Essential Spices of Southern Asian Cuisine


Are you going to make some culinary delights of Southern Asia? There are huge numbers of herbs and spices that you can use to get the fine flavours and strong aromas in your food.

These spices make your dish delicious. Many other spices are also needed in spicy food. Such as, nutmeg, cloves, green cardamom etc. Many spices used in Southern Asian food have the same name, twelve spices. Twelve spices also include bay leaves, thyme seed, fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom. The combination of all these brings variety in the taste to your serving. According to experts, spices are not limited to taste, aroma and color. It also have lots of health benefits. It helps in digestion and blood purification. Some spices protect the body from getting cold while some spices relieve heat. The spices we use regularly work for both taste and health. But, you have to know how to use spices for this.

So without further delay, here is a list of twelve of the main spices to get you started:

spices are not limited to taste, aroma and color. It also have lots of health benefits. It helps in digestion and blood purification. Some spices protect the body from getting cold while some spices relieve heat.


Even if you don’t add other spices to the vegetables, if you don’t add turmeric, it looks plain. It also enhances the taste. It is customary to mix turmeric not only in vegetables, pulses and pickles but also in milk and water. According to Ayurveda doctors, turmeric has medicinal properties.

It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anticancer properties, they say. Turmeric is also used for beauty. Turmeric is used to brighten and soften the skin. Turmeric was used for healing wounds in ancient time.

There are no side effects of any spices but we have to use it in proper way. Each spices has some beneficial properties.


Cumin seeds, powder or paste are considered essential for Indian dishes. In particular, it enhances the taste and aroma. It also has medicinal properties. It facilitates the digestive system. Consumption of cumin is useful in case of indigestion or toxins in the body. It plays a role in reducing body fat and controlling the amount of bad cholesterol.

Coriander seed

Coriander seeds are used by grinding or making a paste. The green leaves of coriander are equally preferred. Coriander is a must in our diet. It can also be used to treat various diseases from seeds to leaves. It relieves digestive problems. It contains Potassium, Vitamin C, Calcium and Magnesium which have a positive effect on the body.

Dried Red Chilli 

Probably the most obvious of spices, red chilli is what you need to give your dish a sizzling. We can use whole dried red chilli or crushed red chilli flakes or powder in curries, kebabs and other spicy dishes. Red chillies vary in intensity and are known to aid digestion. Chillies can also be used fresh.

Cinnamon / Bay leaf

Bay leaves and cinnamon enhance the taste and aroma of food. Cinnamon and bay leaves are essential for making sweet and savory dishes. Its taste and aroma are what make us hungry. However, both of them have the same medicinal properties. Cinnamon and bay leaves are said to be useful in boosting immunity. The use of cinnamon and bay leaves is beneficial in problems like heart disease and high blood pressure. When you have a sore throat, boil water with cinnamon powder and drink it.

Similarly, its regular consumption controls the amount of cholesterol in the body and cinnamon is said to be effective in mouth ulcers, baths and many other problems.

Green/Black Cardamom

Making food more pleasant and making meat dishes, green cardamom is essential. Green cardamom can be use in tea, curry, kheer and pulao etc. So, green cardamom protects against getting cold and also relieves gastritis. It improves blood circulation by relieving heart related problems. It contains magnesium, potassium, calcium.

Black Cardamom is a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamins B-1, B-6 and vitamin C. It is beneficial for cough, shortness of breath, burning of urine and also keeps the heart healthy. Also reduces bad breath, helps to reduce stomach, prevents hair loss. Cardamom is considered to be beneficial in stones, jaundice, weakening of digestive system, urinary tract disease and joint pain.

Black pepper

Black pepper makes the food delicious. It also adds fragrance. It is also considered good for health. It contains nutrients like magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin K, selenium and carotene. Black pepper contains high levels of antioxidants, which help fight bacteria and viruses. If turmeric is mixed with black pepper, its effect will be doubled.


Clove enhances the taste and aroma of food. Cloves have medicinal properties. Its medicinal properties reduce pain and colds. Its antioxidant properties protect against seasonal diseases. Many people use clove oil for toothache.


Especially nutmeg is considered essential in meat item. Nutmeg enhances aroma and taste. However, since it contains vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds, its use is considered to be beneficial for health. It is also rich in fiber, manganese, thiamine, vitamin B6, folate and magnesium. Its use helps in reducing stomach related problems.


Garlic enhances the taste and aroma of food. It also removes toxins from some foods. Garlic helps in digestion and enhances immunity. It is also considered cancer resistant. Garlic has been used as a medicine since time immemorial. In Ayurveda, garlic is considered as a medicine for rejuvenation and also as a medicine to reduce joint pain.

Garlic provides vitamins A, B and C to the body as well as minerals like iodine, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium. For people suffering from cholesterol problems, garlic is no different than the Sanjivani herb. Daily consumption of garlic lowers blood cholesterol. Garlic is also very beneficial for those suffering from blood clots and thick blood. It helps in thinning the blood and regulating the blood flow.


Ginger paste is used in vegetables, pulses etc. It enhances the taste of food. Along with taste, it is also considered healthy. Ginger stimulates the digestive system. Its intake improves the body’s metabolism. Ginger has no calories. If the metabolism is good then our digestive system is good. Ginger is also considered to be useful in keeping the body warm in winter. Because of the problem of piles, it is better not to eat ginger.

Fennel seeds

It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb used in cooking and, along with the similar-tasting anise. After eating, we eat fennel. It removes bad breath and helps in digestion of food. Consumption of fennel is also useful in case of indigestion or loss of appetite. It is beneficial to boil fennel in water and drink it slowly. It relieves the problem of phlegm and also cures the pain by chewing roasted fennel when you have stomach ache.

Fenugreek seeds

Fenugreek seeds do not normally feature in other cuisines but they are used in almost every Nepalese kitchen. Despite the bitter taste, this seed also has a lot of health benefits.

Fenugreek seeds have been found to remove body toxins and provide relief from indigestion, constipation and other digestive disorders, fever, cough, and sore throats.

It can also prevent colon cancer, heart attack and reduce the risk of heart disease, control heart rate and blood pressure. It can also be used to treat digestive problems such as loss of appetite, an upset stomach, stomach inflammation, and gastritis.

Fenugreek seeds are also a rich source of vitamins and may even cure memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and early ageing.

How to keep the spices safe?

Spices are not only for taste but also for our health. Therefore, we should be preserve its taste and medicinal properties. Here are some ways to keep spices safe—

  • If the spices are not kept properly, they can be spoiled, rotten or infested with insects.
  • The place to keep spices should be dry and bright.
  • Do not put spices in direct sunlight.
  • Spices should be kept in a container that fits well.
  • Grind spices should not be kept in the fridge, this way the aroma is destroyed.
  • Instead of grinding spices at once, grind only as needed.
  • Non-grind spices can be stored longer than grinded spices.

– Proper use of spices is beneficial for health.

– In the morning, tea make by hot spices like green cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric is effective. It enhances immunity.


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