5 spices you need for Pakistani cooking

If you are interested in cooking Pakistani food but don’t know where to start, we’ve got your back. In this three-part series, we’ll be sharing simple tricks you need to know for cooking delicious Pakistani food. We understand that cooking Pakistani recipes can be intimidating. Many recipes call for long list of ingredients and multiple steps for cooking. While we love some of those recipes, we realize that many of us may not enjoy following multiple cooking instructions of buying numerous ingredients. That is why, we will share a simplified version of some basic, key ingredients and steps you’ll need to know for cooking Pakistani food.

We begin our series by introducing FIVE spices you need to create a many Pakistani dishes. These spices are found in most Pakistani recipes. As salt is a staple, we have not included that in this list, as it is a given. We believe you already have that on hand. 😉

So here are the FIVE spices you will need:

  1. Red chilli powder
  2. Turmeric powder
  3. Cumin powder
  4. Coriander powder
  5. Garam masala powder

Red Chilli Powder

Different from Paprika, red chilli powder has a red (slightly bordering towards orange) color and provides the hot factor in Pakistani food. This is the spice you want to add more or less of depending on the level of spicy-ness you can tolerate. We have had some people ask her whether red chilli powder is what brings the red/orange-y color in curries. The answer is, no. * Red chilli powder is commonly used in Indian and Pakistani cooking. It’s purpose is to add the hot or heat in dishes.

*if you are looking for a spice that brings colors and has a lower spicey-ness level, you may try Kashmiri red chilli powder.

Turmeric Powder

This rich, mustard color spice has an earthy, bitter but aromatic taste. A little goes a long way with turmeric powder. So once you have bought turmeric powder, make sure it has a long shelf life because you won’t need it in big quantities when cooking Pakistani food. You may, however, use turmeric powder for other purposes as it is packed with numerous health benefits.

Cumin Powder

Made from grinding roasted cumin seeds, cumin powder has a nutty, warm, and fresh taste to it. Adding this to dishes immediately brings out an aroma. Cumin powder is used in almost double the quantity as compared to turmeric powder.

Coriander Powder

Coriander powder is our favorite spice to add because of its nature to amp up flavor of any dish. This spice has the quality of bringing out the flavor of all the ingredients in a dish. It is difficult to describe what coriander powder actually tastes like because it has such a wide palette of flavor properties. Compared to all other spices, we use coriander powder the the highest quantity when cooking.

Garam Masala Powder

This last spice is the finishing touch in all Pakistani cooking, in our opinion. It what ties the flavor of any dish together. We usually add this last in our cooking or just sprinkle it on top and then put a lid on our cooking pot. Garam (meaning hot, as in heated, in Urdu) masala in Urdu literally brings warmth to a dish. It has a strong, cozy taste and a little quantity does the trick.

And so here it is. You need these FIVE spices only to cook some delicious Pakistani recipes. Stay tuned for next Wednesday when we share five vegetables you will need for cooking this cuisine. Until then, if you have anything to add to this, leave us a comment below. 🙂

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