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31 Essential Indian Herbs and Spices that You Can Buy Online

Spices and India, these two words are synonymous in a sense. The thing that has set Indian foods apart from anything else is the masterful and very often abundant use of spices. 

As a foodie and avid traveler, I can tell you that you will not find this much variety in spice in any other region in the world.

When I say Indian spices, I basically mean herbs that are natively grown and, more importantly, frequently used in the Indian Subcontinent, that is, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. 

Yet, Indian spices have transcended their boundaries a long time ago and found their way in many cuisines around the world, especially European and North American cuisine.

Many modern spices that people consume worldwide originated in India, spiking the lucrative and massive spice trade worldwide. At that time, spices were used mostly as food preservatives and cost as much as gold and silver.

However, with the advancement of food preservation technology, these Indian spices are mostly used as flavor and taste enhancers and sometimes pickling agents.

Many of these spices are not only adored for taste and aroma but also their therapeutic properties. 

Since ancient times, Ayurveda and Unani medicines have used different spices for their inherent benevolent characteristics.

India has over 100 types of spices. However, many spices are strictly local and unavailable even throughout India, let alone online e-commerce platforms like Amazon. 

In this article, I will tell you about the 30 most popular Indian spices that you can easily buy online, and I will also give my favorite brands on Amazon.

Turmeric is easily identifiable by its iconic yellowish-orange color. Photo Source: Wikipedia

1. Turmeric

Have you ever wondered where that wonderful yellow color comes from in Indian dishes? Well, that’s the Turmeric. Among all the Indian spices, Turmeric is the most known and most frequently used spice. It is also a personal favorite of mine.

Turmeric is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is mainly cultivated for its subterranean stem, which is either used fresh or dried. The dried type is ground to get the iconic yellowish orange powder.

Turmeric is used as a coloring and flavoring agent in many Asian cuisines, especially in curries. When consumed raw, turmeric tastes a bit bitter but gives out an earthy, mustard-like flavor when cooked with something.

Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent since the beginning of time.  There are also known benefits of turmeric against knee osteoarthritis and cardiovascular diseases.

Turmeric is available everywhere. If you want to buy Turmeric online, here is my favorite brand on Amazon.

Indian Red Chili

2. Red Chili

Red Chili is another popular Indian Spice, also known as Red Chili Peppers.

Apart from that bright red color that red chili renders to any dish, mostly used for its spicy kick that you find in typical Asian savory dishes.

Red Chili is basically ripe green Chili Peppers. After they become ripe, they are harvested and dried in the sun until their skin becomes thin and crispy and their seeds dry. 

Whole dried Red Chili and Chili paste is frequently used, yet people mostly use them in powder form.

The Red Chili produces bright red powder and is used as a spice for all sorts of cooking, especially for curry dishes. 

Red Chili adds heat to the food, and the amount of heat depends on the species. Chili paste also adds flavor and texture to the food.

Yet, Red Chili must be used moderately since it can be overbearing for those who are not accustomed to it. I learned it the hard way.

Here is my favorite Red Chili brand on Amazon.

Pink Himalayan Salt

3. Himalayan Salt

Although dubbed as Himalayan Salt, it is actually mined in the Punjab region in Pakistan. Himalayan Salt is mineral salt found in the Salt Range Mountains in Pakistan. 

Some of you might know it as Pink salt too. Himalayan Salt is widely used as a cooking ingredient throughout the world.

Pink salat is used as table salt and contains 96-99% Sodium Chloride. The rest of the Himalayan salt is trace minerals like Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Chromium, and Sulphate. It is the extra minerals that give the salt a pink hue, hence the name Pink Salt.

Although manufacturers propagate wild claims about the magical properties of this salt, it is simply table salt with a natural pink color. 

The Himalayan salt also tastes like normal salt and doesn’t add any exclusiveness to a dish. Yet, their unique look has some aesthetic value which encourages its use in food decoration.

Himalayan Salt lacks the Iodine that is normally included in the Sea Salt. Therefore, replacing your normal table salt with Himalayan Salt may not be a great idea.

If you want to buy some Himalayan Salt online, you will find them here.

