Indian food is famous for its great taste, delicious aroma, unique appetizing colour and finger-licking flavour all over the world. All this together makes a perfect blend and can be found only in Indian foods. Have you ever thought about what makes Indian dishes so special? One of the main reasons is the spices that enrich the flavours and give a splendid taste. The spices and masala’s intermix are what gives the Indian cuisine its full magical flavours and make each dish different from the next.
Most people believe that the use of spices in authentic Indian food is not to make it fiery hot, but also to add an intensity that gives the best taste with a good aroma. When coming to spices, the choices are vast and varied and are used for numerous purposes across different cultures. Every spice communicates its unique flavour. When they are used together for a particular dish, the combinations marry and flavour the dish. People use the Indian spices not only for getting a fabulous taste and good flavour, but also for considering the health benefits each spice has.
Cooking Indian food can be frustrating sometimes as it has a vast array of spices used. It has both whole and ground, which are often blended into complex spice mixes. But cooking with these spices regularly, you can identify and understand the spices and you can find this cuisine is not as hard to make after all.
Some of the essential spices used in Indian cooking are listed below:
Mustard seeds come in different colours like yellow, black, or brown and are one of the main spices used interchangeably in Indian cooking. Usually, in Indian cooking, the mustard seeds are crushed or first cooked in the oil to release the flavour of the seeds. When they are cooked in oil, it gives a smoky, nutty flavour which is a staple in curries and curry powders. Also, you can get the mustard seed oil that is commonly used in the northern part of India.
Cumin seeds are used frequently in Indian cooking. They come in whole and can be used in the same way. Also, they come in the spice mixes to give a characteristic smoky note to the Indian dishes. It can be easily identified with its distinct rigid brown colour and its intense fragrance. Most people sometimes confuse the cumin seeds with the fennel, caraway and anise seeds, but you can tell the difference by looking at their colour and taste.
In most parts of India, cumin is used freshly ground to experience the most intense flavour. While you dry roast it, this spice burns easily and it can even taste very bitter if it is burnt more and can be very noticeable in your dish.
Fenugreek is a spice that is commonly used in all south Indian dishes. It gives a very characteristic, earthy and different curry flavour and fragrance. These seeds come in yellow and look like tiny wheat kernels. The fenugreek leaves are also dried and are used as a spice that is commonly called Kasuri methi. When this spice is added it makes the dish very unique.
The fenugreek seeds are strongly fragranced and this has to be used with caution like that of cloves. The fenugreek seeds are very famous for their traditional medicinal benefits and strangely enough to make fake maple syrup.
The asafoetida is nothing but the dried and powdered tree resin. It is an essential spice and is commonly used in most Indian dishes. This spice gives a great aroma when it is added to hot oil or ghee. Using this spice for your dish, you have to make sure you just use a pinch as it goes a long way. Usually, this contains wheat flour but you can also get the gluten-free versions.
One of the common Indian spices is turmeric. This is grown as a rhizome; it can be used fresh like ginger or even after it is dried. It is mostly known for its wonderful health benefits and is also used in a lot of spice mixes and curries.
It gives great colour to the dishes and makes sure you are careful with your clothes and utensils as it will also stain easily when you are using them. The flavour of the fresh turmeric can be slightly stronger than the dried one and it is one of the spices which has a pungent and earthy fragrance. While you are using it, use it in small quantities and get a beautiful golden colour.
When it comes to the red chilly powder, different kinds of red chillies are used in Indian cuisine. Most people prefer using the Kashmiri red chilly powder over normal red chilli powder. The Kashmiri red chilly powder will give a bright red colour and this can be used if you want to get a bright red like colour for your dish. People normally use this whole and ground that has a brilliant red hue and comes with little heat.
Garam masala is considered as the warm spice mix and it is an essential Indian spice blend. It gives depth warmth to the dishes and pairs perfectly with the red chillies to give an aromatic flavour. This specific mixture has simplified ingredients and this all together gives an authentic flavour. From region to region the combination of the garam masala spices varies. Usually, the garam masala is a simple mix of cardamom, clove, cinnamon, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. These spices are roasted and are ground well and are then stored in glass jars.
This spice is a real workhorse of a spice. It gives a nutty, orange taste to the dishes. This is a dried fruit of the cilantro plant which is mild but comes with a packed full of flavour. This spice is used whole or ground and is a key spice in making garam masala.
In Indian cooking, there are two types of cardamom used: green and black. The green is more commonly used for everything from spice mixes to Indian desserts. The flavour is very light and sometimes sweet with a mild eucalyptus taste. This spice can be used and is blended with the other ingredients when making the spice mixes like garam masala. When you are using them for desserts or sweets, just pop the pod open and lightly crush the black seeds that give more fragrance.
Also read: Why Eating Indian Food is Actually Healthy!
Do you love all these spices? It’s great! When you buy these spices make sure you buy the best quality authentic spices as it gives exotic flavours to the dishes.
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