About Indian Spices

indian_spices

India is known as the ‘The home of spices’. There is no other country in the world that produces as many kinds of spices as India. The climate of the country is suitable for almost all spices.

 

Indian Spices

Spices constitute an important group of agricultural commodities which are virtually indispensable in the culinary art. In India, spices are important commercial crops from the point of view of both domestic consumption and export.

Spices are the natural way of caring for yourself. In fact, special preparations of spices are an integral part of Indian culture and society and help the doctor away. Spices can’t only improve the taste of your food, but can also improve the state of your health. Spice provides a wealth of flavors to a range of colorful, aromatic, multi – textured cuisines across the country.

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Indian Spices in detail and hyper-links to purchase them online

Mango powder :

Made from sun – dried mangoes, it’s used as a souring agent or to tenderize meats.Substitutes: lemon juice, tamarind, chopped fresh mango (use more) or chopped  fresh papaya (use more).

Red Dried Chillies :

They are deceptively beautiful. Their taste ranges from mild to dynamite. While they scorch your taste buds, they also blend a little heat and a whole lot of fragrance and flavor to Indian cuisine. They add the zing to Indian Cooking. Chillies  are highly in Vitamin A & C . They are also added to medicines to relieve sore throat.

Garam Masala :

Black Peppercorn : 1 teaspoon, Cumin seed : 2 teaspoon, Bay leaves : 3 nod, Cloves : 1 teaspoon, Cinnamon stick : 3/4 in stick, cardamom : 1 teaspoon.

In north India where winters are bitterly cold, a blend of spice called garam masala is preferred to Chillies which cool body by promoting perspiration. Some of the most expensive spice go into its making. Every house hold in India has their own recipe for it. Depending on individual taste, the proportion of the various ingredients can be adjusted.

Sambhar Powder :

Red Chillies : 12no, Black peppercorns : 1 tea spoon, Coriander seeds : 1 teaspoon, Cumin seed : 2 teaspoon, Fenugreek seed : 1 teaspoon, Black Mustard seed : 1 teaspoon, Turmeric powder : 1 teaspoon, Asafoetida : 1/4 teaspoon, Split yellow lentils : 3 teaspoon, Split gram lentils : 3 teaspoon, Split black lentils : 3 teaspoon. It’s the special spice blend of south India. It acts as a flavoring as well as a thickening agent. This mix is so called because it is used to flavor a dal (lentils) of the same name (Sambhar), popular in this region. It is a Preparation of lentils and vegetables, spiked with different spices and laced with coriander.

Tandoori Masala :

Cumin seeds : 2 teaspoon, Coriander seeds : 2 teaspoon, Chilli powder : 1 teaspoon, Cloves : 1 teaspoon, Cinnamon : 3/4 in stick, Garlic powder : 1 teaspoon, Mace powder : 2 teaspoon, Red food coloring : 2 teaspoon, Ginger powder : 2 teaspoon. In Punjabi, huge earthen or clay ovens (called tandoors), half buried in the ground are made red-hot with a coal fire at the bottom. Marinated fish, meat, chicken and cooked cheese is threaded on to skewers and cooked in it. The food gets flavored by a special tandoori mixture of spices and charcoal. Tandoori masala has a distinctive aroma. Very fragrant and spicy. It tastes hot, sour and salty with a predominant of cumin and coriander.

Panch Phoron :

Nigella seeds, Black mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Fennel seeds. In the northeastern side of India lies Bengal. The most popular spice here in panch phoron – Bengal’s equivalent of the Chinese 5 – spice powder. It is added to hot oil before adding vegetables, lentils or pulses. As it begins to splutter, the rest of the ingredients are added. The unique aroma of Bengali cuisine is largely due to it.

Saffron :

Saffron requires over two hundred thousand stigma from crocus sativus flowers to make a pound of saffron. That’s why saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Fortunately, a little of the good stuff goes a long way – it only takes a few threads to add saffron’s distinct yellow color and earthy aroma to a family meal. Saffron threads should be red with orange tips. Threads lacking orange tips may dyed, so avoid them. The quality of powdered saffron is measured by its Minimum Coloring Strength. The higher the Minimum Coloring Strength, the less saffron you need to use.


Substitutes:
turmeric ( for color, not flavor ; use 4 times as much) safflower (use 8 times as much; less expensive and imparts similar color, but its taste is decidedly inferior), marigold blossoms (for color, not flavor; use twice as much) or read and yellow food coloring.

 Black Mustard Seeds :

Indian cooks prefer these over the large yellow mustard seeds that are more common in the west. Substitutes: brown mustard seed (very close), Yellow mustard seeds.

White Mustard Seeds :

Smaller and hotter than the yellow mustard seeds that most western cooks are familiar with. Mustard is believed to posses the ability to calm the mind, create a peaceful personality and sharpen intelligence.

 Brown Cardamom Pods :

Cardamom figures prominently in various type of Indian Cuisines. It is the best to buy cardamom seeds still encased in their natural flavor – protecting pods, which can discard after you remove the seeds. Brown cardamom is a similar spice that Indians use in savory dishes.
Substitutes: brown cardamom, equal parts ground nutmeg and cinnamon, equal parts ground cloves and cinnamon, nutmeg or cinnamon.