Fresh Curry Leaves

4. Curry Leaves

Curry Leaves are leaves from a tree called, you guessed it, Curry Tree. The trees’ aromatic leaves are used in many Asian dishes, especially in the Indian Subcontinent. 

Contrary to the common misconception, they are not the same as the Curry Powder, which is a mixture of many different spices.

Curry leaves have a nutty aroma and, when roasted, give off slight notes of star anise. Fresh leaves are often chopped to intensify the fragrance. 

Curry Leaves are only used for aroma and are not recommended to eat directly, as they have an unpleasant sharp taste. As an amateur cook, I recommend you try them in Fish dishes. You will be surprised.

Curry leaves are known to have several health benefits against weight gain, stress, nausea, anemia.

Curry Leaves are available on Amazon. You can buy them from here.

Star Anise is one of the best-looking spices in the world.

5. Star Anise

Of all the spices, Star Anise is definitely the most interesting-looking spice. The star-shaped pods look beautiful and have an exotic aroma.

Because of its name, I used to think that it was related to Anise. Well, it is not. While Anise is a seed, Star Anise is a fruit itself. Star Anise is harvested before it ripens and then dried to a hard, dark brown outlook.

Star Anise has an aroma similar to Anise since they both contain anethole, an aromatic compound. Being less expensive between the two, it is a great substitute for Anise in baking.

Star Anise enhances meat flavor greatly, hence used for marinating meat all the time, especially while preparing Biryani.

I have always used this spice for beef or mutton dishes, and it yields great results. In India, it is also an important ingredient for Masala Tea.

If you want to buy Star Anise on Amazon, you will find them here.

Cinnamon Sticks and Tea. My favorite tea combination.

6. Cinnamon

Of all the spices consumed worldwide, Cinnamon is probably the most popular one. You’ll find Cinnamon in most grocery stores across the world.

A similar spice called Cassia is closely related to Cinnamon and is frequently used in place of Cinnamon. Interestingly in today’s world, what most think of and use as Cinnamon is actually Cassia.

Cinnamon is used in foods as a condiment and flavoring material. Cinnamon is used both in sweet and savory dishes. The use of Cinnamon in delicious dishes is most prominent in the Indian Subcontinent.

Here is a little personal tip: Next time you make tea, use a stick of Cinnamon in it. You’ll either really love it or passionately hate it. It’s definitely worth a try.

Needless to say, you can Cinnamon on Amazon by clicking here.

7. Ajwain

Ajwain is also known as Thymol Seed, Bishop’s Weed, or Carom Seed. This herb is a small, oval-shaped seed-like fruit, which is mostly grown in India and Iran.

Ajwain bears a close resemblance to cumin and fennel. Its smell is very similar to Thyme since it contains Thymol, a chemical compound found in Thyme too. 

Ajwain is more aromatic than thyme and has a sharp taste, and some would say bitter and pungent.

Ajwain is usually dry-roasted or fried in butter which allows the spice to develop a complex aroma. It is widely used in curries in the Indian Subcontinent. 

In Afghanistan, Ajwain is sprinkled over bread and cookies.

Ajwain is sometimes used as a dietary supplement. It was used to treat skin diseases.

If you want to buy Ajwain on Amazon, here is my favorite brand.  

Green and Black Cardamom. Photo Source: Wikipedia

8. Cardamom

Cardamom has an unmistakable flavor, something you can’t ignore. There are two types of Cardamom, Green and Black. Usually, when we say Cardamom, we refer to the green variety since it is the most commonly used.

Black Cardamom, which is also known as Nepalese Cardamom, is mostly grown in the Himalayan region.

Cardamom is used as flavoring and cooking spices. It has a very strong, unique aroma not found in any other spices. 

Cardamom is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and It is also popular in Scandinavia, where it is used in baking. In Turkey, cardamom powder is also used for sweets and coffee.  

Black Cardamom has a more smokey flavor with a mint-like coolness. I personally extensively use it in Biriyani, an iconic Subcontinental dish.

If you want to buy Cardamom on Amazon, you will find Green Cardamom here and Black Cardamom here.

