Ingredients Dishes Measures Methods
Ajmud Ajmud is a wild celery plant. The leaves can be used as a garnish, similar to coriander (cilantro) leaves. Ajmud is often used for marinating meat and for use in pickles. The seeds are often confused with Ajowan seeds but Ajmud is milder than Ajowan.  
Ajowan Ajowan is a bitter spice that has a strong aroma that is like thyme. Ajowan is pungent and bitter and should be used sparingly in cooking. Ajowan is used a lot when cooking pulses and fish dishes, and is popular in Gujarat for use in vegetarian dishes. Also known as Ajwain and Carom.  
Ajwain See Ajowan.  
Allspice Allspice is the dried unripened fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant. The taste of allspice is similar to a mixture of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper (which is why it is called allspice) and most of the taste is in the fruit shell (rather than the seeds). Allspice originally comes from the Caribbean and the Jamaican strain of the spice is regarded as the best (one of the alternative names for allspice is Jamaican pepper). Most of the world's supply is grown in Jamaica. Allspice is a key ingredient in a lot of Caribbean dishes, including curries.  
Almond The almond nut is widely used in Pakistani and northern India curries where whole almonds, or almonds flakes, are used as a garnish, either raw or roasted. Ground almonds are often used to thicken a curry or to change a curry's taste. Almonds are also commonly used in desserts and sweets. The main almond producing parts of the world are California and Spain.  
Aloo Aloo (or alu) means potato. A dish with aloo (or alu) in its name means that one of the ingredients is potato.  
Alu Another word for aloo.  
Amchoor Amchoor is made from unripe mangoes. The unripe mangoes are picked from the mango trees and are then peeled, sliced and dried in the sun. The dried mango is crushed into amchoor powder. The powder is used in cooking to give a sweet and sour taste to dishes and it is a key ingredient in chat masala. Amchoor is very acidic and is often used in marinades. The amchoor sweet and sour taste is stronger than that of anardana. India is the world's supplier of amchoor.  
Amchur Another name for Amchoor.  
Anardana Anardana is the dried seeds of pomegranates. The seeds are a red-black colour, are crunchy and have a tangy, sweet-sour, fruity flavour. Anardana is popular in north India and the Punjab where it is used in curries, chutneys, pulses and breads. The anardana sweet and sour taste is gentler than that of amchoor.  
Anise Anise, or aniseed, has the taste and smell of sweet liquorice with Indian anise having a slightly bitter taste. In India, anise is used mainly with breads and savoury dishes but the seeds are also dry roasted and added to fish and vegetarian curries. The anise plant is native to the Middle East but today it is widely used and grown in Asia, Europe and North America.  
Aniseed See Anise.  
Asafoetida Asafoetida (Hing) is a spice that is used extensively in vegetarian Indian curries. The asafoetida plant grows to a height of around two metres. The plant stems are from 5 to 8 cms (2 to 3 inches) in diameter at the base and sap is extracted from the stems. The sap hardens to a gum-like resin. This resin is difficult to grate and is usually pounded to a powder. The pure asafoetida powder is usually mixed with rice flour, gum arabic and turmeric to give the asafoetida powder that is used in cooking. Asafoetida is very strong and should be used sparingly - follow the recipe and avoid the temptation to use too much. Asafoetida powder does not have a pleasant smell but this mellows in cooking, resulting in an onion/garlic taste. Asafoetida is widely used by Indian followers of Jainism who avoid eating onions and garlic.  
Atta Flour Flour made from wheat, used to make chapati, roti, naan and puri.  
Aubergine Aubergine (eggplant, baigan, baingan or brinjal) is a vegetable that is native to India. There are lots of varieties with the most well known variety being like a large dark purple egg, about 15cm (6 inches) in length and 7.5cm (3 inches) wide. It is widely eaten in India in curries and chutneys. The large size of the vegetable allows for it to be stuffed with other ingredients, such as coconut, masala and nuts.  
Badam Another name for Almond. See the description for Almond.  
Baigan See Aubergine.  
Baingan See Aubergine.  
Basil Basil has a sweet and spicy aroma and a warm taste that has tones of anise and clove. The aroma is quickly lost with cooking so often basil is added near the end of a recipe. Basil is not used much in Indian cooking but does feature in some Balti recipes.  
Basmati Rice A long grain rice widely used in India and Pakistan to eat with curries.  
