Everything You Need To Understand About Indian Spices

Everything You Need To Understand About Indian Spices

For centuries south Asian region has been rich with it's spices and food recipes. For years, the region lured various different crusaders to invade this region over centuries. Invaders from different countries Arabians, Egyptians, Romans, British, Chinese, and the Portuguese among others - all had invaded the country.

Indian spices are as old as the human civilization. Masala or spices are among the main ingredients in Indian dishes. However, all dishes don't use all spices. If two delicacies use the same set of spices, difference in respective proportion lends to their unique flavor. Spices add not only flavor but also colour to the dishes, with a marriage of both the features making the delicious dish most tempting to taste.

Spices are the most important aspect of Indian recipes. When used in the right amounts and right combinations, they can transform a simple meal into something extraordinary. Here are 7 facts about Indian spices that you must know.

1. There are three categories of Indian spices. The first type is fresh spices, which includes ginger, garlic, bay leaf, green chili, curry leaves. The second type is whole dried spices, which includes coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chili, mustard seeds, cardamom and nutmeg, and the third type is powdered spices such as cumin powder, chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, and fenugreek powder.

2. Few of the most commonly used powdered spices are cumin powder, turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala. These spices are used for most of the Indian dishes and are must haves in every kitchen.

3. One important thing to keep in mind while cooking with spices is to let them blend first before adding the acid element such as vinegar, lime, lemon, tomatoes etc. Acid slows down the cooking of spices and you might end up with a raw spice aroma in your dish.

4. Indian spices are best stored in glass containers. Exposure to heat, air and moisture decreases the shelf life of these spices. If you store in plastic bottles, they would get discoloured with the absorption of the colour of the spices.

5. Whole spices can last for many years. Ground spices on the other hand would last for 1-3 years. How you store the spices will have an effect on how long they last. If a spice smells good while cooking, it means it is in good condition.

6. Indian spices do not just enhance the taste of food; they have numerous health benefits as well. They are rich in vitamin B and C. They have high amounts of iron, minerals and anti-oxidants.

7. The famous curry powder is a blend of several spices such as cumin seeds,, turmeric, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, five spice powder (cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf, black pepper, and cumin), and red chili powder. You can make your own curry powder as per your taste. You can also buy a ready-made one from the local store.

Aromatic flavor of a colorful variety of quality spices contributes to the intense taste of Indian dishes. India is widely known as the motherland of thousands of spices used throughout the globe. Distinct flavor and high quality are the signatures of Indian spices which are now easily available at online grocery stores.

Spices being the main essence of Indian dishes, even the slightest difference in proportion could bring a heavy change in taste. Fine blending of spices is very important to ensure authentic aroma and taste of Indian cuisines. Even some sweet dishes whipped up at Indian kitchens also use spices to make those more flavoursome and yummy.

The food items and recipes of this country are world famous due to the spices used in them. Indian spices not only add aroma and taste to the food, but possess certain medicinal values as well. Many Indian spices like celery, coriander, cumin, and mint have been proved to cure the diseases ranging from common cold and cough.

The taste and aroma of Indian food is something the entire world yearns for. The uniqueness of the Indian food culture is mainly due to the contribution of some incredible spices, that makes every dish out of the ordinary. Organic Indian Spices are the heart of the Indian cookery and no cook can afford to prepare any dish without these spices. 

Listed below are such top most popular Indian spices that give every dish a spicy twist with their aromas, tangy flavours and vibrant colours.

Cumin

It is one of the strongest spices and is the key ingredient in any kind of curry prepared in India. It is light brown in colour and is slightly bitter to taste. Commonly called as "Jeera", this spice blends well with other spices to give Indian curries a smoky note. Its intense aroma and strong essence make every dish so delectable and relishing.

Coriander

Golden yellow in colour, coriander is one of the oldest spices in the world and is a mandatory ingredient in every Indian kitchen rack. Cooking is near to impossible without this ground seeds. They are mainly roasted till they dry out to give a brownish tinge. It is very amusing to see how this ground seeds start popping out as soon as they are dropped into the hot pan with oil.

Mustard seeds

Mustard seeds are a common spice in almost every cuisine around the globe and they are basically of three types categorized according to their colour - Black, yellow, and white. In Indian cooking, black seeds are mostly used and they are the strongest in flavor amongst the three. They have a very peppery flavor, which gets released when they are tossed in the hot oil pan. Mustard seeds are mainly used in preparing soups and vegetable curries in North Indian meals.

Garam Masala

This spice is inseparable to Indian cooking, especially for the non-vegetarian dishes. Chicken curry, egg curry is flavourless without this spice. A small pinch of garam masala can do some wonders and turn a bland dish to a tangy and spicy one. However, you need to add this spice in the end only, when the recipe is almost cooked. This will help in retaining the fragrance and strong flavor of this staple Indian spice and give your taste bud a super-relishing experience. Garam masala consists of cardamom seed ,nutmeg ,mace ,cinnamon stick,cloves , black pepper corns which are ground together.


Nutmeg

It is also known as jaifal . It is aromatic and stimulant obtained from the kernel of mystic trees.

Mace

It is also known as javatre in local name. It is outer covering of nutmeg and have stimulant and aromatic qualities. 

Fenugreek

It is called methi in local language . They have bitter taste and have some medical properties.

clove 

It is called luwang in local language . They are dried unopened flower buds.

Cinnamon

It is also called dalchinni in local language and obtained from bark of the trees.

Cardamom

It is also called sukumel in local language. 

Aniseed

It is called saunf and have digestive properties.

Asafoetida

It is called hing and used in very small quantity.

Bay leaf 

It is also known by Tejpatta. The leaves are usually dried.

Black pepper 

It is very expensive from history to present. It has been used as farm of currency.

No doubt, spices are the fundamental ingredients of every Indian culinary. Cultivated and harvested in favourable regions around the country, The mixes are also packed and traded in the markets and grocery stores all around the world.

Today, India is one of the largest exporting nation of spices in the world as well. Vast variety of spices grow due to natural conditions available in various parts of India. The major western, south-west, south and south-east is tropical in weather conditions, north-west, north are dry with less humidity and north-east and east have pre-dominantly high-rainy seasons.

Due to the abundance in availability of spices in India, Indian food is never bland. Most of the recipies originating from the Indian sub-continent contains spices in the list of ingredients. Spices in Indian food are not heavy and although Indian food is not bland, most Indian dishes are delicately spiced to enhance the flavor of the main cooking ingredient. 

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