The Indian Spice Industry

Salt, oil and spices are all important ingredients used while preparing Indian food. They are an essential part of our lives. A kitchen shelf which boasts of bottles containing turmeric, asefoetida, cumin seeds and the like is a common sight in an Indian household. The fact remains that in every house, spices of different kinds are used to make distinctive and different tastes in the Indian cuisine and a variety of spices are also used to enhance different flavors in our dishes.

The different variety of spices available in the market today are: Asafoetida or ‘hing’, Bay leaf or ‘tej patta’, Red Chili powder or ‘lal mirch’, Cardamom or ‘elaichi’, Coriander or ‘dhaniya’, Clove or ‘laung’, Curry leaves or ‘curry patta’, Cumin or ‘jeera’, Fenugreek or ‘methi’, Ginger or ‘adrak’, Garlic or ‘lassan’, Mustard seeds or ‘rye’, Nutmeg or ‘jaiphal, Black pepper or ‘kali mirch’, Saffron or ‘kesar’, Turmeric or ‘haldi’.

Diverse needs of Consumers

Most of these spices are grown in different parts of our country. Today the demand for Indian spices has increased many folds in other countries also.

  • Food– Indian spices help to enhance the flavour of our Indian recipes. These also add colour to a dish and make it more appetising.
  • Beauty products –Spices from India are widely used in beauty products and in spiritual ceremonies. When applied on skin as a paste it improves the complexion.
  • Medicinal value – Indian spices provide various health benefits. Some are used to heal wounds as well as treat rheumatic disorders, gastrointestinal symptoms, de-worming, rhinitis and it is also used as a cosmetic.Some also help boost our digestive system and have a positive effect on our health. These are widely used as detoxifying agents and for treating various health problems. They help prevent tumour formation, decrease gene mutations and exhibit anti-oxidative potential in animals.


History reveals that India has been exporting spices to various countries for centuries. Hence India is recognized all over the world for its spices. In the year 2012/13, India produced a total of approx. 5.9 million tones of spices out of which around 10 percent was exported to various countries. The Indian spice industry is growing rapidly.

Spice companies not only cater to the food industry but also sell their products to the cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies. Indian spice companies’ account for almost 45 to 50 percent of the spices exported around the world. Since the demand for spices has increased world over, India has become the centre for selling spices to other countries.

Companies from around the globe have been showing interest in Indian spices and are looking to join hands with local manufacturers. Indian spice manufacturers are setting up new production units all over the country to meet the rising demands from a growing majority of health conscious people who prefer using natural flavours of spices than cheaper synthetic flavours.

Spices are the basic building blocks of the Indian cuisine. With an industry that is estimated to grow to an approximate net worth of over 17 billion dollars by the 2018, the Indian spice companies have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.

Further more information about basic and premium Spices, visit –

Importance of Whole spices in Indian Cuisine

Indian spices and Indian food are inseparable. Indian food is not complete without these exotic spices. An assortment of spices are grown and produced in Indian subcontinent.

In the Indian cuisine, spices are added to the dish in various forms i.e. as whole spice, roasted, as grounded powder, stir fried, chopped or as a topping. Some spices are added to a dish in the blended form like garam masala, sambhar masala etc.

The spices used in Indian cuisine differ region wise according to the difference in climate. Those used in the Northern region are different from the ones used in the Southern region.

Different Whole Spices Used in Indian Cuisine:

Coriander Seeds (Dhania) – These light brown or golden seeds are hollow and crisp and they have a very nice nutty/lemony flavour. For tempering a dish these are used whole. As a flavouring agent, these are used in stews, sweet bread, cakes etc.

Coriander is rich in many minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, copper, zinc, and magnesium. It is an anti oxidant and contains vitamin C and B-complex.

Cumin Seeds – These add taste and a discrete strong flavor to the food. Since ancient times this spice has been used as a flavouring agent to cook meat dishes as well as vegetarian curries, rice dishes, dry vegetables etc. It is also used for tempering soups, dals and other dishes .

The cumin seeds are rich in iron, calcium, selenium, copper, manganese, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. These also have vitamin B-complex, vitamin E, A and C.

These help in digestion and avert diarrhea, nausea and help to cure common colds.

Asafoetida ( Hing )– It is also called ‘devil’s dung’, or the ‘stinking gum’ because of its strong pungent smell. This smell changes when you add it to hot oil or ghee for tempering or seasoning the food.

Asafoetida helps to lower blood pressure, it prevents constipation, reduces flatulence. Colic in infants can be cured if a small piece of warm hing is placed on the baby’s stomach.

Mustard Seeds –3 types of mustard seeds are used in cooking, black, white and brown mustard. When these are fried in oil, they impart a beautiful fragrance to the food.

Mustard seeds are used for cooking rice, salads, vegetables and for making pickles. These are fried in oil and used for tempering food items to add colour and flavour.

These seeds contain selenium which helps to reduce asthma, it is anti-inflammatory and has anti-cancer properties. The seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, iron, protein, calcium, zinc, and manganese.