Batata Sweet potato.  
Bay Leaf The Indian bay leaf is the leaf of the cassia tree. The European bay leaf is the leaf of the laurel tree. The two types of bay leaves are totally different in the taste that they give to the dishes they are cooked in. The different leaves cannot be substituted for each other. A curry, or "Indian", recipe that uses a bay leaf almost certainly means an Indian Bay Leaf. See the separate details for the Indian and European bay leaves for more details.  
Besan Another name for Chickpea Flour. See the description for Chickpea Flour.  
Besan Flour Another name for Chickpea Flour. See the description for Chickpea Flour.  
Bhindi Okra (a vegetable).  
Bhindi Bhindi is the Indian name for Okra. See the description for Okra.  
Black Pepper Black pepper originally came from the Malabar Coast (the coastal area in the south west of India) and is dried green pepper berries. The pepper berries dry black and these dried black peppercorns are commonly used in garam masala.  
Black Salt A rock salt that tastes a little bit like sulphur. This salt is pinkish-gray in colour (not black) and is an important ingredient of chaat masala.  
Brinjal Brinjal is another name name for aubergine (eggplant). See the description for Aubergine.  
Capsaicin Capsaicin is the compound that gives the heat (burn) to chillies. The capsaicin is produced in the membrane/pith inside the chilli fruit. Although the main concentration of capsaicin is in the membrane/pith, it is also found in the chilli seeds and the flesh of the chilli. If you want to reduce the heat of a chilli, then cut away (and discard) the membrane/pith and the seeds. If you want to keep the heat of a chilli then use the whole chilli. The heat levels of chillies differ from variety to variety and even differ between chillies on the same plant. A pharmacist, called Wilbur Scoville, developed a scale (called the Scoville scale) for measuring the heat of a chilli (in other words, the level of capsaicin in a chilli) around the year 1910 - the jalpeno chilli is 4,000 on the Scoville scale and is often considered the watershed for chillies - below this number is mild and above is medium and hot. Capsaicin can be a major irritant and care must be taken when handling chillies to make sure that capsaicin does not enter cuts or wounds. Under no circumstances should you rub your eyes when handling chillies. Water does not remove or relieve capsaicin burning - milk (or yogurt) works in relieving the effects of ingested capsaicin and you can wash capsaicin off your skin with soap.  
Capsicum In botanical terms, capsicum is a genus of flowering plants. The fruit of the capsicum plant is commonly called a chilli pepper. Most capsicum fruit (chillies) contain capsaicin, which is what makes a chilli "hot". Just to confuse matters, there is a large capsicum which has no capsaicin - depending upon where in the world you live, this capsicum is called sweet pepper or bell pepper. This mild capsicum (sweet or bell pepper) is used in some curries basically as a vegetable but it is the capsicums containing capsaicin (known as chillies) that are used extensively to supply "heat" to curries. See the description of chilli for details about "hot" capsicums. See the description of capsaicin for details about how chillies are "hot".  
Caraway Caraway has a strong, pungent, smell. The taste and smell of caraway is both warm and bitter. The taste is spicy with a hint of orange and anise. In India, caraway is often confused with cumin because the word "jeera" means both caraway and cumin in Hindi. In India, caraway is really only used in north Indian cooking.  
Cardamom Green cardamom has a strong and fruity smell with a lemon taste. Green cardamom has a clean, fresh and warm taste. As well as being used in curries, green cardamoms are also used as breath fresheners. Black cardamoms are a lot stronger than green cardamoms with an aroma reminiscent of tar and a taste that includes notes of pine and earth. Black cardamom is an essential ingredient of garam masala.  
Carom See Ajowan.  
Carrot The humble carrot is a widely grown root vegetable. In the western world, carrots are best known as being orange in colour, but some varieties are purple, yellow, red and white. The carotene in a carrot is converted into vitamin A when the carrot is digested and carrots are a source of fibre and minerals. Carrots are used in a wide variety of curries and not just vegetarian curries. Julienne carrots are carrots that are very thinly sliced lengthways.  
Cashew Nuts Popular tasty nuts that are used in curries and sweet dishes.  
