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My “Go To” Spices for Indian Food: Beginner’s Guide

Cooking at home was very intimidating to me in the beginning,

especially when it came to Indian food. There were so many spices and I did not know where to start with building my spice cabinet.

Growing up, I was amazed at how my mom used a variety of spices when cooking without measuring.

With practice, I am now at that point in my life too but it did not happen over night.

 

Over time, I noticed I was using the same set spices in my day to day cooking.

I want to share these with you in case you are thinking about cooking more at home but did not know where to start, especially when it comes to Indian food.

Having a basic understanding of spices will help you eat more healthful foods.

 

You can start with the list below:

 

  • Cumin seeds and powder: Dried fruit of a plant in the parsley family with a nutty flavor. The powder is made from grinding the seeds.
  • Turmeric powder: Powder made from dried root of tropical plant Curcuma longa, related to ginger.
  • Red chili powder: Blend of ground spices from dried chili, spiciness changes with type of chili used.
  • Coriander powder: Dried, ripe fruit of cilantro plant (ground into powder), citrus like flavor.
  • Garam masala: Blend of dry roasted spices (can include black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dried chilis, fennel, mace, nutmeg). Warm flavor & aroma.

 

Turmeric powder: Powder made from dried root of tropical plant Curcuma longa, related to ginger. Share on X

 

I highly recommend buying spices from a local Indian store or international market. You will get a better bang for your buck and they should have reasonable sized packs.

Store spices away from heat and direct sunlight.

Try to avoid dumping spices directly from the container into a hot pan or pot (use a spoon). You don’t want to expose the entire spice container to the heat of your cooking which can cause moisture to build up in the spice container which will spoil them.

 

I highly recommend buying spices from a local Indian store or international market. You will get a better bang for your buck and they should have reasonable sized packs.

 


You can make a variety of dishes by using these spices to cook vegetables and lentils which pair well with whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa or other whole grains. Happy Cooking!

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Culinary Secrets: My “Go To” Spices for Indian Food: Beginner’s Guide

Nisha Patel MD goes over spices to use in preparing Indian Food.

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