6 Spices Found in Indian Cuisine

Spices play an important role in how many dishes around the world are created and presented. Spices can determine the flavor profile of a specific dish and, when paired together the right way, can bring an entire meal to life.

Cuisines from around the world use spices in their own unique ways, but perhaps one of the most interesting cultures to incorporate spices into their cooking is Indian culture. In traditional Indian dishes, spices are integral to the food that is prepared, whether it’s in the northern region of New Delhi or the eastern region of Kolkata.

Indian cuisine utilizes a spectrum of specific spices in many of its regional dishes. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at six of the most widely-used spices in Indian cuisine and the types of foods that incorporate these flavors.


Ginger is a common spice used in Indian cuisine and encompasses a strong, peppery flavor. A whole ginger is coated in a rough skin that is often peeled before sliced, grated, or minced. Ginger’s sharp flavor profile is commonly found in sauces, curries, and chutneys — and is often used with other spices, including garam masala, to create a spice mixture.


In many cases, cumin can be a very decisive flavor for food lovers. It is often one of the most apparent flavors noticed when enjoying a meal, with its seed shape and consistency offering added texture to any incorporated dish. Its distinct flavor profile can be an asset in many Indian dishes — in rich sauces or in hot curries.


Turmeric is one of the most widely-used spices in Indian cuisine and is traditionally used to add flavor to curry powders and pastes. You’ll often be able to spot this ingredient in dishes that have a yellowish hue. Its versatility is one of its biggest draws, as it can be used in sauces, yogurts, salad dressings and more.

How these spices are incorporated is essential to not only appreciate the full scope of the cuisine but allows you to create your own dishes with a more well-rounded insight. Skip the Dishes’ Foodwiki offers more in-depth insights into how this spice and the rest of the spices on this list are incorporated into traditional Indian cuisine and regional dishes.

Garam Masala

This spice mixture is often used to enhance a flavor profile in certain Indian dishes. Its mixture of several unique spices adds a distinct flavor profile that includes a sweet and nutty finish. When you’re putting together a meal, this spice mixture will likely be in the final steps of your preparation.

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Cardamom is widely recognized as one of the most versatile spices used in Indian cuisine. Its pod seeds are used to flavor certain dishes, including curries and Kheer — an Indian rice pudding. Its skin often becomes a flavoring asset since its profile tends to be stronger than others.


If you’re preparing a dessert or ordering something sweet at an Indian restaurant, you may come across Fenugreek. This spice is a clove-like herb that’s native to western Asia and the Mediterranean region, and its seed offers a sweeter flavor profile — often compared to maple syrup. You’ll often see this spice used in Paneer curry, garam masala, and even herbal teas.

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