WHAT IS INDIAN FOOD?
The northern part of India is mostly rural, and its cuisine is steeped in agriculture using wheat for naan and roti, and a combination of yogurt, onions and spice blends such as garam masala as foundational ingredients for many dishes. Southern regions offer foods for people with a spicier palette. South Indian chefs typically use a coconut base that gives spicy soups and stews a sweet undertone. But everywhere you go, curry, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon are some of the most popular spices.
India is home to vastly different cultures and climates, so every region has its own diverse flavors.
WHAT MAKES INDIAN FOOD SPICY?
While each region is unique, seen at a high-level, North Indian food is low to moderately spicy with curry containing tomato, onion, ginger, and garlic. South Indian food more associated with hot and tangy spices, incorporating more coconut and tamarind.
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INDIAN SPICES AND HERBS
Spice selection varies drastically depending on which region of India you explore, but here are some common spices associated with Indian food:
- Red Pepper
Explore easy ways to use these herbs and spices for delicious Indian flavor.
Based on one of the most well known dishes in India, curry powder is a blend of spices including coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, nutmeg and more. It can be used to make an Indian curry, or added to chicken salad and pot pie for a twist. Try McCormick Curry Powder. What is Curry Powder? Learn about this spice mix and how to use it more frequently.
McCormick Turmeric hails from India, where it’s considered a sacred part of Hindi culture. Turmeric is the primary coloring and an essential earthy flavor in Indian curries. It's also used as a colorful addition in marinades for many chicken dishes from India. McCormick sources only Alleppey, the highest grade of Indian turmeric, so you can depend on consistent color and flavor with every bottle. Try McCormick Ground Turmeric. If you’re wondering what is turmeric good for – let us share our recommendations with you.
In the Indian kitchen, cumin seed is fundamental for curries, plus many stewed and fried dishes. Jeera aloo or potatoes sautéed with cumin seed, is a perfect place to start exploring. Toast or fry the seeds first to enrich the flavor. Our cumin is grown in India specifically for McCormick, in areas where sun, soil and temperature are just right and where no pesticides are used. Try McCormick Ground Cumin or McCormick Cumin Seed. If you want more inspiration to incorporate cumin into your recipes, check out our flavor recommendations for Cumin Spice.
CinnamonRoasted cinnamon brings a toasty undertone to Indian curries. Try McCormick Ground Cinnamon, McCormick Roasted Cinnamon, or McCormick Stick Cinnamon. Explore the sweet and savory characteristics of Cinnamon flavor.
GingerGinger is a key member of the spice cabinet for Indian cooks. You’ll find it in rubs for grilled meats, seasoning blends for vegetable curries, even in the richly spiced tea called chai. McCormick Ginger is hand-harvested and gently sun-dried on the Malabar Coast of India, where the world’s finest ginger is grown. Try McCormick Ground Ginger. Have leftover ginger root or need to use up more powder? Find more uses and pairings for Ginger flavor.
Red PepperGround red pepper is right at home in Indian curries. Indian cooks often include a light sprinkling of cayenne in the spice blends called curry. Try McCormick Ground Cayenne Red Pepper or McCormick Crushed Red Pepper. Did you ever ask yourself exactly what is Red Pepper? Learn more about this widely used ingredient.
CorianderOne of the primary spices used in curry powder, the earthy and citrusy flavor of coriander is a familiar flavor in many Indian dishes. Although coriander and cilantro come from the same plant, their flavors are actually vastly different. Try McCormick Gourmet Organic Ground Coriander. Learn more uses for the lemony Coriander Spice.
CardamomFragrant floral cardamom may be most well known in the U.S. in chai tea. It is also popular in many other Indian dishes including biryani, curry, and gulab jaman. Try McCormick Gourmet Organic Ground Cardamom. If you are looking for other Cardamom uses, take a look at our flavor recommendations, and for an easy go-to, incorporate this popular Indian and Middle Eastern flavor into your desserts.
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Butter Chicken
- Chicken Jalfrezi
- Coconut Shrimp Curry
- Chicken Curry Wrap
- Curried Fish with Pineapple Pepper Salsa
IF YOU LIKE SPICY INDIAN FOOD, TRY THESE CUISINES NEXT:
Switch up some of the herbs and spices for a different take on your favorite dish. If you like Korean for its spicy food, find cuisine-based spices lists for these top-spicy cuisines:
- Use more Curry and the savory side of Cinnamon in Chinese Cuisine.
- Blend hot and cool flavors of Thai Cuisine.
- Learn more about the chili pepper Gochugaru in Korean Cuisine.
- Mexican Cuisine will fill your recipes with more aromatic flavors.
- Peruvian will give you a reason to get the smoke paprika.
- Discover more Japanese Meals in our Beginner's Guide to Japanese Cuisine.
Look through more of our cuisine-focused flavor guides to find more recommended spices, herbs, cooking techniques and recipes inspired by each cuisine.
Want to create a meal plan for your Caribbean recipes? Need help planning your weekly meals and want to try new recipes? Save your favorite food, dessert, drink recipes and organize your ingredients with McCormick Meal Planner.