I'd say one of the most important things when marrying someone from another culture is an appreciation of each other's native foods. Thankfully, I'm in love with Indian food almost as much as my husband is, and I also enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes.
One thing that was overwhelming when I started cooking Indian food, was the sheer number of spice combinations that needed to be used! I'm not talking about cooking Indian food with "curry powder" - that's cheating in my book! Anyhow, in addition to the complex spice blends, many of the authentic recipes that I had collected used the Indian names for the spices. I was able to learn which spice was which over time, and am now able to switch seamlessly between the Indian names & English names. This skill is useful when sending recipes to my non-Indian friends & family.
So in hopes to help others who are just learning Indian cooking, here are a few of the common Indian spices and their English equivalents. If you're just building up your Indian spice cabinet, these spices are good to have on hand.
English Spice Hindi Tamil Asafoetida Hing Perungayam Bay Leaf Tej patta Talishapattiri Cardamom Elaichi Elakkai Chillies Mirch Milagai Cinnamon Dalchini ilavangkam Cloves Laung Krambu Coriander Dhania Kothamalli vidai Corriander Leaves (Cilantro) Hara dhania Kothamalli Cumin Jeera Jeeragam Curry Leaves Karipatha Kariveppilai Fennel Saunf Fenugreek Methi Venthiyam Garlic Lassan Ulipoondu Fresh Ginger Adrak Injin Lime Nimbu Elumichai Mint Pudina Pudina Mace Javithri Jathipatri Mango Powder Aamchur Mustard Seeds Rai Kadugu Nutmeg Jaiphal Jathikkai Pepper Kali Mirch Milagu Saffron Kesar Tamarind Pulp Imli Puli Turmeric Haldi Manjal
Once you've stocked up on your spices, make sure to follow these tips for storing them so they maintain their optimal freshness and flavor...
- Keep the spices in a cool, dark place - free from moisture and humidity. A spice dabba is a fun and practical solution.
- Ground spices can retain their flavor for around a year - whole spices retain their flavor much longer. Try grinding your own spices for a more intense flavor. (use a mortar & pestal or a coffee grinder)
- Keep rarely used spices in airtight containers in the freezer.
Stay tuned for more in the Indian Cooking Series.