While there are more than 109 spices in the ISO spices list per the Spices Board India catalogue, not all of them go well with each other. It can be a challenge to know and remember which Indian spices go well together.
The first requirement of any Indian Cook is to become a good masalchi or spice blender. A spice blender knows the flavor profiles and how two spices will compliment each other.
We have put together a list of most commonly used basic spice combinations.
If you are new to spices then a list of all Indian Spices English and Hindi names along with pictures and flavor profiles, you can find it here.
Please note that these are basic ones to begin with. There are many more complex ones like garam masala that you can gradually start with once you are comfortable with these less complex ones.
Best Spice Combinations
Coriander and Cumin (Dhania Jeera)
Coriander has a slight orangey, fragrant flavor. It can be used in so many different ways whole, crushed, ground and its cumin’s best friend. Cumin has an earthy nutty and pungent aroma, complemented well by coriander.
This is powerful duo that can be used for an endless number of recipes.
To make it, 2 parts coriander seeds with one part coriander seeds. Roast them separately and then grind into a powder.
How to use Coriander and Cumin Spice mixture:
It can be added any kind of stews, soups and curries. It can also be sprinkled on fish or salads.
The spices can be used as seeds as well as grounded, the grounded powder is used more often.
Black Pepper and Cumin
Cumin has a uniquely musky spicy flavor. When used with Black pepper it brings out the warmth and enhances the mild pungency.
In order to make the blend, roast both the spices separately in equal parts and then grind them together.
How to use Black Pepper and Cumin mixture:
It can be used as a
- seasoning for salads
- for flavor in yogurt(raita)
- soups, lentils and stews
Panch Phoron means 5 spices but its very different than the Chinese five spice. It is a blend of 5 whole spices that are mixed together in equal quantities and give a distinct character to the cooking of Bengal region in India.
The 5 whole spices that are used in equal quantity are –
- Brown or Black Mustard Seeds
- Kalonji seed
- Fenugreek seeds
- Fennel Seeds
How to use Panch Phoron
The spices are tempered whole in hot oil and then you can add anything savory to it like potatoes, fish, meat, vegetables.
If you are looking for a suitable companion for your favorite spice then below chart might help. The possible combinations are infinite and this is just a starting point:-
Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Ginger, Garlic, Chili
These spice combination is often used together in North India and Central to provide base for the main ingredients.
If you are feeling adventurous then this base combination can be further enhanced by warm and fragrant spices like Clove, Cardamom, Bay Leaf and Fennel.
How to use
You can add all these spices whole in hot oil and let them cook for some time to release the flavors. Do not cook on high heat as they might burn.
After 2-3 mins add in your onion, tomato or vegetables to them.
Along with the favorite combinations we have also put together a list of commonly used Indian spices that go well together. This can be used as a master list to try and create your own combinations. The possibilities are endless.
|Spice Name||Goes Well with||Compliments Recipes with|
|Ajowan||Chili, Coriander, Garlic, Ginger, Oregano, Mustard Seed, Turmeric||Breads, Fish Curries, Spinach, Chicken, Savory Pastries, Root Vegetables|
|Amchur||Ajowan, Black Cumin Seeds, Black pepper, Chili, Coriander, Cumin, Garlic, Ginger, Fenugreek Seeds, Mint, Star Anise||Chickpeas, Chutneys, Curries, Marinades for fish and poultry|
|Aniseed||Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Nutmeg, Star Anise||Bread and Biscuits, Cookies, Pasta, Tomato Sauces, Shellfish stews, Vegetable Dishes|
|Asafetida||Ajowan, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Coriander, Fennel Seed, Ginger, tamarind, Turmeric||Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chutneys, Curries, Lentils, Pickles, Red Meat|
|Bay Leaf||Amchur, Black Cumin Seed, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cumin, Garlic, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme||Pot roast, Sauces, Soups, Seafood boil, Steamed foog, Stews, Tomato Sauces|
