Indian Pantry 101: Aarti's Spice Essentials

Not sure where to start when it comes to cooking Indian food? We asked Aarti to share her top five spice-rack staples — plus how and when to use them.


Aarti Sequeira won over a tough panel of judges to become our newest Food Network Star. Now she's cooking up delicious Indian-spiced food on her new show, Aarti Party.

Not sure where to start when it comes to cooking Indian food yourself? Let Aarti be your guide. With her favorite spices, shortcuts and swaps, you’ll be well on your way to flavor-packed Indian dishes straight from your own kitchen.


Aarti’s Top 5 Spices


"Turmeric is one of the most essential Indian spices," Aarti says. "It comes from the turmeric root, which looks like a smaller, grubbier gingerroot. It has a bitter aroma in its raw, powdered form, but once you add it to oil, it releases this pungent perfume that you will recognize as distinctly Indian. It also adds a lot of bright golden color to your dishes. And it has great healing qualities: It's been used as an anti-inflammatory in India forever. Be careful though — it will stain!"

Use turmeric in Aarti's Red Lentil Soup (pictured) — it wowed Wolfgang Puck!

Read on for more of Aarti's must-have spices.