Cassia Cassia is a spice that is often confused with cinnamon. In fact, the source, properties and tastes of cassia and cinnamon are very similar except that cassia has a more intense smell because of the higher level of volatile oil in cassia. Cassia is made from the bark of a tree. It is hard and woody, compared to cinnamon. Whereas cinnamon is fine and crumbly, cassia is coarser and stronger. This difference is easy to spot when buying the "sticks" but is more difficult when buying powdered spice - grinding cinnamon in a coffee grinder is easy but cassia is a lot tougher. To further blur the distinction between the two spices, cassia is often labelled and sold as cinnamon.  
Cayenne Pepper Cayenne pepper is supposed to have originated from the Cayenne region of French Guiana (French Guiana is actually a department of France even though it is situated on the north coast of South America). Cayenne pepper has a hot and pungent taste and should be used sparingly in cooking (cayenne pepper is stronger than paprika).  
Chaat Masala Chaat masala is a mixture of spices that is widely used to add flavour to street foods. Amchoor (amchur), dried ginger, black pepper, chilli powder, coriander, cumin and black salt are all in chaat masala.  
Chana Chana is the Indian name for chickpea. See the description for Chickpea.  
Chana Dal This is a type of yellow lentils that are bigger than ordinary yellow lentils. The lentils have a nutty aroma.  
Chana Flour Flour made from roasted, dried, chickpeas. See the description for Chickpea Flour.  
Chapati Flour Whole wheat flour. Also called atta flour.  
Chashni Chashni, or chasni, is sugary syrup that is used in lots of different Indian sweets (candies) and desserts. The syrup can have different consistencies, as described in the <a href="" target="_blank">"What is a Sugar Syrup Thread?"</a> blog article.  
Chasni See Chashni.  
Cheese See Paneer.  
Chickpea Chickpeas (chana) are great sources of protein and are used extensively in dal, roti and vegetarians curries. India grows more chickpeas than the whole of the rest of the world. Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans.  
Chickpea Flour Chickpea flour is yellow flour made from ground, unroasted, dried chickpeas. Chickpea flour has a spicy, nutty aroma and is used to make roti and deep-fried snacks such as bhajis and pakoras. Other common names for Chickpea Flour are Besan Flour, Besan, Garbanzo Flour and Gram Flour. The flour is called Chana Flour if it is made from roasted chickpeas. Chickpea Flour is gluten free.  
Chilli Chillies are the fruit of the capsicum genus of plants and give heat to a curry. Chillies originated in South America and arrived in Europe and Asia after Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492. Chillies arrived in India in the early 16th century and quickly replaced the pepper as the heat source in curries. There are hundreds of different varieties of chilli with each variety having a different level of heat - see the description of capsaicin for details of how heat is generated in a chilli. Chillies are used extensively in curries and can be used fresh, dried or in powder form. Chilli powder is also used to create other powders, and masalas, that are used in making curries, such as garam masala, panch phoran and curry powder. You need to be careful when using a variety of chilli that is unfamiliar to you unless you know its heat level. New hot varieties of chilli are still being created in the search for the hottest chilli possible.  
Chilli Powder Chilli powder is ground dried chillies. Sometimes known as Cayenne Pepper.  
Chives Chives are a type of onion, and all parts of chives have a light onion taste. Cooking removes the taste from chives so chives are often used in salads and as a garnish.  
Cilantro Another word for coriander.  
Cinnamon Cinnamon is the inner bark of the laurel called Cinnamomum Zeylanicum. Cinnamon is sweet and aromatic and is used in cooking in either powder or rolled bark form. Cinnamon is an essential ingredient in garam masala.  
Cloves Cloves have a warm aroma and a hot and bitter taste. Cloves are very strong spices and should be used sparingly because they can easily drown out the taste of other spices. In Indian cooking, cloves are a basic ingredient of garam masala and are often used in curry powders.  
Coconut The coconut is the fruit of a palm tree. The fruit is large and covered in a very hard shell. Inside the shell is a liquid (coconut milk) and the white, sweet, coconut flesh.  
Coriander Coriander is a very important Indian cooking spice that has a mild, slightly sweet, orange-like flavour that blends with lots of other spices. It is a basic ingredient of curry powder and garam masala. It is mainly used as a powder that comes from the crushed seeds. Coriander leaves are very aromatic and are often used as a garnish in Indian cooking.  
Coriander Seeds Coriander seeds are aromatic with a lemon taste. The seeds are usually ground when used in curries and coriander powder is one of the most widely used curry spices.  
