What is the Gujarati word for Kalonji

Indian cuisine thrives on its numerous and colorful spices. In the first part of the series of articles, we talked about the most important spices you need to cook Indian food. Including coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon and ginger. In the second part we talk about selected Indian spices that will greatly expand your repertoire of possible dishes from Indian cuisine.

Some are used in our kitchens at home or in other kitchens around the world, which is why a purchase can be worthwhile. This reduces the likelihood that the spices will gather dust on the shelf.

Fennel seeds

The small green seeds have a sweet taste that is reminiscent of anise. Fennel refines delicious curries and salads with its sweet, fresh aroma.

The purchase is worthwhile if you also like to bake bread at home from time to time - e.g. B. with fennel, caraway, anise and coriander as a bread spice.

You can also chew fennel after eating to freshen your breath. It is not for nothing that fennel is part of the mukhwas mix of chewing spices.

Ajwain, carom, king cumin, ajwain

I only got to know king cumin through Indian cuisine. Its taste is strongly reminiscent of thyme. Ajwain (pronounced: aj-wän) goes well with starchy dishes and lentil dishes. Examples are fried potatoes, flatbreads (see roti) and various dals (see dal tadka with yellow lentils). Ajwain makes dishes with legumes easier to digest.

Like coriander, cumin and many other spices, ajwain is first roasted to intensify the taste.

Mustard seeds

We use mustard seeds (regardless of whether they are white or brown) almost exclusively for the production of table mustard.

In Indian cuisine, the small round mustard seeds are roasted until they crackle and bounce around in the pan. With their spiciness, they then season dals (lentil stews) or sabzis (vegetable dishes).

In addition to being used in Indian dishes, mustard seeds are suitable for marinating meat and pickling vegetables. Sometimes I crush a few mustard seeds and use them to season dressings and sauces.

Black cardamom, badi elaichi, kali elaichi

Brown or black cardamom is (wrongly!) Rather unknown in this country. The smoked capsules are larger than those of the green cardamom. Its earthy and smoky aroma goes wonderfully with hearty stews, e.g. B. Lamb Curry (Rogan Josh). Brown cardamom gets its smoky note by drying it over an open fire. Definitely one of my favorite spices!

You can only use the kernels (and grind) or you can braise the whole capsule and remove it before serving. Usually you can replace brown cardamom with green cardamom. But this eliminates the delicious smoky note. Conversely, you should not necessarily replace brown cardamom with greens - especially in desserts.


For us, cloves are a classic Christmas spice. In Indian cuisine, the dried flower buds are used in curries or to flavor rice dishes (e.g. biryani, khichdi or pulao).

They smell and taste very intensely, which is why they should be used sparingly and carefully. The little things really have it all.

If used whole, remove them before serving.

Star anise

What we like to swim in mulled wine at Christmas time and should not be missing in gingerbread is often used in Indian stews or for spiced rice (e.g. Biryani). Ground or pounded, star anise is often part of the Garam Masala.

Like cloves, star anise is used sparingly. One or a maximum of two stars refine an entire dish.

Fenugreek seeds, methi, fenugreek

Fenugreek is awesome! When roasted, the seeds develop a particularly intense, tasty smell that is reminiscent of lovage ("Maggi herb"). They are roasted and pounded and used for many different masalas, such as: B. Sambhar Masala.

Fresh fenugreek is often used and eaten like young spinach. You can grow delicious sprouts from the seeds. The dried leaves (Kasuri Methi) also give many dishes an extra kick. Ingenious herb, really!

Fenugreek seeds are now an integral part of my homemade vegetable broth.

Black cumin, Kalonji

The small, deep black black cumin seeds have a really intense taste - slightly hot and very spicy. They are often used for decorative purposes. Black cumin is not related to cumin or real cumin, neither in terms of taste nor botanical.

Black cumin is great for spicing up flatbreads (e.g. naan). They also provide visual highlights in rice or with fried potatoes. Black cumin seeds are part of the 5-spice blend Panch Phoron - along with mustard seeds, fennel, cumin, and fenugreek.

Black cumin is also popular in many dishes from the Mediterranean as well as the Near and Middle East. So black cumin does not necessarily have to wait long on the spice shelf to be used for Indian flatbread.

Indian recipes to cook at home

With this portfolio of spices you are well equipped for most Indian dishes. Here are a few inspiring recipes:

In the third and last post about Indian spices, we finally focus on the really unusual and special ingredients, such as: B. Indian bay leaves, curry leaves and mace. The article will appear shortly.