Aug 08, 2018

Spice is the Variety of Life!


Indian Spices and where to find them in Hong Kong

Do you start sweating when you think of Indian food? You’re not alone! The cuisine has a global reputation (largely well-deserved) for being hot and well-spiced. What non-Indians often don't realize, though, is that the country comprises 29 states, each with their own unique cuisine, spices, and approach to food. The blazing South packs the hottest punch, while the Himalayan North brings with it richly spiced flavours and milder aromas.


Whether it's vegetarian or non-vegetarian, this diverse country has something to offer every kind of foodie. That is, really, what makes Indian spices so interesting. Indian kitchens are redolent with aromas that set your mouth watering. Chilli and pepper barely scratch the surface!


Here, we provide you with a list of the most essential spices to use in your Indian cooking at home, with you the medicinal value of each.



Popularly known as 'Jira' or ‘Jeera’




Cumin is a dried, white fruit with a brownish colour. The seed has a rich aroma and a slightly bitter taste. It's primarily used as a condiment in curry powders and seasoning of bread. 


It's commonly used to help settle digestive problems and alleviate the common cold. It also helps diarrhoea, nausea and morning sickness. Starting the day with a glass of hot jira water (prepared by boiling water with cumin until the water turns yellowish) is said to help with weight loss.



Popularly known as 'Hing'


Indian Spices Jar


Asafoetida is a dried latex that's taken out of a living tap of several species of Ferula. It's grown in the northern region of India and is used for flavouring curries, sauces and pickles.


As for medicinal properties, it's useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders like a cough, asthma and bronchitis. It's even been known to help women for the pain faced during excessive menstruation. It's also used in medicine thanks to its antibiotic properties.



Popularly known as 'Haldi' 




Turmeric is a boiled, dried and cleaned rhizomes of Curcuma longa, belonging to the ginger family. It's primarily used to flavour and colour food. The colour curcumin that's extracted from it is used as a colourant, turning food and staining cloth bright yellow. It’s quite a strong flavour, and a little goes a long way!


It reportedly helps fight Alzheimer's disease and even joint inflammation. Turmeric milk (turmeric powder mixed with warm milk) is widely accepted across India as a way to combat a cough and cold. Apart from this, turmeric paste also acts as an antiseptic.



Popularly known as 'Laung' or ‘Lavang’




Clove is an air-dried, unopened flower bud that comes from a medium-sized evergreen tree. Clove has many uses, with the main one being for culinary purposes. It's used heavily as a flavouring agent, as it mixes well with both savoury and sweet dishes.


It has high medicinal value, as its antiseptic and antibiotic properties make it heavily used in medicines, particularly for oral treatment. As it’s believed to aid in strengthening teeth and gums, clove is used in the preparation of toothpaste, mouthwash, soap and perfume.



Popularly known as ‘Imli’




Tamarind is used as a condiment. The bark of the trees are brown and the flowers are small and yellow in colour with pink stripes. The pulp of the tamarind pods is used for culinary purposes, in the preparation of wine-like beverages, and even in the textile industry. 


In the medical context, tamarind helps bring back lost appetite and can also be used as a laxative and anthelmintic.



Try out Holy Basil, Cambodge, Caper, Cardamom, Celery, Chilli, Curry Leaves, Fenugreek, Parsley, Saffron, Sage, and Vanilla too. These flavourful spices deserve an honourable mention!



Now that you know of some of the Indian spices, and the way they can help you enhance your cooking and improve your wellness, the question arises… where do you get them in Hong Kong? Among a plethora of options, here are some of the best stores.


SpiceStore.HK- Sheung Wan

Regency Spices- Wang Lung St, Tsuen Wan

Indian Spices - Sai Ying Pun, High St, 72號香港島, 西环 地下10號舖

Indian Provision Stores - 34 Bowrington Rd, Causeway Bay

Spicebox Organics - 137, Caine Rd, Mid-level


If you've not yet experimented with Indian spices in your food, then you're in for quite a surprise when you do. You'll soon realize why Indian food is so popular globally and is a favourite of so many. Just remember when you’re experimenting… a little goes a long way!


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