Glossary

Asafetida (Hing)
This is a hard block of resin and aids in digestion and colic. It is used mostly when cooking lentils, vegetables and to temper chutneys. It can be purchased readily ground and is used in small quantities.

Bay Leaves (Tej Patta)
This is a spicy but mellow tasting leaf, used to add flavor to rice and curries.

Black Onion Seeds (Kalaunji)
They have no connection to onions but just resemble them. Used in vegetable and stir-fry dishes.

Black Peppercorns (Kali Mirch)
Can be ground or used as a whole. This adds a pungent and hot taste to many dishes.

Black Salt (Kala Namak)
This is a hard block of rock salt extremely pungent and used in yogurt dishes. Used mostly when mixed with chutneys and yogurt. It can be bought readily ground.

Caraway (Ajwain)
Caraway Seed is popular in some Indian lentil dishes and in breads and potatoes where it is used as a spice very much like cumin.

Cardamom (Elaichi)
There are 3 types:

  1. Black cardamom is used in rice dishes.
  2. Green pods are used in rice, curries and desserts.
  3. Ground cardamom is used in Indian tea or sweet meals.

Cayenne Pepper (Deghi Mirch)
This is a ground powder of red pepper originating from Kashmir. It is extremely hot and is used in minute quantities in lamb dishes, curries and chutneys.

Cinnamon (Dalchini)
This is used in rice pilaf and curries.

Coriander (Dhania)
These seeds are used whole to flavor a few vegetable dishes.

Chilies (Mirch)
These are of various varieties:

  1. Fresh red chilies - The smaller, narrower and darker the chill greater it’s pungency.
  2. Fresh green chilies - These are rich in vitamins and give a distinctive hot taste to food.
  3. Ground Used to add spice to curries, vegetables and chutneys.
  4. Dried - Used for Rice dishes and South Indian meals.

Cloves (Laung)
Whole cloves are used in rich Indian dishes. Ground cloves are used in small amounts in some desserts.

Cumin (Jeera)
This spice is used both as whole seeds and as a ground spice. It gives a gentle and subtle flavor to Biryanis, lentils and dried vegetables. Ground cumin can be used in appetizers, batters and yogurts.

Curry Leaves (Curry Patta)
These are available both dry and fresh from Indian grocery stores. Used to temper food or as a topping to many dishes.

Fenugreek (Methi leaves)
Dried fenugreek leaves are often used as flavouring for potato curries, paneer dishes and butter chicken.

Garlic (Lasan)
This is a root of a plant and is used a lot in vegetarian, non-vegetarian dishes and chutneys.

Ginger (Adrak)
This is an aromatic root of a tropical plant. It helps in chest and throat ailments. Fresh ginger should be peeled before use and ground ginger is used in fried vegetables, to temper and in marinades.

Mixed Spices (Garam Masala)
The name itself denotes ‘Mixed Spices’. It consists of cumin, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, black peppercorns and coriander ground together. It is considered an indispensable spice for many Indian dishes.

Mango Powder (Amchur)
This is made from sun-dried mangoes and is a very important spice. It has a sour taste and gives a unique flavor to most dishes. Many people use it as a substitute for lemon juice.

Nutmeg (Jaiphal)
This is used to give a subtle flavor to meat, rice dishes and desserts.

Pomegranate seeds (Anardana)
This spice has a mildly fruity, sweet and sour flavor. This is used to give dishes a sour taste.

Poppy seeds (Khus-Khus)
These are ground into a powder and used in Indian cooking.

Sesame Seeds (Til)
Used in chutneys, pickles or sweet sauces.

Turmeric (Haldi)
This is a pungent root. It is used to color most Indian dishes. It has antiseptic properties.