Ajwain (Omam)

The botanical name for Ajwain is Carum Ajowan. It has a distinctive and unique flavour and taste and is found in Indian grocery stores. It is called the Bishop’s weed.

Asofoetida (Hing)

This is called the ‘Devil’s Dung’ and it is the dried latex from the taproot. It is available in a mass or powdered form. It is used in cooking mainly for the flavour and taste. It is bitter in taste and is consumed by adding a pinch or two in cooking.

Besan flour

Powdered channa Dal or yellow split peas is called besan flour or bengal gram flour.


Cardamom in the ‘queen’ of spices which light green in colour. It is one of the most exotic and highly prized spices in the world. It is a precious ingredient in the preparation of food as it is used as a perfumery. Cardamom is peeled, powdered and sprinkled on dishes. It enhances the flavour of the dish. Cardamom oil is also used in health foods and bakery products.

Channa dal

Channa dal is called yellow split peas or bengal gram dal which is yellow in colour. Fried channa dal is also available for making chutney. If it is not available, channa dal may be roasted and used.

Chilli (green)

Chillies come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colour and in different degrees of pungency. It is said that Christopher Columbus who discovered the world had taken a chilli plant and planted it in his own country. So the history of the chilli goes a long way.

Chilli increases the appetite and helps to digest foods. It acts as a cardiac stimulant. It gets rid of phlegm and throat infections, as it is a great source of vitamin C.

Chilli is normally used in dishes with other ingredients and therefore reduces the pungency. Chilli, eaten in moderate quantities in helpful to the body. Green chilli is more harmful than the red chilli


Clove is the dried unopened flower bud of a small, slow growing evergreen tree. It is one of the oldest spices in the world. The British East India Company introduced Clove to India along with Nutmeg during the late 19th century.


Fresh coconut is available in supermarkets or Indian grocery stores. It is generally halved in the centre and the white portion is grated or chopped into small cubes and shredded in the food processor and stored in an airtight plastic bag in the freezer. It keeps fresh for 1-2 months. Alternatively, desiccated and shredded coconut is available in supermarkets.

Coconut milk or cream can be extracted from the fresh coconut by soaking the grated coconut in water and squeezing the milk from it. The amount of water used in extracting cream is much lesser than the water used in extracting the milk. It may be purchased from supermarkets too.

Coconut Oil is the oil that is extracted from the dried coconut. It is readily available in Indian grocery stores.

Coriander seeds

Coriander is a native of the Mediterranean. It is a dried ripe fruit of an annual herb. Coriander is a fragrant spice valued for its medicinal used as well as a condiment. Coriander is a good source of iron, vitamin A and Vitamin C. It’s high medicinal quality helps to eliminate wind and increases appetite. Powdered Coriander seeds in one of the important ingredients in curry powders.

Coriander leaves

Coriander leaves are green in colour, have a lovely fragrance and is extensively chopped and used in garnishing gravies.

Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds were popular even during Biblical times as an effective, digestive food flavour. This spice is very valuable in the blending of the Indian curry powder. Cumin seeds are used in the powdered form or are simply poured into clean drinking water to kill germs. It is of high medicinal value. Cumin seeds when mixed with jaggery or brown sugar and eaten increases the appetite.

Curry leaves

These leaves grow on a small tree and it is a highly sought after spice for its aroma. It is generally used as a “garnishing” for most dishes as it enhances the flavour and taste of the dishes. It is rich in carbohydrate, protein, vitamins A, B and C and less in calcium and fat.


Dal is basically lentils, which are available in dried form and are very

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek is one of the most ancient spices. It has a strong and peculiar odour.
Fenugreek leaves are also widely used in cooking and both the leaves and seeds are rich in Vitamins A, B, C, Iron and Phosphorus. It helps to cool the system.


Solid unsalted butter melted to a golden brown liquid that has a unique aroma is called ghee. It is rich in Vitamin A and D. This helps reduce the pungency in some dishes. Eaten in moderate quantities, it is more useful than harmful.