9. Amchoor

Amchoor is an interesting spice and different because it is made from a conventional fruit, which is very popular on its own. 

Amchoor is Mango powder made from dried unripe mango. The spice adds a tangy sour flavor and is used in all kinds of subcontinental dishes like soups, fruit salad, pastries, curries, and pickles.

It is mostly used in dishes where acidity is required and acts as a good substitute for lemon and lime. It is also a great marinade for meat as it is an enzymatic tenderizer.  

I love its sour taste, but it can be overpowering in delicate dishes. I sometimes use dried Pomegranate Seeds as a milder substitute for Amchoor whenever necessary.

If you want to buy some delicious Amchoor on Amazon, you will find them here.

10. Cumin

Cumin is one of the most popular tempering spices. It is a seed and is used both whole and powdered in a variety of cuisines. Of all the Indian spices, I probably like it the most.

Cumin is known for its very distinctive flavor. Ground cumin has a bitter taste and adds some hotness to the dish. Cumin is used in Cheese, Bread, and Curries. It is one of the ingredients of Garam Masala, a famous spice mix in India.

When used whole, it is a great tempering spice. In Indian dishes, the whole seeds are added to the hot oil, which liberates a warm, earthy flavor with a hint of both bitterness and sweetness. Powdered Cumin is usually added to any dish at the end of the cooking to add flavor.

Cumin is a rich source of iron and is known to promote digestion. Some studies also show that it may lessen cholesterol levels in the blood. Like many other seasonings, it also has antimicrobial properties, which make food safer.

If you want to buy Cumin online, you will find them here.

11. Bay Leaf

If you cook yourself once in a  while, you most probably know Bay Leaves. 

Bay Leaves are fragrant leaves from Laurus nobilis or Laurel Tree, a tree known for producing several types of spices. Bay leaves are mostly used whole and sometimes seven grounds.

Bay leaves are native to the Mediterranean region. However, there are some other herbs found throughout the world that look and smell like Laurel tree and hence are used as a source for Bay Leaves substitutes.

For example, Cinnamomum Tamala is an Indian Bay Leaf native to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and China.

Indian Bay Leaves have a very unique and strong aroma that separates them from other spices. They give off a clove-like aroma with a hint of pepper, while Mediterranean Bay Leaves smell like lemon and pine.

In Indian cuisine, Bay Leaves are mainly used as a tempering spice. They are removed from the dish before serving and seldom used for garnishing. 

Mediterranean Bay Leaves are used in pasta sauces. Ground Bay Leaves are often used in soups and stocks too. Turkish Bay Leaves are believed to be the best in the world.

Bay Leaves is used as healing medicine for wounds. It is also used for aromatherapy and massage therapy.

If you want to buy Bay Leaves at Amazon, you will find them here.

12. Asafoetida

Asafoetida, also natively known as Hing, is an uncommon spice almost exclusively used in India. Its strong, pungent smell will make sure that you will recognize it anywhere if you know it.

Asafoetida is unique in the sense that it is not a seed or bark, or fruit of any sort like other spices. Rather it is dried up latex collected from the rhizome of several species of plants belonging to the Ferula genus. The latex is crushed to produce a tan color powder which we use as Asafoetida or Hing.

Asafoetida is used as a food condiment and pickling. The strong, pungent smell may seem off-putting at first, but it dissipates with heat and gives off a full, savory flavor to the food.

This spice is often used with turmeric for dishes like lentil and chickpea curries, vegetable dishes, and even meat dishes.

Asafoetida is known to help with digestion problems, and I can personally attest to that. It is also a good source of antioxidants.

If you want to buy Asafoetida online at Amazon, you will find them here.

Black Pepper was rare and used as currency in Europe. Black Pepper valued as gold during Medi

13. Black Pepper

Black Pepper is hands down the most popular spice in modern human history. As the world’s most traded spice in volume, it has been introduced to all cuisines in the world.

Black Pepper mainly contains an alkaloid called Piperine, which gives it spicy heat. However, it also includes other alkaloids that give off woody and floral notes when used as a condiment.

Interestingly, Black Pepper loses its aroma if kept open or in light.