Cumin Cumin is a very important Indian cooking spice, probably only second to coriander. The combination of cumin and coriander gives Indian dishes their distinctive pungent smell. Cumin's aroma is very aromatic, and pungent, and cumin has a sharp, bitter and warm pungent flavour. Cumin is a key ingredient of curry powder and garam masala.  
Curry Leaf Curry leaves come from a small deciduous tree. They are very aromatic and are used as an herb in cooking. The leaves give a mild spicy aroma with a hint of citrus and have a slightly bitter, lemon taste. The leaves are used in Indian cooking much like bay leaves and are often added to curries that contain fish or coconut milk. The leaves lose their potency very quickly so use fresh ones wherever possible. The leaves are typically fried in oil to release their fragrance and taste.  
Curry Powder Curry powder is a mixture of ground spices. Each spice is roasted separately for the optimum time and is then ground into a powder. The different spice powders are mixed to make the curry powder. Some people shy clear of using curry powder, preferring to always use fresh spices when they are cooking. But if you don't have a lot of preparation time, there is nothing wrong with using curry powder which keeps well if stored in an airtight container. You can readily buy curry powder from most supermarkets if you don't make it yourself.  
Daal See Pulses.  
Dahi Yogurt.  
Dahl See Pulses.  
Dal See Pulses.  
Dhal See Pulses.  
Dhania Coriander seeds.  
Dill Dill is an herb that grows to about 60cm (2 ft) in height and has feathery leaves of around 15cm (6 in) in length. Both the leaves (sometimes called dill weed) and seeds are used in cooking. In Indian cuisine, dill is used to make curry powders, masalas and to flavour spinach and other leafy green vegetables. Dill seeds have a flavour that is similar to caraway seeds. Elsewhere, dill is well known for being used in pickling, such as in dill pickles and sauerkraut.  
Dried Fenugreek Leaves Dried fenugreek leaves have a slightly bitter taste and are used sparingly in cooking. More commonly known as kasoori (or kasuri) methi.  
Eggplant See Aubergine.  
European Bay Leaf The European bay leaf is the leaf of the laurel tree. Fresh European bay leaves are slightly bitter but the bitterness is lost after a couple of days. The cooked bay leaf has a sharp taste and the bay leaf releases its taste slowly during cooking. Also, see the description for "Bay Leaf".  
Fennel Fennel is an aromatic spice that is used to give a slightly sweet flavour to foods. Fennel has an anise aroma and taste, although it is stronger than anise. Fennel is used to make garam masala and five spice powder. The refreshing taste of fennel has led to it being used as an after-meal breath freshener.  
Fenugreek Fenugreek has a mild, pungent aroma and a bitter flavour that has a hint of celery. In India, fenugreek leaves (methi) are used as a vegetable (like spinach) and are also chopped up and mixed with dough for making naan bread. Fenugreek is a component of Bengali five spice powder (panch phoron).  
Fenugreek Seeds Very pungent seeds with a slightly bitter taste.  
Five-Spice Powder A powder made from a combination of Star Anise, Fennel, Cinnamon, Cloves and Sichuan Pepper.  
Galangal Galangal is a spice from the ginger family and the root looks like ginger root. It is used a lot in Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian cooking and has similar properties to ginger when used culinary dishes. For this reason, you can often substitute ginger for galangal if you can't get hold of galangal. But you should be able to find galangal in shops and supermarkets that sell a complete range of spices.  
Garam Masala Garam masala is a mixture of spices that give flavour and aroma to a curry. It is mainly used with meat dishes and sometimes with chicken and rice dishes. It is very rarely used in fish and vegetable dishes because of the strong aroma. You can make your own mixture or buy it from a good food store. There are lots of recipes for making garam masala so try them all out until you find the flavour that you like best.  
Garbanzo Beans Another name for Chickpeas.  
Garbanzo Flour Another name for Chickpea Flour. See the description for Chickpea Flour.  
Garlic A plant from the onion family. Garlic is used extensively in cooking and for medicinal purposes. Garlic has a pungent, spicy flavour that mellows with cooking. A full garlic bulb has many sections called cloves and the cloves are usually peeled and chopped when being used in cooking.  
Garnish A garnish is something that is added to a dish either to add an extra flavour or to decorate the dish (or both). Common garnishes in Indian cuisine are coriander, onions (raw and cooked) and sliced or chopped bell peppers.  
