5 Spices You Need to Start Cooking More Indian Food

About the author: Please welcome our new Indian recipe columnist Geetika Khanna of the Indian Culinary Center. To kick things off, she'll make Indian cooking much easier for us. Don't flip the cookbook page when you see all those ingredients! Take it away, Geetika. —The Mgmt.



I have said the following a thousand times: Spices are what attract people to Indian food and also what scares them away. When you see a recipe with a list of 20 ingredients, you might flip the page and decide to make a simpler recipe.

I would like to propose that if you buy five spices—along with ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes—you can make a decent Indian dish.

The Essential Five Spices are:

  • Cumin seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Turmeric

I live in a tiny shoebox-sized apartment; nothing that isn't essential stays. Once you have these spices, you are ready to make both simple and complex Indian recipes. This 30-minute chicken curry is my favorite for a busy weeknight.

About the author: Geetika Khanna hails from India, is a graduate of the French Culinary School and now runs the Indian Culinary Center.