Indian cuisine is one of my favorites as a plant-based eater. Curries, samosas, dal meals…these dishes are full of rich, aromatic spices that enliven your taste buds. When ordering Indian food at a restaurant, you typically request a spice level; if you’re new to this food, I would recommend starting out with a low number like 1 or 2. Even fans of spicy food like me can get too bold when ordering Indian food since the spices can be so intense (and the sweating and water gulping ensues and it’s worth it). If cooking your own, remember you can always add spices but not remove them, so use sparingly and check out these 10 ways to use Indian spices to spike up your meal:
This plant is made into a spice, and the plant is thought to have many medicinal and healing properties. In cooking, try fenugreek in this Vegan Paneer Tikka Masala.
Coriander is also known as Chinese parsley or cilantro. This spice is made from the dry fruit of the Coriandrum sativum plant whose seeds are small and round, with a brown or yellowish-brown color. Use it in this South Indian Lentil Stew.
3. Black Mustard Seed
These seeds are small but mighty, containing antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. Try them for this Indian Radish Pickle.
Ginger has many healing benefits to relieve nausea and possibly kill cancer cells and reduce inflammation. Use ginger in this Methi Gobi Indian Style Cauliflower with Ginger and Fenugreek.
5. Bay Leaf
Bay leaves of all kinds are aromatic and add a nice zing to soups, stews and several other dishes. Use it to make a comfort food with a twist: Meatless No-Fu Love Loaf.
6. Garam Masala
If you find store-bought garam masala to be very spicy and too bitter, try making a milder version with this Punjabi Garam Masala recipe. Use it for this Indian Tikka Masala Pot Pie.
Ayurvedic medicine has utilized turmeric for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant spice. Use it in this Ayurvedic Lentil Crusted Tofu.
8. Red Chili Pepper
Red chili pepper is used in dried whole and powdered form, and it’s widely used in Indian cooking. Try it in this Pindi Choley – Dark and Spicy Indian Chickpeas.
Cumin is a common spice in Indian cuisine, but you’ll find it a lot in Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine, as well. Use it for this Saag Alu recipe.
Saffron spice is made from the dried stigmas of the saffron plant and is considered to be one of the world’s most expensive spices. Try this Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash.
Lead image source: Vegan Paneer Tikka Masala