Ghee Ghee is clarified butter. Most people use oil nowadays because of the high cholesterol in ghee. You can use any type of oil (such as groundnut, sesame, sunflower or corn). Do not fry in ordinary butter because it burns very quickly. You can buy ghee in cans or tubs from an Indian food store, or make your own. To make ghee, melt unsalted butter and simmer for around 50 minutes until the solids turn brown - then strain the mixture through a fine muslin cloth and refrigerate.  
Ginger Ginger is a very common ingredient in Indian cooking. It is a plant root and is usually bought in pieces. You cut the outer skin off the ginger root before using it in cooking - most commonly you grate the ginger or chop it up into very fine pieces. Ginger has a warm, citrus like aroma and a hot flavour that has a bite.  
Gram Flour Another name for Chickpea Flour. See the description for Chickpea Flour.  
Gulab See Rosewater.  
Gur A dark, sticky, sugar made palm sugar. Similar to jaggery.  
Harissa Harissa is a spicy chilli paste that is widely used in north African dishes. There are lots of different recipes for harissa but most use hot chillies, spices, oil and tomatoes. You can make your own harissa paste or buy it in jars from your local supermarket.  
Hing See Asafoetida.  
Indian Bay Leaf The Indian bay leaf (Teja Patta) is the leaf of the cassia tree and tastes like mild cinnamon. A good substitute for Teja Patta is a little bit of cinnamon or a clove. European bay leaf is not a good substitute for the Indian bay leaf. Also, see the description for "Bay Leaf".  
Jaggery A dark, sticky, sugar made from crushed cane sugar juice. Similar to gur.  
Jeera Another word for cumin.  
Kaffir Lime Kaffir, or makrut, lime is a lime that is originally from Southeast Asia and is now grown in such diverse places as Florida and Australia. The kaffir lime is green in colour and has the shape of a pear. The rind and leaves are both used in cooking, particularly Thai cuisine. The leaves give a particularly tangy citrus taste and are used in curries, soups and salads. The rind has a slightly bitter citrus taste and is grated and used in curry pastes and fish cakes.  
Kashmiri Chillies Hot chillies that are grown in Kashmir and Jammu. The chillies are a deep red colour and have a fruity and slightly smoky taste.  
Kasoori Methi See the description for Dried Fenugreek Leaves.  
Kasuri Methi See the description for Dried Fenugreek Leaves.  
Kewra Water Kewra water is an extract from pandanus flowers. Kewra water is a transparent liquid, silimar to rose water, that is used mainly in Northern Indian cooking.  
Khoa Khoa (Khoya) is dried milk that is widely used in making sweets and desserts.  
Khoya See the description for Khoa.  
Kumara A type of sweet potato.  
Lemon One of the main citrus fruits. Lemon juice is widely used in cooking where its acidity and sourness counters sweetness in a dish. Lemon juice has a sharp, tart taste and an average lemon yields about 3 tablespoons of juice. Lemon juice tenderises meat and is often in a meat marinade. The rind of a lemon (zest) is sometimes grated onto dishes as a tasty garnish.  
Lemon Grass Lemon grass is a tropical grass that is grown in India, southeast Asia, Africa and central America. The grass has a bulb-like root at the bottom of the stalk and is used like an herb. It does have a citrus taste like lemon. Lemon grass can be used fresh, dried or as a powder. The chopped stalk is used in soups and stews to add flavour but is hard to eat. If you are going to eat the lemon grass stalk then you should pound it into a paste before adding to the dish. Most people avoid eating the lemon grass stalk because it stays so fibrous.  
Lentils Dried pulses used in dal and dhansak dishes.  
Lime A citrus fruit whose juice is used a lot in cooking where the acidity counters sweetness, much the same as a lemon. The rind (zest) is usually green and is sometimes used as a garnish.  
Long Peppers Long peppers are grown in India. They are hotter and more pungent than black peppers. Although long peppers have been extensively replaced by chillies, they are still used in making some pickles.  
Mace Mace is the lacy covering of the nutmeg seed that is inside fruit of the nutmeg tree. Mace has a warm, rich aroma that has a hint of clove and pepper. Mace has a delicate, warm, bitter, taste that has a hint of lemon.  
Mango The mango is indigenous to Southeast Asia, including India and Pakistan. As well as being a great fruit to eat, mango is widely used in fruit smoothies, chutneys and pickles.  
Mango Powder A sour-tasting powder made from unripe mangoes.  
Masoor Dal This is red lentils and are the most common lentils in north India.  
