When people say Indian food is popular around the world, we should thank those chefs who’ve passed on the Indian spices through their excellent preparations. It is these secret spices that make our food so special and unique in its own way.
So, I thought there won’t be any better idea than to talk about some of the commonly used traditional spices in this post.
This way, those of you who don’t know much about Indian food will also get to know a few things about these unknown ingredients. And if you’re looking for particular names or their usage, I think the following Indian spices list will also help you out.
Hindi is a well-known language in India, so I’ll try and share the names of these spices in Hindi as well as English. It will hopefully make your job much easier while selecting them in your local grocery store.
For those who’re unaware of popular Indian masalas i.e. blend of different spices, here’s the list of masalas for you –
Most Popular Masalas in India
- Garam Masala
- Pav Bhaji Masala
- Tandoori Masala/Kebab Masala
- Pulao/Biryani Masala
- Sambar Masala
- Pani Puri Masala
- Chat Masala
- Chole Masala/Rajma Masala
- Fish Masala
- Chicken Masala
- Chai Masala
Alright, these are the most commonly used masalas in all households across this country. Of course, people from different regions also include other spices along with aforementioned masalas in their traditional recipes.
For ex. Malvani people have their own masala (known as Malvani Masala) that they use with different spices in their delicious fish curries as well as chicken curries.
Indian Spices List:
Now, let’s jump over to the list of Indian spices.
|English Name||Hindi Name||How to use||Uses|
|Asofoetida||Hing||Tempering||Flavoring agent for curries.|
|Basil Seeds||Sabja||Soak in water and mix with other ingredients.||Flavoring ingredient. Mostly used in Falooda and other desserts.|
|Bay Leaf||Tej Patta||Stir-fry in oil for a couple of minutes. Dry roast for masalas.||Flavoring ingredient for spicy rice and curry dishes; Also used in many masalas.|
|Black Cardamom||Moti Elaichi/Badi Eliachi/Kali Elaichi||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Flavoring ingredient for curries, rice and dessert dishes.|
|Black Pepper||Kali Mirch||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Important flavoring agent in majority of Indian masalas.|
|Black Sesame Seeds||Kale Til||Direct use or Dry roast||Flavoring ingredient for some vegetable curries and Indian breads.|
|Caraway Seeds||Shahjeera/Shahi Jeera||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Flavoring ingredient in rice preparations. Can be included in masalas.|
|Cardamom||Elaichi/Choti Elaichi||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Important taste and flavor enhancer for Pulaos, Biryanis and sweet dishes. Also used as an aromatic for certain dishes.|
|Carom Seeds||Ajwain||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Flavoring ingredient for different dishes.|
|Cassia||Dalchini||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Useful alternative to Cinnamon.|
|Charoli||Charoli/Chironji||Stir-fry or Direct use in sweets.||Flavoring ingredient. Also used in some Indian sweets.|
|Cilantro||Dhaniya ke Patte||Garnishing or Direct use in some curries.||Same as Coriander Powder. The leaves bring more fresh flavor to the dishes.|
|Cinnamon||Dalchini||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Taste and Flavoring ingredient. Basic spice in different masalas. Sticks can also be used in some rice and curry dishes.|
|Cinnamon Buds||Nag Kesar||Direct use||Flavoring ingredient. Used in blended spices.|
|Clove||Laung||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Important flavoring agent in numerous Indian spice blends.|
|Coriander||Dhaniya||Stir-fry, Dry roast or Direct use depending on the recipes.||Taste and Flavor enhancer for various dishes. Mostly used in the form of powder.|
|Cubeb||Kabab Chini||Direct use||Flavoring ingredient. Should be used in powdered form.|
|Cumin Seeds||Jeera||Stir-fry or Dry Roast||Flavoring agent for many curries and rice preparations. Also used in blended masalas.|
|Curry Leaves||Kadi Patta||Tempering or Stir-fry||Flavor enhancer for vegetable curries and dal preparations.|
|Dry Coconut||Sukha Nariyal/Kopra/Khopra||Dry roast and make a paste with other spices as per the requirement of your recipe.||Base ingredient in blended spices required for different coastal curries.|
|Dry Fenugreek Leaves||Kasuri Methi||Direct use, when the vegetable curry is almost cooked.||Flavor enhancer for Punjabi curries.|
|Dry Ginger||Soonth||Direct use||Mostly used in powdered masalas for its medicinal properties.|
|Dry Mango Powder||Amchoor||Direct use||Taste enhancer for curries.|
