Top 13 Essential Ingredients that Give Indian Cuisine an Exotic Taste

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Top 13 Essential Ingredients that Give Indian Cuisine an Exotic Taste

When it comes to Indian cuisine, there are some extraordinary spices, herbs and seasonings that give Indian dishes a rich, flavoursome and exotic taste that is unparalleled in the world. These essential ingredients define India’s true identity, culture, and rich history.

I’ve seen many friends experiencing love-at-first-morsel with Indian cuisine after their first visit to an authentic Indian restaurant. Many of them are self-proclaimed chefs and straightaway hit their kitchens to cook their very first Indian recipe.

But preparing an authentic Indian recipe can be a daunting task for a home cook and often result in making a mess out of food that tasted like heaven in the restaurant.

Today, we’ll help you get acquainted with popular ingredients that have been at the heart of Indian cuisines for centuries. So, are you ready to jump right in and prepare delicious, mouth-watering Indian cuisines with all lingering and subtle flavours of Indian cooking? Here is a list of top 13 essential spices, herbs, and seasonings that are used in a majority of authentic Indian delicacies.

Check them out!



turmeric herb in a bowl


This intensely yellow spice is widely used in Indian dishes to give Indian curries, mustards, butter, and cheese a standard yellow colour. The plant belongs to the ginger family and has antiseptic and medicinal properties. This medicinal herb has a bitter taste, contains an active compound curcumin that makes it a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in nature.



Saffron - Tiranga


Saffron is best known for its aromatic qualities and golden yellow colour. This culinary ingredient is the most expensive spice on the planet, used in many Indian Mughlai cuisines and desserts. Saffron is mainly used in delicious Indian rice dishes such as biryani to give them an authentic and distinct flavour.


Black Pepper

Black Pepper- Tiranga

The dried fruit of Black Pepper is one the most commonly used culinary spices that are used to add spiciness to most cuisines. It has a sharp aroma and specific taste, used as a seasoning in soups, stews, omelettes, meat and a variety of other Indian cuisines.



Coriander seeds and leaves, both are used to add a great taste in Indian curries and garnish food. The pungent dried seeds of coriander are the main ingredients of south Indian dishes rasam and sambhar. Tamil chicken sothi and Mangalorean chicken curry have also a specific taste of coriander seeds.


Red Chilli

Red Chili - Tiranga

Red chilli is widely used in some of the most traditional Indian dishes to add a pure red-hot colour and a spicy flavour. Indian cuisines are famous because of its spiciness and exotic taste that largely comes from red chilli.



Cinnamon - Tiranga

The sweet spice is widely used in savoury dishes. It is the main ingredient of garam masala that has a delicate aroma. It is used to add a unique flavour in curries, teas, vegetable dishes and Indian desserts.



From rice dishes to Indian curries to Kashmiri kahwa to beetle leaves to sweets, cardamom is an essential ingredient of a variety of Indian cuisine. This herb contains many medicinal properties.



Cumin seeds are the small dried fruit of a plant that belongs to parsley family. The strong spice also called as jeera is regularly used in Indian curries to add a bit of warmth and earthiness to recipes. It is a typical ingredient in chilli powder.



Methi or fenugreek is used in a myriad of Indian dishes from daals to chicken curries. This cooking spice is a unique and highly fragrant ingredient that is also used in pickles, curry powders, and spice mixtures in India.


Sesame Seeds

Sesame Seeds - Tiranga

Black sesame seeds are most commonly used in Indian cooking, have a nutty crunch and sweet flavour. Sesame seeds are a popular ingredient that comes in distinct colours, black, white and brown. Because of their distinct flavour and health benefits, they are used to prepare a range of Indian delicacies.


Garam Masala

The blend of spices that contains everything from cloves to cinnamon to black peppers to cumin to coriander to bay leaves. It is extensively used in Indian cuisine and usually added to bring out the taste and fragrance both.



Mint is widely used in many South Asian dishes. Mint leaves are used to make chutneys, soups, salads, sauces, refreshing drinks, and juices. And most crucially, chopped mint leaves are used to garnish Indian food such as dal and curries.


Mustard seeds

Mustard - Tiranga


Mustard seeds are famous for Indian vegetable delicacies that can be used to add a distinct aroma and flavour. They can be yellow, black or brown, their smoky, nutty flavour is a staple in Indian curries and curry powders.

Indian food is a delectable mix of tantalizing aromas, vibrant hues, and the authentic, tangy, and spicy flavours. The above-cited ones are a few essential ingredients to cook most Indian recipes. If you are looking to cook a delicious Indian meal, try these essential spices or visit a desi Indian restaurant in St. Kitts to delight your taste buds.


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