Spices are aromatic flavoring agents in Nepalese cuisine. Whole spices are the reasons that make every Nepalese cuisine flavorful, heavenly, and tempting. The release of essence from whole spices into the foods is exactly why people enjoy Nepalese food.
Every Nepalese surely has a separate cabinet in the kitchen for the small and big jars of spices. Each spice container has its own flavoring role in the food. The essences you get in Nepalese dishes are all because of the perfect combination of whole spices and powder spices.
Whole spices give maximum flavor to cuisines. You can mellow the flavor and aroma of whole spices like mustard, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon by roasting them in a pan. You can freshly roast the spices right before cooking to add most of their flavor to food. Else, you can blend the roasted whole spices, and store them in jars to use in dishes as powder spices. You can blend whole spices separately and store them in different jars. But make sure you use powder spices within a few months as they lose their aroma quickly compare to whole spices.
Nepalese Whole Spices
Cloves have a very intense flavor, which is why they don’t lose their essence when used with other spices. They are commonly used in meat and curries to bring the flavor. And this strong spice is also used in flavoring hot drink like tea. Using clove in a cup of tea activates your mind and gives you a refreshing start. It is also used in flavoring dishes like stewed apples and pear, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread.
2. Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds give maximum flavor to the dishes when used at the end of the recipe. They are firstly roasted with oil then added to the dishes to give tempting flavor. Nepalese use fennel seeds while preparing meat dishes and pickles. You can also eat fennel seeds with sugar after a meal as a mouth freshener. Fennel seeds also aid in digestion, which is why Nepalese restaurants have fennel seeds on the counter.
3. Black Cardamom
Black Cardamom is the flavoring agent of many Nepalese dishes. It has a warm, earthy, sweet, and intense smoky flavor that gives a strong taste to Nepalese dishes like dal, curries, and meat. Also, they are popularly used in gravies, rice, and even in some dessert dishes. The pod of black cardamom is discarded, and only seeds are used in flavoring the food.
4. Cinnamon sticks
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of the tropical Cinnamomum tree. The aromatic component of cinnamon is used in flavoring cuisine worldwide. These are used as a flavoring additive in sweet and savory dishes, breakfast cereals, snacks, tea, and other traditional foods. The sweet and warm flavor of cinnamon makes it famous around the world. It is also used in making different masala for curries and gravies.
5. Cumin seeds
Cumin seeds are the spices that come from the Cuminum cyminum plant. This whole spice is used in most of the Nepalese dishes. To give a tempting taste to the dishes, Nepalese use them in vegetables, dals, gravies, and meat dishes. You can also use cumin powder instead of cumin seeds in these dishes. Nepalese commonly use cumin powder in foods, however, cumin seeds are used occasionally to enhance the flavor of cuisines.
Fenugreek is a yellow-brown seed from a Mediterranean plant. Bittersweet and celery flavors of fenugreek seed are used popularly in curries. You can get rid of its bittersweet taste by roasting it before cooking. Fenugreek seeds are also an essential ingredient in making garam masala and masala for curry and meat.
7. Mustard seeds
Mustard seeds are commonly used in Nepalese cooking. You can directly use mustard seeds in your recipe or use it in powder form. You can get mustard powder from a store or can convert mustard seeds into powder by grinding them. Mustard seeds are great when used in sauces and curries. Mustard seeds are commonly used for garnishing the dishes. They are fried in hot oil then added as a finishing touch to the dishes.
8. Black pepper
Black pepper is used around the world to flavor the dishes. This intense flavor spice is used to flavor Nepalese traditional and regular cuisine. Use crushed or whole black pepper in your recipe to get a nutty taste. Also, black pepper is a key ingredient in the making of garam masala. However, black pepper is also used in some curry masala recipe and various types of masala recipe.
9. Caraway seeds
Caraway seeds are unique whole-spice found in most of the Nepalese kitchen. Using caraway, you will get a moderate flavor in your dishes. Roast and sprinkle caraway seeds in your cuisine to enhance the flavor. Its warm flavor comes out when roasted and added to dishes. Caraway seeds are used in flavoring salad, potatoes, soup, stews, and many other dishes.
10. Coriander seeds
Coriander seeds are small fruits from cilantro herb flowers. They release earthy, citrusy, and floral flavor when roasted. To balance the taste of coriander seeds in the dishes, they are usually paired with cumin. Combining coriander seeds and cumin, you will get a sweet and savory taste in your cuisine. Coriander seeds are a popular ingredient in Asian and European cuisines. You can also blend roasted coriander and store it in the container for future use.
11. Bay leaf
Bay leaf is aromatic whole spice use while preparing rice, dal, and other Nepalese dishes. Few bay leaves are added to other slow-cooked recipes such as soups and sauces, and then they are removed before serving the dishes. These leaves have a floral and herbal aroma, which is why they are used very often. And they are also used while making masalas.
12. Dried red chili
Dried red chilies can spice any food. Red chilies are dried in order to store them for a longer time. They are popular in making the sauce which is used to spice other dishes. These red chilies are generally used to spice up curries and gravies. You can also use these chilies to give reddish color to dishes.