Skip to Content

Illustrated spice guide

Illustrated spice guide

Confused between Cumin and Carom seeds, quite normal as they both almost look the same but have totally different taste and aroma. We bring you a pictorial guide of all the common herbs used in our kitchen. Did you know turmeric comes from a ginger family? Learn about your kitchen spices and pump up the flavors in your recipes!

Anise Seed

Hindi Name - Anasphal
Anise Seed is a gray-brown oval seed from a plant in the parsley family . It is a small sweet smelling light green colored aromatic seeds. It is related to caraway, dill, cumin, and fennel.
Pomegranate seeds

Hindi Name - Anardana
These are sweet ruby-colored seeds obtained from the pomegranate fruit, used largely in chutneys. Powdered seeds impart a delicious tangy flavor and add dark color to the recipe.
Arrowroot powder

Hindi Name - Arraroot
Arrowroot is a white powder extracted from the root of a West Indian plant.It looks and feels like cornstarch. Arrowroot is used as a thickening agent.
Dried Mango Powder

Hindi Name - Amchur/Amchoor
Sour, unripe mangoes are dried, powdered .
The powder is light brown in color, fine and has a tangy taste.

Hindi Name - Hing
This is a dried brownish colored powder with a bitter taste and a very strong odor. It is available in grainy powdered form.

Hindi Name - Suva or Suwa
Anise is a tear shaped- golden brown in color. It comes from a small plant from the parsley family. Helps in digestion and is also used as mouth freshener when mixed with grated coconut. Has a sweet licorice flavor.
Black Salt

Hindi Name - Kala Namak
Black salt is available in the form of regular crystals from translucent amber to Grey brown in color. Powdered rock salt is fine and purplish brown or smoky Grey in color.The salty taste is less powerful than that of a common salt.It is mostly used to spice up Indian dishes like Raitas and snacks.
Brown Cardamon

Hindi Name - Moti Eliachi
Though they share the same name this Cardamom is different then the green cardamom.Brown cardamom is an important ingredient of garam masala. It is grinded along with other spices to add extra flavor. But because of its strong smokey flavor it is tempered in oil and used as a Kada masala or sabut masala (in its whole form) to flavor up Indian curries and meat gravies. It is also a quick home remedy to common cold and coughs.
Fennel Seed

Hindi Name - Saunf
Fennel Seed is the oval, green or yellowish-brown dried fruit of the aniseed family. Fennel has an anise-like flavor but is more aromatic, sweeter and less pungent.In India fennel seeds are used in flavoring many vegetable dishes and pickles. It is roasted and eaten after meals as mouth freshener.
Black Onion seeds OR Nigella seeds

Hindi Name - Kalonji
These are small seeds which grown on a kalonji plant. It is black in color and is usually used to make achars. It is also an important ingredient of the panch Puran family - meaning a mixture of five spices. They are also sprinkled on top of Naans and breads to add flavor. It aids digestion and is full of nutrients.
Green Cardamom

Hindi Name - Hari Eliachi
Cardamom, a rhizomatous Indian herb has aromatic seeds and is light green in color. Its seeds are found in oval-shaped fruit pods that are between 1/4- and 1-inch long. Because of its intense, pungent and sweet flavor; it is extensively used in flavoring sweet dishes.
Black Cumin OR Caraway Seeds

Hindi Name - Shahi Jeera
Caraway Seed is actually the fruit of a biennial herb in the parsley family.The seed is dark brown in color & is about 1/5-inch long and tapered at the ends. The hard seed shells have five pale ridges. It is a common used in flavoring many kinds of rye bread. It is also used to flavor vegetarian dishes, sausage, cheese, cabbage, and soups.
Caraway Seed has a pungent aroma and has a tangy flavor.
Coriander Seeds

Hindi Name - Sukha Dhaniya
Coriander is the seed of a plant in the parsley family. The seed is globular and almost round, brown to yellow red, and 1/5 inch in diameter with alternating straight and wavy ridges. Coriander seeds (sabut dhania) is commonly used in many spice mixtures, savories, vegetable dishes and pickles.It has a mild, distinctive taste similar to a blend of lemon and sage.
Cumin Seeds

Hindi Name - Jeera
Cumin is the pale brown seed of a small herb in the parsley family. The seed is uniformly oval shaped and deeply furrowed. Cumin can be used whole or ground. It gives out more aroma when roasted or added to hot oil. Used mainly for its digestive properties. It has a distinctive, slightly bitter yet warm flavor.
Curry Leaves

Hindi Name - Curry patta OR Kari Patta
It is a strong smelling aromatic leaf similar in appearance to bay leaves but has a very different flavor.The dark green leaves are almond shaped. In Indian cooking, curry leaves are used to flavor vegetables, curries, lentils and breads.

Hindi Name - Dalchini
Cinnamon is the dried brown bark of various laurel trees. Cinnamon sticks are made from long pieces of bark that are rolled, pressed, and dried.Cinnamon is used in the preparations of sweets, rice, curries, cakes, cookies, and desserts throughout the world. Cinnamon is also used in savoring chicken and lamb dishes.Stick Cinnamon is used for flavoring hot beverages.Grounded form of cinnamon is used as a baking spice. Cinnamon has an aromatic sweet, woody fragrance.
Dried Fenugreek Leaves

Hindi Name - Kasuri Methi OR kastoori Methi
Fenugreek leaves are dried, crushed and used as a flavoring.It adds a very wholesome touch to vegetables and onion based curries.
Fenugreek Seeds

Hindi Name - Methi dana
These yellowish brown, flat, squarish flat seeds are extremely pungent and are used in pickles and for flavoring vegetable and curries. Fenugreek seeds have a lot of medicinal value.
Curry Masala

Hindi Name - Garam Masala
This is an Indian curry mixture with a more complex flavor and aroma. It's blend of spices like - cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, pepper, chilies, and caraway. Being added to a dish at the end of cooking it adds a rich, warm fragrance and tastes spicy and aromatic.

