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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Zajicek

Popular Spices That Bring Classic Indian Food to Life

Eating Indian food is a wholesome experience that takes you on a sensory journey.

From the tantalizing flavors that dance on your taste buds to the myriad spicy and tangy scents, and the richly-colored dishes—what’s not to love?

Any Indian cuisine connoisseur and foodie will tell you that spices are what bring the food to life. These masalas, in all their vibrant glory, are necessary to conjure up the traditional flavor of Indian food we all know and love.

The magic of Indian flavors heavily relies on the combination of spices that are incorporated into every staple dish and delicacy alike.

Here are the top five spices that are responsible for the delicious flavorful Indian food as you know it:


This spice is either blended into other spices or used as a whole. Its overpowering taste has hints of sweetness and bitterness, bringing an intense flavor and scent to any dish.

Apart from its various health benefits, cloves offer an aromatic addition to several popular Indian dishes. This warming spice is predominantly used in spiced teas, biryani, korma, and curries.


The strong, aromatic spice that defines most Indian curries can be attributed to cumin. This spice can be used ground or as whole seeds; either way, the earthy scent and flavor give the cuisine its classic rich flavor.

We use freshly ground cumin to add a slightly bitter, smoky flavor and aroma to many of our dishes. The spice works well with various other masalas to add its classic nutty taste to rice dishes and our vegetarian and meat specialties.


This wondrous spice has recently gained popularity for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. The vivid yellow spice has been a staple in Indian cuisine for a long time, adding an earthy scent and beautiful golden color to a variety of dishes.

We make use of both fresh and dried turmeric to bring a variety of rice, meat, and vegetable curries and dishes to life—just don’t forget that it stains your hands a vibrant yellow too!


You may associate this sweet-smelling spice with hot, freshly-baked buns, drizzled with warm icing—but that’s not all that cinnamon is about.

This staple spice is often used ground but it can also be added whole to curries and steamed rice to infuse the warm, spicy flavor within the dish.

Mustard seeds

A brightly-colored yellow mustard bottle is probably the most quintessentially-American thing in your pantry but hotdogs aren’t the only food item that makes use of mustard. In fact, mustard seeds—all yellow, brown, and black—are used in a variety of ways in Indian cooking.

The nutty, smoky flavor of this spice is used to enhance various types of curries. Unlock the flavor of these tiny mustard seeds by crushing them or briefly cooking them in some hot oil—the flavor is released as soon as the seeds pop!  We make use of fresh mustard seeds to add a rich, peppery flavor to many of our dishes.

Is your mouth watering yet? We don’t blame you!

Come on down to India Bistro at Roosevelt Way NE to enjoy delicious Indian food in Seattle. Revel in the aromatic spices used in our cuisine; we have vegetarian, meat, appetizers, and desserts to tantalize your taste buds!

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1 Comment

Dec 30, 2020

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