Asafetida - Heeng
A combination of various dried gum resins obtained from the roots of certain Iranian and Indian plants. Available in lump or powdered form. Asafetida lump is brown in color. Asafetida is virtually odorless until it is powdered, when it releases its very strong smell. When cooked in oil, the asafetida loses its pungent aroma, and leaves a subtle onion aroma. Used as a subtle onion flavoring or substitute, where onion would be too strong.

Cardamom - Elaichi
Small, fragant seeds of the fruit of the cardamom plant, native to India and Sri Lanka. Whole cardamom (pods) come in two varieties, black and green. The green cardamom, choti (small) elaichi, is widely available. Green cardamom is a small, quarter inch long pod, pale green skin and a powerful aroma, but a delicate, sweet taste. It is available in whole or powder form and is used for flavoring puddings, deserts, and some very delicate meat and poultry preparations. Black cardamom, Kali (black) or Badi (big) elaichi, is less widely available. Black cardamom is a large, one-inch long pod, with think husky dark brown skin. It has a mellow, but nuttier aroma than the green cardamom, and is only available in whole form. It is used for flavoring meat and vegatable dishes in its whole form, or ground for use in pickles and relishes. Green cardamom may be substituted for black if not available.

Carom - Ajwain, Ajowan
Carom, or lovage, is the seed of the thymol plant, native to Southern India. The seeds resemble celery seeds. Carom seeds have a sharp piquant taste and give out an aroma much like thyme. Carom is available in whole form. It is used as a flavoring in vegetable preparations, breads, and savory pastries. It is also used in many pickles, sweet and hot.

Cassia Bark - Cassia
The bark of the cassia tree (Cinnamomum cassius). The bark is peeled in long strips, and the corky outer layer is scraped off, leaving the bark in quills, or sticks. Cassis bark is reddish brown in color, with a delicate, sweet taste and aroma. Used as a flavoring, whole and in powdered form.

Cinnamon - Dalchini
Coarser, thicker and stronger than cassia sticks, with a slightly stronger, though similar aroma and taste to cassia. Available in three inch long quills or sticks, in broken flat pieces, and in powdered form. Cinnamon is used as a flavoring, whole and in powdered form.

Clove - Laung
Clove is the dried bud of the Syzygium Aromaticum plant, native to Eastern Indonesia. Cloves are dark brown in color, and have a sharp, pungent taste and fragrant aroma. Available in whole and powdered form. Used as a flavoring, whole or powdered, in meat dishes, pilafs, and seafood.

Coriander - Dhania, Sookha
Coriander seed is the dried ripe fruit of the coriander plant, Coriandrum sativum, an annual herb of the parsley family. The coriander seed is round, light brown in color, and has a strong, nutty aroma, and sweet piquant taste. Is is available powdered or whole. In powdered form it acts as a thickener in Indian gravies. It is an important spice in Indian cooking.

Cumin - Jeera
Cumin is the dried, ripe fruit of the cumin plant, and is one of the jost important spices in India. White Cumin is the most widely used spice in Indian cooking. The other two varieties are both named black cumin. White cumin is yellowish-brown in color, and has a nutty aroma and taste. It is available in whole or powdered form. Black cumin is sweeter smelling than the white, and is smaller. It has a delicate texture and mellow flavor. It is available in whole form.

Fennel - Saunf
Fennel is the seedlike fruit of the fennel plant (Foeniculum vulgare), native to the Mediterranean region. The greenish-yellow fennel seed resembles the white cumin seed but is larger and fatter. It has a sweet licorice flavor, much like anise, and an appealing aroma. Fennel is used whole as well as powdered in pickles, meat dishes, vegetable dishes, and pilafs. Anise can be substituted whenever fennel is called for, as it is similar.

Ginger - Adrak
Fresh ginger root is the pungent aromatic rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale. it is available in most grocery stores and supermarket chains. In Indian curry recipes, it is used peeled and chopped. Dry ginger powder may be used as a substitute, but you cannot substitute candied or crystallized ginger as these are different products. Ginger is one of the three major ingredients that make the base sauce of most North Indian dishes. It gives a distinctive hot flavor and also acts as a thickener.

Ginger Powder - Sonth
Ginger powder is dried and powdered ginger root. It is light, airy, and buff-colored with a hot, piquant taste and sweet smell. It is used to lend a woody fragrance as well as a sour taste to a dish.

