Share this blog on
Growing up in an Indian family, I have been taught to cook and use spices as the backbone for many dishes. Spices are also used traditionally as medicines and also they bring amazing flavors in simple foods.
These spices not only add wonderful flavor to the recipes but also provide health benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties etc.
Using spices in Indian Cuisine
The spices have always been something we’ve depended on when cooking at home or even using traditional remedies with Ayurvedic medicine.
One common misconception with Indian cuisine is not knowing which spices go best together when cooking a recipe! But there’s no need for this concern! As all spices have their own distinct flavor profiles and you could experiment endlessly to suit your tastes buds.
Indians have a long-standing tradition of using spices and herbs to flavor their food, so it should come as no surprise that they possess an elaborate system for preparing them.
Essential spices list for your Indian Kitchen
Below I have listed out the spices that are most essential in any Indian Kitchen. These are the spices that are always needed at your hands reach when preparing any Indian recipe. Or you could say the Most wanted Indian spices for your Indian Cuisine.
What is a Spice Box or Masala Dabba?
Masala Dabba is a spice box that contains all essential spices that are necessary for the Indian kitchen. This keeps the spices organized, and can be used for cooking more often to make dishes that you love. A traditional Indian “masala” box contains 7 smaller round pots inside its outer container and comes equipped with a lid and spoon – all constructed from galvanized tin (or some other form of metal).
For centuries, Indian cooks have been using a Masala Dabba to store their spices. The spice containers are typically cylindrical in shape and made from metal with lids that can be sealed shut. These boxes were traditionally used to store ground herbs and spices that would quickly lose flavor when exposed to air.
Masala Dabba’s are customizable and a great way to mix up your cooking routine. You can include whatever you like in the spice containers and try different spices on smaller samples of a dish for quick taste testing.
Modern Top Selling Masala Boxes on Amazon
Storing your Indian Spices
Even the simplest of Indian dishes need a diversity of spices, and storing them is always challenging!
The number one concern for every cook is how to make sure the recipe doesn’t lose its rite flavor? And properly stored spices when used give you amazing flavored recipes…
There are many ways to store spices in order for them not only to last longer but also retain their flavor.
Keep Spices Away From:
Light can cause the color and flavor of spices to change, so it is best not to keep them in a brightly lit area. Store your jars of spices away from light sources like windows so that they are not exposed too long before you need to use them.
Storing fresh herbs and spices properly will help maintain their nutrition, taste, and aromatic properties while also preventing them from spoiling too soon; this means keeping these items in labeled opaque containers instead of letting light reach them through transparent containers.
Even though spice jars may seem safe if kept inside their original packaging, UV rays eventually breakthrough so that any light outside will affect what’s been sealed within the container’s walls.
I hear that spices are best kept in a cabinet away from the stove. This way, they won’t get overheated and lose their flavor. It’s a good idea for them on their own shelf in another room, but if you must put some next to your stove then keep it away from any open flame and heat vents.
Leave the spice jar on top of the hot stove while cooking- heat can build up and make humidity levels rise inside the jars so that they start losing out on flavor!
Did you know that the moisture in our humid environment can spoil your spices?
To keep them fresh, store all of those masalas which come in jars or bottles, not with their lids on but instead inside a sealed container. This way they’ll stay flavorful and aromatic for longer.
Quick Tip: When you are cooking, try not to use the lid of your spice jars as a spoon. The steam from the food will cause moisture and can ruin all flavors inside that jar when it is in contact with any spices or herbs.
Spices do not stay fresh for long if they are exposed to air, so keep your spice container tightly closed. Choose whichever spice container suits you best and remember that keeping the lid on tight is the key.
Spice up your kitchen with some innovative containers! Instead of buying individual spice jars, use glass jars or small plastic containers that can be reused.
Different ways of using Indian spices in recipes
Some dishes are heavily spiced with curry powder as well as other aromatics while others don’t include any spice at all. Spices have been used since ancient times to produce savory flavors.
Indian food is known for its lively flavors, and spices are the secret to good health. The mix of different herbs adds flavor to mealtime staples such as rice or curry dishes.
Spices are used in many ways during cooking. Below we have summarized different ways spices can be used in your recipes.
1. Marination with spices
Marination is the process of soaking meat in spices, curds, and lime juice to give it an extra tangy flavor. The marinade can also be used as a basting liquid for grilling or roasting; this adds more flavor to the dish over time while cooking.
For a flavorful meal, marinate your meat or vegetables before cooking. They will absorb the flavors into them and be more tender when you’re done.
The more time you let it soak, the better! If planning to do this for an hour or overnight before cooking, choose whichever will give off stronger flavors.
How to Marinate with Spices (Video tutorial)
Example Recipe: Chicken Tandoori
2. Dry roast & grind
The flavors of our favorite Indian foods come alive when we roast these spices over low heat. The oils and aromas that are released create the perfect base for any dish.
Let the spices cool down and then blend them with your favorite ingredients to make a delicious spice mix.
This dry roast spice blend can be used directly in the recipe or also can be sprinkled onto food before cooking. Alternatively, it could go into your favorite marinade to add an incredible flavor that’s delicious and aromatic.
How to use spices to Dry Roast & Grind while cooking (Video tutorial)
Example Recipe: Achari Chicken
3. Frying in Oil
When cooking, sometimes we fry the whole spices before adding anything else into the pan. This is done to ensure that they release their flavors and aromas. Adding whole cloves and cumin seeds gives any dish an added depth of flavor. They release their oils and flavors into cooking oil to create a more delicious dish for you.
Make sure to keep the heat on low otherwise you may end up with burnt spices that will ruin your dish. Add your spices to the oil while keeping an eye on it so you know when they’re done.
How to fry the spices in Oil while cooking to use it for recipes (Video tutorial)
Example Recipe: Apricot Chicken
4. Adding ground Spices
Adding spice powders to our recipes is a great way of enhancing the flavors and giving it an attractive appearance. Spicing up dishes with different blends such as cumin and turmeric can add flavor and color to your recipe.
When it comes to the final touches of a curry, using spice powder can help keep the colors vibrant. Sometimes if you add too early in preparation, the spice powders could burn out and lose their flavors and aroma. Knowing the right time of when to add spices during preparation is essential to a great-tasting recipe.
Adding ground spices in between cooking (Video tutorial)
Example Recipe: Apricot Chicken
5. Frying and Blending of Spices
Aromatic spices are blended into a paste and added to dishes for an extra zing of flavor. We have many different types of dishes that use this technique, such as Chicken kolhapuri and Chicken lababdar.
In order to prepare the most flavorful spice paste, first, fry your spices in oil on low heat. Once they are slightly roasted, add onions or coconut, or cashews to bring extra flavors and texture to it.
You can make a paste by blending all of the ingredients together. If you want your final product to be thinner, add some water and then blend it. The blended paste will give your recipe a great texture, flavor, and smoothness. It can also help make a gravy form of any recipe you’re cooking.
How to fry & blend spices while cooking (Video tutorial)
Example Recipe: Chicken Lababdar