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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for 5 Essential Indian Food Items - Must-Have Ingredients to Prepare Indian Dishes
Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Essential Indian Food Items - Must-Have Ingredients to Prepare Indian Dishes

Indian cuisine has a distinct flavour that sets it apart from not only other regional culinary styles but also the food prepared elsewhere on the planet. Easily identifiable from its aroma and even appearance, Indian food requires certain essential ingredients of which 5 are explored here.



As an ingredient that's required to prepare nearly every dish in the Indian canon, coriander is an indispensable ingredient when cooking Indian food. Used in a plethora of forms, coriander is not only infused into local dishes as fresh leaves but its seeds, stem, dried leaves and even powdered form are used to heighten the flavour of countless meals. Especially necessary when making traditional vegetable curries and even chutneys, coriander has been used in Indian cuisine since time immemorial as it is also among the oldest spices in the globe. The citrusy notes and the aroma of the coriander are some of the main reasons why it is so frequently used.



Revered for its medicinal benefits, turmeric is a spice that's not only used in local cuisine in India but also in Ayurvedic treatments. Known to have cleansing and antibacterial properties, turmeric also adds colour to a curry or a meal as the striking yellow hue makes dishes pleasing to the eye. Dhal curry is an Indian dish that simply cannot do without a teaspoon or two of turmeric powder as the flavour of the dish is enhanced greatly with the addition of turmeric.


Cumin Seeds

Cumin is another ingredient that chefs at Tandoor Tina or any other Indian fusion restaurant in Dubai or elsewhere rely on daily to create a distinct smoky flavour. Cumin is such a necessity in every North Indian home that the first step in making most local meals or dishes begins with the step of tossing cumin seeds into a hot pan with ghee. Tempering Indian curries is impossible without some roasted cumin seeds, which are also used in powder form ((bhuna jeera powder). A simple dish that requires bhuna jeera powder or roasted cumin powder is the popular Indian salad called Raita, which is a combination of curd, onions, coriander leaves, tomatoes, and cumin powder with lime and salt added according to taste.



Another basic ingredient Indian home cooks and professional chefs need in large quantities; onions are usually sautéed in ghee or vegetable oil before being introduced into a dish. Although fried onions are used as a popular garnish and sautéed onions serve as the base of well-loved Indian curries including Channa Masala or chickpea curry, there are Rotis and parathas that also require diced onions. Onion dosa is one such dish where a crispy crepe is folded over fried onions.


Garam Masala

If there was one spice mix that one should purchase for recreating Indian dishes at home, then it is surely a bottle of Garam Masala. The ground-up mix not only includes cinnamon, pepper, clove, coriander, and cumin but also cardamom.

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