When used in a dish, you’ll likely taste it before any other spices. It may be used whole or ground in Indian dishes. It is mostly used as a tempering spice.

Black Pepper is a good source of Vitamin K, Iron, and Manganese. It is known to be anti-inflammatory and contains a lot of antioxidants. It also helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol level.

If you want to buy Black Pepper online at Amazon, click here to see my favorite brand. 

14. Chironji

Chironji is another, if I may say, ‘Exotic’ Indian spice that is not much known outside India. This almond flavored spice is grown all over India, especially in Northwest India.

Chironji seeds are lentil-sized, brownish-orange in color, and flat in shape. They can be eaten raw or roasted, depending on the intended use. 

Roasting enhances the sweet-salty flavor. Sometimes it is powdered after roasting and used to improve gravy in meat dishes. The powder is also used in many Indian sweets.

Chironji seeds are widely used for their medicinal properties. They are mostly used in Ayurveda and Unani medicines.

If you want to buy Chironji on Amazon, please click here.

15. Pomegranate Seeds

Everyone knows Pomegranates, but very few know that Pomegranate seeds are used as a spice. Natively known as Anar Dana, they are used in many Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani dishes as a souring agent.

Pomegranate Seeds are often used to enhance a sauce or stew, especially a chicken or lamb one. 

Using it in bland vegetable dishes helps make them much more interesting. They are also used in Salad Dressings and as marinades.

Dried whole seeds are found in natural specialty food markets. If you want to buy dried Pomegranate Seeds at Amazon, you will find them here.

Poppy seeds are also commonly used in Europe in desserts. In the picture German Mohnstollen. Photo source Wikipedia

16. Poppy Seeds

If you are thinking that the name sounds familiar, you are right. It is the seed derived from Poppy; the plant well known for its narcotic use. However, its dried seeds are pretty harmless and an excellent spice.

Poppy seeds are used whole, ground, or paste. They are used as a spice or decorative element on baked goods. 

In North America, they are used on muffins, rusks, and bagels. It is used as a substitute for Sesame seeds, added on buns and bread.

Poppy seeds are also made into a paste and used as a filling in pastries. 

In Indian cuisine, Poppy seed paste is a very popular ingredient, mainly used to add thickness, flavor, and texture. It is primarily used in vegetable dishes to make a creamy gravy which makes any bland vegetable interesting.

If you want to buy Poppy Seeds online, you will find them here at Amazon.

17. Radhuni Seed

Radhuni Seeds are mostly grown in South Asia. It is used in Bengali cuisine frequently, but not much in the rest of the region. It is also referred to as Wild Celery because of its similarity to Celery in taste. Radhuni seed is closely related to Ajwain.

Radhuni Seed is very intense in flavor and hence, used in a small amount. It tastes like Celery but smells like Parsley. It is one of the ingredients of the Bengali Spice Mix called ‘Panch Foron’, which is basically a mixture of 5 spices used for tempering.

Radhuni seeds are a must for making pickles. It is normally used in vegetable dishes and sometimes even lentil or chickpea curries.

Apart from culinary use,  it is also used as an herb for gastritis, digestion problems, and stomachache.

If you want to try some authentic Bengali dishes with this spice, you can buy Radhuni Seeds online at Amazon.

18. Saffron

Saffron is the Caviar of the spice world. With retail prices as high as 11000 USD/kg, it is the most expensive spice in the world.

Saffron is derived from the flower of a plant known as Saffron Crocus. Although there are several theories about its origin, most sources agree that it originated in Iran.

Saffron has an aroma like metallic honey with hay-like notes. It tastes like hay and has a sweet note to it. It imparts a bright yellowish-orange color to food items. 

In both sweet and savory dishes, Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European, and Middle Eastern cuisines.

If you want to buy Saffron online, you will find them here at Amazon.

19. Clove

Clove is a very popular spice, well known for its strong fragrance. Although native to Indonesia, Clove is extensively used in Indian cuisine.

It is mainly used to flavor meat and vegetable dishes as well as beverages, especially hot ones. Clove is an important ingredient of Indian Masala Mixes, which is commonly known as Garam Masala, a blend of hot spices.

