Spices used in cooking
Know your spices
Written by Jayashree
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Spices are essential in our day to day cooking. They give a good aroma and elevate the taste of the dish. Indian cuisine uses a wide range of spices. It is intimidating for beginners as one cannot remember the names. They are even confused as some of them look similar. Here is a guide to the spices that are regularly used in daily cooking.

Spices used in cooking

Spices used in cooking

  1. Green Cardamom: It has a strong aroma and a sweet and warm flavour. It is used in sweet and savoury dishes.
  2. Black Cardamom: It is larger and has a rustic look. It is mainly used in savoury dishes like biryani.
  3. Cinnamon: It is a fragrant bark with a sweet and fruity flavour. There are many varieties of cinnamon, but Cassia Cinnamon is the most commonly used one.
  4. Clove: It gives a sweet and spicy flavour to the dishes.
  5. Cumin: It is the most commonly used spice. It gives a warm and nutty flavour to the dishes. It is used both as a whole and a powder form.
  6. Coriander: It is widely used in curries, gravies and to make condiments. It tastes like a combination of caraway, sage, and lemon.
  7. Cayenne:: It is a powder made from tropical chiles. It is used in a wide variety of dishes and common to many cuisines.
  8. Ginger: It is one of the essentials in any cooking. It is mainly used as a paste along with garlic.
  9. Dry ginger: It has medicinal value; the sweet-spicy taste is good to cure a cold and cough.
  10. Bay leaf: It is commonly called as pulao leaf, it is used to give a good aroma. It is removed just before serving.
  11. Fenugreek: They give a nutty flavour and should be used with caution.
  12. Pepper: It gives a spicy taste to the food. The black pepper is more commonly used than the white pepper.
  13. Saffron: It is the most expensive spice in the world. It gives a splendid aroma to the sweet dishes.
  14. Turmeric: It is known for its anti-bacterial properties. It is commonly used in powder form in curry and spice mix.
  15. Mustard: They are tiny seeds that give earthy flavour when cooked or crushed in oil. It is used in pickles, curry powder, and curry.
  16. Nutmeg and mace: It is used in many dishes, gives a distinctive flavour to the dish.
  17. Asafoetida: It is mostly used in South Indian cooking. Commonly known as hing, it gives a good aroma to the dish.
  18. Fennel: It is one of the spices used in North Indian cuisine. It is also used as a mouth freshener.
  19. Carom: It is a small seed common by the name as ajwain. It has a strong flavour, hence used in small quantities. It aids indigestion.

About the event:

This is an old article which I have updated now. Sending this to Foodies_Redoing Old Post 35, a fortnightly event where we work on an old post. Here, both the article and the picture is updated. Earlier, I had only put the name of the spices.







How to use the spices:

  1. Spices may be used as whole or in powder form. To powder, dry roast for two minutes, then powder it.
  2. While cooking, after tipping in the spices, sautés for a few seconds, the flavours release. Later, add the other ingredients.


How to store the spices:

Store the spices in clean, air-tight containers away from direct heat and light. Keep the containers closed when not in use.


Spices are called by a different name in our country. Know their traditional and English names.


The name of spices and their commonly known traditional names

Cardamom                                Elaichi

Nutmeg                                     Jaiphal

Cinnamon                                 Dalchini

Clove                                      Lavang

Aniseed                                   Saunf

Mace                                         javitri

Cumin                                       Jeera

Coriander seeds                     Dhaniya

Carom                                   Ajwain

Bay leaf                                       Tejpatta

Basil                                           Tulsi

Mustard                                      Rai or Sarson

Pepper                                        Kali Mirch

Which is the one spice that you always need ? Do let me know in the comments section below.

For me, I love using cumin. The next spice that I frequently use is ginger. I deep freeze and store, I will never run out of it.

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Know Your Spices

Know Your Spices

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  1. Terri Roper

    This is very helpful. There is an Indian food market near here and now ill have a better idea of what I’m looking for when I wow my family with one of your recipes 🙂

  2. jayashree

    Glad that it was useful Terri Roper.

  3. mayurisjikoni

    An informative post on all the spices that are commonly used in an Indian kitchen. However, just one correction, oregano and thyme are two different herbs and not what we know as ajwain.

    • Jayashree

      Thankyou for letting me know the error. This chart was written long back and I overlooked it now.

  4. Maria

    What a gem of an article, Jaya! Very comprehensive and helpful, especially for those who are new to the kitchen or South Asian style cooking.

    • Jayashree

      Thankyou Maria for the visit and appreciation.

  5. themadscientistskitchen

    Lovely informative post. People do get confused with spices and their equivalent names. This is a greta chart.

  6. Seema Sriram

    This is a very informative post, Jayashree. This list is so useful to explain these spices to new cooks as well.

  7. Renu Agrawal Dongre

    That is an informative post. At times we get confused so much and very good for beginners too.

  8. sizzlingtastebuds

    perfect intro post for beginners / bachelors & Bachelorettes who have begun their cooking journey..


Appreciate all your comments.

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Hello and Welcome to my blog! I am Jayashree from India. An enthusiastic blogger, with a zest for life.  I believe in living life to the fullest.

Cooking has been my passion. I have always loved to try new recipes.  Writing has been a feel good factor and extremely  loving it. With these two passions of mine, my culinary blog was born. Read More…


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