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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for Top 4 Spices used in Indian Cuisine – Master yourself in the Spices of India
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 4 Spices used in Indian Cuisine – Master yourself in the Spices of India

It is no secret that Indian dishes are famed for their spices. But anyone who has tried to dabble with cooking Indian food will tell you how hard it is to understand the multitude of spices used.

1

Cardamom

Probably the most popular of spices, it comes in two varieties; black and green. Of the two, green is the most used. With a light and sweet flavour, it is used for a range of dishes, be it spicy dishes or desserts. If that does not sound good enough, it has a hint of eucalyptus in it too. When used to make spice mixes, it is usually blended whole but when it comes to desserts, the pod is cracked open and the black seeds are used.

The black version of cardamom is powerfully spicy. Usually, only the seeds are made use of. In the event that you are using the entire pod, make sure to remove it before you lay down the dish on the table as it can make the dish too spicy. As mentioned above, cardamom is used frequently in all areas of India; be it a resort in Goa or a restaurant in Kashmir.

2

Clove

The anise notes in clove can be distinguished in many dishes in the country. Due to a large number of essential oils present in the spice, it tends to give a strong flavour that is slightly akin to a medicinal flavour. They're essentially flowers and the majority of the oils are pressed and released, after which the seed is dried and used in dishes. The spice is used in two forms; the complete seed is used as an ingredient and in certain occasions, it is blended. As with cardamom, use cloves in the right quantity as it has the potential to overpower other spices. Clovers are widely used in India and it can be found in dishes from hotels such as Alila Diwa Goa to tiny restaurants by the road.

3

Cassia bark

A genus of cinnamon trees, cassia bark is commonly used by Indians as a substitute for cinnamon. Cassia is favoured due to its subtle flavour which enables it to be used in high quantities. Similar to clovers, cassia bark is used either whole or is blended in a spice mix. Cassia bark is easily recognizable due to its coarse bark like touch. Rub a bit on your hand if you want to get a grasp of its freshness. If you get a cinnamon fragrance, it means the bark is fresh. If you are using cinnamon instead of cassia bark, reduce the quantity as cinnamon has a strong flavour.

4

Cumin

If you are looking to add a smoky note to your dish, cumin is your friend. Recognizable by its brown seeds and strong aroma, it is commonly mistaken with anise seeds. They both have a different colour and smell, so it isn't difficult to differentiate the two. If you want the strongest aroma in cumin, grind it shortly before you are using it.