Indian food is a favorite cuisine for many plant-based eaters. Many of the traditional dishes are vegetarian, have unique tastes, and feature healthy plant-based foods like peas, carrots, cauliflower, and lentils. A large part of what makes Indian cuisine so delicious is the use of several herbs and spices.

You may know about the health benefits of turmeric, an Indian spice that is frequently used to flavor or color curries and other foods. Tumeric has anti-inflammatory effects that can help treat arthritis. But there are other great Indian spices you may have heard less about. Here are five other Indian spices you need in your pantry now.

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1. Saffron

Saffron spice, which is made from the dried stigmas of the saffron plant, is considered one of the world’s most expensive spices. It is mostly cultivated and harvested by hand, and it can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine in remedies to treat arthritis, asthma, infertility and other ailments. Try making Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash and Spinach, Asparagus and Saffron Biryani, and Raw Corn Cream Soup.

Beyond Tumeric: 5 Indian Spices You Need in Your Pantry Now

2. Ginger

Ginger is a common spice with many health benefits such as easing osteoarthritis pain and treating upset stomachs. It can add a distinct taste to a variety of dishes, from savory curries to smoothies and energy bars. Try making Curried Carrot Ginger and Orange Soup, Chamomile Ginger Lemon Raw Energy Bars, or Vegan Ginger Chocolate Cups with Sesame-Cashew Butter and Caramel.

Beyond Tumeric: 5 Indian Spices You Need in Your Pantry Now

3. Cumin

Aside from commonly being found in Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes, cumin has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for its healing and medicinal properties. Cumin can aid in digestion, lower blood glucose levels and is an excellent source of iron. One tablespoon of this spice provides 20 percent of your recommended daily value of iron. Plus, cumin has been found to have unique cancer and inflammation fighting agents, which include phthalides and polyacetylenes. In cooking, cumin adds savoriness to a dish and is a nice complement to legumes, chili and stir fries. Try making Mushroom Mutter Masala, Kale with Caramelized Onions and Cumin, or African Groundnut Stew.

Beyond Tumeric: 5 Indian Spices You Need in Your Pantry Now

4. Coriander seed or powder

This spice is made from the dry fruit of the coriandrum sativum plant and has been grown in India, China and Egypt for thousands of years. It is believed to be one of the earliest spices used by man, as there are references to the spice in early Sanskrit documents, the Bible and ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern stories. It is commonly used in curries or in other Asian cuisines. Try making Grapefruit Coriander Fennel Bites, Spicy Eggless Coriander Quiche or Indian Mint and Cilantro Chutney with Ginger, which calls for coriander.

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Beyond Tumeric: 5 Indian Spices You Need in Your Pantry Now

5. Cardamom

Cardamom spice is made from the seeds of the cardamom plant, which is native to Indian and Southeast Asia. This pungent and aromatic spice is a favorite cooking ingredient in India. It is also used to treat digestion problems as well as the common cold and sore mouth and throat. You can purchase it in seed pods with the seeds removed or as a powder grounded from the seeds. Try using cardamom in recipes such as Punjabi Garam Masala, Seitan Vindaloo, and Curry Chick’n and Gnocchi Soup.

Beyond Tumeric: 5 Indian Spices You Need in Your Pantry Now

Stock up on these spices and you’ll be on a great start to experimenting with and incorporating unique flavors into your dishes.

Image Source: Punjabi Garam Masala

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