A small pile of asafoetida powder with container in background.

asafoetida powder

Asafoetida imparts a deep aroma and a leek-like flavour to dishes. It is most often used with lentils to aid digestion and reduce flatulence,

a closeup of a mound of uncooked basmati rice

basmati rice

Basmati rice is the fragrant rice used in many Indian dishes.

a small stack of bay leaves

bay leaves

Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in slow cooking for their distinctive bitter flavour and fragrance.

a mound of black-eyed peas

black eyed peas

Black-eyed peas are creamy white in colour and have a black mark on their inner curve. They have a subtle, nutty aroma and a rich creamy taste that is slightly earthy.

a bowl of black split lentils, half with skin on, and the other with skin removed

black gram

Black gram or urad dal is common in Indian cooking. The product sold as black lentil is usually the whole urad bean, whereas the skinned and split bean, which has a white interior, is called the white lentil.

a snalll mound of black mustard seeds

black mustard seeds

Black mustard seeds are usually fried quickly in oil to give a hot and spicy flavour once the seeds have popped. When fried, the taste is nutty rather than fiery.

a small mound of black peppercorns

black pepper

Black pepper is probably the world’s most used spice. It’s use in Indian cooking is over 4,000 years old.

a small pile of green cardamom pods and seeds

cardamom – green

Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance.

a mound of carom, or ajwain, seeds

carom seeds

Carom seeds, or ajwain, belong to the cumin and parsley family. They are tiny, erect and oval-shaped with a sharp and penetrating taste. They are used to flavour oil used in dal dishes.

a small mound of chickpea flour

chickpea flour

Chickpea flour, or gram flour, is gluten-free flour used in the preparation of several sweet and savoury snacks.

a small mound of dried chickpeas


Chickpeas are used in snacks, salads and dals. They are the basic ingredient in besan, a gluten-free flour used extensively in Indian cuisine. Some of our favourite recipes in this book feature chickpeas, or besan.

two red and two green whole chillies


Chillies are synonymous with Indian food. You don’t necessarily have to overdo it – and have your eyes streaming and be drenched in perspiration – but, without some chilli, dishes seem incomplete.