Spices have a rich history in India. Between the 7th Century to the 15th Century, India was known as ‘The Land of Spices’ and spices were so valuable that they were even a form of currency. Traders all over the world came to the east in search of these spices.
Spices or masalas are the heart and soul of every Indian kitchen. They are an integral part of Indian cuisine. You wouldn’t find a single Indian dish that does not contain any spices. Indian cuisine has a variety of dishes with rich and complex tastes and flavour thanks to these spices.
What are the 7 Indian Spices?
Spices or masalas form the cornerstone of Indian cuisine. At least one spice is used in every Indian dish. Among the several spices available out there, there are seven Indian spices which feature prominently in every Indian kitchen. These 7 Indian spices are:
1. Turmeric: It is the most essential spice in Indian cooking. Almost every Indian dish makes use of turmeric for its golden yellow colour and earthy flavour. Derived from the roots of the plant Curcuma longa, turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory properties which have been known by our ancestors for as long as 5000 years ago. It’s an integral spice in Ayurveda. For this reason, turmeric finds its use in beyond the kitchen in tonics, beauty uses, medicinal tinctures, etc.
2. Cardamom: Indian cooking makes use of two varieties of cardamom: green cardamom and black cardamom. These spices are used for their rich aromatic warm flavour in rice pulaos, savoury dishes, curries, and a range of sweet dishes such as kheer, Indian sweets, and the Indian classic masala chai. Many recipes require the use of whole cardamon pods which are later discarded but ground cardamom may also be used. Cardamom has antioxidant and antidiuretic properties which finds its use in several home remedies as well.
3. Cinnamon: It is an essential aromatic spice in the Indian kitchen. It has a sweet aromatic flavour which is used for both sweet and savoury dishes. Cinnamon is commonly used in pulaos, paneer dishes, and curries. Whole cinnamon is normally used but later discarded. North Indian cuisine incorporates a lot of cinnamon which is used in rice, meat and curries.
4. Black Pepper: Also known as ‘the queen of spices’, black pepper is an important condiment in Indian cuisine. Black peppercorns are dried and normally crushed, but they may also be used whole and later discarded. Black pepper is an important component in garam masala and also the Madras curry spice blend. This spice’s hot and peppery flavour is used for a range of savoury dishes. Black pepper is also used as a common household home remedy for its beneficial properties owing to its compound Piperine.
5. Coriander Seeds: They are used both in whole and powdered form for their nutty yet slightly zesty flavour. They also form a component of garam masala, the classic Indian spice mix. Coriander seeds are obtained from the seeds of the Cilantro plant, popularly known as ‘dhania’ in Hindi. They have a fresh and light flavour which finds use in several daal, sambar, and vegetable recipes.
6. Mustard Seeds: They are tiny seeds which are obtained from the mustard plant. These seeds need to be toasted or roasted to release their flavour. Mustard seeds have a smoky and pungent flavour. Mustard seeds are commonly used in sambars but they are also popular in fresh salads, pickles, and chutneys. Mustard seeds feature prominently in South Indian cuisine.
7. Cumin Seeds: Also popularly known as Jeera in Hindi are used for their smoky and earthy flavour. They are used both in whole and powdered form. Cumin is popularly used in daals, curries, vegetable dishes, and meat dishes. It is also added to chaats, pani puri water, lassi, and more. When roasted, cumin seeds give out a rich and flavourful smoky aroma. These tiny seeds also have several medicinal uses as they are rich in antioxidants and help with several bodily functions.
What Are the Benefits of Indian Spices?
Apart from their rich taste and flavour, there are more benefits of Indian spices. Some of you might be wondering if Indian spices are good for health and they indeed are! Spices contain certain compounds and antioxidants that fight inflammation and reduce the damage caused to your body’s cells. This is why they are an integral part of Indian culture and cuisine. Our Indian ancestors and Ayurvedic practitioners recognized the powerful effects of spices for as long as 5000 years ago. The seven Indian spices here all have their own special attributes which make them healthy.
Now that you know the benefits of Indian spices, you might be wondering where to get the best Indian spices. If you’re wondering where to buy Indian spices online, Zizira.com may be a good place to start. Compared to the regular spices found in your supermarket or local store, our spices have an edge as they are grown using natural methods and are minimally processed, ensuring that you reap the maximum benefits out of them with zero artificial additives or adulterants.
Indian cooking spices have a shelf life so it’s important to make sure that you check and replace your spices ever so often to make sure that you get the best flavour and health benefits.