Appy Blog

If you don’t know these 5 Basic Spices, then you need help!


Indian cuisine is well-known worldwide for its rich taste. Indians are most known for their curries and India has many different types of regional cuisines within the country. One thing that actually binds the whole country’s cuisine are the basic 5 spices, used almost across India in their respective regional cuisines.

Indian food is cooked with many spices but we do have few spices, which are a must every time you cook & other’s usage may vary from dish to dish. Well, I call these constant spices the “Basic 5 spices”. The beauty of this Basic 5 is that in case one doesn’t have all spices in hand then still one can cook with these basic 5 to get the Indian cuisine taste.

Recently I got a request from one of our reader’s who is a student studying in UK & wants to cook for himself, to talk about the basic spices & post some recipes using just basic spices, well it got me thinking to actually write about it especially for youngsters who are just beginning to cook or bachelors or occasional cook or for people of other nationalities who would like to try their hand at cooking Indian dishes.

Are you new to Indian cuisine? Are you keen to learn Indian cooking? Then work with Basic 5 Spices to get the authentic Indian taste and learn to cook fast. This formula or rather the magic of basic 5 will surely help & work well for you all. You can cook all curries & Dals & dry sabzi/veggies with these spices. It is very easy to cook with these spices whether you are starting to learn to cook in India or else where in other countries, you will surely find these basic 5 spices in the hypermarkets or near by stores, the only spice which is difficult to find in other countries is Garam masala, try to make it at home, it’s very much doable.

So, lets start checking them out and make you cook. I am not including Salt in it as salt is used across the world, not just in Indian food. The Basic 5, well here they are:

  • Cumin Seeds – Cumin was first found & used in Egypt & are basically dried seeds (thin, elongated shape). At the moment India is the largest consumer of cumin and also the biggest producer too. Apart from being a taste enhancer, it is widely used in Indian cuisine; it is a great source of iron helps in cancer prevention & also helps in food digestion. It is used for tempering’s, cooking curries & veggies, rice pulao etc. Cumin is generally used as whole or in ground, powdered form. In South Indian cuisine the cumin seeds are generally replaced with Mustard seeds (small round balls).



  • Turmeric – one of the main ingredient in Indian cuisine and is one of the basic 4 spices. It is used in almost all curries, dry veggies and lentils, pickles or even in some sweet dishes. Turmeric leaves a yellow color when cooked. Turmeric in Indian food is more widely used in powdered form but we do have some dishes where raw turmeric is used. Turmeric has health benefits too & is known especially for its healing abilities if one is hurt or wounded and for being highly effective during cold infections.


  • Red chili – India is one of the largest producer & exporter of chilies in the world. The smaller chilies are apparently spicier & hotter than large ones. Mostly used in the dry form or powdered form. They are a part of not only Indian cuisine but also other cuisines like Mexican, Asian etc.


  • Coriander powder – coriander, also called cilantro are used in the form of leaves, seeds & roots all 3 are used as spices. Most common in Indian cuisine is the powder form or the seeds and of course the fresh green coriander widely used for garnishing.


  • Garam masala – this spice in Hindi language means “garam” (hot) and “masala” (mixed spices). Garam masala in general comprises of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom, black peppercorns, cinnamon, clove, mace, bay leaf & nutmeg. All these whole spices are ground to a fine powder, this spice is highly aromatic and adds a great charm, aroma & taste to any dish.

Well, you can check out the Indian recipes on and try to cook Indian food, you may find a lot of other spices mentioned in the recipes but if you cannot arrange all, then try the same recipe with these basic 5 and you will be pretty close to the same taste if not the exact taste.

So, don’t wait and just get going, try your hand at cooking some nice dishes and let us know how it turned out to be, if you need any assistance then do get back to us and Appy Bistro will be there to guide you thru. Begin to start enjoying the flavors of Indian cuisine.

Happy Cooking!!

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