ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Spices often used in Indian Cuisine

Updated on October 12, 2011
Saffron Threads, used in recipes after soaking, or crushing after heating
Saffron Threads, used in recipes after soaking, or crushing after heating
Flag of India
Flag of India

Some spices used in Indian Cuisine

People in India are very skilled at using a combination of spice blends in their cooking. It is an art they have seemed to perfect over time. I am going to highlight a few here that seem interesting. These are the the very flavors that make Indian food what it is. The precise combinations are what make them unique, even though you often see some of these herbs and spices from other cuisines around the world.

A few of the main dishes served in Indian cuisine include, Biryani, Tandoori dishes, Chole bhature, Dal and Rajma.

Saffron, or Saffron Threads

It was very interesting to learn that saffron comes from the saffron crocus flower. In particular, saffron threads , are the thread like stamens of those flowers. They are a dark orange color, and are very highly fragrant. Saffron is a highly prized spice, and very expensive because of the difficulty harvesting the saffron. More than difficult, it is a time consuming and a laborious process. Each crocus has three stamens, and each stamen must be hand picked.

In Indian cuisine, you will find saffron used for dishes including fish, rice and many other things. Saffron is even used in some sweet dishes and recipes like cookies and ice cream. Using saffron isn't as easy as some spices, as you need to soak it in hot milk, water or stock for about 15 minutes or so. After that it can be added to the recipes. Another way they incorporate saffron is to put the threads on a spoon, heat it up until its completely dry and able to be crumbled into a dish. By crushing it this way its flavor can be spread around in the food. See some saffron threads in the below picture.

Woman making Kesaribhat, including the use of saffron threads

Cardamom Pods and Seeds, often used in Indian Cuisine

Cardamom pods, that are housing the tiny black seeds.
Cardamom pods, that are housing the tiny black seeds.

Cardamom Pods and seeds

Cardamom is a member of the ginger family. It is highly aromatic, and the spice is essential to authentic Indian cuisine.

The pod, is a small, light green, and oval shaped, and is protecting little black seeds inside. The pods are not ripe when picked, and then dried and used whole, or ground up. Cardamom helps make curry what it is, as it is one of the main ingredients in curry powder.

You will also find cardamom in rice dishes and pickles, and of course very good in certain sweet dishes. It also is very expensive, as far as spices go, so it has been recommended as using it only sparingly. It is expensive in part, because each pod has to be hand picked. Some even chew on a cardamom seed after dinner as a breath freshener.  Below you will see a woman making Boondi Ladoo, a sweet dessert that is served in India for all kinds of occasions. It uses the seeds found inside cardamom pods. 

Indian woman making Boondi Ladoo, a dessert using cardamom seeds

Dried Red Chiles

Dried red chilies weren't native to India, but brought in from other countries. Still, the tiny red chilies have revolutionized Indian cooking.

These little peppers have quite an intense heat about them. The are even described as fiercely fiery! These chiles were first grown in Mexico, as well as in the Amazon region of South America. They arrived in India, and were then exported to the trading posts where people traded and sold spices. Such a strong fiery spice, would of course revolutionize their cooking!

These dried red chiles are easy to use. First, you may want to wear gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin, and depending on how hot your chiles are.  You just cut off the stalks, shake out the dried seeds, then break them into little pieces. Cover these with hot water, and leave for about 15 to 20 minutes and then drain off the water in a way that you can save the water. You would then coarsely chop them, and put in some kind of blender or electric mill.  You would include half of the soaking water.  Process until you get a puree.  This hot puree, can burn the mucous membranes in people's noses, throats and hurt the lining of their stomachs or intestines if too much is ingested.  If you have had too much, and are feeling the burn from hot chiles, it's a good idea to get some milk, yogurt, and even ice cream to soothe it some. 

One really cool thing about these chiles is that they will store for an incredibly long time, nearly forever, and maintain their color and intensity and taste. 

Indian spices poll

Do you ever incorporate Indian Spices into your cooking?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula 

      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you so much, Indian Spices! I am glad you stopped by and left a comment.

    • profile image

      Indian Spices 

      7 years ago

      I am very happy to read your articles it’s very useful for me,

      and I am completely satisfied with your website.

      All comments and articles are very useful and very good.

      Your blog is very attention-grabbing. I am loving all of the in

      turn you are sharing with each one!…

      Indian Spices

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula 

      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Glad to hear that, thank you!

    • PhoenixV profile image

      PhoenixV 

      8 years ago from USA

      Very useful hub thanks!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)