“SPICES” is a general term covering a wide variety of aromatic seasonings which are used to flavor salty and sweet dishes. These are natural products obtained from fruits, seeds, roots, or bark of trees and shrubs.

Spices are the key to Indian cooking. Indians use spices, often lavishly, in many different ways. Each dish has a different combination of spice blends which is called the “Masala” or the curry powder of the dish.

Black Pepper Corns – small berries of a tropical plant. Have a hot sharp taste. Used whole or in the powdered form.

Cardamoms – An aromatic pod with dark seeds. Used for flavoring curries, rice preparations etc. Also used in the powdered form.

Cinnamon – the bark of a tree which has an aromatic flavor. Used as sticks or in the powdered form.

Cloves – dried buds from a tropical plant. Used whole or ground.

Coriander seeds – small round seeds, ground and used in almost all curries. Coriander plants commonly known as Chinese parsley; are used for garnishing and flavoring.

Cumin seeds – small creamish brown seeds. Used in curries to enhance the flavor. The ground powder is also used in some dishes.

Fennel seeds – small yellowish brown spindle shaped seeds. They have a pleasing flavor. Coarsely powdered seeds are used for seasoning many dishes.

Mustard seeds – tiny round seeds used for seasoning vegetables and meat. Mustard powder is also used in pickling as a preservative.

Turmeric powder – a dark yellow powder used in small quantities to impart color and flavor.

Chilies – a hot flavoring spice. Both red and green chilies are used in many of the Indian curries. The ripe red ones are dried and crushed to make flakes. Fine chili powder is used in curries.

Coconut – a tropical fruit. Its kernel is dried and made into flakes. Both coconut milk and flakes are used in curry dishes. Coco milk can be made from coconut flakes.

Garlic – possesses a distinct strong flavor. Used for seasoning in many dishes. garlic paste is used in marinating meat items.

Ginger – one of the most important items in Indian cooking, as it has a delightful flavor. Ginger paste is used to marinate fish and meat. Chopped ginger is used for seasoning. Dry ginger powder is used as a flavoring agent.

Onions – usually large and round with a thin outer skin. They are eaten raw in salads or chopped and sautéed in oil or butter to enhance the flavor of many curry dishes. Onion rings are used for garnishing and to prepare certain sauces. Small varieties are ideal for picking. Onion paste is used in many meat preparations.

Plain yogurt – used for marinating meat and as a thickening agent in curry.
 

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