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Indian Spices

ajwain = ajwain seed = carom seed = bishop's weed = ajowan = ajowan seed = ajwon = ajwan  Pronunciation:   AHJ-a-wahn  Notes:   These look like small caraway seeds, but they taste like a pungent version of thyme.  Indian cooks like to sprinkle them on breads.  Look for them in Indian markets.  Substitutes:  dried thyme (use more) OR cumin OR caraway

ajowan (seed)  See ajwain.

amchoor = amchur = umchoor = green mango powder = aamchur = amchor = dried green mango = dried mango powder   Notes:   This is made from sun-dried mangoes, and it's used as a souring agent or to tenderize meats.  Indian or Middle Eastern grocery stores carry it.  Substitutes:  lemon juice OR lime juice OR tamarind OR chopped fresh mango (use more) OR chopped fresh papaya (use more)

amchur  See amchoor


asafetida [ah-sah-FEH-teh-dah] = asafoetida powder = asafoetida = hing = devil's dung = ferula = foetida = food of the gods = heeng = imguva    This powdered gum resin imparts a very strong onion-garlic flavor to Indian dishes. Use it sparingly—a little goes a long way.  Look for it in Indian or health food stores or in the spice section of larger supermarkets.  Substitutes:  omit it from the recipe OR garlic powder OR onion powder

asfetida  See asafetida (powder)

bishop's weed  See ajwain

black cardamom  See brown cardamom.

black cumin seeds = royal cumin seeds = kala jeera = shahi jeera = saah jeera  Pronunciation:   KUH-min   Notes:   Indian cooks use this spice in many of their curries and tandoori dishes.  It's darker and sweeter than ordinary cumin.  To bring out its nutty flavor, it helps to toast the seeds briefly before using them.   Substitutes:  cumin (Not as sweet as black cumin.) OR nigella

black mustard seeds  Notes:   Indian cooks prefer these over the larger yellow mustard seeds that are more common in the west.  Look for this in Indian markets or health food stores.  Substitutes: brown mustard seeds (very close) OR yellow mustard seeds

black onion seeds  See nigella

brown cardamom = black cardamom  Notes:  Pods of this spice are sold in Indian markets. Some recipes call for the entire pod to be used, others call for the ground seeds. Don't confuse this with the more common (green) cardamom, which comes in round green or tan pods.  Substitutes:  cardamom

brown mustard seeds   Notes:   These are smaller and hotter than the yellow mustard seeds that most western cooks are familiar with.  Look for this in Indian markets.  Substitutes: black mustard seeds (very close) OR yellow mustard seeds

carom seed  See ajwain

curcuma = Indian saffron  Substitutes:  saffron

devil's dung  See asafetida (powder)

fenugreek = fenugreek seeds = methi = halba   Pronunciation:  FEN-you-greek  Notes:  This adds an earthy flavor to curries, chutneys, and sauces.  It's available as seeds or powder, and you can usually find it in Indian and Middle Eastern markets.   If it's not available, just leave it out of the recipe.  

ferula  See asafetida (powder)

foetida  See asafetida (powder)

food of the gods  See asafetida (powder)

habasoda  See nigella

halba  See fenugreek.

heeng  See asafetida (powder)

hing (powder)  See asafetida (powder)

imguva  See asafetida (powder).

Indian saffron  See curcuma.

kala jeera  See black cumin seeds

kalonji    See nigella

ketza  See nigella.

methi   See fenugreek.

nigella = black onion seeds = kalonji = calonji = habasoda = ketza = black caraway  Pronunciation:  ni-JELL-uh  Notes:   This has a subtle flavor that's often used to enhance vegetable dishes.  To bring out the flavor, it helps to toast the seeds briefly before using them.  Substitutes:  cumin seeds OR sesame seeds OR oregano

pomegranate seeds = anardana  Notes:   Bits of pomegranate pulp remain on the seeds as they dry, so they're a bit sticky and serve as a souring agent in Indian cuisine.  The seeds also come ground.  

royal cumin seeds  See black cumin seeds

shahi jeera  See black cumin seeds.

white poppy seeds = kas-kas  Notes:  Indian cooks use these as a thickener in their curries and as a filling in baked goods.   Substitutes:  poppy seeds (black)


Copyright © 1996-2005  Lori Alden