Popular Ingredient Definitions

Asafoetida (Hing): 

  • Dried gum resin from the root of various Iranian and East Indian plants. Has a strong fetid odor - definitely an acquired taste.

Besan (Besan): 

  • Flour of dried chickpeas.

Cardamom (Elaichi ): 

  • Dried fruit of a plant. Mostly the seeds are used. Seeds of 4 pods measure approximately 1/4 tsp.

Coriander (dhania): 

  • Aromatic herb of the parsley family. Sold as cilantro or Chinese parsley. Also sold as seed or dry powder.

Cumin (Jeera): 

  • Very aromatic and reminiscent. Sold whole or ground.

Dals (Dal): 

  • Hindi name for all members of the legume or pulse family. Commonly used are: Arhar, Channa, Masur, Mung, Labia (black-eyed peas), Rajma (red kidney beans).

Fennel Seed (Sauf): 

  • Has an agreeable odor and licorice flavor. Available whole or ground.

Fenugreek (Methi): 

  • Has a pleasant bitter flavor and sweetish odor.

Garam Masala (Garam Masala): 

  • A mixture of spices; details come later.

Chat Masala (Chat Masala): 

  • A variation of Garam masala. Available in Indian stores.

Ghee (Ghee): 

  • Fat for frying. Pure ghee is clarified butter.

Mustard oil (Larson): 

  • Pungent oil made from black mustard seeds.

Mint (Pudina): 

  • Aromatic herb. Fresh and dried leaves are used in the preparation of chutneys. Dried leaves are much less fragrant than the fresh ones.

Pomegranate (Anar dana): 

  • A flavoring agent. Has some scent.

Saffron (Kesar): 

  • Made of stigmas of a flower grown in Kashmir and Spain. It is aromatic and yields a yellow color.

Turmeric (Haldi): 

  • An aromatic powdered root. Used as a flavoring, and for flavoring curries.