Do you want to have a quick guide about the best Indian spices and how you can use them so you can build layers of flavour for your favourite Indian dishes? Read on for you to get more useful ideas for your Indian cooking.
Dried and powdered tree resin, is an essential spice and is usually one of the first aromatics added to hot ghee or oil. Its raw, pungent smell mellows into a musky aroma, adding smooth, umami flavors to lentils, beans, and vegetarian curries. Just a pinch goes a long way. Hing often contains wheat flour, but gluten-free versions are also available.
It is a ground spice, has an earthy supporting flavour, most commonly used in Indian cooking, this one has huge health benefits, and astounding yellow colour. Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, but without the piperine from black pepper, its effects are diminished.
This adds nutty, warm flavours and dimension to countless dishes. Whole cumin seeds can be added to tempering, and roasted and ground cumin is great for adding later in the cooking process. Cumin adds an earthy tone and body to soups, daals, and curries. You can also add a pinch of ground cumin to plain yogurt for a nutrient and flavor boost.
Ajwian Seeds or Carom Seeds
These small seeds are known for their medicinal value, especially in curing digestive problems. In India, many medicinal concoctions use carom seeds, but a small amount can be added as a flavoring agent while preparing the dough for Indian flatbreads like poori (deep-fried Indian flatbread) and layered flatbread paratha.
Your kormas and biryanis would be incomplete without cinnamon or cassia bark. The cassia bark is rough, has a bark-like structure, and is slightly milder than true cinnamon. You will find this flat cinnamon bark in savoury dishes in India.
This is the seed of cilantro and is one of the most essential Indian spices. This seed has an aroma like citrus mixed with some leafy, woody notes, and is used in many dishes including Madras and Vindaloo. Ground into powder just before adding to a sauce is the best way to use coriander seeds.
Along with cardamom and cinnamon bark, cloves are an integral part of Indian curry pastes, spice powders, biryanis, kormas, and desserts. Cloves add a distinct flavor to kheer/sweet pudding, and masala chai is incomplete without cloves. Because of their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, cloves are an essential ingredient in various medicinal concoctions and are the best home remedy for toothaches.
It is an all-in-one spice blend that enhances the flavor of curries and gravies. It’s usually made with coriander seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and black pepper—but there is no one set recipe for garam masala. The ingredients and the measurements vary depending upon the region. Some roast the spices before blending and some are a raw blend of spices.
These seeds are quite bitter but have enormous health benefits. The leaves are a green aromatic spice and are less prone to bitterness, and have a delicious maple-like aroma. This Indian spice is what people say “smells like curry.”
Indian Bay Leaves (Tej Patta)
It is very different from European laurel bay leaves. These olive-green leaves are larger with three veins running through them, and have a milder aroma, similar to that of cinnamon bark.
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