In India there is a variety of regional and traditional cuisines. This is due to the diversity in culture, ethnic groups, occupations and including soil and climate.
Each regional cuisine uses locally available ingredients. Such as spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits.
Indian cuisine uses the whole culinary palette of flavors, which include spicy, sour, sweet, and hot all at the same time.
A web magazine named Real Simple in its food section, writes in respects to the spices used in Indian cuisine –
“There are a basic 20 to 30 spices that are used in many dishes—cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger, to name a few—and there are an infinite number of ways of using them” (Source).
Let’s examine of few of those spices.
Indian Cuisine With It’s Many Flavors
Indian cuisine helped to shape the history of the country’s relationship with other countries.
One example of this, is the spice trade between India and Europe. Which helped to foster Europe’s Age of Discovery.
And the spice trade included the following spices among many traded between India and Europe.
Cardamom is one of the most valuable spices in the world. Vanilla and Saffron being the other two most expensive spices.
It is used in sweet and savory dishes and beverages. It is also used in meat marinades.
The seed comes in two colors and sizes. Large green cardamom pods and small black cardamom pods. Both are used interchangeably.
Coriander is dried seeds of cilantro. The seeds have a citrusy flavor essential to many Indian dishes, like this Baked Indian Spiced Salmon.
Cilantro, the green herbaceous part of the plant, is useful as a garnish for many Indian dishes. Both the stems and leaves are full of flavor.
Vegetable and meat dishes in India often include garam masala for seasoning.
In Northern Indian cuisine, garam masala is a spice mix of cinnamon, mace, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and cardamon pods.
But in the southern part of India garam masala is a paste form, made with coconut milk, vinegar, or water.
Garam masala can be used on its own, or mixed with other seasonings.
In Indian cuisine, turmeric is used due to its flavor profile and as a coloring agent.
Turmeric is added to sausages, pickles, relishes, sauces, and dry mixes due to its unique ability to preserve.
Star anise as it’s name suggests is star shaped. It is hard, about 1 inch high with 5-10 segments and a dark brown rust like color.
Star anise is used in Indian slow-cooked vegetable and meat meat dishes.
The spice is powerful in flavor and aroma. Therefore, only a small amount is used in recipes.
Not only should you take care about how much you add to your food, you should also be careful about your timing.
Star anise will continue to infuse its flavor into a dish as it cooks, so you may have to remove the pods from the dish before it finishes cooking if you have added it early in the cooking process.
Other common spices used in Indian cooking include:
- Mustard seeds
- Curry Leaves
- Chaat Masala
- Fennel seeds
- Indian Bay Leaves
- Dried chiles
Read and learn to cook Traditional Indian Curry Sauce.
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