5 lesser known Indian spices

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Almost every dish in Indian cuisine is enhanced by the aroma, flavour and healing properties of spices. Here are 5 lesser known gems from the spice world which prove, yet again, that India truly is the land of spices!

Kanthari White chillies

These are our very own bird’s eye chillies from Andhra Pradesh. The coolest or rather the hottest thing about these chillies is that they are white in colour when ripe. Tiny and fiery these kanthari chillies come with a bunch of sneaky little benefits to your health including reduced cholesterol and increased metabolism.

Marathi Moggu

It may be called Marathi Moggu, but the spice is native to the Southern states of India – namely Karnataka and the Chettinaad region. It looks like a large sized clove, has a strong aroma and tastes like a cross between black pepper and mustard. Lightly frying it in oil helps release its flavour to use in a range of recipes from curries to rice preparations.

Root for red - Ratanjyot

Alkanet root or ratanjyot is a beautiful and unique spice from the North of India, more specifically in Jammu, Kashmir and Himachal. The flavor is more earthy than spicy, but the most intriguing quality of this spice is the deep red colour it lends to the dish it is added to. Ruight from tandoori chicken to fiery rogan josh’ this was the original natural food colour since medieval times.

Kabab Chini – not sweet at all

Kabab chini is a type of peppercorn which has a strong aroma and flavour which is like a beautiful combination of cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon. Essentially used to flavour kababs and meat dishes in Awadhi cuisine they also have a ton of healing properties. An aromatic oil made with kababchini can be used to treat arthiritis and joint pain.


Radhuni is a spice which has found a special place in Bengali cuisine, but continues to remain obscure to the rest of the country. Often confused with ajwain or carom seeds because of how similar the look, radhuni are actually seeds from a celery plant. The flavor is like an earthy version of parsley and celery. It is an essential part of Bengali panch phoron masala.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.