Indian Spices: There Origins & Varieties

Indian Spices: There Origins & Varieties

In the Middle Ages, Europe was attracted to East which was very exotic and fascinating. One of the main reasons was due to spices. Due to rich spices available in India, there was a lot of competition between Dutch, English, and French as each of them wanted to control trade and politics in India. It can be rightly concluded that Indian spices were one of the reasons why Europeans migrated to India.

Indian spices like black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, etc. are available at a cheap price now. But, in the past, they were as expensive as silver and gold.

According to archeologists, it has been found that in primitive times humans used aromatic plants for flavoring. The primitive human used sweet-smelling spices for making food taste good. The primitive people offered different types of aromatic herbs to primitive gods and used spices for healing. And from there on, spices have become a very significant part of our life.

Spices are one of the early reasons why globalization took place. Before the European voyages, the trade of Indian spices was very prominent. In Europe, the demand for pepper was so great that it resulted in voyages of Vasco Da Gama and Christopher Columbus. This demand for aromatic food and flavors is still present today and is at the core of trade that is done today.

In this article, we have covered the top 10 Indian spices that add flavor to modern Indian and European food:-

  1. Cumin:


    Cumin is mainly produced in India. It amounts to almost 70 percent of the world’s production. Cumin is used very frequently in spice mixes and adds a smoky flavor to Indian dishes. You can identify Cumin by its intense fragrance and distinct ridged brown seeds. Cumin can be confused with anise seeds, caraway, and fennel but it differs from them in terms of color and taste. Cumin is best used freshly ground.

  2. Cardamom:


    Indian cooking uses 2 kinds of cardamom i.e. green and black. The green variety of cardamom is more commonly used. It is used in spice mixes, lassis and Indian desserts. It has a sweet and light flavor with a mild note of eucalyptus. Green cardamom can be used to prepare spice mixes like garam masala. You can also use cardamom seeds in sweets by crushing the seeds, thus providing fragrance.

  3. Clove:


    Many Indian dishes use clove, which is a common spice used in Indian cooking. The flavor of the cloves comes from essential oils that they contain. Cloves are basically flowers and a lot of their oil is taken out before they are dried. Cloves can be used as a whole or can be blended into spice mixes.

  4. Black Pepper:

    Black Pepper

    Black pepper is mainly found in India in the Malabar region and the Western Ghats. It is hard to grow this spice as it depends on natural cycles like rainfall. Like most spices, one needs to toast black pepper before blending.

  5. Coriander:


    Coriander is one of the most popular spices in India. It is one of the oldest spices in the world. It is golden-yellow in color and has a gentle ridged texture. The seeds are aromatic and have a citrus flavor. Many spices are prepared using whole coriander.

  6. Mustard Seeds:

    Mustard Seeds

    Mustard seeds are brown, black or yellow in color. Most of the Indian recipes are hardly imagined without mustard seeds because it is more frequently used in Indian cooking. The flavor of mustard gets released when mustard seeds are crushed or cooked in oil. It is a staple ingredient of many curries, curry powders, and mustard oil. It is commonly available in North India.

  7. Fenugreek:


    Fenugreek is a spice that lends a very earthy, musky curry fragrance. The seeds of fenugreek are yellow and look like wheat kernels. The leaves of Fenugreek are dried and can be used as spices. They are also known as Kasuri methi. They give butter chicken its unique flavor.

  8. Turmeric:


    Turmeric is one of the most common Indian spice. It is grown as a rhizome and can be used fresh or dried. It has been shown to have a lot of health benefits and is used with many curries and spice mixes.

  9. Saffron:


    Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It is more valuable than gold because of the fact that it needs a lot of labor to produce. Saffron is actually the stigma of crocus flowers. The color of best saffron is dark red an originates from Kashmir, Spain, and Iran. Fresher saffron has a deeper color. Saffron has a unique flavor and fragrance.

  10. Cassia Bark:

    Cassia Bark

    Cassia bark belongs to the family of the cinnamon tree also known as Chinese cinnamon. Cinnamon differs from cassia and is also known as “true cinnamon”. Cassia is cheaper to produce when compared to other spices. Cassia bark plays a major role to produce ground cinnamon. Cassia has milder flavors as compared to cinnamon and can be used in large quantities.

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