Sesame Seeds – These seeds have many nutritional, preventive and curing properties. The seeds have a slight nutty flavor which becomes stronger when the seeds are roasted.

It is used as a seasoning for many dishes. These are scattered over bakery products like cakes, biscuits etc. they are used for making Indian sweets, like gajjak, mixed with peanuts and jaggery, which is eaten in the cold season.

The seeds contain many essential nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins like B- complex, folic acid, calcium, iron, copper etc.


Thus, spices add flavor and aroma to a dish. Each spice has an exclusive flavor, but when it is blended with other spices the flavour it imparts is out of the ordinary. Not only the aroma, spices have many medicinal benefits also. So when these are used in the food they are beneficial to our health as well.

Why Is Asafoetida (Hing) Used in Indian Recipes?

When you think of Indian food, you also think of the spices used in it. No Indian recipe is complete without these wonder ingredients ‘spices’. Indian food items have become popular the world over. The ingredients are used in such combinations that they not only enhance and compliment the flavor and food value of each other, they also compensate the side effects of each other.

Spices add aroma, flavour and taste to the food, they make the food special and today even the foreign nationals are crazy about Indian food. It is difficult to imagine Indian food being cooked without the basic spices.

As there is abundance in availability of spices in India, Indian food is never bland. Indian cuisine involves the use of numerous herbs and spices, like garlic, coriander, ginger, asafoetida and fenugreek, turmeric as well as cumin, black mustard and chilli powder. Asafoetida is an important ingredient of Indian food. It has yellow colour and pungent smell and is widely used as a flavoring agent in numerous spice mixtures.  In ancient times it was a precious and expensive condiment.

It is the root of a perennial plant that grows to about six feet in height in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A gum is excreted from the root when it is sliced,  this is dried into a resin,  and then crushed into a powder to produce the spice. It is also known as ‘Devil’s dung’ or ‘Stinking gum’ because of its strong offensive smell. During cooking, when it is sautéed lightly in oil, it develops a pleasant onion or garlic like aroma. A pinch of asafoetida is enough for a recipe.

Asafoetida is used in Indian recipes for its numerous health benefits and flavour. It acts as a nerve stimulant, sedative and digestive agent for the human body. It is known to make the blood thin and lower the blood pressure. It acts as a magic pill to cure different respiratory disorders, hysteria attacks, and a number of nervous disorders.

Its medicinal value is well known. It is extremely good for digestive problems such as gas, bloating, indigestion and constipation. It is helpful for respiratory problems such as bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough. The herb’s volatile oil contains components such as disulphide which leave the body via the respiratory system, this helps to cough up the congested mucus.

Certain food items like urad dal, cauliflower etc. produce ‘stomach gas’, to deactivate this component, asafoetida is used during cooking. A pinch of ‘hing’ is used in the dosa batter to remove the bad effects and retain the benefits of the nutritious value of urad dal. The strong smell of Asafoetida  kills  the  bacteria and other germs in the blood stream.

Asafoetida  is not only used in daily food items but it is also used to flavour and preserve  pickles and sauces, it is one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce, and it is extensively used  to flavour spicy vegetable dishes. It increases the body temperature and loosens the mucus from the lungs to give you relief from a running nose.

So, add asafoetida to your daily recipes and enjoy a good health.

Asofoetida Powder – A Digestive Spice that Reduces Gas & Cholesterol in Body


Early records mention that Alexander the Great carried this ‘stink finger’ west in 4 BC. Used as flavouring in the kitchens of ancient Rome, this pungent, resinous gum is used widely in Indian vegetarian cooking. Ferula asafoetida, a perennial of the carrot family, grows wild to 3.6 metres/ 12 feet high in huge natural forests. The plant is indigenous to Iran, Afghanistan and in the north of India. There is a smaller species called ferula narthex. The whole plant exudes the characteristic strong smell, described by some as a stink. The milky resin comes from both the thick stems and the root, and it dries into asafoetida.

In its raw state, the resin or the powder has an unpleasant smell. This completely disappears when the spice is added to a variety of vegetables, fish, pulse, and pickle ingredients. Used mostly in Indian vegetarian cooking, in which the strong onion-garlic smell enhances many dishes especially those of the Brahmin and Jain castes where onions and garlic are prohibited. Also used in curries, and pickles from India. The lump of resin would only be acceptable to keen Indian cooks who use a very small pieces at a time. For most of us, the powdered version is easier to handle. Buy asafoetida in small quantities. The powdered resin is usually mixed with flour to provide bulk.

Asafoetida is a useful antidote for flatulence and hence its popularity with Indian vegetarian cooks, who make generous use of pulses. There are claims for it being used to cure bronchitis and even hysteria. Asafoetida is useful as a digestive spice that has the additional benefit of lowering cholesterol and reducing gas. Asafoetida warms and corrects excess vata and kapha. The strong, sulphur like smell gives rise to the common name devils dung. Like most smelly herbs it nurtures the earth element and enhances stamina. Asafoetida consists of various natural elements: two thirds of it is carbohydrates, about 16% is water, and 7 % are minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus, sulphur compounds and others. This herb is also a good source of fibre, proteins and vitamins. 100 g of Asafoetida powder has 297 calories. Since the early ages it’s known for its great sedative, spasmodic, expectorant, antibacterial, anti-fungal and carminative, stimulant and other valuable medicinal properties.


