Indian Spices 101- Complete Beginners Guide
Spices are the foundation of Indian cuisine. They can transform a bald dish into a tasty meal but, if not used properly, they can even ruin the whole dish. Some people are intimated by the thought of cooking Indian food because of the complexity of Indian spices and how they work. So, in this article, you will learn how Indian spices are used in creating the bold and complex flavors of authentic Indian cuisine and about the flavors these spices generate, when and how to use them in your cooking, etc.
Indian spices include a variety of spices grown all across the Indian subcontinent. Some other commonly used spices are imported from countries with similar climates. The most common spices you can find in our Masala Dabba are:
• Coriander Seeds
These Indian spices are mostly available in both whole and ground form, but sometimes they can be found in different forms like chopped, roasted, sauteed, and even as in fried form.
Now let’s answer some common questions that might float in your mind if you are spice amateur:
What are the different cooking techniques using spices??
While preparing an Indian Cuisine, different spices are added in a single recipe to create the desired flavors in a dish. The order in which these spices are added influence the taste of the dish. Hence, the cooking technique of these spices plays an important role in the outcome. Some of the cooking techniques using spices involved in Indian cooking, which are widely common, are listed below:
• Frying- Talna
• Sauteing- Bhunna
You must be familiar with common Indian dishes like Tandoori Panner, Dum Alloo, etc. which are prepared using the above-mentioned techniques.
What is Tampering or Tadka??
If you are a fan of Indian cooking, you’ve probably heard of the word tempering or tadka or vaghar or chhonk. It is an Indian technique in which you sizzle whole or ground spices in oil or ghee in order to release their essential oils. This infused oil enhances the flavor of the spice and makes it more aromatic. Tadka can be added to the dish at the beginning of the recipe or as a finishing touch.
Which spice to use when??
1- Spices that enhance the color- Turmeric, Chili Powder
2- Spices that adds heat- Chili Powder, Black Pepper
3- Spices that thicken- Coriander powder, Cumin Powder
4- Spices that add aroma- Fennel Seeds, Cardamom, Asafoetida, Cinnamon, Cloves, Bay leaves, Or you can also add the blended spices like Garam Masala, Kitchen King Masala, Chat Masala, Curry Powder, etc.
5- Spices that gives finishing touches- Mustard Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Dry Fenugreek Leaves.
How to store spices??
• Keep the spices dry in order to sustain the flavor and color for a longer period of time.
• Store the spices in an opaque container to avoid exposure to light as it can fade the color, affect the flavor of the spices, and make them age quicker.
• Heat and light both have an adverse effect on the flavor of spice and let it lose its effectiveness fast hence, it is advisable to keep the spices away from it.
• It is also highly advisable to keep checking the spices regularly as it can prevent the spices from getting rotten, and wastage of spices can be prevented to a great extent.
• Some spices like Asafoetida have a strong and potent smell, and it can be infused in other spices so, these spices should be stored in separate containers.
• Always store whole and freshly ground spices in separate containers
• Dried fenugreek leaves and Asafoetida have a strong pungent smell, and so they must be kept in an airtight container.
Understanding the complexity of the spices is challenging but, once you learn about the spices, it’s just a smooth ride. While using Indian spices, make sure they are pure and without any impurities as they can spoil the taste of the dish. You can try Vasant Masala‘s spices, they are 100% authentic and fresh.
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