Spices add taste, flavour, aroma, colour and "bite" to all Indian food.The history and culture of Indian spices is probably as old as human civilisation itself.

Aromatic spices are the essence of Indian cuisine, giving Indian foods its distinct flavour. Spices were originally used in Indian cooking to not only season, but to preserve food as refrigeration was not around. Many spices also have medicinal uses and are used for many home remedies. The story of Indian Spices dates back to 7000 years into the past.

It is a checkered history of lands discovered or destroyed, kingdoms built or brought down, wars won or lost, treaties signed or flouted, favours sought or offered.

Chillies - a gift from the Gods

It is hard to imagine Asian food without chillies. Chilli is grown throughout India and is used in almost all dishes. Chillies are of numerous variety and their degree of pungency varies. As a general rule the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is.

Fresh, dried, powdered and flaked chillies are used in sauces, sambals and pastes. Chillies are used in various dishes. Dry chilli gives a red colour and makes the dish attractive. In India, chillies are soaked in yoghurt and salt and dried in the sun for storing. These are called 'chilli tairu', and are treated like fiery papadums, being fried in oil until crisp and eaten with rice.

Popular Indian spices and ingredients used by The Raj Indian Restaurant

Coriander powder

Made by grinding coriander seeds. Frying coriander powder in oil gives it the characteristic curry flavour.


This is a root and is mostly used as a powder. It is a yellow spice with a pungent flavour.

Cinnamon & Cloves

Contributes to both the taste and aroma of both our meat and fragrant rice dishes.

Cumin & Cumin Seeds

Used whole or ground as a powder. It should be roasted briefly on a hot griddle and then ground into powder to release its flavour.

Mustard Seeds

Significant in all our cooking and used in curries to enhance the taste.

Fenugreek Seeds

Lends a strong, bitter flavour to relishes and vegetable dishes. Mostly used in our South Indian dishes.

Garam Masala

A mixture of spices that include cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and black cardamom. Garam masala is mostly used with meat dishes.


Forms part of garam masala powder.


Used in leaf form to to add flavour and aroma to chutneys and raitas are also used as a garnish.

Cinnamon Leaf

Used for its sharp and strong flavour.

Large Black Cardamom

Used in curries and is known for its strong aroma.

Green Cardamom

Its unique aroma also contributes to the overall flavour of our dishes (and is sprinkled at the end of the cooking process.)


The world's most expensive spice by weight, saffron adds flavour and fragrance to preserves, rice dishes and desserts served by us.


Clarified butter used to give rich flavour and taste to all Indian dishes.


The pods of the tropical tamarind tree contain a soft nutty pulp from which a tangy juice is obtained. Tamarind is used to season some Indian dishes giving them a slightly sour flavour.


A clay oven heated which cooks food quickly without allowing it to dry out.


Known as nigella seeds, small black tear shaped seeds of a plant grown extensively in India. Commonly used in pickles, curries and breads.


Leaves and seeds of the coriander plant, a basic seasoning used in Indian cuisine, the fresh leaves are used for garnish


A five spiced powder mixture of whole fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds. The mixture is lightly roasted in oil and is used to season many curries and chutneys.


Homemade cottage cheese made from farm fresh milk commonly used in vegetarian cuisine which is a delicacy


An Indian Term used for yoghurt which is extensively used in Indian cooking to bring out the richness and flavours of Indian dishes

Basmati Rice

Slender long grained aromatic rice, Basmati means fragrant. The grain is aged for a certain period of time to enhance its distinctive aroma.