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Authentic Indian Spices- A Complete Beginners Guide

Spices are at the heart of Indian cuisine. They can transform a bland dish into a delicious meal, but if not used correctly, they can also ruin the taste of Indian food. Because of the complexities of Indian spices and how they work, some amateur people are intimidated by the prospect of cooking Indian cuisine. And so, to make this process easier for you guys, in this post, we'll learn all about spices- their flavours, when & how to use Indian spices in your cooking Indian food, etc. Basically, it will be Essential Indian Spices 101. 

So, without further ado, let's dive right in.



Masala Dabba:

If you like Indian food, you must know that Masala Dabbas are the pillar of it, and we can say that the key to mastering the Indian-style cooking process lies within this container. These Indian spices are usually available in both whole and ground form, but they can also be used in other ways such as chopped, roasted, sautéed, and even fried. The most common spices you can find in our Masala Dabba are:

Here are some common questions that floats in the mind of spice amateur that we'll try & answer-

What are Different Cooking Techniques Using Spices??

While cooking Indian Cuisine, various spices are added to a single Indian recipe to bring out the authentic flavours of the dish. And the order in which these spices are added also affects the flavour & zest of the food. As a result, the cooking method of these spices is critical to the outcome. Some of the most popular spice-based cooking techniques used in Indian cooking are described below:

  • Tempering-Tadka (Tadka vali Dal)

  • Frying- Talna 

  • Sauteing- Bhunna 

  • Roasting-Tandoori (Tandoori Paneer)

  • Steaming-Dum (Dum Alloo)

Many famous dishes are prepared using these techniques, and all these different techniques make the dish taste different. 

Which Spice to Use When??

1- Spices that enhance the colour- Turmeric, Chili Powder

2- Spices that adds heat- Chili Powder, Black Pepper

3- Spices that thicken the curries- Coriander powder, Cumin Powder

4- Spices that add aroma- Fennel Seeds, Cardamom, Asafoetida, Cinnamon, Cloves, Bay leaves, Or you can also add the blended spices like Garam MasalaKitchen King MasalaChat Masala, Curry Powder, etc.

5- Spices that gives finishing touches- Mustard Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Dry Fenugreek Leaves

How to Store Spices Properly??

Although spices do not go bad as dairy products do, over time they lose their potency, which in turn dims their flavours. Ground spices lose their flavour faster than whole spices. And so to make sure that the spices are for good for as long as possible, you have to store them right. Here are some things you should consider while storing your spices-

  • Keep the spices in dry containers to sustain the zest and colour for a longer period.

  • Store the spices in an opaque jar to prevent light exposure that can fade the colour, change the taste, and mature the spices faster.

  • Heat and light both have a deleterious effect on the taste of spices and cause them to lose their potency quickly; thus, it is best to keep spices away from them.

  • It's also a good idea to keep an eye on the spices on a daily basis. That will keep them from going bad and will prevent the wastage of spices to a great extent.

  • Some spices, such as asafoetida, have a strong and potent aroma that can be infused in other spices; hence, these spices should be kept separately.

  • Whole and freshly ground spices should still be stored in separate containers. 

  • When you buy the spices, make sure they are pure and unadulterated so that they can last longer and taste better. 

If you like to check whether there is any adulteration in your spices or not, check out this post- How to Check Adulteration of Spices??

Tampering 

While working with spices, tampering word comes up quite often, but do you know what that is and how it is done?? 

Tempering, also known as tadka, vaghar, or chhonk, is an Indian technique that involves sizzling whole or ground spices in oil or ghee to release their essential oils. This enriched oil strengthens and aromatizes the taste of the spice. Tadka may be added to the dish either at the beginning or at the end.

Understanding the complex nature of spices can be a little challenging at first, but once you learn about them, it's just a smooth ride. 

You can buy fresh, unadulterated and 100% authentic spices from the Vasant Masala's Online Masala Store

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