Clove has many medicinal uses. It contains Eugenol, which is a very good analgesic, specifically used to alleviate toothache.

If you want to buy Clove online, you will find them here.

20. Coriander

Coriander is both used for its leaves and the seeds. It is used for cuisines throughout the world.

Coriander leaves are known as Cilantro in North America. The leaves have a minty, citrusy tone to their fragrance. They are used fresh and green, chopped up in small pieces to garnish all kinds of dishes. Since their flavor diminishes with heat, they are mostly used raw.

Coriander Seed, on the other hand, is a tempering spice. Although referred to as seeds, they are actually dry fruits. They are either used whole or ground.

Roasting the seeds on hot pans unleashes a strong woody aroma. It is also one of the staple ingredients of the Indian spice mix called Garam Masala.

Coriander leaves are best bought fresh from your local grocery. 

If you want to buy Coriander seeds online, you will find them on Amazon by clicking here.

Sesame seeds on a hamburger.

21. Sesame

Well, we all know Sesame. 

Sesame seed is mainly an oilseed, extensively used to produce Sesame Oil. However, it is also a very popular spice, used for its rich, nutty flavor in cuisines across the world.

Sesame is extensively used in baking as it liberates a rich nutty flavor that enhances the baked goods’ taste and aroma. They are also used as thickeners in soups and puddings. 

Sesame paste is a key ingredient for the popular middle eastern dish Hummus.

Sesame seed is a very common spice for Indian cuisine. It is sprinkled over various Indian sweet and savory dishes. Sesame paste is also used to thicken the gravies and to add flavor to curries.

If you want to buy Sesame seeds online, you will find them here.

22. Caraway

Caraway is a spice very similar to Cumin or Fennel. In fact, it is known as Mediterranean Fennel or Persian Cumin. 

Caraway is also known as Shahijeera in Hindi and is extensively used as a tempering spice for meat dishes, specifically Biryani in the Indian Subcontinent.

Caraway has a pungent, anise-like flavor. It is used whole as a spice in rye bread. This spice is also used in desserts, casseroles and added to salads, stews, and soups.

If you want to buy Caraway online, check out my favorite brand at Amazon.

Nigella Seeds. Photo source Wikipedia

23. Nigella Seeds

Also known as Black Caraway or sometimes mistakenly as Black Cumin, Nigella is a common spice in Indian cuisine. Unlike Caraway or Cumin, it is not fruit, rather a seed. Nigella Seed looks different from Cumin or Caraway too.

Nigella Seed has a bitter taste if consumed as a paste or raw. However, upon heating in oil, it releases a nutty, salty aroma. 

Nigella Seed is a very popular spice for baked goods and snacks in India. It is also used in vegetable dishes to add some character. 

Among all the spices, Nigella Seed is probably the most known and used for its medicinal use. This herb is known to have many medicinal properties.

If you want to buy Nigella Seed online at Amazon, you will find them here.

Tailed Peppers. Photo source: Amazon

24. Tailed Pepper

Tailed Pepper or Cubeb is the dried berries harvested from a plant called Piper Cubeba. The berries look quite similar to Black Pepper, except that they have stalks attached, giving them the name Tailed Pepper. It tastes like clove but more bitter.

Tailed Pepper is an essential ingredient for meat dishes in Indian cuisine. It is also used for Biriyani preparation. 

In Moroccan cuisine, Tailed Pepper is typically used in savory dishes and pastries.  In Indonesia, they are used in various sorts of curries.

If you want to buy Tailed Pepper from Amazon, you will find them here.

Fenugreek seeds Photo Source Wikipedia

25. Fenugreek Seed

Fenugreek Seeds have been used in Indian Cuisine since ancient times. The cuboid, amber-colored seeds are used whole or ground. In India, it is known as Methi.

Fenugreek Seeds are more popular as the ingredient of the Indian spice mixes and seldom used as a stand-alone spice. They are used in pickles, vegetable dishes, and lentil soups.

Fenugreek Seeds have a Maple Syrup like flavor and hence are used as a substitute for Maple Syrup. They have a bitter taste to them which is reduced upon roasting.

