Spices

Spices are a seed, fruit, root, bark or any other plant part primarily used for cooking, flavoring, coloring and preserving food. Spices are used a whole or also in the form of finely grounded powder. Spices are also used in medicines, religious ceremonies and rituals, cosmetics, perfumes or colors. Spices were the most common commodity used for exchange in barter system during historical era. Even today spices are one of the most traded commodities in global market. The spice trade has been the root cause for development of many colonies and establishment of new regimes or rules across the world. In recent times diluted spices are also prominent which are a blend of roots and skin of the plant for economical production of spices powder. Spices are available as whole dried, fresh spices or pre-ground dried varieties. A whole dried spice has the highest shelf life making it suitable for long preservation. Fresh spices are considered more costly as they have a stronger flavoring quality than the whole dried variety but they have less shelf life when compared to whole dried spices. Some spices are not always available in whole dried form or fresh spices form, so they are mostly obtained in ground form. Spices also contribute to food in form of portions of fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals or micro nutrients. Most of the spices have a high antioxidant activity due to which they are also used as natural preservatives. India contributes to almost 75 percent of the global spices production making it a world leader. Also spices are widely used in almost all cuisines of India irrespective of the variety of dish. Here we discuss few basic spices classified as under:

  1. Ajmod / Ajmud / Radhuni Beej (Celery Seed / Celeriac)
  2. Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
  3. Alsi Ka Beej (Flax Seed / Linseed)
  4. Amchur / Amchoor (Dry Mango Powder)
  5. Anardana (Pomegranate Seed)
  6. Chakra Phool / Badiyan Ka Phool / Anasphal (Star Anise)
  7. Chandan (Sandalwood Powder)
  8. Dagad Phool / Kalpasi / Pathar Ka Phool (Stone Flower)
  9. Dalchini / Junglee Dalchini (Cinnamon, Cassia Bark)
  10. Dhaniya Beej / Powder (Coriander Seed / Powder)
  11. Elainchi (Hari / Kali) (Cardmom Green / Black)
  12. Gondh (Cooking Gum / Edible Gum / Tragacanth Gum)
  13. Gud (Jaggery)
  14. Haldi ( Turmeric)
  15. Harad / Haritaki (Chebulic / Black Myrobalan)
  16. Hing (Asafoetida)
  17. Imli (Tamarind)
  18. Jaiphal (Nutmeg)
  19. Javitri (Mace)
  20. Jeera (Cumin) / Kala Jeera (Black Cumin Seed) / Kali Jeeri (Bitter Cumin Seed)
  21. Kabab Chini / Shital Chini (Cubeb)
  22. Kaddu Ke Beej (Pumpkin Seeds)
  23. Kalonji (Nigella Seed)
  24. Kari Patta / Kadi Patta (Curry Leaves)
  25. Kesar / Mayur (Saffron)
  26. Kharbooz Ke Beej (Cantaloupe Seeds)
  27. Khus Khus (Poppy Seed)
  28. Kusum Ke Beej (Safflower Seed)
  29. Laung (Clove)
  30. Majoofal (Gall Nut)
  31. Methi Dana / Kasuri Methi (Fenugreek Seed / Dried Fenugreek Leaves)
  32. Mirchi Kali (Black Pepper / Peppercorns) / Mirchi Safed (White Pepper)
  33. Nag Kesar / Nag Champa (Rose Chestnut / Cobra’s Saffron / Cinnamon Buds)
  34. Namak (Salt) (Kala / Safed / Sendha – Black / White / Rock)
  35. Nimbu Sat / Nimbu Phool / Tatri (Citric Acid)
  36. Pipli / Peepli / Pippali (Long Pepper)
  37. Rai / Sarson (Mustard Seeds – Black / Red)
  38. Ramtil / Khursani / Gujitil / Kaarale (Niger Seed / Black Seed)
  39. Saunf / Choti Saunf (Fennel Seed / Aniseed)
  40. Shah Jeera / Shahi Jeera (Caraway Seeds)
  41. Shakkar / Chini (Sugar)
  42. Sirka (Vinegar)
  43. Sonth / Saunth (Dried Ginger)
  44. Soya Beej / Suva Bhaji (Dill Seed)
  45. Surajmukhi Ke Beej (Sunflower Seed)
  46. Tarbooz Ke Beej / Magaz (Watermelon Seeds)
  47. Tej Patta / Taamal Patta (Bay Leaves)
  48. Til / Tilli (Sesame Seeds)
  49. Tirphal / Tephal (Aniseed Pepper / Szechwan Pepper / Sichuan Pepper)
  50. Tulsi / Tulasi (Basil Leaves) – Sabja / Sabza / Chia Seeds (Basil Seeds)

Garam Masala: It is a blend of grounded spices very common in cuisines of India where garam means “hot” and masala means “a mixture of spices”. In Indian Ayurveda, the word garam refers to “heating of the body” as these spices are believed to elevate human body temperature. The usage and composition of garam masala differs across the regions in India as per taste buds and cuisines. The components used in garam masala are generally toasted and ten grounded together to form a blended powder. The general ingredient list of garam masala in India consists of bay leaves,  cardamom (elainchi – black and green), cummin seeds, coriander seeds, mace (javitri), cinnamon (dalchini), cloves (laung), pepper (black and white). However a customized version of garam masala is made regionally with any of the inclusions like onions, nuts, garlic, chakra phool, dagad phool, hing, kabab chini and chillies.

Panch Phoron: It is a whole spice blend of 5 seeds which are methi (fenugreek seed), kalonji (nigella seed), jeera (cumin seed), rai (black mustard seed) and saunf (fennel seed) in equal parts and is never grounded. This blended spice is generally tempered with ghee or mustard oil. This panch phoron is also referred as panch phoran, panch phutana, panch puran masala in regional languages.

Char Magaz: Char Magaz (Four Seeds) refers to mixture of seeds of watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin and muskmelon all together.

Khade Masaale: Khade Masaale refers to any of the spices which is used in whole seed form instead of grounded powder form.

Chat Masaala: It is a blend of grounded jeera, kali mirchi, namak, sendha namak, hing, amchur, dhaniya dana, ajwain, pudina powder. These all are roasted in a pan and then grounded finely to make a blend called chat masaala. It is used to enhance the taste of salads, fruits, vegetables etc.