|Cumin||Cardamom, Chili, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Kokum, Nutmeg , Turmeric||Breads and Biscuits, Chutney, Lamb, Mango, Potato, Rice|
|Black Pepper||Pairs well with all the spices||Compliments all recipes especially Eggs, Sauces, Red Meat and Seafood|
|Cardamom||Chili, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Ginger, Mustard, Star Anise, Turmeric||Chicken, Citrus fruits, Custards, Ice Creams , Lamb, Nuts, Pudding , Rice|
|Chili||Amchur, Cardamom, Cumin, Fenugreek Seeds, Galangal, Garlic, Kokum, Onion, Turmeric||Pickles, Relishes, Salsas, Sauces|
|Cinnamon||Cardamom, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Ginger, Mint, Nutmeg, Star Anise, Tamarind, Turmeric||Apples, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Chicken, Chocolate, Corn, Curries, Grapes, Pastries, Oranges, Pork|
|Clove||Amchur, Cardamom, Chili, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Ginger, Kokum, Nutmeg, Star Anise, Tamarind, Turmeric||Apple pie, Cakes, Ham, Mincemeat, Orange, Pickled eggs, Pumpkin, Red cabbage, Stewed fruit|
|Coriander||Pairs well with all and especially we with Cumin, Cardamom, Clove, Coconut, Fennel Seed, Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric||Beans, Fish, Fruit, Lentils, Pastries, Pork, Poultry, Potatoes, Spice mixes, Vegetables|
|Curry Leaf||Chili, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Garlic, Ginger, Mustard Seed, Onion, Tamarind, Turmeric||Beans, Cabbage, Chutneys, Curries, Eggplant, Lentils, Okra, Rice, Seafood, Soups|
|Cumin||Ajowan, Black Pepper, Chili, Cinnamon, Coriander, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek seed, garlic, Ginger, Mustard, Onion, Oregano, Saffron, Tamarind, Turmeric||Black beans, Chili, Curries, Mexican food, Potatoes, Tomatoes|
|Fennel Seed||Bay Leaf, Cumin, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Fenugreek Seed, Galangal, Garlic, Ginger, Mustard Seed, Onion, Rosemary, Tamarind, Turmeric||Cheese, Curries, Mushrooms, Pasta, Salmon, Sausage, Tomatoes|
|Fenugreek Seeds||Asafetida, Cumin, Black Pepper, Chili, Clove, Coriander, Garlic, Ginger, Mustard Seed, Onion, Star Anise, tamarind, Turmeric||Bread, Chutneys, Pickles, Potatoes, Fish, Lamb, Beef, Tomatoes, Vegetables|
|Garlic||Pairs well with all spices but especially well with:|
Ajowan, Chili, Coriander, Cumin, Kokam, Mint, Mustard Seed, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme
|Works well in all savory dishes, more so in |
Marinades, Lamb, Spice blends, Soups
|Ginger||Cardamom, Chili, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Garlic, Mustard Seed ,Onion, Star Anise, Tamarind, Turmeric,||Fish, Eggplant, Onion, Chicken, Chutneys, Duck, Oranges, Pork, Sushi, Sweet Potatoes, Honey|
|Mint||Cardamom, Chili, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Onion, Rosemary, Sage Thyme||Chutney, Crabmeat, Cranberries, Curries, Lamb, Mango, Papaya, Peas, Pomegranate, Yogurt|
|Mustard Seeds||Cardamom, Chili, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Ginger, Star Anise, tamarind, Turmeric||Ale and Beer, Beef, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Curries, Fish, Meats, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Sausage|
|Pomegranate Seeds||Ajowan, Cardamom, Chili, Cinnamon, Cumin, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Garlic, Ginger, Mint, Mustard Seed, Onions, Turmeric||Chicken, Pork, Salads, Sweet Desserts|
|Saffron||Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Nutmeg||Chicken, Curries, Flan, Lamb, Nuts, Polenta, Puddings, Rice, Soups|
|Star Anise||Black Pepper, Cardamom, Chili, Cinnamon, Cumin, Ginger, Fennel Seed, Nutmeg||Chicken, Custards, Duck, Fish Casseroles, Mango, Pork, Soup, Stir-fries, Syrups|
|Tamarind||Ajowan, Amchur, Chili, Clove, Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric||Asian Soups, Chutneys, Curry pastes, Peanuts, Pickled foods, Stir fries|
|Turmeric||Black Pepper, Cardamom, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel Seed. Garlic, Ginger, Mustard Seed, Onion||Curries, Lentils, Rice, Soups, Vegetables, Tomato Sauces|
Personally, I love the flavors of cumin and black pepper together. Its simple yet flavorful.