Spices and Indian food go hand in hand. Each Indian household has a list of spices in their household, and it is these spices that are the secret of the wonders of Indian food. While we all know of staple spices like cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, mustard and others, but there are some lesser known spices as well that would bring out a new flavour to your food. Here we list out some of them.
1) Kalonji (Nigella Seed)
Ever thought what those black seeds on your naan or biscuits are? Those seed are called Kalonji. Kalonji seeds are tiny, triangular black seeds which have a slightly bitter taste. These seeds are an essential part of the Panch Phoran and have many medicinal benefits. Kalonji is usually dry roasted in cooking oil before adding it to dishes.
2) Kalpasi/Dagad Phool (Black Stone Flower)
Moslty used in Maharashtrian cuisine, Kalpasi is a lichen which has a mild woody fragrance and no taste. This spice adds a mysterious kind of flavour to the dish it is added to. It is often blended with some other spice to make a masala. This spice is a part of famous masalas like goda masala and potli masala.
3) Ratanjot (Alkanet Root)
Ratanjot is an herb grown mostly in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. This spice is traditionally used to add colour to the Indian food. This spice has become quite rare now because of the use of synthetic food colouring. The famous Kashmiri dish Rogan Josh gets its colour from this spice.
4) Maratti Moggu (Dried Kapok Buds)
Maratti Moggu is the unopened flower bud of Red silk cotton tree. Found mostly in the Chettinad region, this spice looks similar to cloves. This spice has a mixed taste of mustard and pepper and is used in famous dishes of Karnataka like bisi bele baath and saagu.
5) Radhuni (Dried Fruit of Wild Celery)
This spice is often confused with ajwain because of the similar appearance. Radhuni is the small dried fruit of wild celery. It tastes similar to celery and has a smell similar to parsley. It also a part of paanch phoran.
6) Kodampuli (Garcinia Cambogia/ Malabar Tamarind)
Mostly used in Kerala, Kodampuli is the sun dried fruit of Garcinia Cambogia. When the fruit ripens, it’s removed from vine, seeded and left to dry. The skin is then infused with a pleasant aroma. These skins are then added to curries where it gives a sour and sweet taste.
7) Jakhiya (Cleome Viscosa Seeds)
Jakhiya are the dark brown seed of a rare wild plant of the Himalayas called Cleome Viscosa. These seeds have a beautiful aroma and unique flavour. These seeds are dried under the sun before being sold and are very popular in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
8) Jaiur (Winged Prickly Ash Seeds)
Also known as Szechuan pepper, Jaiur is very famous in Meghalaya. Not very hot or pungent, this spice has a slight lemony taste. The seed pods are toasted, crushed and then used to make chutneys. Only the husk is used and the seeds are discarded. It is used to make the traditional Meghalayan dish called tungtap.
Get your kitchen lab ready for some new experiments with these spices!