Top 20 traditional Indian spices list with picture

Spices! Ah the smells and aromas of a traditional Indian spice rack that conjure up emotions of happiness of enjoying a well cooked curry.

Spices form the backbone of every Indian kitchen! Right from the more traditional Indian food spices like cumin and turmeric to the unusual (yet widely used) ajwain or carom seeds, we have collated a complete list of the top 20 most popular Indian spices list with pictures that you can use to cook a storm in your kitchen, all the way from the easy daal tadka to the more complicated baigan bharta or aubergine mash.

Check out our easy recipe for daal tadka here.
You can also read about all aspects of traditional Indian food in our blog here. Right from what makes traditional Indian food to if it is healthy.

Indian Spice
English name
Hindi name


Most Common Use


This strong, pungent  spice is derived from the resin of a tree. Only a pinchful is plenty to start a curry.


These delicious nutritious seeds are used as a starting point of any Indian vegetable. Ground, roasted cumin is also be added to Indian street food.

Cumin seeds

 This roasted powder is added in spoonful to pretty much every Indian curry for that quintessential aromatic Indian flavour. 

Coriander Powder

This bright yellow powder derived by drying the turmeric root is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antibiotic and is added to food for its colour and healing properties. They are also used as preservatives in pickles.

Turmeric Powder traditional Indian food

Even though used widely across Indian food, chilli was brought to India by the Portugese in 1640. Used for flavour and heat. 

Chilli powder
Carom seeds

These nutty flavoured seeds are a brilliant digestive and used to flavour parathas or naan breads. 

Carom Seeds
Fennel seeds

These sweet and aromatic seeds are again a great digestive. They are used extensively in chutney and pickle recipes. Check out our pickles that use fennel seeds. 

Fennel seeds
Bay Leaf
Tej Patta
This strong flavoured leaf is used as a starting point for curries and rice dishes like pulav. Once they render their flavour, they are picked out from the dish. bay leaf
Curry Leaves
Curry Patta
These nutritious leaves are often used fresh in most dishes in the southern regions of India. From sambhar (spicy lentil soup), to potato filling for dosa. curry leaves
Cardamom are a very versatil spice that is used all the way from savoury dishes like pulav, to sweet dishes like kheer and drinks like masala chai. Cardamom
Black Cardamom
Badi Elaichi
This spice has a very strong taste that is used in pulav, biryani and chana masala. It is also roasted and ground to make garam masala Black Cardamom
This spice has many healing properties and used for toothaches and coughs. It is also used to flavour rice dishes and in garam masala Cloves
Kali Mirch
Black Pepper
Peppercorns are the original Indian spice for making food "hot" before chilli made it's way to India. It can be used whole in pulav and biryani or ground for garam masala Black Pepper
Mustard Seeds
Rai dana
Used for tempering daal, sambhar and all vegetables in the central and southern regions of India Mustard seeds
Fenugreek seeds
Methi dana
This nutritious seed has a strong bitter flavour and is used sparingly in dosa batter and also some pickle recipes. Check out our Chilli Bang Bang Pickle that uses fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek leaves
Kasuri methi
Leaves of the fenugreek plant are dried and used as a herb for finishing off curries like paneer butter masala or bombay aloo. Fenugreek leaves
Mace is used for flavouring rice dishes like pulav and biryani. It is also sometimes roasted and used in garam masala preperation Mace
These delicate strands of the saffron flower are used to render a beautiful golden colour and mild sweet flavour to milk based desserts like kheer (rice pudding), rasmalai and sweet almond milk Saffron
This warming spice is only used sparingly in curries or biryani and in small proportions in the garam masala mix Nutmeg
Nigella seeds
This extremely nutritious and superfood onion seed or black seed is used in pickles. Check out our range of pickles that use Nigella seeds. Nigella seeds


So tell me, which of the above spices have you used ?
Which ones have you wondered about, but never dared used ?
Which ones sound like they can find a new space in your spice cupboard ?

Let me know in the comments below


  • Posted by Sureshchandra Patel on

    Need all list of Spices

  • Posted by Tradologie on

    Nice Article! You post very informative article on this topic, its very helpful for users.

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