Indian Spices List with Picture | 13 Essential Curry Ingredients

The beauty of making Indian at home is that you've got the ultimate flexibility to make almost any dish you choose. But to do that, you will need to make sure that you are fully kitted out. Knowing the basic Indian spices to have means you can make a whole range of curries. I'm going to provide you with an Indian spices list (with picture) so that you can make practically any curry whenever you choose.

The Best Indian Spices to Have at Home

Ok, let's dive straight in. Get these spices, and you'll be able to create just about any Indian curry…


Indian Spices List with Picture | Salt

Now, I promised you an Indian spices list (with picture). But I'm sure for salt, you don't really need it!

Too much salt isn't good for you, but it is really essential in curry. A pinch of salt can really bring out the flavours of a dish.

Table salt is really cheap and is perfect. There's no need to go fancy with Maldon sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. The standard refined table stuff will do nicely.


Indian Spices List with Picture | Sugar

The type of sugar that you use in your curry dishes is entirely up to you. I am a huge fan of keeping things simple, so I tend to use white sugar. However, there are different sugars you can use in your curry.

Jaggery is an unrefined brown lump that is often used in Indian cuisine. I find a great substitute for jaggery is palm sugar.

There are quite a few curry dishes that are aided by sugar. One of my favourites to make is king prawn pathia!


Cumin Indian Spices List with Picture

Cumin is actually a member of the parsley family. We aren't interested in the leaves. What we actually want is the seeds.

Cumin originates from Asia, so as Indian spices go, it is pretty authentic. You'll find Cumin used in many exotic spiced dishes, including Indian, Mexican and middle eastern cooking.

It's worth buying quite a lot of Cumin as it features heavily in quite a few curries. If you run out don't worry i suggest a few cumin alternatives just here

Garam Masala

Garam Masala bag of spice

You can make your own garam masala, or you can go for a simple shop-bought. I prefer the latter. If you check the world foods section of your local supermarket, you'll be able to get a big bag pretty cheap.

Garam masala translates literally as 'hot spice mix'. While it is spicy, it isn't actually that hot.

It is a blend of other spices combined. You'll find that garam masala varies from place to place and chef to chef… It's one of the reasons that curries taste different depending on where you buy them from.

Garam masala is made up of a mix of ground coriander, Cumin, pepper, fennel, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. If you want to see exactly what is in it, I've got a great homemade version right here.

Chilli Powder

large pack of chilli powder

Do you like a bit of heat in your curry?

This is how you get it.

Chilli powder is made by drying chillies (and their seeds) and then pulverizing them into a fine powder. It is normally a dark orange or deep red in colour.

Depending on the curry you cook, you may want a lot or none at all. A fiery Phaal uses heaps of the stuff, whereas a mild korma uses none at all

Ground Coriander

Ground Coriander Indian Spices List with Picture

Coriander features heavily in Indian cooking—both the leaves and the seeds.

The leaves are normally added towards the end of the cooking process to give a really fresh and zesty taste to your curry.

Coriander spice is actually ground up coriander seeds. These have a similar taste profile to the leaves. Ground coriander is especially nice when toasted. It turns really fragrant.

As with Cumin, you will be using a lot of coriander powder in your dishes, so it is worth buying quite a lot.

Garlic and Ginger Paste

How to Make Ginger Garlic Paste for Curry

Ginger and garlic paste forms the basis for about 90% of the curries you will cook at home. You can just chop and mash fresh garlic and ginger, but you'll save yourself quite a lot of time if you make a big batch.

It keeps for a long time and is another ingredient that you will be cooking with often.

It's really easy to make; see here for a detailed guide.

Mixed Powder

mix powder for curry

Mixed powder is a mild and delicate curry powder that you'll use in most of your curries. It forms a spice base, which you then supplement to bring out various elements.

There is no single recipe for mixed powder. Each chef has their own version.

I like to keep things simple, so I've created my very own simple mixed spice for curry. The recipe is just here. Provided you have got all of the ingredients in this list, you'll be able to make a huge batch in under 5 minutes!


turmeric powder

Turmeric is a vivid yellow spice that is used often in curries. People say it's not really for flavour.

I disagree.

Try a curry with turmeric, and without… you'll definitely be able to taste the difference.

Aside from flavour, turmeric is really good for you!

Methi Leaves

fenugreek leaves

Methi leaves are also called fenugreek. They are a little similar to bay leaves in that they give your curry a really nice rounded flavour. They are normally available as ground and dried leaves that look a little similar to Italian herbs.

The trick to using methi leaves is to use them sparingly. Add too much, and they can make the curry taste bitter.

Coconut Flour

coconut flour

Coconut flour is literally the flesh of coconuts, dried and ground into a powder. It has a slightly sweet taste and is used predominantly in milder curries such as kormas and tikka masala.

Coconut powder also works as a thickening agent. As the powder hydrates, it swells slightly, giving you a nice thick curry.

Spice Pastes

tandoori marinade

Spice pastes are optional, and it is actually possible to make your own. However, there are normally a few shops bought jars that you can use. They are quite high in oil content and last a long time.

My favourite brand is Pataks. Get the following, and you'll be covered for 99% of the curry you'll ever need to cook.


Lime Pickle

lime pickle jar

Lime pickle is delicious as a dip for poppadoms, but did you know that you can also use it in curry?

You won't need much. I generally like to put about a half teaspoon in my curries at the end of the cooking process. Lime pickle is a little fiery and slightly sharp. I find it rounds off most curries quite well.

Shopping List | Best Indian Spices to Have

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Cumin
  • Garam Masala
  • Chilli Powder
  • Ground Coriander
  • Garlic and Ginger Paste
  • Mixed Powder
  • Turmeric
  • Methi Leaves (Fenugreek)
  • Coconut Flour
  • Spice Pastes
  • Lime Pickle

Final thoughts…

So, there it is! A list of basic Indian spices to have at home. You will save yourself a fortune. For the cost of one takeaway, you'll be able to get completely equipped with all of the spices used in curry. If you think I need to add any more to my Indian spice list (with picture), just let me know in the comments!

Enjoy Making Curry Yourself?

Hey folks, thanks for reading this article. I hope you found it useful, and that you learned something new allowing you to make your curry extra special. Here are a few things that can really elevate your curry game to the next level. 

These are affiliate links, so if you use them I receive a small commission, but this won't cost you any extra. In all honesty, I use very similar items myself, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to my friends.

A Complete Curry Kit: - Literally, everything you'll need to make curry all in one place. Cookware, storage, utensils, even the spices! This is my dedicated guide to getting you up and running all for the price of few takeaways.

Curry pans: - You need one, and one only. A frying pan exactly like this is really easy to use, and is exactly the type that authentic Indian chefs use to make the type of curry that you'll have in your local takeaway. You can see my full reviews of several pans right here...

Spice Storage: - Being organised is half the battle in making great curry. Spices can be notoriously hard to keep tidy. That's why I tend to use a spice rack like this. You can arrange your spices by size, heat, or any way you choose. I've got a detailed review of several Indian spice racks in this guide.

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