Mace - Javitri
Mace and nutmeg are both part of the same fleshy fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans). When the fruit is ripe it splits, exposing the brown nut (nutmeg) covered with a red netty membrane (mace). The membrane is peeled off and dried to a yellow-brown colored, brittle mace "blade." Mace has a pungent aroma with a bitter taste. It is available in blade or powder form. It is used as a flavoring in Moghul and Kashmiri dishes, pickles, and relishes. Though mace and nutmeg are similar, they have a slightly different taste, and are not interchangeable.

Mango Powder - Amchoor
Mango powder is peeled, dried mango, in a pale buff-colored powder form. The mango powder has a pungent aroma and a tangy, sour taste. It is used as a souring agent in place of lemon juice, and mainly used in vegetarian cooking.

Mustard - Rai
The seed of the mustard plant, Brassica juncea, an annual herb of the mustard family native to India. Mustard seeds are purplish brown, not yellow, and look like poppy seeds, but larger. They are sometimes referred to as black mustard seeds. They have a pungent aroma and when ground and cooked, a sour, bitter taste. It is used as a flavoring in powdered and whole form.  In northern India mustard seed is used primarily as a pickling spice and in vegetable dishes. In the southern regions it is as important as cumin is in the north. In the east mustard seeds are usually roasted and ground to a powder to be used as an important flavoring spice.

Nutmeg -
Mace and nutmeg are both part of the same fleshy fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans). When the fruit is ripe it splits, exposing the brown nut (nutmeg) covered with a red netty membrane (mace). The membrane is peeled off and the nutmeg is removed. Nutmeg has a gentle aroma and sweet taste. It is available whole or powdered. The powder is used as a flavoring in Indian cooking.

Onion Seed - Nigella, Kalaunji
Onion seed (nigella) has nothing in common with the onion plant, but does resemble an actual onion seed. The satiny-black triangular seed has a sweet taste and an aroma like oregano. It is available in whole form, and is used whole as a flavoring, primarily in northern India, in pickles and vegetable dishes.

Paprika - Deghi Mirch
Indian paprika comes from the mild chilli pod of the plant Capsicum. The pod is sun-dried and ground to a mild-tasting, bright red powder. It is used primarily to lend its brilliant red color to the food.

Pomegranate - Anardana
The brownish red pomegranate, about the size of an orange, is the fruit of the tropical tree Punica granatum, native to Asia Minor and Mediterranean regions. The seedlike pulpy flesh is either eaten as a fruit or dried and used as a spice called anardana. The dried pomegranate is available in Indian grocery stores, and is used in powdered form as a souring agent, sometimes in preference to mango powder, as they impart a sweetish-sour taste, rather than just sour.

Poppy Seed - Khas-khas
The white poppy seed is off-white, odorless, and flavorless in their raw form. They are available whole, but usually ground up with other spices and added to meat, fish and shellfish dishes as a thickener. The seeds are often roasted before being ground, which gives the sauce a wonderful aroma.

Red Pepper - Lal Mirch
The red pepper is the ripe, sun-dried chilli pod of the plant Capsicum, it is selected for its pungency. Red pepper is available whole, or powdered. Red pepper powder is available under two names, red pepper or cayenne pepper, and can be used interchangeably. This spice gives Indian food its hot taste, so use it with caution.

Saffron - Kesar
Saffron is the dried stigmas of flowers of the saffron plant (Crocus sativus) native to Asia Minor and Southern Europe. It is the jost expensive spice in the world today. It is available in thread or powdered form. Saffron threads, reddish-brown in color and with a sweetish taste, emit a captivating aroma, and impart a beautiful orange-yellow color to a dish. Saffron is used extensively in desserts. It is a favored spice in Moghul cooking, especially in meat and poultry dishes. It is also an important ingredient in pilafs and biriyanis.

Salt - Namak
Indian cooking utilises three types of salt, none of which are the "seasoned salt" available in the USA. White salt (or table salt) is the tyupe jost commonly available. Rock salt is not available in the USA. (Please correct us if you know of a supplier). Black salt is brownish black in lump form, but pinkish-brown when powdered. Is has a pleasant tangy taste and smoky aroma.

Turmeric - Haldi
Tumeric is a tropical herb (Curcuma longa) belonging to the ginger family and native to India. The roots of the plant are cleaned, boiled, dried and powdered to produce a nutty-tasting, aromatic powder. Tumeric is the main ingredient in commercial curry powder. It is used to lend both a yellow color and a woody aroma to a dish throughout India, in vegetable, meat, poultry and seafood dishes. In the north, however, saffron generally replaces it. It is the most sacred spice of Hindus and is used in religious and social rituals.

