The purpose of this page is to provide useful information about the spices and ingredients used in the recipes of this website to visitors who may not be familiar with them. The task poses many challenges between the easy to find and useful to browse on the one hand, and creating a complete and comprehensive source on the other. This could become a full website on its own. I trust readers will forgive my shortcomings. I also encourage you to send your suggestions for inclusion. Any Asian grocery will have these items and shop keepers are usually extremely helpful and willing to answer your questions. Just don't go there on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings when they tend to be busy.
If you have limited space in your pantry and would like to just get the essentials beyond the usual dried herbs, here is the short list to copy on your smart phone and head off to the nearest India or Asian market.
Black Mustard Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Urad Dal, Asafetida, Turmeric powder, Chilli powder, Rasam powder, Sambar powder, Tamarind paste or brick, Light sesame oil, Fenugreek seeds, Toor dal. Some fresh cilantro, green chillies, ginger root and curry leaves will get you through most of the South Indian recipes on this site.
Growing up in South India I first became familiar with the ubiquitous mustard seeds, cumin, urad and hing along with turmeric powder and red chilli powder. I was later introduced, during my all too brief stint in Europe, to delicate aromas of rosemary and thyme, borage, sage, herbs de Provence. In the US I was exposed to Italian and Mexican aromas of oregano and basil as well as poblanos and a new world of hot peppers I had never know existed. Like most expats, I too began to experiment and create combinations in my kitchen, first out of necessity and then curiosity.
I will start here with the main spices and herbs I use and allow the page to grow as it may. As this list grows you may want to use the search box (above Recipes on the top right side) to find what you are looking for.