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Healthy Indian Spices and Their Uses

India has been a land of spices, and even right now, most of the wholesale spice suppliers are from India. No wonder Indian cuisines use many spices in different forms, from whole to powdered and paste. Spices are the soul of Indian dishes, giving them that delicious flavour.

If you are a fan of Indian dishes and want to cook them at home, here are some common spices you would use.


Asafoetida, called hing in Hindi, is a hardened resin that oozes from the root of the Ferula assafoetida plant. Hing is a popular spice in India. Indians use it in powder form, in small amounts. The powder has a highly intense, garlic-like sulphuric aroma, toned down by oil frying with oil.

Black Pepper

Black pepper has been a valuable spice since ancient and mediaeval times. However, Indian dishes use this spice in abundance, as it is native to the region. Black pepper is a little round, dried berries often used as whole or powdered to give dishes a hot and peppery flavour. 


Cloves are small, dried flower buds and another common spice in Indian cuisine. These tiny flower buds are highly aromatic and make a common ingredient in an Indian spice blend called garam masala. Often used as whole or powdered, cloves impart a warm, sweet, and intense flavour to dishes.

Coriander Seeds & Leaves

Coriander seeds are tiny seeds with a sweet, lemony flavour. This spice makes a staple ingredient in garam masala – an Indian spice powder. Moreover, fresh coriander leaves, or cilantro, are a common Indian spice that gives dishes that fresh citrusy flavour.


There are two varieties of cumin seeds: white and black. White cumin seeds look similar to caraway or nigella seeds but differ significantly. These seeds have a distinctive aroma with a warm, strong, and earthy flavour capable of hiding any gamey flavour in the meat. Its black counterpart has a slightly milder, nutty flavour, often used in North Indian cuisines.

Star Anise

Star Anise, chakra phool in Hindi, is a star-shaped, dark pod containing seeds. You can use this spice in both whole and powdered forms. To use it in the whole form, roast 1-2 star anise in oil. Or you can powder it in mortar and pestle. It has a nice liquorice flavour and works wonderfully with meat dishes and masala chai. 


Like cumin, cardamom also comes in two varieties: green and black. Green cardamom is more common. It has tiny black seeds, which impart a sweet, lemony flavour. On the other hand, black cardamom has a different flavour than green. They have a strong, smoky, camphor-like flavour and are quite warm and aromatic in nature. 


Cinnamon is a sweet rolled bark of a cinnamon tree. People usually confuse this spice with its cheaper version, cassia rolls. Cinnamon is also a common Indian spice in a spice mix called garam masala. It has a strong sweet flavour that enhances the taste of various dishes, from savoury soups to sweet porridge.


Mace is a dried fruit that surrounds nutmeg seeds. It is peppery with more volatile flavours than nutmeg. Like most spices, mace is also a common spice in garam masala powder. It goes perfectly with biryani, savoury soups, and meat dishes.


Nutmeg is a seed of the nutmeg fruit. It has a slightly bitter-sweet flavour. The spice can complement any dish, from sweet to savoury. You can grate a dash of mace and add it to your dishes. However, sometimes the flavour can be extremely intense and overpowering, so be careful with the amount.


Ginger is a common Indian spice, used both dried powdered and fresh whole. It gives a strong, intense, and spicy flavour to Indian dishes. Fresh ginger makes a perfect spice to flavour or garnish on top. And dry ginger makes a perfect ingredient to season our dishes in powder form. However, the powdered form is not as prevalent as the fresh one. It is also used in diet dishes.

Indian Bay Leaf

There are various varieties of bay leaves. In India, Indian bay leaves or tej patta are popular. Don’t confuse this variety with European laurel bay leaves. These are two different spices with different flavours. Indian bay leaves have a faint cinnamon flavour and are often fried in oil to release the aroma and flavour.


Turmeric is one of the common Indian spices ubiquitous in some traditional cuisine. Turmeric powder gives dishes a beautiful golden colour and a warm, earthy, peppery flavour. But be careful when using turmeric powder. Here little is more, and too much turmeric can ruin the dish.

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are small seeds that resemble fennel. These seeds have a warm, aromatic, liquorice-like flavour similar to star anise but milder. Fennel seeds make really aromatic ingredients in various spice mixes and sweet dishes. In India, it is consumed as a mouth freshener after meals.

Red Chilli Powder

Red chilli powder is the most common spice not just in Indian cuisine but worldwide. This is one of the reasons why people buy red chilli powder in bulk from wholesale spices traders. There are a variety of chillies in India, all differing in hotness and hence used for different purposes.

For example, Kashmiri red chillies are milder than others. So, you can use this variety of chilli powder to give your dishes a bright red colour without making them spicy. 

Black Mustard Seeds

Black mustard seeds are native to the Indian region. This variety of mustard has an intensely warm and nutty flavour than its other counterparts, like brown and yellow. Black mustard seeds are often used to temper daals.

Black Indian Salt

Black salt is an Indian volcanic rock salt with a sulphur smell. This salt is low in sodium and makes it a great substitute for people on a low-sodium diet (advised to consult a doctor before using it). 

Curry Leaves

Curry leaves partner mustard seeds when tempering daals and other dishes. Usually, Indians use fresh leaves. But dry leaves are equally flavourful and can be a good substitute for fresh leaves. 

Fenugreek Seeds & Leaves

Fenugreek is also another common spice in Indian cuisine. Fenugreek seeds and leaves are both edible and used in Indian dishes. Dry fenugreek leaves impart a slightly sweet, intense flavour with a bitter hint. Seeds have similar flavours and are often used in small amounts after roasting them.

Dry Mango Powder

Dry mango powder has the same tanginess as fresh raw mangoes. The powder can flavour various dishes. Moreover, it is one of the three common chaat masala spice mix ingredients. The other two are black pepper and rock salt.


Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. The spice is hard to cultivate as only cold tropical climates suit it. This spice imparts golden colour and nice flavour to dishes. You can use it in various sweet dishes like kheer and ras malai or savoury dishes like biryani.

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