|Dry Pomegranate Seeds||Anardana||Direct use||Flavoring ingredient for curries.|
|Fennel Seeds||Saunf||Stir-fry or Dry roast||Aromatic and Flavor enhancer for curries. Important spice in many masalas.|
|Fenugreek Seeds||Methi Dana||Tempering or Stir-fry||Base ingredient for different styles of Tadkas. Can be used in blended masalas.|
|Flax Seeds||Alsi||Direct use||Flavor enhancer for juices, salads, etc. Should be used in powdered form.|
|Four Seeds (Almonds, Pumpkin, Cantaloupe and Watermelon)||Char Magaz||Direct use||Mostly used in vegetable curries and sweets preparations. Enhances flavor of the dish.|
|Indian Gooseberry||Amla/Awala||Stir-fry or Direct use as per the recipes.||Can be used in whole as well as powdered form. Improves taste of the dish.|
|Garlic||Lahsun||Stir-fry or Direct use||Basic ingredient for lots of Indian curries and rice dishes.|
|Ginger||Adrak||Stir-fry or Direct use||Basic ingredient for lots of Indian curries and rice dishes.|
|Green/Black Raisins||Kishmish||Direct use||Particularly used in sweet dishes and some of the royal curry or rice preparations for its taste.|
|Green Chillies||Hari Mirch||Direct use||Taste enhancer for innumerable spicy dishes.|
|Ground Nuts||Singdana||Direct use or Dry roast||Flavor enhancer for chutneys and curries.|
|Kokum||Kokum/Ratambi||Direct use in curries||Taste enhancer for lip-smacking Malvani and Goan curries.|
|Licorice Sticks||Jethimadh||Direct use||Used in regional spice blends for its medicinal properties.|
|Lotus Seeds||Makhana/Phool Makhana||Direct use||Used in Kheer preparations as taste enhancer.|
|Mace||Javitri||Stir-fry till aroma comes out.||Important ingredient in most of the masalas. Used as a taste and flavoring agent.|
|Mint||Pudina||Direct use for chutneys and garnishing.||Aromatic and Flavor enhancer for several rice preparations, chutneys and stuffed parathas/rotis.|
|Mustard Seeds||Sarson/Rai||Tempering||Important tempering ingredient.|
|Nigella Seeds||Kalaunji||Direct use||Flavor enhancer for some Punjabi curries as well as rotis.|
|Nutmeg||Jaifal||Direct use or Stir-fry||One of the most important ingredients in many spice mixtures. Brings amazing flavor to various preparations.|
|Pine Nuts||Chilgoze||Direct use||Flavoring and Taste enhancer for different dishes.|
|Poppy Seeds||Khas Khas||Dry roast||Used in some regional blended masalas for its taste and flavor.|
|Pulses||Dal||Tempering||Used as a flavoring agent in Indian curries.|
|Rock Salt||Kala Namak/Saindhav Namak||Direct use||Flavoring ingredient for various dishes. Sometimes used as an alternative to regular salt.|
|Red Chillies||Lal Mirch||Tempering, Stir-fry as well as Direct use.||Basic ingredient for majority of Indian spices, though people use different chillies as per their availability.|
|Rose Water||Gulab Jal||Direct use||Aromatic.|
|Saffron Strands||Kesar/Keshar||Dissolve in water or warm milk.||Coloring and Flavoring agent.|
|Screw Pine Essence||Kevda Water/Kewra Jal||Direct use||Aromatic and Flavoring agent|
|Sichuan Pepper||Teppal/Triphal||Direct use||Flavoring spice for fish curries.|
|Star Anise||Chakra Phool/Badiyan||Direct use, Dry roast or Stir-fry||Mostly used in various spice blends. Can be used in vegetable Pulaos. Imparts great flavors to your dishes.|
|Stone Flower||Dagad Phool||Direct use in powdered form.||Mostly used in blended masalas. Provides unique flavor, which is not found in other spices.|
|Tamarind||Imli||Direct use as a fine paste.||Taste and Flavor enhancer for curries and chutneys.|
|Tea Leaf||Chai Patti||Direct use in boiling water.||Used in herbal teas for its medicinal value.|
|Turmeric Powder||Haldi Powder||Direct use||Color Enhancer and Anti-Bacterial ingredient in different marinations.|
|White Pepper||Safed Mirch||Direct use or Dry roast||Flavoring ingredient. Could be used as an alternative to Black Pepper.|
|White Sesame Seeds||Safed Til||Direct use or Dry roast||Taste and Flavor enhancer.|
|White Vinegar||Sirka||Direct use||Alternative to Tamarind, Kokum, Lemon and other sour ingredients. Generally used in North-East Indian and Goan dishes.|
Now, that’s a quite huge list of spices! I didn’t know we use so many spices in our dishes.
We’re really fortunate that we can use any of these spices and enhance the flavor, taste and aroma of our preparations.
Like our previous generations, I believe we should also treasure this beautiful gift of nature and share with the new generations. It will only help make our food culture more rich with new additions from different cultures around the world.
Over to you –
If you know any other spice names, please do mention them below with proper details i.e names (Hindi & English), uses and health benefits (if any). I’ll add them in the above list.