Friday, November 18, 2011

Commonly Used Herbs and Spices in Nepali Cooking

Commonly Used Herbs and Spices in Nepali Cooking (Nepali Masalaa Haru) 

The following list describes some of the special herb and spices used in Nepali cooking. Most spices are available in Indian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern grocery stores or some health food stores and larger supermarkets. In my next posting I will add more detailed descriptions and pictures of each of these herb and spices.


Ajowan Seeds - Jwaano, Javano (जवानो, ज्वानो)
Asafetida - Heeng or Hing (हिङ्ग - हींग)
Bay Leaves - Tejpaat, Tej-patta - (तेजपत्ता)
Cardamom, Black Pods - Thulo Sukumel, Alainchi - (अलैंची, ठूलो सुकुमेल)
Cardamom, Green Pods - Sukumel, Sano Sukumel, Sukmel - (सुकमेल, सानो सुकुमेल, सुकुमेल)
Cilantro or Fresh Coriander  - Hariyo Dhania ko Paat, Dhaniyan ko saag - (धनियाँको साग)
Cinnamon, Cassia Bark - Daalchini - (दालचीनी)
Cloves - Lwang - (ल्वाङ्ग)
Coriander Seeds - Dhania ko Geda - (धनियाँ)
Cumin Seeds - Jeera, Jira ko Geda - (जीरा)
Fennel Seeds - Saunp or Saunf - (सौंप)
Fenugreek Seeds - Methi ko Geda - (मेथी)
Ginger - Aduwa or Adua - (अदुवा)
Himalayan Herb Jimbu - dried leaves of a local onion species - (Allium wallachii) - (जिम्बु)
Mustard Seeds - Rayo or Sarysun - (तोरी, राई)
Nigella Seeds - Mungrelo, Mugrelo - (मुग्रेलो, मुन्ग्रेलो)
Nutmeg & Mace - Jaiphal, Javitri - (जाइफल - जावित्री)
Peppercorns - Marich - (मरिच)
Poppy Seeds - Khus Khus, Aphim - (अफिम, खसखस)
Radish Seeds - Mula ko Beu
Red Pepper, Cayenne pepper, Chilli, Chili - Rato Khursani, Khorsani, Hariyo Khursani, Sukeko Khursani -  (रातो खुर्सानी, खोर्सानी)
Saffron - Kesar or Keshar - केसर, ज़ाफ़रान
Sesame Seeds - Til - (तिल)
Nepal pepper - Szechwan pepper, Sichuan pepper, Chinese pepper, (Z. armatum) - Timmur - (टिम्मुर, तिम्बुर)
Turmeric  - Besar, Besar ko Dhulo - (बेसार)

Nepali Spice Markets - (Ground Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander, Cayenne Pepper and Garam Masala)

 Fresh Herbs and Spices - green chillies, ginger, garlic, cilantro (fresh coriander), onions, shallots, tomatoes - a must have ingredients - for Nepali cooking

Whole spices such as stick cinnamon, bay leaves, green and black cardamom, and whole cloves adds flavor and texture to Nepali dish.

Spice Box (Sanduke or Masala Dani) - The round stainless steel spice box that stores dry spices is found in most Nepali homes.  It has a tight fitting lid to ensure that the spices are not exposed to air and do not mix together.

Strolling through the Nepali markets and taking pictures. Whole spices are artfully displayed in several large and small bowls.


  1. Replies
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    The Timeless Taste of Coriander :
    Cultures all over the world have incorporated coriander into a wide range of dishes. Coriander grows wild throughout southern Europe and the Near East. Archaeological findings indicate that coriander was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians. British settlers carried it across the Atlantic, and it was one of the first spices they cultivated in the New World.
    Seeds, Roots, Leaves
    Every part of coriander has use as a seasoning. You know the parsley-like leaves as cilantro, which give their characteristic taste to fresh salsa. They are best used fresh and can be grown in pots or picked up in many grocery stores and ethnic markets.
    The strong-flavored roots are used in Asian dishes. They are often included in soups and in commercially made curry pastes. They are elusive in the US, but sometimes found in Asian markets.
    The round seeds, commonly sold as coriander in the US, are common in pickles and marinades. They can be added whole, crushed or powdered to add flavor to dishes. The taste depends on the preparation and what other flavoring ingredients are used with them. Coriander seeds complement other flavors well, adding an earthy note to curries and emphasizing the bright acidity of citrus. These keep in your pantry for about a year and are part of many seasoning blends from U Simply Season.
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  6. Hi....I am looking to find Aalash Dhulo (chhop) spice used in chatepate and was wondering if I can find it online or what the equivalent would be. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Aalash is flax seeds should be easily available online and in food stores......

  7. where can i buy Timoor and khorsani mix in semi powder form in india. lastly I bought in kathmandu but in india i cant find it . i also searched at Biratnagar but it was unavailable

    1. looks like you will have to make your own blend.....

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  15. can anyone tell me what filunge or jhuse teel is called in english? thanks!

    1. Ramtil, Jhuse Til, Filinge Plants are Niger seeds
      (scientific name Guizotia abyssinica)

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  17. I had been trying to know what bhaago/bhango is known in English. My wife adds this everytime she make chutneys for momo.

    1. I am sorry, I do not know what "bhaago or bhango" is .....

  18. Hi - I'm making a nepalese dish that asks me for 3 whole dried red peppers which I've to blacken in a pan. To what type of pepper does this refer? Bell pepper or chilli pepper? I have spent 8 hours drying 3 bell peppers in the oven and now i am wondering if this is even what the recipe meant! Many thanks for your help.


  19. Thank you for commenting. If the recipe calls for dried chili peppers or dried chilies or red peppers, it is definitely not bell peppers.

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  24. It's nice to learn some of the special herbs and spices used in Nepali cooking.

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  25. This is so great! I have been learning to cook Nepal food thanks to so many good to you, so it is nice to have proper spellings and pronunciations for all the spices!

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