India is one of the most populous nations in the world with over 30 districts and 16 languages. What many of us know is that India is also a nation with a unique cuisine that is loved by many people around the world. There is a lot to learn if you are interested in knowing about the amazing Indian cuisine. The best part is that culinary diversity in India is united by one thing: Indian spices.
The knowledge about using Indian spices has been passed through many generations. Because of numerous benefits such as medicinal uses, fantastic flavors and preserving properties, some of these spices are still heavily in use today. Some of the top Indian spices known around the world include the fragrant cardamom, chili pepper, mustard seed, and cumin among others. Here are seven of the most commonly used spices in Indian cuisine:
1. Cumin seeds
Cumin seeds are small and look unassuming. However, you will not be disappointed when you use them to spice up your meals. This is because they have a fascinating nutty and peppery flavor, which makes meals taste fantastic especially when you include chili as an ingredient. In the Middle Eastern, cumin is one of the vital components of curry powder. The good news is that you can find them all year-round.
This spice is actually made from the turmeric plant. It is the major spice found in curry and as such, you will find it in many Indian dishes. The spice offers a warm and bitter taste, which comes in handy when used in flavoring cheese, mustards and butlers. Turmeric is also used because of its medicinal properties.
3. Mustard seeds
For the longest time, mustard seeds have been used as culinary oil-seeds. Besides their ability to add amazing flavors to foods, mustard seeds are known to have healthy benefits. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients. When used in preparing foods, they produce an irresistible aroma that comes from its oil known as sinalbin.
Cardamom is among the ancient spices used to prepare amazing dishes. Its origin is in Southern India where it grows wild. It is also among the most expensive spices coming second after saffron. You can either bruise or fry the seeds of cardamom on the pan before you add other ingredients when preparing a dish. Cardamom also offers medicinal benefits.
5. Chili pepper
When preparing dishes, chili pepper can be used when fresh or dried. Essentially, chili is dried to preserve it for longer periods. This explains why you will mostly find chili ground into powder. In India, chili is used to add flavor to curries and dry dishes. Both fresh and dried chili can be used to make sauce, which adds great flavor to other dishes.
Cinnamon is a great spice that has a lovely aroma. The aroma actually comes from an essential oil, which is one of the components constituting a greater percentage of the spice. Cinnamon is popularly used as a flavoring material. It can be used to prepare desserts, chocolates, coffee and tea among others. It is definitely one of the spices that you can barely afford to miss.
You can get this spice as whole dried seeds or in a powder form after grinding. To heighten its flavor and aroma, you need to roast it in a dry pan. You can find coriander spice in Indian curries and garam masala. When coriander seeds are roasted, they can be eaten as snacks. Coriander is also the major ingredient for two popular Southern India dishes known as rasam and sambhar.
These are some of the key spices that you will always find in the Indian cuisine. Some of the tastiest Indian meals are prepared by a mixture of these spices perfectly done in the right proportion. To know how spices can light up a dish, why not visit the best Indian restaurant in London and taste it for yourself?