What's food without some spice? And thankfully, we have plenty of them in India. The vigorous use of spice is what makes Indian cuisine stand out among other global cuisines. Your pantry must be full of common spices that are used across the country for everyday cooking. But you might have noticed how the flavours of a particular dish change as it traverses the boundaries within the country. The use of local spices brings a whole new dimension to food. India is a Pandora's Box of spices; every region will have a different set of spices they use other than the common ones. Let's explore some of these lesser-known Indian spices that can make your meal all the better.
Make space in your spice cabinet for these spices and enhance your cooking with a bang of flavours. Tap into the repertoire of Indian spice produce to produce more spice from your kitchen.
(Also Read: Top 10 Indian Spices And Herbs)
Here're 11 Of The Lesser-Known Indian Spices You Must Explore:
Kalpasi - the dark purple flower is usually blended with other ingredients to masala mix like the famous Chettinad masala in south Indian regions, and godi masala in Maharashtra, Also called 'patthar ka phool' or 'black stone flower', kalpasi adds its smoky aroma and woody flavour to food.
What makes Andhra cuisine so hot? It has a lot to do with the spice of Guntur. Guntur is one of the regional chillies which is extensively used in spicy Andhra preparations like pachadis and curries. You would be surprised to know that Guntur has quite a demand abroad with countries like China, Canada and Japan and import it from India to spice up their food.
Kokum is actually a fruit but is used as a spice in Konkan regions, and is found mostly in Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Karnataka. It lends its tangy, tarty and salty flavours to the foods it is added to. The fruit's peel is dried, salted and then ground to make a powder, which is used as masala.
Radhuni can be credited for making Bengali food even more delicious by being part of the special paanch phoron spice mix. Radhuni looks like carom seeds but tastes and smells like a herb. But it is actually a dried fruit that grows in southern parts of Asia.
(Also Read: 8 Magical Spices That Can Heal You From Within)
This dried herb is mostly used to add natural colour to food. Ratanjot gains popularity as you move up the country into the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu And Kashmir. It is ratanjot that brightens up the popular Kashmiri dish of rogan josh with its distinct red hue and mild heat.
5. Bhut Jolokia:
Let us introduce you to the 'baap' of all spices. Named the "hottest chilli pepper in the world" by the Guinness World Records in the year 2007, bhut jolokia is as fiery as it can get. The pepper is grown in Assam and used all over north-eat India to bring lots of heat to their food. We hear even a smidge of this spice can bring tears to your eyes.
Bhut Jolokia is the spicient spice in India.
Photo Credit: Hoihnu Hauzel
7. Lakadong Turmeric
Turmeric is one of the prized possession of south Asia and has gained massive international recognition. Lakadon turmeric is a fine variety of turmeric with a high curcumin value (around 7 per cent). Found and used mostly in Meghalaya, Lakadong turmeric is derived from the underground stems of Curcuma Lomba root and rhizome.
(Also Read: 4 Spice Mix Options To Put Together A Delicious Meal)
Jakhiya, the seed of an edible plant in the Himalayan region, is widely used in the Garhwali cuisine in Uttarakhand. The seeds are sun-dried before tempering them in oil to pour over curries and gravies. Jakhiya offers delectable crunch and pungency to food.
This Malabar tamarind works beautifully to add sourness, tanginess and smokiness to food. The tinge of sweetness from the tamarind balances the flavours of dishes like rasam, stews and curries. Kodampuli is mostly used in Kerala where the fruit is dried in the sun till it turns crispy and the skins are infused with some smoke.
Anardana - dried pomegranate seeds - have a melange of sweet, fruity and tangy tones that add complex flavours to food. Anardana is popular in north India and besides being used as a sweet spice, it is also used as a preservative to make chutneys and pickles in place of other natural preservatives like lemon juice.
11. Maratti Moggu
If you ever tried Karnataka-special bisi bele baath and loved it, you must know about this spice that contributed to making the dish so yummy. Maratti Moggu is a brown-coloured dried Kakop flower bud of the Red Silk Cotton tree and has a strong pungent taste like clove spice.
(Also Read: 5 Lesser-Known Indian Cuisines Every Foodie Must Try)
Experiment with these hidden gems of Indian spices and expand your culinary skills.
About Neha GroverLove for reading roused her writing instincts. Neha is guilty of having a deep-set fixation with anything caffeinated. When she is not pouring out her nest of thoughts onto the screen, you can see her reading while sipping on coffee.