Methi Fenugreek leaves.  
Millet Flour A gluten-free flour with a slightly smoky flavour.  
Mint The word mint usually refers to spearmint or peppermint. Spearmint is the mint that is usually grown in your garden. Spearmint is mellow and refreshing with a pleasant flavour with a hint of lemon. Peppermint tastes of menthol and leaves a fresh aftertaste in the mouth. Both mints have a cooling effect and balance the warm spice tastes in curries. Typically, mint is used in raitas and chutneys.  
Moong Beans See Mung Beans.  
Moong Dal See Mung Dal.  
Mung Beans Mung beans are legumes that originated in India. The beans are relatively high in protein and low in calories.  
Mung Dal A split yellow lentil that is similar to chana dal.  
Mustard Mustard is a very pungent spice. The small seeds are usually yellow or black. When bought as seeds, mustard is often crushed into a powder (using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder) that is mixed with water into a paste that is used in cooking or as a condiment. In Indian cooking, black mustard seeds are often quickly fried in oil to release the strong aroma and flavour.  
Mutton In India, mutton means goat meat, not lamb. A recipe using mutton is really asking for goat meat. Recipes on the Curry Focus web site do not use mutton - they use lamb or goat.  
Nigella A spice that has an aroma like oregano and a bitter taste like cracked pepper. Used a lot with Indian flat breads and also with Indian vegetarian dishes.  
Nutmeg Nutmeg is the kernel of the fruit of the nutmeg (Myristica Fragans) tree. Nutmeg has a sweet, warm aroma with a hint of camphour. The nutmeg flavour is warm and bitter sweet with a hint of clove. The nutmeg kernels can be bought whole and kept for a long time in an airtight container. The nutmeg kernel is ground or grated into a powder when it is needed for cooking. The nutmeg powder quickly loses its flavour so you shouldn't make too much powder at any one time.  
Okra Okra is a plant that has edible green fruits that are delicious in a curry. The fruits are also called okra and are often called ladies, or lady's, fingers. In the southern States, it is also known as gumbo. A common Indian curry that contains okra is bhindi bhaji. The okra fruits are pods that can grow up to about 18cm (7 inches) but the best ones for cooking are around 7cm (about 4 inches) in length. The pods have a sticky interior and the okra seeds are in the centre. When you cook okra, you eat everything. And why are they called ladies fingers? Because they are about the length of a finger, are slender and smooth.  
Onion Onion is a bulb and is a basic ingredient of curries with most curries having at least one onion in it. The onion is usually peeled, chopped and fried (frying causes the onion to lose its sharpness and makes it sweeter). Onion acts as a thickener for curry sauces. Some dishes, such as dopiaza, are garnished with onion as well as containing onion.  
Onion Seeds Seeds used widely in pickles and vegetable curries.  
Palak Spinach. See the description for Saag.  
Panch Phoran A Bengali spice mixture of mustard, cumin, fenugreek, fennel and nigella seeds.  
Paneer Indian cheese that is used in cooking.  
Paprika There are lots of types of paprika. Traditionally, paprika is made from red bell peppers. The peppers are allowed to dry and then the stalks and the inside veins are discarded. The pepper fruit and seeds are separated from each other and separately ground into powder. This process is done for different types of bell pepper and the resultant powders are blended to produce the required taste. Some peppers are dried over fires to give them a woody flavour. And some pepper powders are mixed with powders from the fruits of other members of the capsicum family to give a paprika with heat (bell peppers, by themselves, have no heat as recorded on the Scoville heat scale). So you can get hot, sweet or bittersweet flavours of paprika depending on the peppers used and even where the peppers were grown - the same plants produce different flavour peppers in different parts of the world.  
Passatta A tomato concentrate, a little like tomato puree.  
Peppercorns Peppercorns are the most commonly used spice. Ground pepper is used in cooking and, like most spices, should be freshly ground when needed.  
Pistachio The pistachio tree is native to the Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan area and nowadays is grown in a wide variety of hot locations such as Australia, California and New Mexico. The nut is often used in ice cream or as a garnish on sweets and desserts.  
Poha Flattened rice that is the main ingredient in the poha dish.  
Pomegranate Seeds Seeds used to give a tangy taste.  