White Split Gram Beans - Urid Dal
The white split gram bean is a legume, but is used in the southern and southwestern regions of India as a spice. It is usually cooked in oil with black mustard seeds, and sometimes yellow split peas, and then added to flavor vegetable dishes.

Yellow Split Peas - Chana Dal
The yellow split pea is a legume, but is used in the southern and southwestern regions of India as a spice. It is usually cooked in oil with black mustard seeds, and white split gram beans, and then added to flavor vegetable dishes. It is also ground to a powder or flour and used as a thickener or in making sweetmeats and fudge.


Basil - Tulsi
Basil is an annual herb of the mint family. It has bright leaves, a sharp, biting taste, and a sweet aroma. There are three varieties of basil available in india, holy basil (Ocimum sanctum or Vishnu tulsi), sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum or Biswa tulsi) and white basil (Ocimum album or Ram tulsi). They all vary in degrees of sharpness, and can be used interchangeably, although Sweet Basil is the only type available in the USA.You can use fresh basil or dried in Indian curry recipes, although fresh is preferred. As usual with dried herbs, you should use half the quantity you would use of fresh basil.

Coriander Leaves or Cilantro - Hara Dhania
Coriander Leaves come from the same plant as coriander seeds, but they have a different flavor and use in Indian cooking, and they cannot be used interchangeably. Coriander leaves are know as Cilantro in Mexican cooking, Chinese Parsley in Chinese cooking. Coriander looks a lot like Italian parsley - be sure to bring the right one back from the store! It can be stored in the fridge, but it does not last for long, especially if organically grown. You would be best buying only what you need for a recipe. Coriander leaves are chopped and used as a decorative garnish and to add a distinctive flavor to a dish. They add a touch of color contrast in a curry dish that is appealing to any visitor.

Fenugreek - Methi
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum) is an annual herb of the bean family native to India and Asia Minor. Both the leaves and the seed of the plant are used in Indian cooking, though they are not interchangeable. The fenugreek seed is rectangular and brownish-yellow in color with an extreme aroma and a bitter taste. It is available whole or powdered, and is used in vegetarian cooking and in pickles. Dry fenugreek leaves are the sun dried leaves of the fenugreek plant. They are used as both herbs and dried greens. They leaves have a bitter taste and a coffee-like aroma. They are used in vegetable dishes, and stuffings for breads and crackers.

Garlic - Lassan
Garlic is the edible bulb of the garlic plant (Allium sativum). It is used in many types of cooking around the world, and is known to jost people. Garlic has a strong, pungent aroma and flavor. In Indian cooking, only fresh garlic is used, either whole, chopped or minced. It is one of the three major seasonings in Indian curry recipes, and is used in making the base for most Moghul sauces.

Kari (Curry) Leaves - Meethe Neam Ke Patte
Kari leaves come from the Kari plant (Murryaya koenigli) native to South India and Sri Lanka. The leaves are bright green in color and have a spicy, sweetish, lemony aroma, and a pungent taste. The leaves are used in southern Indian cooking the same way as Coriander. Kari Leaves are difficult to obtain in the USA, but they are available if you look around.

Mint Leaves - Podina
Mint is an annual herb native to Europe and the Mediterranean, but is grown around the world. It has deep green leaves, reddish-brown stems, and an appealing taste and aroma. Mint is used in Indian cooking jostly to make relishes and chutneys, and in cold appetizers and salads. Mint is widely available in supermarkets and grocery stores.

Tamarind - Imli
Tamarind is the pulpy pod of the tropical plant Tamarindus indica, native to India. It is a date-like fruit, brownish black in color and tastes like a sour prune. The pulp of the pod is compressed into "cakes", which is quite sticky, and contains pips, and bits of the husk. Tamarind is available in cake form or juice (concentrate) form. The pulp is more suitable to Indian cooking, as the concentrate is too acidic and lacks flavor. Tamarind is used as a souring agent, most extensively in the southern and southwestern regions of India. In the north, Tamarind is used in relishes and vegetable dishes. Lemon or vinegar can be used as souring agents instead of Tamarind, but they will result in an entirely different taste. To prepare Tamarind, break a small piece off of the main block, and put it into a small bowl with a small amount of hot water. When it has cooled a bit, rub it and squeeze it to release the juice, then run through a sieve to remove the husks and pips. The strained juice can then be used in the recipe.

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