Introduction to Indian Food: Top Five Essential Indian Spices
Do you love eating fragrant, spiced Indian dishes. Exploring Indian food will greatly expand your cooking repertoire. Here are the top five most reached Indian spices often used when cooking Indian food!
Cardamom is used to spice up both sweet and salty dishes. There are two types of cardamom used in Indian cooking: green and black and both are native to India. Cardamom can be used either whole or ground.
The flavor of green cardamom is sweet and light with aromatic notes of lemon and mint. Black cardamom, on the other hand, has an almost smoky, minty, menthol-like flavor that works especially well in savory dishes. This flavourful spice is packed with health benefits and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Besides Indian cooking, cardamom is extremely popular in Middle Eastern cuisines.
2. Black pepper
Black pepper is the most used spice worldwide and is known for its nice aroma and distinct pungent flavor. It is used in both whole and powder forms and lends mild spiciness to any dish. Pepper is not only a great kitchen staple, It has been used for hundreds of years in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. Pepper contains piperine that works wonders for the body by providing vital vitamins, selenium, and beta-carotene.
Black pepper is one of the maximum flexible spices used in lots of sorts of savory cooking. To preserve their aroma and taste, they are usually mixed just before preparing the dishes and added to the dishes in the last minutes (since long cooking results in the evaporation of essential oils).
Clove is a common spice in Indian cooking and its anise notes are easily recognizable in many Indian preparations. Cloves timbers are grown as much as up to 8-10 meters tall. The flowers are initially pale hue and then gradually turn into green and then converted into red when they are ready to harvest. Cloves can be used whole or blended into spice mixes. You’ll often find cloves paired with cinnamon and black pepper for a perfect spice blend. Cloves mixed with oranges can be used to make aromatic pomander.
4. Cassia Bark
Cassia is simply the bark of a laurel tree, a tropical evergreen. It grows extensively in China and SouthEast Asia. Nearly the same as cinnamon, it is sometimes called Chinese Cinnamon. The two spices can be used interchangeably. Indians use cassia instead of true cinnamon in their cooking, as it has a milder flavor and can be used in larger quantities. Cassia can also be used whole or ground in spice mixes. It is easily distinguishable by its rough, tree bark-like texture. If substituting cinnamon for cassia, use less, as the flavor of true cinnamon is more intense.
Cassia Bark aromatics has a sweet, warm and delicate fragrance. It has a pronounced spicy-warm flavour that complements other spices that it is normally used with, like cloves and cardamom. It tends to be used in several spice blends, particularly the traditional Indian garam masala, as well as Madras curry powder.
Cumin is an extremely aromatic spice with warm and earthy tones. Cumin has long been used in traditional medicine and is a rich source of iron. It is rich in antioxidants, and has been shown to exhibit anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. You’ll find it either as seeds or as a ground powder – quite often toasted. Freshly ground cumin is the best way to release the intense flavour of this spice, however, be careful when toasting as it can burn very easily. Cumin is used frequently whole and in spice mixes to add a characteristic smoky note to Indian dishes. It can be identified by its distinct ridged brown seeds and intense nutty, warm fragrance. 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.