Poppy Seeds The poppy seeds that are used in cooking either come from the Blue Poppy or the White Poppy. Whilst the seeds are very similar, the white poppy seeds are the ones that are used in Indian cuisine. Poppy seeds have a nutty flavour that is at its best when the seeds are toasted. It only takes a few minutes of toasting to release the full flavour and sweet aroma. The seeds are usually ground to a powder and used to thicken Indian curry sauces. Otherwise, the seeds can be sprinkled over dry vegetarian or meat dishes.  
Poriyal Poriyal is a dry curry dish made with vegetables and spices that are fried. The dish can be served as a main or a side dish.  
Potato Potato is one of the most widely eaten vegetables in the world and the original potatoes came from South America. The largest producer of potatoes today is China. Potatoes are used in lots of Indian dishes with the most common being vegetarian dishes such as Aloo Gobi and Bombay Aloo.  
Pulses Pulses are called dal, in Hindi (other common spellings are daal, dhal and dahl). Pulses include lentils, peas and beans. There is a lot of protein in pulses (there is roughly the same amount of protein in a pulse as the same weight of meat) and pulses are used widely in vegetarian dishes.  
Rajma Chawal Rajma chawal is a curry dish that has red kidney beans as the main ingredient and which is eaten with rice.  
Rava Another word for semolina.  
Rice One of the most common accompaniments of a curry. Basmati rice is a long-grain rice, that comes from northern India, which is easy to cook and the grains do not stick together. There are hundreds of different varieties of rice.  
Rice Flour Flour made from basmati rice.  
Rose Water Rose water is made from crushed rose petals and is used in lots of desserts and sweet dishes. Another word for rosewater is Gulab.  
Saag Saag means leafy greens, such as mustard leaves and kale. To confuse things, saag can also mean spinach (which means that saag can sometimes be the same as palak).  
Saffron Saffron is made from the stigmas of the Saffron Cricus and is the most expensive spice in the world. It is used to add colour and aroma to dishes. Saffron is usually bought as threads that are infused with water before use.  
Sambal Spicy relish, from Indonesia and Malaysia, with chillies as the main ingredient.  
Sambar Powder Sambar powder is a spice mixture that can be added to curries.  
Sattu Flour made from ground dry-roasted grain.  
Semolina Coarsely ground durum wheat that is widely used in desserts (sweets).  
Sesame Sesame seeds have a mild and nutty taste and smell. They are often used in baking and the oil from the seeds is excellent for use in cooking.  
Shallot A type of onion that grows in cloves, a bit like garlic.  
Sichuan Pepper A pepper that is widely used in Asian cooking.  
Spinach Green, leaf-like, vegetable that is high in iron.  
Star Anise Star anise has an aroma like fennel and anise and has a warm sweet liquorice taste. Its main use is to flavour fish and seafood.  
Sugar Syrup See Chashni.  
Suji Another word for semolina.  
Tamarind Tamarind is extracted from the pods of the evergreen tamarind tree. The tamarind pods have a brown, sticky pulp that is the extract. Once extracted, the pulp is squeezed into flat blocks. The blocks are processed to produce tamarind paste and concentrate. Tamarind does not have much of an aroma and has a sour, fruity taste. Tamarind is added to curries (such as vindaloo) as well as pickles and chutneys to make best use of the sour taste.  
Tomato A red fruit that is a very common ingredient used in Indian cooking. The tomato originated in Central and South America.  
Toor Dal This is a type of yellow lentils that have a nutty taste.  
Turmeric Turmeric is yellow and has a slightly bitter flavour. It is often used instead of saffron as a colouring for rice.  
Urad (Urid) Dal This is split black lentils.  
Vanilla Bean The dried bean of the vanilla orchid. Vanilla is mainly used in sweet dishes such as ice cream and cakes.  
Vermicelli Very thin strands made from wheat and used in savoury and sweet dishes.  
Walnuts Nuts used in salads, raitas and sweets (desserts).  
Yeast Yeast is a type of fungus. In fact, there are over 1,500 varieties of yeast. The most common uses of yeast are for making alcohol, where yeast converts sugar into alcohol, and in baking, where yeast converts fermentable sugar into carbon dioxide. Fresh yeast can be hard to find for baking nowadays and dry active yeast is commonly used as a substitute.  
Yoghurt/Yogurt Yogurt is a dairy product made from fermenting milk. Yogurt is added to a lot of vegetarian dishes and is a common ingredient in marinade. Yogurt is one of the best soothers for a mouth that is "burning" from hot chillis.