The mango tree is a member of the cashew and pistachio family, native to India, where the mango is known as the ‘King of Fruits’. The name amchur comes from aam, the Hindu word for mango, and chur meaning powder. The unripe mangoes are sliced, sun-dried and ground to a powder. Amchur powder has a sweet and sour flavour, with just a hint of resin. In the high temperatures of the Indian continent, mango powder keeps far better than fresh tamarind or lemons, other typical souring agents. It is used primarily in vegetarian dishes, where it is usually added towards the end of the cooking so that its astringent, yet slightly sweet-sour flavour is still detectable when the food is served. Mango powder is added to soups, marinades, curries and chutneys.

Raita – An Inevitable Delicacy for a Complete Indian Meal


Normally fruits and vegetables- grated, chopped or sliced immersed in beaten and seasoned yoghurt make a Raita. They form an attractive way of eating yoghurt as well as the fruits and vegetables, retaining their natural flavour completely. Raitas are prepared with a distinctive flavour- achieved by using spices, lemon or sugar. In some Raitas, a particular flavour is used to complement the other. The result is unique and absolutely delicious. Thus raita is an inevitable delicacy for a complete Indian meal.


2 ripe Bananas, peeled and cut into thin rings/ 2 cups beaten curds/ ½  teaspoon mustard seeds/ a few mint leaves/ handful of coriander leaves/ ½ piece ginger minced/ a pinch of asafoetida/ 1 teaspoon sugar/ salt and chilli powder to taste.

Grind the mustard to a fine powder. Mix together all the ingredients with the exception of coriander and mint. Garnish with coriander and mint leaves and serve preferably chilled.


2 cups beaten curds/ 1 small firm tomato/ 1 small onion/ 1 small tender carrot/ 1 small cucumber/ 2 teaspoons peeled and shredded beetroot/ 1 green chilli minced/ handful of coriander leaves/ ¼ teaspoon dry ginger powder/ ½ teaspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds/ 1 teaspoon sugar/ salt and chilli powder to taste.

Cut all the vegetables finely and mix into curds along with the other ingredients except the beetroot. Garnish with beetroot and serve. Continue reading

Bhale Padharya – Gujarati Dish Khaman Dhokla, Methi na Thepla



Makes about 30 pieces; Preparation time-30 minutes; Cooking time-25 minutes


2 teacups split Bengal gram                      ½” piece ginger

½ teaspoon soda bicarbonate                   5 tablespoon oil

A pinch of asafoetida                                salt to taste

4 green chillies

For Tempering:

¼ teaspoon mustard seeds                         8 curry leaves

For Garnishing:

½ cup chopped coriander leaves                ½ cup grated coconut Continue reading

Taste of Gujarat with Indian Spices – Tasty Methi na Muthia, Delicious Gujarati Cuisine

Bhale Padharya… Welcome

The Gujarati community comprises different sects of people with varied beliefs and customs and with them have naturally evolved a variety of culinary styles.  Gujarat can be divided into three main regions, with distinct climatic conditions which may have contributed to the variety this cuisine has to offer.

Western Gujarat, Kathiawar, is a dry region where fresh green produce is scarce. However, the cuisine provides rich dairy produce and a cuisine that is wholesome and nutritious. Some of the best pickles come from here.

Central Gujarat, Ahmedabad, Kheda, and Vadodara regions are hailed for their food grains. A majority of people are farmers who grow, store, and market grains. Dhokla, vada, bhakarvadi, thepla are contributions of this region. Continue reading

Asafoetida – Food of the Gods for Aromatic Food Taste with Medicinal Values


Asafoetida is the dried latex exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, which is a perennial herb (1 to 1.5 m high). Asafoetida is unique to other spices, as it is not made from the leaves, flowers, seeds or roots of the plant. To harvest asafoetida, the stalks of the plant are cut and the milky fluid which is released is collected and dried into a sticky resin. The resin-like gum which comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots is used as a spice. This spice is used as a digestive aid, in food as a condiment, and in pickles. Asafoetida is also known as hing, devil’s dung or stinking gum. It tastes much better than what its unpleasant smell suggests. It combines extremely well with other spices. The Persians considered it as food for the Gods. Continue reading

How Blended Spices are Being Process in India

The Indian climate is highly suitable to produce a broad range of spices and as a result the nation has become a major supplier of spices in the world. Masala is the Hindi word for spice; and is also referred to a mixture of spices, herbs and other condiments grounded together to prepare mouth-watering Indian dishes.

Depending on different recipes and individual tastes, one can use various combination of spices to produce blended Indian spices; such as garam masala, tea masala, pav bhaji masala, chhole masala, panipuri masala, sambhar masala, chat masala, achar masala, sweet achar masala, kanda lasoon masala; compounded asafoetida, hing powder, curry powder, vadapav masala, pulav masala, dabeli masala and sandwich masala. Continue reading