It is one of the earliest Oriental spices known in Europe. Fresh ginger is generally used for cooking purposes and Dried ginger is widely used in the preparation of medicines. Ginger is highly regarded as an appetiser and a digestive agent in addition to its taste and flavour.

Plague was prevalent in some parts of Europe at one time. Few people were not affected by it. Research showed that those people unaffected had consumed a lot of ginger in the past!!!!! Miraculous ginger was the cause for this wonder.

A drink of mashed ginger with caramelised sugar, cumin seeds and water helps to eliminate coughs, colds, asthma and stomach aliments.


Jaggery is an unrefined sugar that is available in a solid or powdered form in Indian grocery stores. Brown sugar may be used as an alternative in most dishes.

Moong dal

Moong Dal is light yellow and very small in size. It is easy to cook as the dal softens fairly quickly.

Mustard seeds

Mustard has been in use for ages in condiments and medicines in several parts of the world. Mustard seeds are available in black and white. Black mustard seeds are normally used for cooking and white mustard seeds are used in the preparation of medicines. Mustard is used in most dishes as a seasoning mix with oil. Powdered mustard is used in the preparation of some pickles. Mustard acts as a preservative and prevents food from going bad. Mustard helps to increase the heat in the body.

Mustard oil is used extensively in the North of India. It can be applied in the soles of the feet for people suffering from cold shivers.


Nutmeg is the kernel of the seed. It is crushed to make powdered nutmeg that is widely used in sweet dishes, cookies, biscuits and puddings. The British introduced nutmeg to India at the end of the 19th century.


Pepper is called the ‘King of Spices’ and it is one of the oldest, best-known spices in the world. It is most exotic sought after spice. Pepper is rich in Carbohydrate, Calcium, Phosphorus and iron. Pepper is less harmful than the chilli. Crushed pepper is used around the world on salads and soups, which helps in digestion. It has a high medicinal value.

Rice flour

Fine or coarsely ground raw rice is the rice flour. This can be either prepared at home or can be purchased from Indian grocery stores and used in the preparation of some dishes. Traditionally, freshly ground rice flour is used especially on festive occasions.

Preparation of Rice Flour

(Soak the raw rice in water for ½ an hour. Drain all the water and air it on a muslin cloth or paper towel. When all the moisture has been absorbed, grind it into a fine powder).

Red Lentils

It is small in size, orange in colour, fast to cook and generally can be cooked in a pan on a stove.   This lentil can be used as a substitute for Toor dal.


Saffron is the slender, dried, reddish brown flattened stigma of the iris family. It has a characteristic, aromatic odour and an exotic bitter taste. This is called the ‘Golden Spice’, which is a yellow dye. It takes 30,000 – 35,000 hand picked threads to obtain just one pound of dried saffron. Therefore it is as expensive or more expensive than gold.


Semolina is made from durum wheat. It is available fine, medium or coarse. It can be purchased from supermarkets and Indian grocery stores as well.


This is a fruit of a tropical tree that is a spice used in most kitchensespecially in south indian cuisine.  It is available in the form of pulp, juice concentrates and more recently in a powdered form. This is also called the ‘Indian Dates’.

Tamarind is rich in Vitamin A but less in Vitamin B, C and iron. It helps to digest foods faster. Hence it is known to be a good laxative. Like all spices, tamarind had in moderate quantities is helpful and harmful when consumed in larger quantities. Tamarind also has a high medicinal value.

Toor dal

It is a light yellow flat  solid lentil, which is generally pressure cooked as it takes a longer time to cook.  It is a popular ingredient to cook traditional south indian gravies.


Turmeric is also known as the “Indian Saffron”, which adds a yellow colour to the dish.  Only a pinch of Turmeric is used to enhance the colour as well as the flavour of the dishes and it is widely used in India.  It is of high medicinal  value and plays an important part in religious and various other auspicious ceremonies.

Urad dal

Urad dal is light cream in colour.  It is widely used as a seasoning mix in addition to making other exotic dishes.  Roasted and powdered Urad Dal is used in the preparation of curry powders.  Soaked and ground Urad Dal mixed and prepared with other spices makes good treats and snacks.


Speak Your Mind