Try to make sure your kitchen is stocked with these types of important ingredients.

Black mustard seed

Black mustard seeds come from the Brassica Nigra mustard plant and are the most pungent kind of mustard seeds. They are regularly used in Indian cooking to bring depth of character and spice to curries and dhals.

Coriander seeds

The dried seeds of the coriander plant are used extensively in South East Asian cooking and are crucial in all masala mixes.


The dried seed of Cuminum Cyminum, a part of the parsley family, cumin is used in several dishes including curries, rice dishes, breads and chutney. It is yellow-brown in colour and has a distinct nutty, peppery flavour somewhat similar to caraway.

Garam masala

A mixture of ground spices that is used as a base for many Indian dishes. Basic ingredients are typically cumin, coriander and turmeric, but other spices that may perhaps be included are peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and nutmeg. Composition differs widely across India and based on whether the dish includes meat, vegetables or fish.


The rhizome of a tropical perennial plant. Powdered turmeric is bright yellow, putting great colour to dishes, and adds a sharp, bitter, spicy, lingering depth of flavour.


Dhal starts out as whole beans, peas and lentils and become dhal when they have been skinned and cooked. They are a staple of Indian cooking and are high in both protein and fibre. There are many varieties of dal including urid, mung, toor and masoor to name just a few.

Masala (also massala)

A phrase used in South East Asian cuisines to describe a combination of dry roasted spices or a paste made from spices and other ingredients (typically garlic, ginger, onions and chillis) that forms the flavour base of a dish.