Hindi Name - Laung
Cloves are rich, brown, dried, aromatic unopened flower buds of an evergreen tree in the myrtle family. The name comes from the French "clou" meaning nail. Cloves are used in whole form to flavor rice and curries. It's oil is of a great medicinal value. Cloves are strong, pungent, and sweet.
Melon Seeds

Hindi Name - Magaz
The outer grayish-white, hard shell is opened to reveal the ivory- white kernel or seed. The kernel is slightly soft and oval shaped. Only the seeds of the white melon are used in Indian cookery. They are used roasted in snacks or sprinkled on top of desserts. They are also added to mouth refreshers, which are a mixture of nuts and spices and are eaten after meals. Melon seeds have no smell but are nutty and sweet in flavor.

Hindi Name - Pudhina
Mint is the dried leaf of a perennial herb. Used in raitas, chutneys and also in certain vegetable dishes for flavoring. Indian mint is stronger than other varieties available in the West. Its crisp tender green leaves are used for garnishing many drinks.Mint is strong and sweet with a tangy flavor and has a cool and soothing after taste.
Mustard Seeds

Hindi Name - Rai OR Rye
It is tiny round shaped, reddish brown to black colored sharp flavored seeds and is commonly used in Indian cooking.Whole Black mustard seeds are used in pickling or flavoring curries and pickles. They are used either whole or in powdered form. Powdered Mustard has no aroma when dry, but a hot and spicy flavor is released when it is mixed with water.

Hindi Name - Jaiphal
Both Nutmeg & Mace are the fruit of evergreen tree. The outer membrane splits into a scarlet(red) colored skin- mace, and an inner one is a brown seed- Nutmeg. It is the nut like brown, pungent smelling seed. It is a baking spice but is also used to flavor soups, meats, vegetables, puddings, and stews. In Indian cooking, nutmeg is added to chicken gravies and biryanis to spice up the flavor. Nutmeg is more pungent and sweeter than mace.
Poppy Seeds

Hindi Name - Khus khus
Poppy Seeds are tiny nutty-tasting, blue-gray seeds inside a capsules. A yellowish-brown opium plant indigenous to the Mediterranean. Poppy Seeds are used to flavor breads, cakes, rolls, and cookies.They are extremely tiny cream colored seeds and are either used in whole form or made into a paste.These seeds are usually used toasted to bring out the flavor.

Hindi Name - Kali Mirch

Pepper is actually dried berries of Piper nigrum that are picked about nine months after flowering.They are small, dark, unripe fruit of the pepper plant. Pepper is a universal table condiment used to flavor all types of dishes
Black Pepper has a sharp, pungent aroma and flavor. White Pepper is hotter, less subtle and mildly fermented. Green Peppercorn is milder in flavor and has a fresh taste.Black peppercorns are sometimes used whole with other whole spices, such as cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves, to flavor curries.

Hindi Name - Kesar
It is the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus. It takes 250,000 flowers to make, just 450 g/l lb. saffron. Saffron, the world's most expensive spice, is costly because more than 225,000 stigmas must be hand picked to produce one pound. In its pure form, saffron is a mass of compressed, threadlike, dark orange strands. Saffron is sold as strands and in powder form, and has a beautiful flavor and aroma as well as a golden yellow color. Used in Kashmiri pulao, Saffron rice and preparation of certain sweets. Also used in treating common colds. Only a small quantity of saffron is needed to flavor and color a dish, whether sweet or savory. Saffron has a spicy, pungent, and bitter flavor with a sharp and penetrating odor.
Sesame Seeds

Hindi Name - Til
Sesame Seed is the seed of an annual herb, which grows well in hot climates. It is the most commonly produced seed. The yellowish, red, or black seeds are used in bread products. Oil extracted from sesame seeds is used in certain dishes. It is used in breads, candies, main dishes, as a garnish on pasta and vegetables.It helps to increase appetite. They give out very pleasant nutty flavor on roasting. Sesame Seeds have a nut-like, mild flavor.

Hindi Name - Imli
It is the fruit of tamarind tree and are sour in taste and very sticky. It is used in chutneys, vegetables, pulses, snacks and sauces.

Hindi Name - Haldi
Turmeric comes from the root of a leafy plant in the ginger family. The root, or rhizome, has a tough brown skin and bright orange flesh. Ground Turmeric comes from the fingers which extend from the root. It is boiled or steamed and then dried, and ground.Turmeric is an essential ingredient of curry powder. It is used extensively in Indian dishes. Can be used as a substitute to saffron in order to provide color and flavor.It has many medicinal uses. Turmeric is mildly aromatic and has a pungent, bitter flavor and is used mainly for color rather than flavor.
Edible Gum

Hindi Name - Goond
Goond is an edible gum which is used to make Ladoos. Sap extracted from the bark of Acacia tree is hardened to form these transparent crystals. They are colorless and odorless. When goond is fried it swells up and when fully roasted it is added to a recipe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Kalpana says:

    Very informative post, i am regular reader of your website. wonderfully explained all the spices. Loved it.

  2. Rajendran Nair says:

    Vepery informative