Spices are known to enhance not just the color and fragrance but also the flavor of food. Sri Lanka’s cuisine, as well as India’s, are characterized by the heavy use of a wide variety of spices.
One cannot summarize the wide variety of Sri Lankan and Indian cooking styles in a single spice mixture as Sri Lankans and Indians tend to prepare their mixtures separately for each dish. The good thing is, spices may be combined and used differently in various recipes, or a change in cooking technique may be done to make the same spice taste entirely different.
Below are the top spices you’ll need for your Sri Lankan and Indian cuisines.
Originally from Southern India and Sri Lanka, cardamom is considered to be the world’s third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla. It is not surprising as this spice is known not only for its popularity as the most pleasantly scented spice but also for its wonderful aroma and an enticing warm spicy-sweet flavor compared to the other spices known in the world.
Subsequently, this spice can also be used in sweets, beverages and desserts as a flavoring, and the spice’s very distinct aroma will go well with chicken and mutton curries and flavored rice.
Known for its sweet and strong tasting aromatic spice, Cinnamon is great in pork and chicken dishes, vegetable curries and even pilau rice. It is also popular as an exotic flavor that can be added to bread and sweet dishes like cakes, cookies, and pies.
Being a native of South Asia, it is no longer surprising that Sri Lankan and Indian cuisines use it heavily. It is equally appropriate for Sri Lanka’s fiery beef curries, and the Imperial North Indian cuisine’s delicate, fragrant rice dishes. Often widely used for flavoring tea, this spice is commonly applied as a whole or in pieces (from the bark). Same as other countries, cinnamon is also frequently kept as a fragrant decoration, for some Sri Lankan and Indian cuisines.
This spice that tastes sweet and tangy, with a slightly citrusy flavor is a basic ingredient used daily in Sri Lanka and India to add flavor to curries. Coriander is used in condiments, desserts, liquors, and even in candies.
They are also used in Indian masalas as well in Northern India as in the South. As what has been practiced, coriander is roasted or fried to enhance its flavor. In Sri Lanka, only the fruits are used, which are usually roasted before being ground. This spice is probably the oldest in the world and is widely used as an alternative to salt.
Garam masala is a blend of mixed spices that is very popular in India. Usually, this mixture consists of cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper and cinnamon.
Depending on the brands you buy, the mixture and ratio of each ingredient might vary. If you don’t have it in your kitchen, there are many garam masala substitutes that you can try, or simply by blending a few of your favorite spices together.
One of the most typical spices for Sri Lanka and India, Cumin, has a remarkable pungent and aromatic flavor, which is one of the ingredients of curry powder together with sweet cumin and coriander. The fruits can be used as a whole, fried, or dry-roasted. The roasted cumin is typically combined with coriander, which is the common identity of South Indian or Sri Lankan cuisine.
Curry leaves, which are known for its fragrant leaves, are extensively used in India and Sri Lanka to spice up and retain the authentic flavor of curries.
In Sri Lankan and Indian cuisines, curry dishes use fresh, oven-dried or toasted leaves immediately before usage. Short frying in oil is also considered another technique of using this spice.
By being dominantly-known vegetarian, curry leaves among South Indian cuisines seldom appear in non-vegetarian food. In Sri Lanka, almost all curries are flavored with curry leaves and are now extensively used in various forms like porridge and salads.
A leafy plant originating in India, turmeric has an earthy taste and a mild taste that is primarily used as a condiment in curries. It is also considered an important spice, to be added to nearly every meal in Sri Lanka and India, be it meat or vegetables.
Turmeric is often also used to stimulate appetite, to color rice, to create a standard curry or to substitute saffron inexpensively.