 Medicinal value: cardamom is aromatic, stimulating and refreshing. It rekindles. It rekindles digestive fire, refreshes the mind and is a heart stimulant, It also relieves gas.

Fenugreek :
This adds an earthy flavor to the curries, chutneys, and sauces. It’s available as seeds or powder. Medicinal value: useful in inflammatory disorders, joint pains and in diabetes.

Nigella :
It has a subtle flavor that’s often used to enhance vegetable dishes. To bring out the flavor, it helps to toast the seeds briefly before using them. Substitutes: cumin seeds, sesame seeds or oregano. Medicinal value: relief from painful menstruation.

Pomegranate seeds :
Bits of pomegranate pulp remain on the seeds as they dry, so they’re a bit sticky and serve as a souring agent in Indian cuisine. The seeds also come ground.

White Poppy seeds :
Indian cooks use these as a thickener in their curries and as a filling in baked goods. Substitute : Poppy seeds (black) .

Cinnamon :
With its warm, sweet flavor, cinnamon is one of the biggest workhorses on the spices shelf. Cooks often use it to flavor baked goods and drinks but cinnamon also works wonders in stews and sauces.
Substitutes: nutmeg or allspice. Medicinal value: Useful for those suffering from acid peptic disease.

Cloves :
Cloves are nail-shaped dried flower buds that have a sweet, penetrating flavor. They can be ground and used to flavor baked goods or sauces or left whole and poked into roasted hams or pork. Use clove sparingly. A little of it goes a long way too. Substitutes: allspice (as a substitute for ground cloves).

Fresh turmeric :
Pronunciation: TURR–mer-ick
Turmeric has a pleasant enough flavor but it’s prized more for the brilliant yellow color it curry powder, pickles, and prepared mustards. Medicinal value: It is a traditional remedy for jaundice in both Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicine. It is also used to ease liver complaints and ulcers.

18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jennifer on April 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Hi, I’m new to Indian cooking but enthusiastic. I live in Georgia and can not find cardamom pods anywhere. Is there a ground cardamom measurement equivalent to a pod? Thanks for your time.

    Reply

  2. Posted by madhoori on April 3, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Hello jennifer,

    Thanks for dropping by.Yup u can find Ground cardomom pwd in any American stores in Asian foods section but I believe u can definetley find in Indian stores in Georgia.
    Good luck with Indian cooking.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Sudharaghu on April 28, 2008 at 1:58 am

    madhuri,

    Thnaks for giving exact measurements for making sambhar powder. i made sambhar this week end with the same powder. sambhar was so tasty. here after i’m n’t going to buy MTR sambhar powder.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Rao on July 30, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Hello dear,

    Great work…
    one request can you please add the pic of the spices along with the description, it would be more useful and easy to catch the spices name and what it is?

    any how great work dude , once again congratulations for ur work.

    Reply

  5. Posted by jenny tavernier on October 14, 2008 at 2:50 am

    That is incredibly helpful! Curious about this panch poran –

    I am a lover of indian food, but fairly new to cooking it – I am wondering if there are certain basic common spice blends that are the basis for different flavors in dishes/gravies –
    (spices that go together for different overall tastes)
    I have discovered a wonderful indian market, and went nuts finding spices I had only read about – (fenugreek, canjoli (onion seed/nigella?) mango powder, etc)

    I hope this question makes sense! I do have a cook book, (and the web!) but when I am in the mood to experiment, I don’t want to just always stick with the same spice base – (say like cumin,cayenne, garam masala, some coriander, tumeric, curry – etc)

    Thank you!
    Jenny Tavernier

    Reply

  6. Posted by bola on November 18, 2008 at 8:12 am

    hi Jenny,

    u can try and experiment based on ur tasye, cooking is all about taste and discovering
    if u find something nice
    pass it alsong
    just go ahead and enjoy, but first with small portions as u do not know how it might turn out

    regds
    bola

    Reply

  7. Posted by sai charan on October 9, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    boda kakarakaya in hindi and english

    Reply

  8. I love Tropical Flowers, Awesome!

    Reply

  9. Posted by rt on January 26, 2010 at 3:44 am

    Will you please explaine hoe make brahmi powder

    Reply

  10. Posted by rt on January 26, 2010 at 3:45 am

    please explaine how to make cookin brahmi powder.

    Reply

  11. great hub site. Very informative. I am quite new with indian recipes and you really piqued my interest to try it out.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Keshav on August 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Hello Madam Madhuri ,

    It is a pains taking task and long lasting ,memorable effort and social service

    Kudos to you.I request you to take mains to update the fruits,spices and vegetables
    Particulars in Telugu and take pains to reply un answered questions.
    Wishing you good luck.

    Reply

  13. Posted by rakesh on January 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

    thanx for giving infmtion

    Reply

  14. Posted by ammu on February 15, 2012 at 3:23 am

    what is the meaning of cumin seed in kannada ?

    Reply

  15. Posted by rvedhavalli on February 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    PLEASE TELL ME THE ENGLISH NAME OF BELLOW LEAFY VEGETABLES.
    PONNANGANI KERAI,
    SIRIGIRAI ,AGATHI KERAI, ,PASALA, MANATAKALLI KERAI, CASTOR LEAVES NAND MANJIRI TULASI.

    Reply

  16. For Complete Agriculture Information in India : http://agrifarming.in

    Reply

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