In ancient times, Fenugreek was used to give courage.

If you want to buy Fenugreek Seeds online, here is my favorite brand on Amazon.

Kokum fruit. The skin of the dried Kokum plant is used in cooking Indian recipes.

26. Kokum

Kokum is a spice derived from the plant Garcinia Indica, which is native to India. It is basically the dried outer layer of the fruit.

Kokum is used as a souring agent, mostly an alternative to Tamarind. When cooked, Kokum gives off a peculiar flavor and a bright red color. It is mostly used in Dal and Curries to add a tart flavor to it.

Check this Kokum brand on Amazon if you want to buy Kokum online.

Long Pepper. Photo source: Wikipedia

27. Long Pepper

Long Pepper, also known as Indian Long Pepper or Pippali, is a fruit used as a spice in India. 

Long Pepper contains Piperine, the same alkaloid found in Black Pepper. Hence it tastes similar to Black Pepper but actually hotter.

Long Pepper has a much more complex aroma than Black Pepper. While it has the hotness of Black Pepper, its aroma resembles a mixture of Cardamom, Nuts, and Cinnamon.

Long Pepper is often used to make Indian and Nepalese pickles. It is also an important ingredient for a Subcontinental meat stew called Nihari.

This herb is hardly used in European cuisines but can be found in North African and Malaysian spice mixtures. 

If you want to buy Long Pepper online, you will find them here.

Bangladeshi Mustard Plant Field. Tiny seeds of this plant are used to make mustard. Photo source: Wikipedia

28. Mustard Seed

Mustard is a well-known condiment throughout the world. The thick yellow sauce that you have probably eaten a thousand times with hot dogs is prepared from Mustard Seed. Mustard Seed is a very important spice in many cuisines.

Mustard Seeds are used as a spice in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. They are usually roasted and used in curries, especially fish curries. 

Mustard Seeds are used as a paste to thicken the curry too. It has a very strong and unique aroma, which adds character to any dish, especially curries.

Mustard Seed is also used to make pickles and Mustard Oil, the predominant cooking oil in Bengali cuisine.

If you want to buy Mustard Seed online at Amazon, you will find them here.

Nutmeg Fruit and Powder. Photo source: Wikipedia

29. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a seed derived from the fruit of Myristica fragrans and used as a fragrant spice.  This plant is mainly grown in Indonesia and hence a popular herb in Indonesian cuisine. 

Yet, Nutmeg is very popular in Indian cuisine and a core ingredient for the Indian Biryani spice mix.

Nutmeg is made by grinding the seed into powder. The spice has a unique pungent smell and a slightly sweet taste. It is used in baked goods, pudding, sweets, and meat dishes.

If you want to buy Nutmeg online, you will find them here.

Tamarind Tree with Fruits. Photo source: Wikipedia

30. Tamarind

Tamarind is a pulpy fruit that is very sour when green and gets sweeter as it ripens. The green Tamarind is too sour to consume for most people. 

Yet, ripe Tamarind has a sweet and sour taste which is used for souring in many cuisines, especially in Indian cuisine.

Tamarind has a fleshy, juicy, acidic pulp which is used as a pickling agent. Tamarind pulp is used to make the Worcestershire Sauce and HP Sauce.

Tamarind is used as a paste in many Indian dishes like Chutneys and Curries. They are also used in refreshing drinks like Sharbat. Tamarind is also used in Indian snacks like Samosa.

If you want to buy Tamarind online, you will find them here.

Black Stone Flowers. Photo source: Wikipedia

31. Black Stone Flower

Black Stone Flower is a spice used almost exclusively in India, mostly in the Northern Himalayan Region. They are one kind of moss, light green in color. Once dried, they look like mushrooms or dried flowers.

Black Stone Flower is almost bland in taste and aroma when they are raw. Cooking them in oil releases a unique earthy, smoky flavor. 

This spice is mostly used as a tempering spice for meat dishes like goat stew, biriyani, and nihari. Because of the smoky flavor, it is also used to make vegetable dishes less bland.

If you want to buy Black Stone Flower online, you will find them here.