| Date: 11.06.2019

Indian food is a medley of exquisite spices, used not only for their amazing flavours but also for their vibrant colours and numerous health benefits.

Indian spices are used chopped, ground or whole; roasted, sautéed or fried; and as a topping. Spices are sometimes added at the end of the cooking process as a flavouring after being heated in a pan with ghee or cooking oil.

Spices with strong flavour should be added first and lighter spices added last.

The term ‘Curry’ is an Indian dish with several spices blended together. That could’ve dry or with a gravy base. In South India, this could also mean the curry leaves themselves commonly used as an ingredient in this regional cuisine.

Fourteen of our favourite Indian spices

Here are fourteen of our favourite spices used in Indian cookery to inspire you to spice up your life!

The king of Indian spices black pepper

How to use:

Whole in a ‘bouquet garni’ in stews, crush, or grind for a milder flavour.

Good for:

  • Great anti-inflammatory agent
  • Relief from respiratory disorders, coughs and colds
  • Helps with dental care and digestion
  • Helps relieve constipation, anaemia, impotency, muscular strains, dental care, pyorrhea, diarrhoea, and heart disease
favourite indian spices black pepper

Cardamom

How to use:

Grind the seeds using a pestle and mortar or lightly crush the whole pod for stews and curries. Also great with chocolate!

Good for:

  • Antioxidant and diuretic properties
  • May lower blood pressure
  • Helps with digestive problems including ulcers
  • May lower blood sugar levels
favourite indian spices cardamon

Cinnamon

How to use:

Add whole to casseroles and fruit punches, grind into baking, and sprinkle on custard and fruit.

Good for:

  • Great antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Eases digestion
  • May reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • Stimulates blood flow
  • Herbal remedy for poor circulation
favourite indian spices cinnamon

Chillies

How to use:

Toss in hot oil, roast on a griddle or cook with water or stock in curries, stews and soups. Available in whole, dried or ground formats.

Good for:

  • Fighting inflammation
  • Natural pain relief
  • Boosting immunity
  • Clearing congestion
  • Can help with weight loss
favourite indian spices chilies

Coriander

How to use:

Roasted and powdered coriander seeds create flavoursome food, whilst fresh coriander leaves are a staple seasoning and garnish to Indian dishes.

Good for:

  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Great for the digestive system
  • Can stimulate insulin secretion and lower blood sugar levels
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Great for promoting the nervous system and stimulating memory.
favourite indian spices coriander

Cumin

How to use:

Not only added to many dishes, cumin is also included in remedies for cough and cold relief.

Good for:

  • Promoting digestion
  • Can help with diabetes
  • Improves circulation
  • Can help reduce fat and with weight loss
  • May improve blood cholesterol
favourite indian spices cumin

Curry leaves

How to use:

Add a handful to pretty much any recipe! Dried curried leaves can be added to sambar or mixed rice.

Good for:

  • Treating dysentery, constipation and diarrhoea
  • Relives nausea and morning sickness
  • Heals wounds, burns and skin eruptions
  • Can help with weight loss
favourite indian spices curry leaves

Fenugreek

How to use:

Add a dash of fenugreek to anything from curries to salads for a hit of flavour.

Good for:

  • Balancing cholesterol
  • Soothing upset stomachs
  • Reducing menstrual cramps
  • Soothing muscle pain
  • Reducing appetite and fat mass
favourite indian spices fenugreek

Ginger

How to use:

Chop, grate, ‘julienne’ (matchstick-size pieces) or slice

Good for:

  • Stimulate circulation
  • Ease bronchitis and congestion
  • Treating nausea from motion sickness and morning sickness
  • Ease muscle and joint pain
  • Cleanse and detoxify the body
favourite indian spices ginger

Hing

How to use:

A latex gum extracted from a herb, the distinct flavour and aroma of hing transforms any dish, especially curries and dahls.

Good for:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Acts as a natural sedative
  • Anti-bacterial properties
  • An effective diuretic
favourite indian spices hing

Mustard seeds

How to use:

An essential in all Indian homes, mustard seeds are tossed in hot oil and added to pretty much any Indian dish you can think of!

Good for:

  • Mustard oil is great for the skin as it generates warmth
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Great for relieving migraines
  • Increases metabolism and aids digestion
  • Rich in calcium, manganese, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, protein and dietary fibre
favourite indian spices mustard seeds

Star Anise

How to use:

Add whole to the cooking pot, or grind. Use sparingly as it’s strong!

Good for:

  • Carminative, stomachic, stimulant and diuretic properties
  • Used to combat colic and rheumatism
  • Common flavouring for medicinal teas, cough mixtures and pastilles
favourite indian spices star anise

Tamarind

How to use:

Remove the hard shell, simmer in a little liquid, then remove the flesh from the seeds and pod.

Good for:

  • Eases stomach discomfort, aid digestion and promote better bowel movement.
  • Helps relieve fever, sore throat, rheumatism, inflammation and heat stroke.
  • Boiled or dried tamarind leaves and flowers are made into poultices for boils, conjunctivitis, haemorrhoids, sprains and swollen joints
favourite indian spices tamarind

Turmeric

How to use:

Add a pinch to your dish for a lovely mild flavour and vibrant colour.

Good for:

  • Regarded as a killer of evil spirits!
  • Good for curing stomach ailments
  • Can help ease skin infections
  • May reduce inflammation
favourite indian spices turmeric

We hope you’ve enjoyed our favourite Indian spices and that they’ve inspired you to get creative in the kitchen!

Do you have a favourite recipe using these spices? We’d love to learn about it! 

And to try these spices in the land they are used, why not learn more about our Culinary Tour to India?

Be inspired by our tours