. It gives a sharp chilli taste to the curries, which Indians love.

10. Black peppercorns/Indian name : Kali Mirchi
Fresh green berries are dried in the Sun to obtain black pepper. Green berries come from the pepper vine native to monsoon forests of south-west India. Pepper is believed to be a good remedy for faltulence.

11. Aniseed or Carom/Indian name : Ajwain
Anise or Aniseed is native to India and looks rather like a celery seed. It is related to caraway and cumin, but the flavour is more similar to thyme. They are very tiny in size and are used in pulses, snacks and veg. dishes. It aids in digestion and helps prevent flatulence/stomach wind problem.
Pic source :

12. Coriander Seed/Indian name : Dhaniya
This is one of teh most important ingredients in Indian cooking. Its sweet mellow flavour blends very well with vegetables and are used in almost all dishes.

13. Nutmeg/Indian name : Jaiphal & Mace/Indian name : Javitri
The nutmeg plant is unique as it produces two fruits in one, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg has a hard dark-brown shell with a lacy covering. This covering is mace which is highly aromatic. It is removed from the nutmeg before being sold. Both spices are used in extensively in Indian cooking.
Pic. source : WIKI (Mace-red within nutmeg fruit)
14. Poppy seeds/Indian name : Khus khus/posto
The opium poppy, grown mainly in the tropics, produces the best poppy seeds. There are two varieties, white and black, but only white poppy seeds are used in Indian recipes. They are used either ground or whole, sometimes roasted then ground and give a nutty flavour to sauces while also acting as a thickening agent.

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